Yesterday was my fourth time running the Skunk Cabbage Classic Half in Ithaca. I ran this as my third race ever and my second half marathon back in 2010 and have been there every year since. This year the course was a bit different as Barton Hall was setting up for Bob Dylan to play at Cornell Sunday night. Consequently, no downhill finish right outside Barton Hall as the street was full of buses and 18 wheelers bringing in items for the concert.
I have always laughed that the weather is surprisingly good in Ithaca in April. My friend Steve has told me that the weather at this race can be hit or miss. My first year it was a touch chilly but sunny. Second year was perfect. Just enough sun that no breeze was cold. Last year was rainy. And for those of us who do not clock 8:30 miles, we got a bit wetter than others. Yesterday takes the cake, though. Yesterday, it was snowing when I pulled onto campus. When I took my tee shirt down to the car and got my bag with my clothes to change into post-race, the snow had stopped. It flurried off and on throughout the entire race. Most of the snow was accompanied by a brisk – read that as freezing – wind.
The half marathon course had one other huge change, and a couple smaller ones, in it. Instead of turning off Game Farm Rd with the 10K runners, half marathoners kept going up the road. Top that change off with all the runners starting together – which had never happened since I have been running it – and a different start direction, it was a whole new race.
I don’t think that any of the changes were horrible. I was not thrilled with the now uphill finish to the race but it is what it is. I certainly couldn’t change it. The start being all together – combined there were over 1000 runners – made for a difficult time. You were definitely weaving about to get a good spot. Once the 10K runners turned off on Dodge Road, though, the roads thinned out a bit.
Not my best or my worst half marathon. This course – rather the course this was last year – holds my half PR. I was off that by 13 minutes yesterday which is really what I wanted as I was just running as a training run. The real race is Saturday when I run the mountains of Roanoke, Virginia. This was a perfect opportunity to test my energy gel spacing (that every 4.5 miles seems to work well). Now off to pack because I am obsessing over the possible weather in Roanoke.
Do you run races to train for a bigger race? How close together do you run races?