Sleepy Hollow is known as the home of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, haunted grave yards, beautiful trees, and plenty Halloween spirit… and of the Riverside Runners Sleepy Hollow 10K.
Yup, one last race before the Marathon, and a seasonal one was in order. The historic village is just a little 30 minute drive from my front door, so perfect for a Saturday race. Where to start in the days events?
Sense this was not an NYRR or NYC Runs event, the race numbers were not conveniently located on the Upper West side for me to pick up while on a stroll after work. No fear! Megan is here! This time her job was a hop skip and jump from packet pickup, so she took care of that for all runners in our party. Races in the cooler seasons usually mean long sleeved race shirts and this one was no different. (I’m now a proud finisher and owner of a very orange are shirt).
Weather this time of year can be unpredictable and change in the blink of an eye. Pre-race evening= cool and breeze. Race Day= grey, windy, and rainy! Like not pouring-can’t-see-the-road-ahead rainy, but like my-shoes-are-gonna-be-soaked-before-we-even-start rainy. And did I mention cold? Incase you missed that, it was wet, windy, and cold! But we’ve all run in worse and to quote a course volunteer from a past race, “you look so much more bad-ass running in the rain!”
So morning of, layered up and ready to go we hop in the car and head to Sleepy Hollow. The weather definitely made the start line a little messy and confusing. Everyone was huddled up under store front awnings or strategically held umbrellas. The energy felt low until we saw the Headless Horseman heading our way (I’ll leave out the part where we saw the rider getting in costume and no he wasn’t holding a pumpkin), but as he lead the way to the starting line and we all fell in behind, it felt like we were heading off on an adventure and the rain, rather then be an annoyance, was all part of the experience. The gun sounded and the horse reared. Nothing but scenic Hudson River views, colorful wet leaves, steep hills, haunted turns, and costumed characters stood in our way.
I could tell right away this was a community event. Starting out on the “seed yourself” course, everyone was talking and chatting, stopping to take pictures and going way to fast to maintain a pace the whole event. But once we were about a mile into the course, and out of the downtown area, races set in and runners spread out, hunkering in and assessing the terrain. Front lawns were decorated with signs of haunting encouragement (Don’t stop, something might be gaining on you! and Run for your life!) and families were out to cheer us on. Race course support was dressed to impress, or scare, and the Horseman made another appearance- waiting for us around a tight turn.
The course… hilly. Hilly, so hilly, that’s really all I can say. Beautiful but hilly! There were moments I had to wonder, as I approached yet another steep incline and had to crane my neck and look almost straight up, HOW am I going to make it up this one?? There were some times when just as you thought you were at the top and flattening out, there would be a second tier to tackle before downhill even became an option! I’ll fully admit, there were hills I had to power walk up, not necessarily because I was fatigued, or because a walk/run strategy is what I will be using for the marathon, but because I’m actually not sure if my little legs would be able to run up some of the hills we faced.
Then of course- what does up, must come down! I cane definitely say I was more intimidated by the uphills but fearful of the down. Leaves and pine needles are treacherous as they are when on the road. Add in the rain and downhills could easily become a painful slip-and-slide. Taking a slower pace and accurate footing ensured I didn’t take a tumble.
I felt like the miles flew by, which was also a relief as struggling through 6.2 miles would not have been a good sign right before tackling 26.2… There were beautiful views of the Hudson River and the excitement of the conditions to take my mind off everything else. The finish line, I knew would be exciting. We passed it on the way out of town and it was at the top of a small but intense little hill (OMG did I mention the course was hilly?). Once I could see it, all of the excitement powered me up and across!
What gets me is when spectators shout “It’s all downhill from here!” when it’s DEFINITELY NOT and “You can see the finish” when you DEFINITELY CAN’T. Don’t get me wrong, I love the support, but in the moment of the race, what they say and what I experience are not the same. Of course they can’t know that I don’t appreciate what they are saying, but what is “just around the next turn” to a spectator can be a lot longer for a runner.
I digress, race spectators will be race spectators. And no race would be the same without their support.
Finishing! I finished right were I wanted to be, at 1:10. By then the rain had let up (for the time being) and the wind picked up. I felt cold again! It wasn’t till mile 3 that I could feel all my fingers and of course slowing down meant getting cold all over again… but our Brunch reservations kept me going as did the thought of getting OUT of my wet layers!
After brunch the car ride home was made even better by the blasting heat that blew right on my cold, tired, still kinds damp footsies and the thought os nothing else standing in my way of a nap.
The important things to a runner!
What is your favorite seasonal race or race day story? Share here!