Lake Effect Half Marathon (1:25.32)

I need to break up the Lake Effect Half Marathon into three posts.  That is because I can truly say it was one of the best experiences from the very beginning to crossing the finish line at the very end.  I’ll start with the race recap, then life outside of running recap and then finally the entire race as a whole with Ophelia’s Place.  This race recap in itself will be long!

I never went to this race with the intention of having a fast and close to PRing race (not quite my PR is 1:24.49).  Though the race course was slightly long, it gave me great confidence in a Spring PR.  I went in with the intention of fundraising for Ophelia’s Place and having a lot of fun with some of my best friends in upstate NY.  My “A” goal was to break 1:30 and anything under 1:30 would be golden.  (I am still hoping for a faster half in late Spring).  After last week’s 14k, I thought a sub 90 minute half was attainable.

I’ve had all my best half marathon races with no warm up.   After driving from Rochester to Syracuse to the race (roughly 75 minutes) I thought it might be best to run a mile around the course.  My legs felt like led the previous day so I knew a warm up mile might be in my best interest. So Laura and I warmed up a mile and just chatted away.

After using the bathroom and stashing my stuff as I normally do, I headed to the start line.  After the National Anthem the race went off and I immediately found myself around 4-5th female.  I made it my executive goal to finish under 90 minutes.  I chatted with a couple of people for the first mile and it felt as though the first mile took forever.  In reality it took 6 minutes and 36 seconds.  I figured it would be my fastest mile and I was actually a bit worried that maybe 1:30 was too aggressive.  My first mile is normally my fastest followed by my last mile.  I didn’t feel great during the first mile and I honestly was certain I would probably get slower.


Then I ran mile 2 in 6:43.  I passed a couple of females even though my second mile was not exactly where I wanted to be (it was my slowest).  I questioned myself after the second mile because a 6:43 second mile would mean I had a more narrow window for a sub 90 minute half.

The first 3 miles headed out of the parkway.  Around mile 2.5, I could see the leaders had already made the turn and were heading back towards us.  I was little bit jealous that the lead male got two cyclists. Obviously I could see the person in front of me so knew the direction of the course but I always get jealous when the top male gets a cyclist and the top female does not (even when I’m not the top female).  I ended up passing the first place female around mile 3 and decided more than anything wanted to win this race.  I was going to give it everything I had.  So that is what I did.

When I made the turn around I began to see the other runners coming in the opposite direction.  I really like out and back courses because I can see (and high five) everyone on course.  It is so motivating to me.  Mile 4 and 5 went by extremely quick because I was focused on high fiving and chatting with people.  Mile was actually my fastest mile (6:18) followed by mile 5 (6:20).

I attempted to grab water from the famous Suzie and ended up getting her soaken wet.  I vowed on lap two  (it was an out and back, out and back course)  that I would be better.  I mentally practiced until around mile 11 when I would see her again.

I realized that going towards the finish line was going with the wind so my miles were about 10 seconds faster (6:20 range).  I hadn’t noticed the slight wind going away from the start until I realized it wasn’t there going towards the start.

We hit the halfway point and I saw the race director it was back into the wind.  Luckily I could see more people along the course which kept me occupied.


Mile 7 was uneventful.  At this point I began to dig deeper and just focus on the end…which was still over 6 miles away.  Since we had a slight wind it was slightly harder.  (6:28).

I began less chatting after mile 8 because I was tired and wanted to focus on finishing the race.  It’s really hard for me to not smile and say thank you to everyone who says good job.

During mile 8 something really exciting happened; I got my own lead cyclist!  Unlike the Run for the Dream half marathon, he remained about 50 feet in front of me (not side by side).  Therefore I couldn’t chat with him. (but you aren’t supposed to chat with the cyclists anyways…apparently).  This race though I was pushing my limits so I’m not sure I would be able to chat if I tried.

By mile 9, I had started counting down the miles.  I was tired and was ready to finish the race.  When we did the final 180 back towards the start I dug deep and just focused on the end.  I was really tired and desperately trying to hold on to the lead.

Just for some good measure of staying cute.

Around mile 11, I passed one male and also saw Suzie.  For the .1 before her I prepared myself to grasp the water without spilling it on her.  It worked and she even snapped this photo of me.  It was the highlight of my race.  HA!  (6:29)


The final mile6:29 was just about finishing.  This year I was more prepared for going by the finish line and doing the final loop near a playground.  I was tired and I was staring longingly at the finish line the entire last half mile.  I focused on the end and then all of sudden I was almost there.

Since I was so focused and looking down at my feet, I looked up and saw a ribbon to run through and “break the tape”.  Though I’ve won several races, I’ve only “broken the tape” at two.  Nothing can take away the feeling of running through a ribbon.  It honestly felt like all my hard work from fundraising, from training and from racing was all rewarded.  I quickly threw up my hands for facebook and then nearly burst into tears (of joy).


Long story short: I can truly say this is my favorite race as far as the process to get there, the actual race and the joy I had with friends.  My splits ranged from 6:18 (mile 4) to 6:44 (mile 2).  I am pleasantly surprised and I am hoping to pick a PR at the Shamrock half marathon next month in my home town!  Despite it being a little long of a course (from tangents or from just being long) it’s my third fastest half marathon.  It was a shock to open up my distance running at this pace.

The race director and I
The race director and I

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race?

Are you a chatty/talkative racer? 


  1. I’m glad you had a great race. I feel like the fact that you put so much work into fundraising and raising awareness beforehand meant that it was even closer to you and that made you able to push yourself harder if that makes sense? I don’t know, maybe that’s just me, but when I’m really excited about something or it’s about more than just the race, I end up doing so much better than I expect.

  2. I am also running the Shamrock half next month. I’m really excited for the race! It will be my second half-marathon.

  3. Congrats!! I’m a little jealous, I haven’t yet won a race 🙁 it’s one of my goals for the next year or two. I’ve never really had the opportunity to chat while racing except for a marathon in which the gel made me sick and someone came to my aid haha. My favorite race so far has probably been the Columbus marathon, I got so much support from strangers and the weather was great, plus Ohio feels like home to me 🙂

  4. gosh I can’t believe this race. I mean I read your tweets and saw the time and was just floored. you deserved this one and even with all the behind the scenes work you did I bet everyone was impressed when you broke the tape. so proud of you!!!

  5. Congratulations on your win, your almost a PR, and meeting your goals for both the time and the fundraising for the race. That’s so awesome that you got to break the ribbon/tape too. I’ve won a few races overall but they were all small local races so there was no tape. But it’s so cool that you got to! It made for an awesome finish too.

    I am NOT a chatty racer! The only one where I really talked was my marathon and that’s because it was a slower pace being a marathon and all. Usually when racing I can’t talk at all, but if I took water at a stop I would say thank you, something like that… you know a 1-2 word response. But, my races are usually pretty short too.

  6. Congrats!! You are awesome. I am not usually a chatty racer, I guess it all depends on how I am feeling. My favorite race so far has been Nike women’s race in DC and the half I ran in Ft. Lauderdale.

    1. I liked the Nike half too, it’s where my PR came from. I just wish that it wasn’t so expensive and the logistics weren’t awful-otherwise I would probably do it again!

  7. I was so looking forward to this race recap! Congrats on the win and a great run! I don’t know how you didn’t freeze with all that snow around you.

    My favorite races are J&A races. I don’t know that I can pick just one – they are all good. Great organization (pet peeve for me), great shirts, great medals, and the food and beer afterward….amazing!

    I am NOT a chatty runner. I’m focusing too hard on breathing and not dying. And I really like to be in my own head space and not distracted by anyone else. However, I will wave to every little kid on the course (or give them high-fives!) and I always thank the workers at water stops. Volunteers are the unsung heroes of any race and they deserve so much appreciation!

    1. I agree about J&A races. They are so well put together that it is hard to pick “just one”. Shamrock is the biggest but I really like the VA is for Lovers too. Though I haven’t done Crawling Crab and I think I might be jaded because the Surf and Santa conditions were bad…UGH I liked Wicked a lot too…so yeah I can’t choose.

      1. If it fits in your schedule, you should try Crawlin Crab. I’m doing the “Shell Yeah” challenge this fall (5k on Sat, Half on Sunday – why do I get suckered into these challenges?!). Its pretty good – starts at the Hampton Convention Center – and this year they are doing a craft beer festival.

  8. You are amazing – and congratulations! I really don’t like to talk during shorter races, but I need to talk during ultras! It keeps my mind off what I’m doing!

  9. Such an awesome race, Hollie. You deserved every incredible step, you earned it with your focused and smart training.

  10. What an amazing race! I’m glad you got so many pictures too – gotta do it for the blog 😉 I think you’re going to have an extremely strong season. And I’m so happy for all you’ve accomplished with your fundraising, training and racing up to this point 🙂 You are inspirational.

  11. YOU ARE AMAZING! I love your race recaps- I get so into it and actually feel like i’m there running with you (but obvi not because you’re like 5x faster than me) congrats on an awesome race!!

  12. Absolutely amazing!! Great re-cap and truly, you are an inspiration. I don’t imagine myself ever breaking a tape butt I do love to read the successes of others…

    I’m naturally a talker but during a race I’m usually dying and can barely muster up the energy to breathe jaja!! I do make sure to thank the volunteers though.

    My favorite race was the most recent half I did, RnR Arizona. I PRd and met my goal of finishing under 2 hours (1:58:11) : )

  13. This is AWESOME! Facebook thanks you for throwing your hands up. I can only imagine how incredible it feels to not only have a lead cyclist, but also breaking tape. I’m in awe of your running.
    I’m not really a chatty runner. I find it difficult to maintain my pace and focus when chatting, though for easy runs, it’s fine. I’m the most chatty with my brother.

  14. Congrats! I always wonder what it would feel like to be one of the really fast women so I love reading your race recaps. Your outfit also makes me laugh – shorts and a tank in the snow?! 🙂 I guess when you are running that fast you stay warm!

  15. Absolutely amazing Hollie!!! You rocked it like I knew you would and that’s a great time considering all the tangents in that course. I’m not extremely chatty during races but if the crowd support is electric then I get more vocal 🙂 as far as my favorite race goes it might be a bit of a shock but it’s the Women’s Running Series event in St. Pete, FL I ran in the inaugaral event (which was my 1st half marathon btw) and I’m a 2-time men’s champion for the 5k there and currently still hold the fastest time for 5k male finishers. I love the course and have no problem ruuning in a female dominated event because as far as I’m concerned there are no male runners or female runners … just runners. We are all one in the same 🙂 I bet running a race with you would be awesome! I like vocal runners and those who are willing to give an occasional high five. Once again, congrats. I’m soooooo proud of you. You and Kris are two of my running super heros haha lol 😛

    P.S. I love the three side by side race photos in your post, they capture every emotion a runner goes through during a race. Joy, fatigue, and focus.

  16. SO incredibly proud and happy for you! Cannot wait to see you kick even more butt come springtime!

  17. A truly inspiring recap: it never ceases to amaze me how you can stay positive and optimistic, but also focused and aggressive (in a good way) throughout. I agree that the disparity between the treatment of lead males vs. females in races sucks, but at least you got your own cyclist in the end.

    You really exemplify for me what loving running, yet also being a total badass at running, is all about. Your paces are blistering and you still manage to enjoy yourself and have fun. It feels a bit weird to say you’re my no.1 role model for running since you’re quite a bit younger than me, but what the hey 🙂

    I am not a chatty racer at all, unless it’s swearing at myself for being so useless and slow! My favourite race is the the Marathon of the North, by a country mile – I’ve had the best time both years that I ran it, but due to issues with the course it’s not on this year…there’s a half marathon, and we all know how much I look forward to those (NOT). I don’t have your talent for them!


  18. I’m so happy you had a great race. To ME it seems like your whole mental outlook during training has been much more positive…I don’t know, maybe that’s crazy and I’m not really saying what I’m trying to say. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m failing at that. Congratulations on a great race.

    1. I’m a lot better training wise then I was in Texas. Texas just brought about frustration from moving, it being too hot and not being able to race often (due to driving to San Antonio). You know me too well!

  19. This is like my favorite post ever! How awesome!!!! You put so much hard work into raising money and how awesome to win it! I may have kind of teared up reading about you crossing the finish line (I’m really sappy in my old age, haha)! That picture of you preparing for your water is awesome. Awesome job!

  20. Congratulations Hollie! You really rocked this race. It was obvious that you were so passionate about fundraising and racing it well and it looks like it all came together for you on the day. Well done!

  21. SO sos sooo sooo happy for you and proud of you. It put the biggest smile on my face seeing you lead the race and finding out you won. Like not even kidding. You are a rockstar and a hero for all the money that you raised for a great cause.

  22. This is absolutely amazing, Hollie. You worked so hard to both train for this and raise the money for Ophelia House that it just makes perfect sense to me that you would win 🙂 I think my favorite race thus far would be my half from last June. It was smaller, but I really enjoyed the course, and it was nice to see my family three times for once instead of just at the finish.

  23. I have no fricken idea why Im so damn emotional but I teared up reading this. That third photo on the right is an amazing photograph–shows all the determination you have. Proud of you–2014 is going to be so good for you =)

  24. Congrats on the race. I didn’t realize you were “Meep Meep” Roadrunner fast! I think the only way I’ll ever “break the ribbon” is either tripping everyone or bringing my own. I’m just happy if my inner critic (he’s a bit of a tough bastard) thinks I did okay. Oh, and I like your phrase “executive goal”… I think I may borrow that as for each race I have numerous goals. Run on!

  25. You are so bad ass and my total running role model!

  26. I love that you mentioned the cyclist because no lie – the last time I saw you on the out and back I said to my friend “GOOD she finally got a lead cyclist, the men don’t need two!”

    You absolutely killed this race and did such a great thing fundraising for Ophelia’s Place. So happy for you and can’t wait to see how the rest of your spring racing goes. Look out, Shamrock!

  27. I’m SO happy to hear that it was an awesome race for you, and that picture of you breaking the tape is amazing (love that you made it your new header, btw). I really want to say thank you for all of the awareness you raised throughout this whole experience. You seriously rock, lady 🙂

  28. Congrats girl!! Love that finishers photo – amazing!

    I’ll be at Shamrock half as well and I’m hoping to pick up a PR as well! I hope to see you around..although you’ll finish at least 25-30 minutes before me. 🙂

  29. What a great recap, and so awesome that you won! I know you worked really hard to raise so much money, so I bet it felt really good to not only be the top fundraiser, but to win! Congratulations again!

  30. Congrats on 1st place. When I run an out and back I count the runners who have made the turn and are heading back. It gives me an idea of where I am in the race. It’s also a nice distraction. The BAA 10K is a great out and back race.

  31. Hollie I am BLOWN AWAY at your accomplishment! I can’t imagine ever breaking a tape, as I’m not even certain I’m going to finish my half in the 4 hours of allotted time. Congratulations! What an amazing ending to your hard work training and fundraising. Proud of you!! <3 🙂

  32. I love how intense you look in the third race photo of the trio of race photos. That is what I love about racing–it hurts like hell but we do it anyway because we are strong and can push ourselves past the pain. For that reason, I rarely talk during races. All my energy (and my breath) is being used to propel myself forward. But maybe I could learn to talk while working hard and it would take some of the focus off how hard it is.

  33. Congrats Hollie! You certainly deserved and earned the win! I love your focused pictures – they’re so great!!!

  34. First of all everything you have put into this race OUTSIDE of running is phenomenal and so admirable!

    On the running part, your ability to (first off remember) detail your specific mental shifts during the race are so awesome! Though not nearly at your speeds, I feel like I am reliving my own races reading how you shift through stages!

    Congrats girl, you earned everything you got out this race!

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