Breakneck Point half marathon race report

Breakneck starting line. Not nervous – just ready to get the work done.


Okay, that’s out of the way.

I volunteered at an aid station at the Breakneck Point half/full marathon races last year. It was a great experience and I was blown away by the idea of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at aid stations (yeah trail races!), plus I love hiking in this area, so I used my volunteer credit to sign up for this year’s race. Then I talked my friend T into signing up, too. I’m not sure I explained clearly what we were getting into (or even fully understood it myself) so it was a very good thing that we previewed part of the course last weekend.

The race started at 7 a.m. Perfect weather: partly cloudy, starting in the low 40s and getting up to the 60s midday. I ran a total of 13.3 miles, with 4,489 feet of elevation gain over the course, and finished in 4:28:50. I hadn’t thought much about goals, other than surviving, but I was thinking I’d finish in around 5 hours. I was really happy with how it went and how I stayed strong through four and a half hours of tough trails and grueling climbs. In the results, I landed at #128 out of 202 half marathon finishers, and #32 out of 79 women half marathon finishers.

Training: I went into the race not trained quite as fully as I’d like, but with some solid trail running, hill work, and rock climbing under my belt. I feel like the rock climbing was seriously helpful – both for the hand-over-hand scramble sections (the signature climb on mile 6 and a few others) and for general stability and core strength. It would’ve been great to get up to the Hudson Highlands for more runs in the months before the race, but there just wasn’t time in my schedule so most of my trail preparation was in the “wilds” of Prospect Park.

I took one selfie while I was running. Here it is.

What went well: Hydration and nutrition! I carried 500 ml of water and 500 ml of Tailwind in my hydration pack, refilling them and grabbing a few pb&j quarter-sandwiches at both aid stations. And that was enough. The Tailwind sits well in my stomach, I didn’t bonk, and I don’t feel like I got too dehydrated (I’d also been hitting the water with Nuun really hard the day before the race, and I think that was good). Running club singlet, sleeves, capris, and running cap were the right outfit for the weather. I wore fingerless biking gloves with a leather palm, which were just perfect for confident hand placement in the scramble sections. I remembered my sunscreen. I printed out the cue sheet and a little map and laminated them. I understood the course pretty well. I went out conservatively and, even though the course was crazy hard work, I still had a little bit left to push at the end.

What didn’t go well: While I was passing the people who were running my pace overall on the uphills and scrambles, I was getting passed frequently on the downhills. I think this was partly me being an over-cautious person, partly a lack of training on rocky hills, and partly my shoes. I wore my newish Hoka Challenger ATR 2s, and while I love them for a lot of reasons – sweet cushioning, good grip, light weight – they didn’t feel quite right for this race. They were a little sloshy. My feet were moving around too much inside them and I didn’t always trust my landings as much as I wanted to. The Hokas are great for long runs but I’m thinking about looking for a different trail shoe (more narrow? tighter?) for really technical trail stuff like this.

Breakneck Point half marathon elevation profile

Overall thoughts: I’m doing this again next year!

What’s next: The Redding half marathon is three weeks away and I’d like to PR there. So I’m thinking a week of recovery, a week of training, and a week of taper.


It’s spring!

…and I haven’t written a blog post yet this year!

February highlight: spelling out “LOVE” on the streets of Brooklyn with my running club for Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been running pretty steadily, though, with some biking and climbing thrown in. Average weekly mileage is around 20 so far this year. 30 would be better. I’ll keep working toward that.

I’ve run a few races so far this year:

Joe Kleinerman 10K in January in Central Park: A cold day, snow coming down at the end of the race, and a PR at 54:49!

Al Gordon 4M in February in Prospect Park: Weirdly muggy and my first 4-mile race. I was super happy with my time of 34:20, averaging 8:35/mile pace.

Frozen Penguin half marathon in March as a training run: Brutal winds on the final four miles; otherwise a good run.

UAE 10K last weekend: Slower than my January 10K, as I was up on the trails the day before, and really I shouldn’t have run a 10K last weekend with Breakneck coming up, but the weather was oh so beautiful and the trees were blooming and all my friends were there.

I’m more or less prepared for the Breakneck Point trail half marathon tomorrow – it’s going to be brutal (with around 3,000 feet elevation gain over 13 miles it will definitely be my slowest half marathon ever) but I’ve been doing enough climbing and trail running that it shouldn’t break me. Last weekend T and I did a recon run on the trails that, as I’ve been telling people, “put the fear of god in me,” but also got me super excited about the race.

And then after Breakneck:

Redding Road Race: Half marathon 3 weeks later. I’m hoping to PR here, and the plan after Breakneck will be one week of recovery, one week of hard training, and one week of taper. It’s a hard course (hills!) but I know it well and it’s where I set my current half marathon PR (2:10:32).

Short races all summer: This summer is going to be a 5K and 5M party.

Hudson Valley ride: 55-mile bike tour in late June – I’ll need to train to be ready for the hills here, too.

NYC Duathlon: Heck yes, I signed up for a duathlon with a friend! Gonna have to figure out how these work. It’s 2.2 miles run, 12 miles bike, 2.2 miles run. The distances are not intimidating but putting them together is going to be interesting.

Portland Marathon: In early October. Training starts June 18, though I’m still trying to figure out what training will consist of.

It should be a good year.