July 2016- Running & Walking
Short and Sweet: Races for the "Dog Days" of Summer
By Laura Clark
Despite a winter spent yearning for naked legs, when the dog days of summer finally arrive it is a different story. It seems as if no one is more uncomfortable than the furry family pet who lounges in the shade, panting heavily. A telling image for the dog days of summer, or so I thought. But actually we have Sirius, the Dog Star, to thank. In ancient times it was believed that his sheer magnitude generated extraordinary heat and in the summer when he was in conjunction with the sun, Sirius was blamed for the July/August double whammy.
So how do we maintain our motivation despite the Dog Star’s curse? A glance at the race calendar offers a solution: trick your mind into an “easy” 5K. While there is nothing effortless about this distance, given that it demands a strong push throughout, it is easier to trick your mind into race mode with the promise of three rapid miles, instead of a ten-mile slog. The shorter distance races profiled below promise that much and more, as all offer unique twists to what can sometimes be a ho-hum flat and fast theme.
Are you a female and longing for the unique camaraderie of Freihofer’s Run? Then mark your calendar for July 17 and the first annual Helderberg 5K for Women: Domestic Violence Awareness Run. The race is directed by Phil Carducci, who also brings us the Altamont 5K and the Run Off That Turkey 5K, you are guaranteed a class event. In fact, it traces the same USATF certified route as the Altamont 5K (August 28), providing an exclusive dress rehearsal for the women. A perfect dog days combo of hills and flat, expect a no-holds barred finish on the Voorheesville High School track. Competitive women will be pushed by their peers and not get buried in a crowd of men. There are five 5-year age groups, with awards encompassing 80+. Another unique feature is that the top ten walkers, whatever their style, also receive rewards. As Phil states, “No guys allowed unless they volunteer!” (active.com)
Early diagnosis for the immune disease sepsis is crucial. I know this firsthand. After taking my husband for his post-surgery back appointment, we stopped at Stewart’s Shops. I took one look and rushed him to the hospital. If I hadn’t been right there he would have died. So I deem July 23rd’s fourth annual Zombie Gauntlet 5K Trail Run for Sepsis Awareness an appropriate pairing. Zombie registrants receive a free makeup and hair styling experience, while hopeful survivors receive flag football belts and three health flags. Make it to the finish alive with one flag still attached and you are a winner, no matter your time. You will be so busy zigging and zagging to avoid the zombies positioned along the Queensbury School cross-country trails you will easily forget the heat. Afterwards, enjoy free admission to Touch-A-Truck, meet the heroes who drive the trucks, and spring for the special discount for non-running family members. (jrvfoundation.org)
Want to lure your kids away from their devices this summer? Then zoom in on the Hudson Headwaters Care for Kids 5K Run & Fitness Walk in Chestertown on July 31. Care for Kids is all about the kids, with Brant Lake and Point O’Pines summer camps funneling into the event and two-year age groups, which actually make winning a possibility for even the youngest set. I remember how tough it was for my girls when their age and physical development prevented them from medaling in the typical five-year youth span. Moreover, proceeds benefit primary pediatric health care at Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a cause children can readily identify with. Race director Howard Nelson emphasizes that many families participate, pleased to support a system which serves all in need, regardless of income or insurance. (hhhn.org)
Want to get in more distance without concern for the last licks of the dog days? Then travel to Speculator for the 38th annual Lane 10K Lake Run on August 7, known as the “Toughest 10K in the Adirondacks,” according to the local running population. Athletes follow the south shore of Lake Pleasant in a mercifully shaded, up and down route from Lake Pleasant to Speculator. Go all out and rack up a perfect training day for the Adirondack Marathon or Half. (speculatorchamber.com)
Or, prepare for fall’s Stockade-athon or Cardiac Classic by circling the shaded Central Park at the Schenectady ARC 5K Challenge on August 13. In keeping with its goal of showcasing the accomplishments of challenged individuals, there is also a 1K Wheel/Walk, and in the “We’re all in this together” spirit, various team options are offered. (arc5Kchallenge.com)
The final events on the docket, the fourth annual Monday Night Mile on August 15 (finishright.com) and 14th annual Jailhouse Rock 5K Race on August 20 (brooksidemuseum.org) have teamed up this year to provide a unique racing experience. According to Jailhouse’s race director, Jen Ferriss, “History matters,” and both the Brookside Museum and the Saratoga Springs History Museum hope to benefit from their partnership. If you register for both races by August 14 and win your age/gender category you receive a one-year family membership to the History Museum and Brookside as well as free 2017 race entries for a total value of $137. As added incentive, there is a $150 bonus for any male and female finishing first overall in both. Participating will afford a doable challenge for many of our outstanding local runners who often get little recognition beyond the normal race medal.
One good thing about the Monday Night Mile race is that one-mile is theoretically over quickly. But when you are running, time expands, and maintaining pace proves a true test of endurance. On August 15 you have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the harness track’s “dark day,” line up behind the moveable starting gate and take off like the horses. For those accustomed to groomed quarter mile venues, be aware that the half-mile harness track will seem more like a trail with its sloped sides and rough gravel.
Heats begin at 5:30pm with the ten-minute+ milers and while you may run any heat, it is requested that you choose the one that approximates your mile time. Hitting that sweet spot is in itself a talent. The natural tendency is to regard those in your heat as your competitors, but while you may win your heat, this does not necessarily mean you will win your age group. The suspense continues through the final round!
On a quest to finally acquire that enviable negative-split final mile? Well, the August 20 Jailhouse Rock 5K offers that possibility with its memorable 100-meter downhill finish. So much so that after the first year, we had to lengthen the finish chute as runners were unable to rein themselves in before crashing into hapless volunteers. Brookside Museum provides an 18th century style lawn party venue, complete with a wide veranda, verdant grass, music and refreshments. Proceeds benefit their efforts to tell Saratoga’s story through interactive exhibits and programs.
With all these race possibilities it is up to you to prove that the dog days are simply a state of mind.
Laura Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Saratoga Springs is an avid trail runner, ultramarathoner, snowshoer and cross-country skier. She is a children’s librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.