Change of Scenery on the Run

The monotony of the same old route can be tough during marathon training, so I try and mix things up as much as possible. While sometimes I like to do my most familiar routes to test my fitness and make comparisons to previous times running there, I also like to run in completely different places on long runs. The not knowing what’s ahead can be intimidating, but the new scenery can help take my mind off of how far I have to run and help the miles fly by. Thankfully the D.C. area has an abundance of areas to run in so I never get bored.

At the beginning of August I made a trip home to Syracuse so I really got to mix things up and run around my old stomping grounds. I’ve lived in Arlington since 2006 now, so I really don’t run back home all that often. I got in a great track workout at my old high school overlooking the softball field I spent many hours playing and practicing on back in the day. We were still in the midst of some very hot and humid weather in D.C. at that point, so the nicest part of that workout was the 60 degree temps and slight, but cool breeze.

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I also got a long run in while I was home in the beautiful, but super hilly Green Lakes State Park. I actually worked at Green Lakes for three summers during college and it’s where I met my fiancé, so it holds a special place in my heart. It was a relatively mild day again, but a touch humid. I ran 17.2 miles over some major hills along the main road that runs through the park by the golf course before looping around the beach trails, which has to be one of the best spots to run ever. I also ventured up into some of the hiking trails by the campgrounds that I hadn’t explored before, which was fun and very challenging for this runner girl who usually sticks to the road. If you ever find yourself near Fayetteville, NY, find time to fit in a run here! You won’t regret it. I did my best to snap some shots on the run, so here are a few that didn’t come out super blurry!

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Race Recap: Charity for Children 8k

I’m a week late with my recap, but Sunday the 19th I ran the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes when I was back home for the weekend. I knew going into this that I wasn’t in the kind of shape I needed to be yet to actually race this, but I was looking forward to a challenging 5-mile run and that’s exactly what I got!

I’ve become a big fan of smaller races as of late and this fit the bill with just about 500 runners for both the 8k and 5k. Another draw for me for this race was the 10 a.m. start time! I always appreciate a race that doesn’t require me to wake up at the crack of dawn or when it’s still dark out to get to the start line on time. I was also excited to run at Green Lakes. I haven’t run there since I worked there in college years ago, and I was looking forward to taking things off the road since that’s normally the only surface I run on.

The 8k and the 5k started at the same time on a narrow beach path so  I worked my way near the front of the start line to avoid being boxed in. We looped around the beach and into the woods changing from a concrete path to gravel and then dirt as we ran around Green Lake. I kept myself from going out too fast like the previous week’s 5k and hit the first mile marker in 7:15. As I worked my way past Green Lake and around Round Lake the path changed again to mulch.

The different surfaces definitely slowed me down a bit and so did a short, but steep hill on the way to mile three as we came back out onto the beach path past the third mile marker where my Mom was waiting to cheer me on and snap a picture before she headed to the finish line! Miles 2 and 3 came in a bit slower at 7:49 and 8:18.

Passing the 3 mile mark at the Green Lakes 8k!

Passing the 3 mile mark at the Green Lakes 8k!

After coming back onto the beach path we quickly turned and ran up a path, out of the beach parking lot and on paved roads, up through the campgrounds past the frisbee golf course and to the cabin area. The emphasis on that sentence should be on the word up! Mile 4 was pretty much all up hill… a long steep hill! My pace slowed all the way down to 9:29. I don’t normally drink water in races this short, but I was pretty relieved to see a water stop at the top of the hill at the mile 4 marker.

I grabbed a cup as I turned around and started the final mile. We didn’t go straight back the way we came, but I did get to enjoy a downhill to the main road through the park and decided to pick up the pace putting in a 7:04 final mile. I turned back into the beach parking lot and onto the beach path I started on around to the finish line. I crossed the line in 40 minutes flat according to the official results. My watch had me at 39:57 and even though 3 seconds shouldn’t make a difference especially when it’s not even a PR, it still made me a little upset when I saw I hadn’t officially beaten 40.

At the finish after the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes

At the finish after the Charity for Children 8k at Green Lakes

Regardless, it was a great race. The packet pick up that morning was incredibly quick, the water stops were staffed with great volunteers and the course was really well marked. I had a great run and would love to go back and do it again next year!

At the finish line with Mom!

At the finish line with Mom!

I do wish I had stuck around longer after the race though – turns out I would have gotten an award! I finished 45th out of 235, was the 8th overall female and 3rd in my age group!