March 2016 - Running & Walking
Jumpstart Your Marathon Training
By Laura Clark
With the mild weather we have been having this winter, some of you have been tentatively dipping into marathon training. But the off and on bursts of spring punctuated by frigid blasts like we had Valentine’s Day weekend can railroad resolve. Fortunately, there are an abundance of medium distance road races in the April to June timeframe that can motivate us to keep our eyes on the ultimate goal.
According to coach John Couch of the Saratoga Stryders, “With all great training plans, variations of speed and distance are essential components. In training for a full marathon, medium-long races like 15Ks or half marathons provide the perfect forum for the long tempo workouts. Fellow runners provide the inspiration, the race provides the hydration, and you turn a challenging workout into a fun day.”
If you are hesitating on the brink of marathonship, a test run, especially so early in the season, will provide some of the answers. As your training ramps up, you can experience the benefits of longer efforts by extending your workouts either before or after the main event. Now with such distances available locally in April, May and June, you can assess your progress every month!
Perfect for early marathon wannabees, the Lake George Half Marathon & 5K on Sunday, April 24, is produced by 3C Race Productions, the same folks who organize the Saratoga Springs Half Marathon on July 10. You will get professional treatment similar to that experienced in a big-time marathon, and 20% of entry fees to benefit the Strong To Serve organization. The course is a rolling trek out and back along the west coast of Lake George, a perfect testing ground for those anticipating a challenging marathon. At the finish line you will be handed your personalized printed “race receipt” with logo, your name, bib number, time and finishing place, to add to your memorabilia collection. And a Steamboat paddlewheel race medal is one that begs to be proudly displayed. (lakegeorgehm.com)
Celebrating May Day on Sunday, May 1, are three events to choose from. The first is the third annual Spring Has Sprung Distance Festival, with the Spring Has Sprung 10-Mile Run, 5K Run and 3K Walk, and 22nd annual Anyone Can Tri Triathlon and Kids’ Triathlons, based from the Southern Saratoga YMCA in Clifton Park. Ten miles is a fairly unique distance and while this one is flat and fast on town bike trails and neighborhood streets, it could serve as an easier warmup for the hilly Adirondack Distance Run on June 26, as well as a first marathon-goal adventure into longer distances. With the multitude of events scheduled, you will be treated to an exciting ‘Who’s on First’ opportunity in a festival atmosphere, with plenty of options to interest family members, while you are going the distance. (zippyreg.com)
Enter Vermont’s Middlebury Maple Run Half Marathon and Relay on May 1 and you can extend your March maple tapping season into May at the post-race pancake breakfast. Like the Lake George Half, this is your opportunity to experience a big-time race venue with many of the expected marathon perks. This is a serious event, with no walkers or early starts allowed, and athletes expected to maintain a 13-minute per mile pace, guaranteeing sufficient motivation to maintain your projected tempo pace. Look for those Vermont hills on a mix of paved and hard packed dirt roads, and a tour of the historic Middlebury College. Finishers receive medals from Maple Landmark Woodcraft. And don’t fret that you might be too old – this year the oldest male and female finishers will receive a bottle of WhistlePig whiskey! (middleburymaplerun.com)
Expect almost 1,000 runners at the seventh annual Plattsburgh Half Marathon, Relay and 10K Run on May 1. By popular demand the 10K distance is a new addition! The two-person relay and half marathon will begin concurrently, so if you are running the half, make sure to maintain your tempo pace and not get lured in by the relay team speedsters. The scenic course is a thoughtful out-and-back tour of Plattsburgh beginning at the U.S. Oval Historic District, traveling a few miles along the Champlain lakefront bike path, and then through SUNY Plattsburgh campus and downtown. At the finish, there’s a post-race party and free massages. Race proceeds benefit Team Fox for Parkinson’s disease research. (plattsburghhalfmarathon.com)
On my all-time wish list is running the fifth annual Mastodon Challenge 15K Race and 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, May 7 in the city of Cohoes, at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. Who wouldn’t want a race shirt featuring a fearsome mastodon? The bones of the Cohoes mastodon, discovered in 1866 at the base of Cohoes Falls, have helped spark a Choose Cohoes revival in which this 15K plays a key role. Not only does the diverse route highlight historic factory buildings, the old Erie Canal towpath and the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, but it features numerous hills and city parks worthy of a charging mastodon. Like a 10-mile race, the 15K is a fairly unique distance, which you may not experience again until November’s Stockade-athon in Schenectady. To get runners climbing faster, this year there will be cash prizes for first, second and third overall male and female. (mastodonchallenge.com)
The seventh annual Jog for Jugs Half Marathon & 5K Run in Duanesburg on Saturday, May 14, features multiple inclines that would be good preparation for a challenging marathon or ultra run. Or reversely, a confidence-builder for those favoring flat and fast. After all, if you can survive this Schenectady County course and the Mastodon, you can endure most anything! Produced by Power House Athletics, and benefits Project HEAL to provide support for local breast cancer survivors, you will be honored to match your efforts to theirs. (powerhouseathleticsny.com)
The final two events follow the prevalent pattern of offering shorter and longer options, except that this time the longer option is the marathon distance.
On Sunday, June 12 the 12th annual Lake Placid Marathon & Half Marathon, ranked by Runner’s World as the #2 Best Destination Race in the USA, begin simultaneously with marathoners required to complete the course in six hours. As serious as these tough love standards are, the marathon is USATF sanctioned, but not certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier. The marathon two-loop, out-and-back course provides the reassurance of familiarity as you work to maintain your pace. This moderately rolling route, spiced with some inclines, gives runners great views of the High Peaks and Olympic venues. (lakeplacidmarathon.com)
Again on June 12, the Walkway Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K and “Think Differently” Dash, in Poughkeepsie showcases the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, a 19th century railroad bridge transformed into the world’s longest linear park. As such, the Hudson Valley route is primarily flat with a few rollers, and ends on a downward finish. The highlight is the traverse of the 1.25-mile Walkway pedestrian bridge, with its spectacular views of the Hudson River below. Not only will you be contributing to the upkeep of this wonderful park, but you’ll be participating in the first certified “green marathon” in New York. (walkwaymarathon.org)
First steps: Log onto your computer, register for your goal race, and then build your training plan with several of these unique, locally produced events in mind!
Laura Clark (email@example.com) of Saratoga Springs is an avid trail runner and ultramarathoner, snowshoer and cross-country skier. She is a children’s librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.