by Mollie Turner
The 41st edition of the MVP Health Care Stockade-athon fell on a crisp November morning. You couldn't have picked a better day for running, in my opinion. A chilly 39 degrees at the start, mid-40's and partly sunny for the race. One of the perks of an elite bib number is the heated tent near the start, so I felt comfortable in my racing attire. This year registered runners were given an Adidas performance singlet with the race logo, although I wore my green Willow Street Athletic Club singlet for the race. The race went off exactly at 8:30 a.m.
The first mile of this classic 15k race is downhill, which leads to fast splits. My legs felt dead but my breathing was fine, so I just tried to relax and not think about it as we rolled past the downtown Stockade District. There were volunteers reading splits along the course and there were clocks at the mile markers. The timing team did a fantastic job with this. I glanced over at the Mohawk River as we ran along the bike path and then turned onto the streets again, past the new casino still under construction.
Starting just before the two mile mark, runners begin the climb towards Union College and into the heart of Schenectady. Yes, my legs felt those hills, but the spectators on the course helped to carry runners through the hilliest portion of the race. Through this section of the course there are plenty of twists and turns, along with the climbs, but volunteers at every corner helped to direct runners and keep us on course. Police officers were also out to direct traffic and keep the runners safe. Somewhere around mile 4 the terrain evens out and I was able to quicken my stride and focus on a few runners ahead to chase down for the next two miles.
Just after 10k, we entered Central Park. Volunteers helped to direct us through the park and around several turns. I had run a preview of the course the previous weekend, so I knew the last big hill was ahead. My sister had volunteered to be a course marshal and she was posted at the top of that hill, around mile 7.5, as were other spectators. The hill wasn’t especially steep or long, but with only 3k to go we were all running on tired legs. I wish I could have thanked each person individually for their cheers because I needed them, but I was focused on getting up and over, still chasing down some runners ahead. The last 3k is either flat or downhill.
After exiting Central Park we turned into Vale Cemetery and then onto a beautiful path in Vale Park, my favorite part of the course. Lots of cheers from spectators in this section. Before I knew it we hit the 9 mile marker, and as I glanced at the clock I knew I would be close my all time 15k PR, set in 2003, fresh out of college. With that goal in mind, I used the downhill finish to close the last 0.3 miles and cross the finish line with a new PR, placing myself on the podium with some of the fastest women in the northeast.
I refueled with an assortment of refreshments at Proctor’s Arcade, including soup from Bountiful Bread, bananas, cookies, bagels, and hot coffee. Although I felt warm after the race, it was nice to have the refreshments indoors. After the awards ceremony, we planned to head over to Pinhead Susan’s for a complimentary post-race beer, but my two kids had other plans. So next year, I’ll make that part of my goal for the Stockade-athon. I heard I missed a pretty good party.
Thank you to race director Vince Juliano as well as all of the race coordinators for putting on a fantastic event. Congrats to Mark Mindel for completing his 41st consecutive Stockade-athon (yes, that’s all of them)! And thanks to the race sponsors, MVP Health Care, Fleet Feet Sports, Adidas, Proctors, Schenectady YMCA, and USATF Adirondack Association. See you next year!