by Lisa Chase
It’s that wonderful time of year when running outside begins to involve significantly more laundry, a chronic runny nose, and the frequent use of a headlamp. For you runners that eschew treadmills--or at the very least try to minimize your relationship with them--your only remaining options for the 4 - 5 months of winter that we get here in the Capital District involve accessing an indoor track (a dozen laps to a mile, woohoo!), not running at all (most likely no one will notice the extra holiday weight), or braving those pesky outdoor elements. If do you plan on venturing outside on occasion to get your heart rate up, consider participating in HMRRC’s five-part Winter Series as a marvelous way to break up the tedium of winter running.
Featuring 1,750 finishers in the 2016-2017 season, the Ed Thomas Winter Series (named for the member and former club president who was instrumental in the organization of the Winter Series for decades before his passing last year) caters to runners of all distances and abilities. Each time, you can choose between two or three different race distances, ranging from 3 miles at Winter Series 1, 3, and 4 up to 20 miles at Winter Series 5. For those who like variety, you could pick a different distance at each of the five events. Alternatively, start out with the 15k at Winter Series #1 and see how much you can improve in 8 weeks by running it again at Winter Series #4. You’ll often find runners adding on mileage before and after races to hit their training goals. Likewise, we also have folks hoping to run their first race in the upcoming year who use these winter events to get their training and goal-setting started.
HMRRC members can race free, while non-members pay $5 (seriously, you might as well just join the club, you will very quickly get your money’s worth!). Pre-registration online is a nice feature that saves you a few minutes on race morning (but if you forget, you can still sign up on race day). The races start and finish near the Physical Education building on the SUNY Albany campus, with everyone meeting in that building before and after the race. Not sure where this is? Park in the Dutch Quad lot and then follow the stream of runners. The exact start location will vary depending on your race, but all of them eventually lead out into the state office campus. Be prepared: the weather you feel as you emerge from your car may be drastically different from the icy wind vortex of the loop. Dress appropriately. Winter races can be challenging and are almost never cancelled due to inclement weather.
There is a clock at the finish and because runners record their own time, be sure to note your finish time; and also remember to hand in your finisher’s card as soon as you return to the P.E. Building. Then comes the best part: HMRRC secured Bountiful Bread as a sponsor a few years ago and Maureen Cox along with other smiling volunteers will be on hand to pour you a steaming hot bowl of soup, complete with fresh bread, fruit, and a few other options to help replenish those calories burned. Prizes are awarded to the top overall finishers for each distance, as well as age-group winners (expect a free loaf of bread coupon, which I’ll happily take any day over another medal to dump in the shoebox).
The series kicks off at 10am on Sunday, December 3 with the Doug Bowden Winter Series #1, featuring a 3 mile and 15k option. Still recovering from your Turkey Trot PR? Please consider volunteering. HMRRC is a volunteer-based organization and would not survive if not for the many who lend a hand at each event. You can also help the Food Pantries feed the hungry this winter. Please bring a canned food or cash donation with you to registration. The Food Pantries are in need for soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, canned tuna and chicken, oatmeal, toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and laundry detergent.
Complete series dates:
December 3, 10am: Winter Series #1 - 3 mi and 15k
January 1, 12pm: Winter Series #2 - Hangover Half (13.1 mi) and 3.5 mi
January 14, 10am: Winter Series #3 - 3 mi, 10k, 25k
January 28, 10am: Winter Series #4 - 3 mi, 15k, 30k
February 18: Winter Series #5 - 4.5 mi and 10 mi (both start at 10am), 20 mi (starts at 9am)
Note: the HMRRC Winter Marathon also starts at 9am on February 18