Friday, April 8, 2016

Race Report: Two Rivers Half Marathon, Day 2

The next race on my calendar was actually decided very last minute.  I didn't want to take a break from my schedule as I had my biggest mileage weekend coming up the following week, so I found out that a two-day marathon and half marathon running festival was being put on in the Poconos, in the community of Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.  Originally, I was going to make it a double weekend, and run a half marathon on Saturday, as well - specifically, the Sleepy Hollow Half, in Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown, NY (an easy 40 minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal.  I was also being convinced to do a race at West Point, requiring me to take a little longer train ride up to Peekskill and then cab it to the United States Military Academy campus on the west side of the Hudson, but the start was just too early.  Sorry Heather...)  In any case, I woke up on Saturday just not feeling that early of a wake up call and desired to sleep in, so I did... and instead I decided to run from my apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens all the way into the city, to the Rutgers Presbyterian Church, where at 11am, my running club, Front Runners New York, would be assembling for their weekly post-Central Park fun run breakfast.  So I still got about 7 miles in, with hills, running across the Queensboro Bridge into the city.

That evening, I took the train out to Dover, New Jersey, and was picked up by my cousin Pam and her husband Matt, along with their brand new 3-month old baby girl, Sybilla, who lived about twenty minutes away in Wharton, NJ.  I spent a great weekend with them, catching up and getting to know my little niece.  The following morning, I borrowed Pam's car, and drove about 65 minutes up the road to Lackawaxen, PA; the race was at 9am, and there was an 8:15 bus to take us from the finish line area up to the Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley, PA, where the start was.

Beautiful course!
Upon arrival, I checked in and registered for the race with race director Mark Hughes, and met up with friends JC and Jeanette, who I met in Phoenix a month earlier. Both of them had run the day before, and JC was taking a break for today, but Jeanette was running the half for a second day in a row.  After a little small talk, it came to light that I was a singer and had sung the national anthem for many races, and last minute, Mark had me sing the national anthem in front of the small group assembled at the start line.  The previous day's race was very well attended - over 200 finishers for all four distances (full, half, 10k, and 5k), but only a little over 60 showed up for today's events.  I also met John Liu, former New York City councilman (representing Flushing), former Comptroller, and one-time New York City mayoral candidate, who apparently (and I learned this later), is a serial marathoner himself, competing in about one marathon a month.

Shot up road signs...
Soon, we assembled outside onto Welcome Lake Road, just north of the resort, and after the anthem, we were off!  Very informal, but hey - with a group of 60 athletes, no real fanfare is needed, right?  Almost immediately, we ran on a downhill, taking us from about 1350 feet down to 988 feet in two miles.  Just before the two mile mark (where we had our first water station), we made a right turn onto Masthope Plank Road, and would run on this road all the way down to Lackawaxen, over the next 9 miles.  The majority of the race would be run through Pennsylvania State Game Lands 316, hunting grounds for the area, and it was evident from some road signage that had been... dealt with. LOL...

The Delaware River!
The course was very scenic, as we were surrounded by woods on both sides, with only us runners taking over the road.  Every so often a car or truck would pass by, but they were respectful of our road race.  Every two miles, there was a water station with a great group of volunteers handing out water cups, and cheering us on.  By the 6 mile mark, we finally reached the Delaware River and some railroad tracks running alongside, where on the other side of the river was New York State.   We'd have some minor rolling hills all throughout, but enough to still make it challenging.  We finally left Masthope Plank Road at mile 11, turning right onto PA-590, a short out and back (including a gnome sitting on a cliffside overlooking the road), before taking the bridge over the Lackawaxen River (a tributary of the Delaware) into the city and over to the finish line.

Fun "stone men," or inuksuit in Pennsylvania!

Gnome more hills...

Almost to the finish...

I finished the race in 2:15:31, notable for being my fastest half time this year so far.  After the race, we headed into the local general store and took advantage of the free chili/hamburger/cheeseburger and french fries which came with our registration, and then I headed out to make it back to the finish line in time to see the first finisher of the full marathon, Chuck Engle ("Marathon Junkie"), make his way across the mat in an astounding 2:50:38 - clocking in one of his MANY race wins over his illustrious marathon racing career, including winning the previous day's race in another sub-3 effort!  After finding my way back to the main roads (we were way out in the country, and I had no cell service or GPS!), I made my way back to Wharton for an Easter lunch being prepared by my cousin's husband, and then later that night, headed back home to NYC!  My 61st half marathon was in the books...

Celebrating #61 with a Victory Headstand!

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