Vestal XX

Yesterday I ran the Vestal XX race in Vestal, NY.  It is a very hilly 12.4 mile course through rural neighborhoods.  I've run part of this course a few years ago but clearly not the hard hills because I was not expecting those hills.  

This race is about the runners. It's not about the bling. I didn't get the normal medal or t-shirt. I got a sticker.   It not about the crowds. There were none. Spread out here and there were some spectators but very few. It's about the runners and our ability to overcome our minds, our tired bodies and the hills. Oh those hills! 

Finishers Sticker

I had lots of support going into this run.  I vocalized my nervousness about this race last week and someone in my running group hash tagged me #hillsforbreakfast (which is sort of our mantra for the Runner's World Half Marathon) and #embracethesuck.  I added the last one from a blog posting of one of our members. His statement "It’s going to hurt. Hell, it’s going to hurt a lot." about running and goals, really struck home with me.  So I added that to my friends-in-my-phone inspiration.  

Inspiration on my arm. I looked at this a few times. 

Of course my biggest support always comes from my wonderful husband.  He's always at the start line. He's always at the finish line. When he can, he finds a way to be in the middle of the course. Yesterday he made his way to mile 8 to meet me, and it was right when I needed him, right before a hill in Vestal Center. He was there encouraging me and Tink was helping out at a water stop. 

That hill is bigger than it looks in this picture.
A lot of things got into my head on this race. I looked at previous finishing times of this race. This is a race of fast runners.  I knew that I was going to be at the back of the pack but hoped to stay with the group. My husband always says, "Run your race, you're not part of the top 5 or the bottom 5, so just run your race." Well yesterday I was part of the bottom 5. 

Here are some of my random thoughts:

Mile 1: Just a little hill. Darn, I'm going to fast. Faster than Coach and I discussed. I need to slow down but I feel really good.  

Mile 2:  Not a little hill.  Yikes. Two big hills in this mile.  I feel ok though. There is a girl behind me, actually there are two women and two men behind me. That's it. Anyway this one woman is playing her phone without headphones. She passed me and I was grateful because I found it very annoying.  At some point I passed her again and an awesome song was playing and I was happy for the music.  It was hard running this course without headphones. I find when I'm running hard I need music, and I need it loud, to drown out the screaming of my brain. I don't normally play music while running but a song here and there really helps.  

Mile 3: Holy crap!! That had a big hill in it.  I was down to a 12 minute mile for a bit. So not part of the race plan but I also know it's not written in stone. I'm here to run my race, the best I can. Music girl passed me again and I didn't see her again in the race. And there goes the rest of the runners that were behind me. It's an interesting feeling to know you are the very last runner.  I'm determined to just run my race and not worry about it yet.  

Mile 4 : It's a bit more level. Passing a big group of houses. I could hear a cow bell from far away. It's such an encouraging sound. By mile 4.2 I'm ready to cram that cow bell, oh wait, that's an in the head thought. I'll just leave that in there. I'm a bit irritable right now. 

Mile 5: This mile isn't too bad either with a nice down hill and then right back up but then it leveled out.  Still feeling ok. I decided that race directors are sadistic SOB's to create a course like this.

Mile 6: This mile started out fairly level and at about 6.5 there was one hell of a hill.  I actually walked about 10 seconds of it at the very top just trying to get around the turn onto the next road.

Up till this point I was the last one in the race.  At the last hill in this mile, I passed a bunch of people walking. It was really a boost for me but I also knew I wanted to hold onto being in the front of the back of the pack!  

This picture does NOT do this hill justice plus this is just the beginning of it. It felt like it went straight up. 

Mile 7:  This was a nice mile as it was mostly downhill. I was really trying to catch my breath after that last hill and drink a bit of water. My stomach was feeling iffy but nothing like in my 10k. 

Mile 8:  This is pretty much just one big long hill.  Choked down a GU somehow. At this point I HATE the texture of it but I've used chews in the past and I know they are worse for me.  I'm not sure I HOW I forgot how hilly this road is especially since I’ve driven it hundreds of times! I felt strong but ready to be done.

Mile 9: This mile starts downhill. There was a woman who kept leapfrogging me.  She pushed me up the last couple hills. 9.3-10 was all uphill.  It hurt like hell but I still felt like I was giving a consistent effort.  I was grateful for her during this mile. 

Mile 10:  Yes, downhill again but then, I rounded a curve. I totally forgot about this hill. It’s a long one (mile 10.85 to 11.30). This hill is the one that almost won.  I slowed way down.  My legs felt like lead. I was having a hard time breathing. The woman I'd been running with passed me and was gone. I was impressed at how she owned this hill.  I couldn't wait to tell her so at the finish line.  

Mile 11: The same hill that started in mile 10.  Once I topped the hill, it levels off for a bit and then all downhill.  I passed a guy I ran next to in mile 2-3 on this hill. I'm normally very competitive with myself but it's really a boost to pass people on the race course. This is the first race I've done that I've really felt that in. I think it's because I was racing this one, not just out to enjoy the run. That's a shift in thought processes for me. 

Mile 12 : ALL downhill.  But the downhill was just as excessive as some of the uphills.  So I know I was holding back a bit so I wouldn’t hurt myself running all out. 

Mile 12-12.4:  I almost got lost because I couldn’t see the runner ahead of me and the only marking was white arrows on the road. We were back into a residential area and I asked some guy if the runners went by this way. Then I saw her way ahead turing a corner. Phew. That would have sucked to come all this way to get lost at the end! 

Overall I feel good about what I did. I finished in 2:07:58.  This is a race of fast runners so I felt I pretty much held my own out there.  I thought for sure I was going to be dead last during the 1st half but I finished with 6 other people behind me.  I really enjoyed waiting at the finish line to cheer on those I'd run with over the course.  It was great to see everyone finish.  

warming up
No frills or big crowds for this race

Brought my flatties along for inspiration
(they are tucked in my running belt) 

I'll take that time! 

The finishers sticker and my running friends with me

My biggest support and inspiration for all my running! I love you two. 

Time to relax and unwind!!

Elevation map from my Garmin


  1. There is so much Awesome in this. I stand by my pre-race statement. What is inside Kirsten is stronger than any race or obstacle that comes her way. The demons in our head are worse than the demons on the road, Every time. You are strong, and you totally kicked it! - BryanB


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