SPORTS • FITNESS • TRAVEL • ADVENTURE • WELLNESS • MAY - JUNE 2017
Bill Parks skis
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 1
WHERE DID IT START?
Was it a idea in the back of your mind, a seed that got planted,
something someone said, or a challenge?
OR WAS IT ALWAYS THERE?
Did you want to beat everyone in the 50 yard dash?
Or were you the kid fidgeting at your desk, waiting for the bell
to ring just so you could get outside?
Even now, you can’t stand sitting still 9-5, or lying in a
hammock on a beach for 5 days straight.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
Did you see a mountain you wanted to scale?
Did something grab your imagination?
Or did you simply see someone cross a finish line
and say to yourself- hey, I can do that.
WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION?
Now that you’ve started, what keeps you going?
Do you just like being outside? Do you like to keep moving?
Do you want to stay healthy? Do you want to be strong?
Do you like to challenge yourself? Do you just want to be faster?
HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?
Do you set your own goals, or do you work with someone?
How do you hang in there?
WHAT’S YOUR PASSION?
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 3
10 Cover Story:
5 Ways to Spin It
17 6 Essentials to
20 Active Life
Bill Parks Skis
Before and After
24 Road Trip:
15 Hours on the
The Toughest Hike in
28 On a Roll
How One Mom Learned
to Love Racing
IN EVERY ISSUE
5 Editor’s Letter
7 Active Life
18 Health &
ON OUR COVER:
Accomplished cross-country running and track athlete
Nick Marcantonio (a three-time Division III All-American at
SUNY Cortland) trains for his next goal: the 2017 Ironman
World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Photo by Niles Gagnon.
4 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
Thanks for picking up and reading the premier issue of Dacks and Toga Active Life magazine. We
have learned a lot in the several months that our journey began, and our concept for the magazine
became the publication you have in your hand. Foremost, we learned that publishing a magazine for
the active lifestyle community is not that different from training for an event or just trying to stay fit.
You have to have a plan, and a goal. You have to start with small steps and push yourself to build
up endurance and momentum.
We are lucky. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country with mountain views that
make you smile and boundless numbers of parks, trails, lakes and sporting venues to help you stay
active. It’s not hard being creative when we have such wonders right in our backyards to keep us
centered and focused.
That being said, we hope you like what you see. We have put our best effort into bringing you
a dynamic magazine that we hope is not only visually engaging, but also has articles that are
motivating and inspiring. We want to thank everyone who has helped us from day one of our journey,
especially our writers, photographers, and our advertisers, since all are important to our active
See you in July,
The Active Life Team
Get Ready for the 4th Annual
TRAIL AND MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE
Benefiting the Under the Woods Foundation
and Camp Under the Woods
A Camp for Children on the Autism Spectrum
Saturday & Sunday, August 5th & 6th
at Gurney Lane Recreation Park, Queensbury
Saturday, 9am: 5k TRAIL RUNNING RACE
followed by Demos and Group Rides at noon
Sunday, 9am: CHURNEY GURNEY MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE
Cat 1, Cat 2, Cat 3, and Open/Pro Categories, Vendors & Demos
Cash Prizes for Open/Pro, Prizes for other Categories
Updates on Information,
Activities and Registration
by North Country
Plus Group Rides, Activities & Contests
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n Join forces
with our team
coaches and gain
a higher level of
fitness, strength and
education that is
with your goals.
n Push yourself
harder with eight
sessions and intense
designed exclusively for our LEVEL UP participants.
Find it at the Glens Falls YMCA
Intermediate 600 Glen St, Glens Falls
to Advanced (518) 793-3878
For info: www.glensfallsymca.org
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 5
Job # 000 - GF YMCA - Sales Rep/Artist
Drew Cappabianca owns and operates The Hub: a cafe,
bar, and bike shop in Brant Lake, NY. He is involved in
building better and safer mountain biking trails in the region
and is an advisor for the Warren County Safe and Quality
Biking Organization. He has hired Steve Ovitt to design Brant
Lake Bike Park on Bartonville Mountain, located directly
behind The Hub, with development beginning in 2017.
(visit www.brantlakebikepark.com). When the Hub is closed
for the winter months Drew can be found helping customers
at The Sports Page in Queensbury, NY.
Alex Kochon lives in Gansevoort with her husband and son.
She is a former sportswriter at The Post-Star and is currently
the managing editor of FasterSkier.com where she reports
on World Cup skiing. She was born into a Nordic skiing
family and skied for the Lake George HS Nordic Team. She
captained the women’s soccer team at Emerson College and
also interned at the Beijing Olympics. Additionally, she was
a Nordic Skiing Instructor in the Colorado Rockies and is a
Certified Personal Trainer. When she’s not writing or editing,
Alex can be found chasing her 1-1/2 year old, and skiing,
biking, running and hiking in the Adirondacks
Eric J. Hamilton is a retired Environmental Engineer who
keeps busy by being on the board of directors for several
organizations including the Mohawk Towpath Byway, the
Shenendehowa Nordic Club, and NYSSRA Nordic. He
competes in Biathlon races for Saratoga Biathlon Club and
Nordic Ski races for HURT Nordic. He also participates in
Ski-Orienteering events. His passion is to get residents and
visitors on bicycles to discover the historical, natural, and
recreational assets along the Erie Canal.
Jared Newell developed his love of athletics while running at
Queensbury High School and SUNY Cortland where he was
on Queensbury’s first Boy’s State Championship Team and
SUNY Cortland’s first National Championship Team.
He currently runs and cycles recreationally, but has found
that his passion is fly fishing in the abundant waters of the
Adirondacks. He still loves working and training endurance
athletes and is currently aiming to continue pursuing cycling
and triathlon racing. Weekly he works timing races
throughout New York with Underdog Race Timing.
Ethan Katz has been a Nordic skier since age 10.
He currently is a Mechanical Engineering major in his junior
year at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY where he is on
their successful Nordic ski team that has won Divisionals and
Regionals the last three years, and which has performed very
well at Nationals in the NSCSA Division. Besides
Nordic skiing he is an avid hiker. He also prepares for the
Nordic season by bicycling, running, distance trail running,
and crossfit training.
Duncan Callahan is a former Glens Falls High School
cross country and Nordic skiing star, who lives in Gunnison,
Colorado with his family. He is a champion ultra-distance
runner with 4-dozen races over the last decade including
fifteen 100-mile races, and well over a dozen 50-mile races.
Besides competing in ultra-distance races, Duncan is a
long-time coach. He is currently the Director of
Campus Recreation at Western State Colorado University
as well as the school’s head Nordic Ski Coach, where he
motivates a fairly new team that has done very well at
Nationals the past two years.
87 North Publishing, Ltd.
Eric J. Hamilton
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6 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
Destination: Meteora, Greece
THE GREEK ISLANDS may be prominent on many travelers’
bucket lists, but Meteora is fast rising to the top as a hub for the
active adventurer. Meteora, which means “middle of the sky”, is
famous for its precarious, hill-top monasteries and stunning scenery.
While visiting the monasteries is still one of the main tourist draws,
hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and rafting are drawing more
and more visitors. Meteora is in central Greece, about 4 hours from
Athens. Summertime can be crowded, but some towns are a little
quieter than others. Do some research before you go. In the
meantime, this picture is definitely going on our bulletin board!
Travel, inspiration, gadgets and
jobs well done — there’s always
something on our mind. Here are some
of the items on our current short list
that we want to share with you.
TOO BUSY TO
DRINK A GLASS OF
WATER? Not sure you’ve
taken on enough fluids
after a workout? Then
the HydraCoach water
botttle may be for you.
The HydraCoach is an
interactive water bottle
that calculates how much
water you should be
drinking, tracks daily
water consumption and
motivates you to achieve
proper hydration. It has
a 600 ml. capacity, a
water resistant computer,
and comes with a 3 volt
WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT? RAW
TALENT OR CONFRONTING YOUR
FEARS? This very question, as well
as the concept of perceived effort,
is addressed in the book, “How
Bad Do You Want it?” by Matt
Fitzgerald. Although this book
was published back in 2015,
it still sits prominently on our
coffee table and gets a lot
of thumb-through action.
From the first quote,
“The Mind is the Athlete”
(attributed to Bryce Courtenay) through
the recounting of several exciting races
from various sports, we find inspiration
for both our training and our life.
PHOTO: Shutterstock, HydraCoach, Jody Katz
Kudos for Great Sportsmanship!
JAKE JACOBS of Glens Falls, New York qualified as the
number 18 seed out of 32 for the Saturday, March 11, 2017
finals of the inaugural World Pro Ski Tour race at Sunday
River, Maine. In the first round, Jake dispatched number
15 seed Alec Tarberry to advance to the round of 16, where
he was paired with the number 2 seed Gabriel Rivas of
France. In the first run, Jacobs was leading the French ace,
and as they were approaching the finish line Jacobs and
Rivas each had to make recoveries and both skied out of
the course without finishing. The judges ruled that Jacobs
had preceded further down the course than the French rival,
which would have given Jacobs a 1.35 second advantage
over the French star for the 2nd run. However Jake, in a
gesture of incredible sportsmanship, told his opponent
that he may possibly have interfered with Rivas towards
the bottom of the run. The two athletes discussed the matter
and agreed on a 0 time advantage going into the 2nd run
on a handshake. The race Jury accepted the racers’
decision, a development that is unprecedented in the
history of Pro ski racing. In the 2nd run of the Heat the
French skier nipped Jake by a mere thirty five hundredths
of a second and advanced on to the quarter finals. Jacobs
performance against some of the world’s best ski racers
earned him $500 for the race. The World Pro Ski Tour will
feature up to 6 events next season. Complete results and
information can be found at www.worldproskitour.com.
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 7
is the Perfect
Everyone seems to be
wearing a sports watch
nowadays. I’ve seen cashiers
at department stores wearing
Fit Bits. I’ve seen senior
managers at offices wearing
Polar HRM watches. I’ve been to street
running races, triathlons, Nordic ski races,
and trail running races and virtually every
competitor has a sports watch on. If you
don’t believe me just watch the action
several seconds before a race and you’ll
see racers setting their watches to time
their progress and help them meet their
There are so many brands and so many
types of sports watches. Some are simple
with bare bones features while others are
packed with absolutely amazing features.
They all fit into two groups: some must
work with cell phones while others are
My current sports watch of choice is
a TomTom Adventurer GPS watch. It’s
of the standalone variety, which I prefer.
I’ve owned other brands like Polar and
Garmin and enjoyed them, but lately the
TomTom line best suits my needs. I am
not recommending you buy one and I am
not suggesting that your GPS watch is
not as good. I just feel comfortable owning
TomTom watches and have owned at
least six different models. In fact, everyone
in my family uses one to monitor their
races and practices.
I recently upgraded to this TomTom
model, which became available to the
public just a few months ago. For me, it
has all the features I need plus extras, and
it can easily compete with much higher
priced watches from competitors. Even
so, it’s not cheap. Expect to pay over
$300 for one with headphones. Compare
that to Garmins and Suuntos at this level
and $300 plus is a bargain.
8 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
has a lot to offer.
Before putting an Adventurer
through its paces (which I’ll touch
on later), I can say it’s an impressive looking
watch. I chose the visually impacting
orange and black model (the only
other choice from TomTom is an all black
Adventurer with an orange strap loop).
It’s an attention magnet and can be an
icebreaker during those awkward conversations
that are slowly going downhill due
to the lack of things to say. I can’t tell you
how many times I will be in a conversation
with someone and I see his or her
eyes gravitating towards my Adventurer,
like a moth to a flame. I want to say to
them “eyes up here” but don’t since it is
a bit flattering to have people stare at or
ask about your watch. So, I can say that
for me, TomTom hit it out of the park with
the looks of the Adventurer.
The watch face is easy to read with
large numbers for the time of day, on two
lines. To distinguish the hour from the
minutes, the hour numbers are always
a little darker. The Adventurer continues
TomTom’s use of an innovative fourposition
navigation button, which makes
navigating through windows simple. Just
press the North, South, East or West side
of the button to get to the window you
want. It’s far easier to use than tiny buttons
on many other watches or having to
rotate your finger around a dial (try that
with gloves on or on a rainy day), that is
necessary with some other watches.
The band has a bazillion small perforation-like
holes (no they don’t go through
the band) on both sides that make the
band look very unique and very stylish.
TomTom claims the underside holes make
the watch more comfortable when you are
active and perspiring. I’m not sure that’s
the case but the band does look cool.
In addition to the holes, the band is
TomTom’s only one with a pivot—albeit
on one side—which makes it fit better.
It also has a hard plastic frame that
surrounds the watch body and not only
makes the watch bigger than other Spark
series watches (the Adventurer is a Spark
with all the options), it also is designed to
protect it while hiking and to visually support
its rugged genealogy. When removed
from the band, the watch body itself looks
no different than a Spark or Spark 3, but
looks can be deceiving.
The Adventurer is the most
feature-rich TomTom GPS
Sports watch they have made.
Built-in heart rate monitor…check.
Built-in music….check. Multi-sports….
check. Plus, it supports activities like
hiking, trail running, snowboarding and
downhill skiing, which make it a true “allseason”
watch. For the Alpine skiing and
snowboarding communities it will sync (via GPS) your location
while you are on a ski resort chair lift. It will show you your last
downhill run at that course, and show you 3-D Distance and
3-D Speed. I’m not a downhill skier, nor am I a snowboarder so
I will most likely never use those features. I will use the newly
added hiking and trail running modes in addition to the running,
treadmill running, bicycling, indoor bicycling, gym and stopwatch
modes. I may even use the swimming mode if I ever get
reacquainted with that sport. This probably won’t happen.
Also new in the Adventurer (and Spark 3) is the built-in
compass, which I’ve found to be very easy to calibrate, and
the barometric altimeter, which gives far more accurate information
than standard GPS. In addition, TomTom has added in the
ability to route you back to your start point (called breadcrumbs
navigation) to minimize your chance of getting lost. This to me
is very important since it’s well known in my family that I have
no navigation skills and am plagued with the world’s worst
sense of direction.
TomTom also listens to owner suggestions (so I’ve heard).
They’ve redesigned their user application (called mysportsconnect)
and made it more intuitive. However, despite being easy
to use, and very “cheerful” looking, I find it to be a little on the
juvenile side and the figures look like they are having too much
fun. I can’t recall the last time I looked that happy working out
or training so maybe that’s why I am having this disconnect with
TomTom also thoughtfully resolved a complaint of owners of
many battery-powered devices—expected battery life before
needing a charge. All previous versions of TomTom GPS watches
sampled GPS satellite readings every second and this was the
main reason their batteries would be drained after 6 hours or so.
The Adventurer samples satellites every two seconds and
TomTom claims a 20-hour battery life between charges when
using GPS in hiking mode. This is far more helpful for those on
long hikes and those participating in ultra races.
Then there’s the feature I have grown to like the most: the
built-in music. TomTom Adventurers have a built-in hard drive
that can handle up to 500 songs and they sync easily and
quickly with my computer’s iTunes library. Then it’s just a matter
of selecting the playlists I want added (or removed) and I have
music on my watch (without the need of a cell phone or other
device). Add in the terrific TomTom wireless Bluetooth headphones
that work great, sound really good and stay in place
well, and you have a very nice music package to help you drown
out extraneous noise you don’t want to hear while working or
training. TomTom designers managed to fix two common wireless
headphone issues that were problems with their original
headphones. They removed the on-cable panel with control
buttons that makes headphones unbalanced when you move or
turn your head and put the three buttons on the right ear bud.
They also revised the adjustment fit by removing the clip that
was on the first version and putting a rubber strap on the new
version. This adjustable rubber strap does a great job keeping
the ear buds in place while you are on the move. Kudos to the
TomTom design team for making a nice sounding and welldesigned
set of headphones even better.
Finally, how does it work? In short, great. The ability to
race against previous races, against time, race with a selected
pace, sync with external sensors (bike sensors, external HRMs)
have always been TomTom features. Add to the list its built-in
optical Heart Rate Monitor, fast GPS satellite lock, the ability to
save trails in your TomTom account to sync with at a later date
and you have a nice package. On a more personal note, the
breadcrumb trail navigation feature was a game changer since
I’m so directionally challenged. It was put to a test in Coles’
Woods (Glens Falls, NY) and it worked as promised—saving me
from wandering the trails endlessly and forever, like The Flying
Dutchman. Thank you, TomTom.
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DACKS & TOGA activelife | 9
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FIVE WAYS TO
It’s Spring and the are bikes coming out in droves!
Whether you’re out on the roads or out on the trails, here
are 5 ways to get the most from your ride.
From Running to Ironman Triathlons:
Nick Marcantonio’s Rise
By Alex Kochon • Photo by Niles Gagnon
There’s something about Canadian
pro triathlete Lionel Sanders
that speaks to Glens Falls
graduate Nick Marcantonio. He did it
backwards, Marcantonio explained,
jumping into triathlons at age 22 and
starting off with the ultimate beast
of the swim-bike-run races: the Ironman
(2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike
and 26.2-mile run, in that order, no
“He just jumped into it, randomly
borrowed his mom’s credit card, same
thing I did to be honest,” Marcantonio,
23, said with a laugh. “He kind of went
against the grain … backwards
from what normal people do, so I
connected with him.”
Marcantonio is locally known
10 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
for his cross-country running
and track achievements. He won
Class B sectionals as a Glens
Falls senior and was a three-time
Division III All-American at SUNY
Cortland. Two years ago, he decided
to take on triathlons the “backwards”
way, starting with the longest-distance
race first. While watching Ironman
Lake Placid for the first time, he
signed up that day for next year’s race.
Despite its roughly $700 registration
cost, the race typically sells out immediately.
Committed to running through his
senior season at Cortland, Marcantonio
spent the next year dabbling more
seriously in swimming and biking.
“I would bike probably three times a
week and then swim whenever I could.
My swimming was really bad,” he said.
Then last May, two months before
the race, he was hit by a car while riding
his bike in Hudson Falls. He suffered
road rash and a minor back injury,
and took a month to recuperate
and get back on his bike again.
Out for Ironman Lake Placid, he deferred
his entry to race Ironman Maryland
on Oct. 1, 2016, instead, and
began working with Kevin Crossman,
a local triathlon coach, Glens Falls
physical education teacher and varsity
“Kevin coached me in grade school
in P.E., so I’ve known Kevin for a while
and I knew he had done Ironmans,”
Marcantonio explained. “He had a finishing
plaque of him doing Lake Placid
in his office and I would look at it every
Two years ago, he decided
to take on triathlons the
“backwards” way, starting with
the longest-distance race first.
once in a while and it caught my eye.
… He definitely was the first person to
implant it in my mind and it kind of
stuck with me.”
As part of his 12-week plan leading
up to Maryland, Marcantonio raced his
first triathlon last August, the Fronhofer
Tool Triathlon in Cambridge. He
finished second overall in the Olympicdistance
race (0.93-mile swim, 25-mile
bike, 6.2-mile run).
Then in September, Marcantonio
made the jump to the Big George Half
Iron distance in Lake George, which he
won with a course record of 4 hours,
8 minutes and 3 seconds. One month
later at his Ironman debut in Baltimore,
he won his 18-24 age group
and placed ninth overall. While the
swim had been canceled, he finished
the 112-mile bike in 4:11:38 hours,
and the run — his first marathon — in
nearly 3 hours flat. By winning his age
group in Maryland, he qualified for the
2017 Ironman World Championship in
Kona, Hawaii, this coming October.
On April 22, Marcantonio planned
to race his second Ironman, the North
American Championship in Texas, to
prepare for Kona. And after Kona on
Oct. 14, he plans to scale back the
“Once I finish Kona, I’m not doing
another Ironman until I’m late 20’s,
30’s,” he said. “I want to focus on the
half and Olympic distances. More
from a developmental aspect, I
won’t probably hit my peak racing
ability in Ironman until I’m early
30’s, mid 30’s. The guys winning
the World Championships are seasoned
veterans. They’ve been out
there for 10, 15 years. If I want to
compete the way I want to, I’m going
to save that for another 10 years
down the road.”
In addition to the training advice he
receives from Crossman, Marcantonio
knows his stuff. He studied fitness
development at Cortland, was an assistant
cross-country coach at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy,
and is a personal trainer at the Glens
“If I can race professionally, that’s
the end goal,” Marcantonio said of his
triathlon aspirations. “However long
that happens, it could be next year,
it could be the year after that. … If it
lasts two years, four years, five years,
I just want to do it. It could last a season,
but I want to say I raced professionally.”
Some Tips to Start
Training for Triathlons:
GET A BIKE: While you can spend thousands of
dollars on a triathlon “tri” bike, Marcantonio, who said
he’s not a bike expert, recommends getting a bike that
suits your needs. “If you’re competing for marginal
gains and you want to gain two minutes on the bike
and you’re racing for podium finishes, then yeah, you
want a tri bike. But if you’re just out there having
fun, which is awesome, and you just want to finish it,
doesn’t matter. Tri bike, road bike, whatever.”
PICK A RACE DISTANCE: Marcantonio says
the distance — sprint (half-mile swim, 12-mile bike,
3.1-mile run) vs. Olympic vs. half Iron vs. Ironman —
doesn’t matter, but goal-setting does. “I’m really big
on goals,” he said. Write down what you want to do,
what you want to improve on and how you’re going to
achieve those things. “If you constantly have that in
the back of your mind, ‘Six months from now, I want
to do this race and I want to hit this time,’ it’s easier
to train year-round and stay motivated.”
TRAIN TO RACE: Marcantonio tries to do
his workouts in the order in which he’ll race them:
swimming first, then biking later that same day, for
instance. In terms of workout duration, that will vary
for each individual, the length of the race they’re
training for, and their personal goals. Generally, keep
your swimming, biking and running workouts within
the time you expect to finish. So if you estimate the
swim will take less than an hour to race, keep your
swim workouts within that time frame.
out for a
AND RACE TO TRAIN: “Have fun with it.
As soon as you stop having fun, you need to take a
step back … You’ve got to love it.”
• Adirondack Triathlon Club:
• Saratoga Triathlon Club:
• High Peaks Cyclery Mini Tri Races:
Join a Group Ride:
The First Ride of the Season
Now that the weather is beginning
to clear up and the snow
banks have melted, many of us
who have had our bikes sitting on the
trainer all winter are beginning to get
back out on the roads. The weather is
occasionally a little finicky in Spring,
but getting back into the saddle is always
better done earlier in the season
rather than later. The great part about
our area is that group rides can be
found everyday throughout the week,
and most have already started up with
regular meeting times. So if you’re
lacking in the motivation department,
hooking up with one (or all) of these
groups can give you a little help getting
out the door and back on the bike.
The first official group ride that
I was able to get to this year was on
Thursday, March 30th over at Grey
Ghost Bicycles, located in The Colvin
Building down on Glen Street in Glens
Falls. They will be hosting group rides
from now until when the snow starts
to fly again next Fall. If you’re looking
to come on the next ride, the meeting
place is the public parking lot behind
Grey Ghost Bicycles at 6pm SHARP.
The ride is usually comprised of an ‘A’
Group that goes a little further and a
little faster than the ‘B’ Group. Both
groups are led by either Steve Fairchild
or Niles Gagnon who are experienced
riders, bike mechanics, and
permanent fixtures at Grey Ghost. All
rides are no-drop rides, meaning that
if you’re newer to the sport, you don’t
need to worry about getting left out in
the middle of nowhere. Niles and Steve
are on hand to help anyone with mechanical
issues or flats that happen
from time-to-time out on rides.
Our ride that Thursday was a bit
colder than normal spring and summer
conditions as it was 42 degrees, but
there were still about 12
hardy riders that showed
up. We set out across the
bridge into South Glens
Falls and down Saratoga
Road before picking up
Butler Road. We used
Redmond Road to cross
over The Northway and
get out to the nice country
roads of Selfridge and
Clark Road. Once we got
over I-87 the ride was a
pretty gradual downhill
except for one short, steep
hill towards the end of
Clark Road followed by a pretty steep,
fun descent out to West River Road. The
ride followed the Hudson River north
for about three miles until we made our
way back up into South Glens Falls via
Fort Edward Road and Sisson Road.
The ride finished up back over the
bridge into Glens Falls and with a short
sprint up the Civic Center Hill, we were
back at GGB.
The ride was fairly easy and casual
given that it was most peoples’ first
how sick and
were of riding
on their bike
By Jared Newell
Photo by Niles Gagnon
time out on the roads for the year. The
group stayed very close together, talked
about how sick they were of riding the
bike trainers, and how the rest of their
winter was since everyone last saw one
another. Overall we rode 22 miles and
averaged a very relaxed 16 mph. While
it was definitely a very social ride, as
the weather becomes warmer and the
ride gathers its normal
group of riders, the ‘A’ and
‘B’ rides will break off into
groups of 15-20 riders.
As the summer ramps up
the rides progress to some
more difficult routes and
get a little faster.
While there is plenty
of help out on the rides,
its always a good idea to
bring a couple of water
bottles, some gels or nutrition
bars, and your own
flat kit (spare tube, co2
and inflator, patch kit) to
be on the safe side. Helmets are always
mandatory, and LED lights are recommended,
especially for the longer rides
when it might start getting dark before
the end of the ride. If you haven’t been
out on the roads in a while it wouldn’t
hurt to get your bike checked out at
your local bike shop or get a tune up
before getting out there and riding.
I am looking forward to more Thursday
Night Rides and hope to see some
of our readers out there!
out on one of
bike shop to
you can join.
12 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
Get on a Mountain Bike:
Great Local Trail
Options For Everyone
By Drew Cappabianca
trails are designed for
a wide range of riders.
Mountain Biking in the Capital
Region and Adirondacks used
to be reserved for a relatively
small group of seasoned, often dedicated
riders capable of navigating very
technical terrain. They constructed
the trails they rode on and those trails
not only had limited access but more
importantly they had limited appeal,
especially with the less experienced
mountain bike community. However,
recent assistance from a couple of
municipalities, a business group, and
one local professional trail builder, has
changed all of this.
Up until 2013, not a single mile of
professionally built mountain bike
trails could be found in the Capital
Region or the Adirondacks. This all
changed when the Town of North Creek
and the North Creek Business Alliance
hired professional trail builder Steve
Ovitt of Wilderness Property Management
to develop single track mountain
bike trails on the Town’s property at
Ski Bowl Park. While initially limited,
this became the genesis of local professional
The following year the Town of
Queensbury hired Steve to design
and direct the construction of a bike
park at the Town’s Gurney Lane Recreation
Area. Since then trails have
been added every season with more
on the way in 2017. It has quickly become
a top destination for local and
So what is the importance of professionally
built trails versus their
volunteer built counterparts? Professionally
are designed for a wide
range of riders and
take into consideration
rider ability and safety,
to be used by those that
built them, and they
tend to be more experienced
and capable riders.
to create well-designed
trails that are more durable.
Beyond the environmental
should be noted that even beginner
or intermediate level trails can wear
down and become more difficult to
navigate over time because soil erosion
reveals rocks and roots. So having
a trail designed to last is crucial.
This doesn’t mean that professionally
biking in a
while (or ever),
I can’t be more
you try it
built trails are not enjoyable to better
riders. It just means that a larger portion
of the community, from beginner
to expert, can enjoy them. The greatest
importance of professionally built
trails is the growth they help fuel the
With the increase of professionally
built trails fueling mountain biking
growth, I must say that bike technology
has also helped in this growth.
Bigger wheel sizes, plus size tires, and
full-suspension options allow almost
anyone who can ride a bike to enjoy
mountain biking. If you haven’t tried
mountain biking in a while (or ever),
I can’t be more emphatic by recommending
you try it again. Rent, borrow,
or buy one and hit the trails.
You’ll have a great time! Here are just
a couple of my local favorite trails:
The Ski Bowl Trails have become
popular to bicyclists from the North
and South and they are located at
Ski Bowl Park off State Route 28 in
North Creek, NY (just past the turn
for Gore). If you’re in the area, come
try them but note this trail system is
designed more for intermediate and
advanced riders and less for beginner
riders. When you’re done riding
the main single track trail system, be
sure to check out the often overlooked
Raymond Brook Ski Trail via the ski
bowl connector trail. The mostly double
track climb leads to a fantastic decent
of the Ski Trail, which features
bike-specific improvements. It ends
at Route 28 where you can casually
pedal back on the generous shoulder
and recap the day’s highlights.
When you’re back at the parking lot,
don’t stop there. Pedal into downtown
North Creek for post-ride food and
drink (or just coffee for the way home)
from great places like Cafe Sarah,
Izzy’s, and BarVino.
right off exit 20 of I87
in Queensbury, Gurney
Lane Recreation Area in
my opinion is the best
place for someone interested
in getting into
mountain biking. It features
plenty for beginner
riders, has a lot to offer
for intermediate riders,
and enough to keep experts
of challenging rock features
and tight & twisty
session-type trail options.
You can either park behind
the county home (follow the “Detention
Center” sign), or continue up
Gurney Lane and park at the park’s
entrance. The park is so well designed
that I don’t have any tips… just follow
the trail maps and have a blast!
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 13
Take the Scenic Route:
By Eric J. Hamilton
Biking Along the Erie Canal
The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway
in the Capital District region
of New York is a nationally recognized,
historic driving route between
Waterford and Cohoes to Schenectady
that follows the historic Erie Canal
and the waterway west. I’ve biked this
byway many times and can say from
experience, when you travel this route
you gain an appreciation of the role
our local communities played in the
western expansion of the country and
in the Industrial Revolution.
I believe that the best way to experience
the Mohawk Towpath Byway is
on a bicycle. You’re moving at a casual
pace and you will see much more than
you would in a car that is going 30 to
40 mph. On a bike you’re free to stop
by a historic site, watch a blue heron
or large raptor fishing for dinner, or
keep pace with a cabin cruiser plying
the canal. You can also photograph
endangered plant species in full bloom
in ancient geology, enjoy your favorite
ice cream from the local convenience
shop, have a fresh apple from a neighboring
orchard, or just enjoy any of
several appealing attractions that can
be seen along the way.
Canal Road in Halfmoon and Riverview
Road in Clifton Park join as
one of the most heavily used on-road
bike routes in Saratoga County. Even
though the travel lanes are narrow
and without shoulders, they are rural
roads along the Mohawk River and
traffic is light. Further west (past the
intersection with Grooms Road), Riverview
Road becomes a county highway
and traffic picks up noticeably. There
are shoulders from Grooms Road to
Route 146 in Rexford for bicyclists to
The Mohawk Hudson Bikeway on
the south side of the Mohawk River
is an alternate route between Route
9 west of Cohoes to Aqueduct. This
makes for an inviting segment of a loop
with river crossings that are about 12
miles apart. It’s a ride that is especially
popular on hot summer days since
the bikeway passes through shaded
woodlands along the south shore of
This spring the newly reconstructed
Towpath Trail will connect from Canal
Road through the Vischer Ferry Nature
and Historic Preserve to the Lock
7 Dam Overlook (just west of the hamlet
of Vischer Ferry). This towpath of
14 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
the 1842 Enlarged Erie Canal has a
hard trail surface that is fine for any
On June 4, my hometown of Clifton
Park will host a casual afternoon
group ride that will visit historic sites
along the Byway and the Towpath
Trail in celebration of National Trails
Day. Our town’s local historian will
attend the ride and share some humorous
stories, and other stories that
should provide great insight into life
on the canal over the
last two centuries. Light,
are planned for those
who may get hungry. For
more information contact
the Town of Clifton Park’s
Parks and Recreation Office
at (518) 371-6667.
Volunteers along the
Byway corridor have
hosted “Bike the Byway”
events that are casual
rides from Rexford east
through Clifton Park, Halfmoon, and
Waterford and down to Waterford Harbor.
There is also a self-guided tour of
historic features that cyclists can access
by stopping along the Byway and
keying in (518) 649-9990 on their cell
phone or scanning a QR code.
In addition to the fun rides I’ve mentioned
above, I strongly recommend you
take a bike ride or a hike up the flight
of locks in Waterford. Five locks lift watercraft
from the Hudson River to the
Mohawk River in less than two miles.
This is the highest lift in the shortest
On a bike
to stop by a
watch a blue
heron or large
distance any where in the world! I also
recommend you visit the Cohoes Falls
which is the navigational barrier the
Erie Canal was constructed around
and, don’t miss the historic Stockade
area in Schenectady. Biking its treelined
narrow streets through architecturally
significant historic homes (several
of which date back to early Dutch
settlers) is always a pleasure.
The only downside to cycling on the
Mohawk Towpath Byway is that none
of the local bike shops
want to rent bicycles
due to the high cost of
liability insurance and
the cost of maintaining
the rental bicycle fleet.
There is a growing movement,
however, to change
this as more and more
communities are making
use of bike-share operations
and more out-oftown
our area and discover our
recreational assets. Here’s a tip: even
though a growing number of cyclists
commute to work on these routes, for
a more pleasant experience, visiting
bicyclists should try to avoid traveling
the crossings of the Mohawk River during
weekday commuter rush hours.
So, bike the Mohawk Towpath Byway
and discover the eastern gateway
to the only water level route through
the Appalachian Mountains. Bike it
at a leisurely pace, in manageable segments,
and discover something new
right here in our own backyard.
Even though this section of Riverview Road in
Rexford is a heavily traveled segment of the Byway,
there are better shoulders to accommodate cyclists and
pedestrians. The iconic views make this a great stop.
Glens Falls YMCA
Bob Olden gives me
a run-through on
Right: A better view
of my spin cycle.
Expand Your Routine:
Push Your Fitness
Limits with Spinning
By Gabrielle Katz
If you’re looking to change up your
current workout routine, or supplement
your bike training when
the weather doesn’t cooperate, then a
spin class may be for you.
I jog somewhat regularly, but sometimes
find it a little tedious. When
Spring arrives, I like to hop on my
bike to break up my routine. However,
I’m never sure that I’m giving myself
a great workout. The memory of two
bike accidents many years ago has
made me over-cautious
and keeps me from pushing
my limits when I’m
out on the road.
I was interested in
learning what a proper
bike workout might feel
like. I had heard through
the grapevine that the
12:15 class at the Glens
Falls YMCA was popular
and motivational, so I
chose it as my first foray
The Glens Falls YMCA
spin studio has 34 indoor
cycles, all maintained in excellent condition.
I was warned to arrive early as
the class is often close to full, even at
lunchtime. The class is appropriate for
people at all levels. I did have some
concerns heading in: would I be able to
keep up, and would it seem as boring
to me as running on a treadmill does?
Luckily, I learned that the Friday class
I chose would be a virtual class, and
we would be working out to a video as
well as music.
We passed a
stand and an
truck, but our
pursuit of the
of us never
When I arrived at class I met the
trainer, Bob Olden, who was super
friendly and helpful. Bob introduced
me to my cycle, a beautiful Keiser M3,
and helped me adjust the seat and
handlebars to my height. Next came
the pedals which have two options:
You can lock in with your bike shoe, or
you can wear sneakers and strap into
the basket. He showed me the computerized
console and the separate
indicators for RPMs, watts, heart rate,
elapsed time, gear and
mileage. The stem of the
cycle has a red lever at
a convenient spot where
you can easily adjust
gears with your thumb.
Of course, we are not
actually shifting gears,
but increasing tension
up and down to replicate
gear shifts. I learned
that I would need to find
a “base” gear that I was
comfortable with, and
that I would be shifting
up and down at his direction
throughout the workout. Once
we were “in the zone”, we would burn
10-12 calories a minute, and 400-500
calories per session.
In an actual bike ride, the movements
your body makes as you pedal
up and down hills naturally work all
the parts of your body. On a stationary
bike, you are coached to shift positions
forward and back, up and down,
to give everything, glutes, hamstrings,
calves, etc., a good workout. Bob does
the workout along with the class, guiding
and motivating us.
Bob informed me that we would be
travelling to the Canary Islands for
our ride. He finds destination videos
of virtual bike rides on YouTube and
plays them for the class. The video
also shows a graphic of the ascents
and descents of the ride, as well as
the route and our progress. Our trip
that day would entail a short incline,
a short downhill, and then a long
steady incline. The lights dimmed, the
music played, the video started and
off we went.
Following the bike rider on the
screen felt very real. At various times,
Bob urged us to get out of the saddle
and try to pass him. We pedaled past
an overlook, but didn’t stop to catch
the view. We passed a roadside food
stand and an ice cream truck, but our
pursuit of the rider ahead of us never
wavered. This was a tough workout
and I pushed myself hard. There were
a few times when I felt I was struggling,
but Bob’s motivation got me through.
“Put more water in the back of the
bucket”, or, “Put more water in the
front of the bucket”, he would shout,
to get us to shift our hip positions and
work a different part of our legs. On
steep inclines he would urge, “Dig! Dig!
Dig!” and dig is what I did. Best of all, I
found myself leaning over the handlebars
and pedaling really hard down the
hill, something I would be too afraid to
do out on the road. I learned not only
what a phenomenal workout spinning
is, but, as an exercise loner, I learned
how great it is to work with a trainer in
a class setting.
Soon, the ride was over. I got off the
spin cycle feeling like my entire body
had been well-worked. Better yet, I had
one of those after-workout highs and
felt great all day. My first spin class
was a terrific experience, truly one of
the best workouts I have ever done. I
highly recommend adding spinning to
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 15
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16 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
Job # 000 - Tom Stock - Sales Rep/Artist
In our struggle to improve and advance, we tend to
over-complicate all facets of health, nutrition, fitness, and
sport-specific training. The motivation is admirable, and the effort is
celebrated, but are we really improving, or are we merely spinning
our wheels? More importantly, what should we actually be focusing
on with regard to improving our health and fitness?
by Duncan Callahan
As I’ve tried to answer these questions
over the past few years, I’ve taken
a close look at peers of mine who maintain
or improve their fitness consistently.
What are they doing in order to continually
improve? Why does it seem like their
set-backs don’t actually set them back?
Is it mental? Is it genetic? What is the difference
between those who remain fit and
healthy, and those who gain weight, struggle
with their health, and end up tired or
injured? My observations have led me to
the following conclusions.
Those successful in maintaining
1 or improving their health and fitness are
in it for the long haul. They acknowledge
that their immediate goals are of secondary
importance to their long term plans.
Pushing through injury, causing pain, and
exalting deprivation will lead to nothing
but injury, burn-out, and bitterness. Instead,
successful individuals build consistent
daily actions which add up over time
to lead them to their desired outcome.
n THE TAKEAWAY: Focus on the
long term and don’t beat yourself up if
you miss a day.
Successful individuals work with
2 their physiology, instead of warring
against it. They understand what their
weaknesses are, and attempt to improve
in those areas. However, they do not dwell
on those weaknesses. Instead, these individuals
focus on incremental improvement
in their weak areas, while not short-changing
working on their strengths. It is a balanced
n THE TAKEAWAY: Work with your
body and stop warring against it.
The most successful athletes view
3 food as fuel, instead of using exercise
as an excuse to eat more. The better the
fuel, the better they feel. Eat clean and
the body will respond to the demands you
place upon it. So, what does it mean to
eat clean? That’s a tough question, but in
general I’ve observed the most successful
individuals tend to focus on simply eating
real food - large quantities of non-starchy
vegetables, high quality fruit, healthy fats,
and quality meat.
n THE TAKEAWAY: Avoid processed
food and embrace a low sugar diet.
Whether we look at the weekend
4 warrior or the elite athlete, those who
are truly successful over the long haul
respect the need to take time off – daily,
weekly, monthly, and yearly. They view
daily sleep as vital to health and important
for recovery from training. Taking one day
off per week is crucial for physical adaptations,
and these individuals make sure
to adhere to this. The most successful
also make sure to have one week of lower
workload per month, which is important for
long-term improvement. What about yearly?
I’ve observed that the most successful
take up to 2 months off from structured
training per year. They’re still active, but
not in a regimented training plan.
n THE TAKEAWAY: Respect the
need to recover and rest – your body
will thank you.
I’ve witnessed so many people
5 make the mistake of falling behind on
their fitness goals during the work week,
only to try and make up for it on the weekend
with a century ride, a long run, or a
very hard effort in the gym. Although this
may be better than nothing, it’s also a
recipe for injury and frustration. The successful
athletes and individuals I know
make sure to set a minimum amount to do
each day, and then they prioritize getting
it done. These successful individuals get
their training and fitness activities done
when they can, but nearly all of them get it
done first thing in the morning.
n THE TAKEAWAY: Establish a
minimum that you can get done each
day and prioritize getting it done early.
Perhaps the most important characteristic
of individuals successful in
maintaining and improving fitness is their
ability to limit stress and eliminate the nonessential
aspects of their life. These people
have the ability to finish work, turn their
over-thinking brain off, and focus on what
else they need to do that day. They don’t
dwell on what didn’t get accomplished.
They don’t dwell on their email inbox. Instead,
they simply acknowledge that they
have more work to do, and it can wait until
they get back to work. This characteristic
is indeed a powerful one. In addition,
these people don’t waste time on social
media, fantasy sports, or unnecessary
technology. They focus.
n THE TAKEAWAY: Reduce stress
by acknowledging that you have limits
to how much you can accomplish in
a day, and don’t waste time on things
that add little value to your life.
Want to be successful in maintaining
or improving your health and
fitness? Pick one or more of the above
bullet-points and implement it into your
life. Focus on the things you can control
and don’t worry about what others think.
Shift your mind-set to the long term and
your body (and your mind) will thank
you. Here’s to successfully maintaining
and improving our health and fitness.
Thanks for reading. –DC
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 17
health & wellness
It can take quite some time and
ingenuity to recover from a sprained
foot or other mishap. Here are some
tips to help speed up the process.
IN CASE OF INJURY...
When I was seven, I broke my wrist on one of the very
last days of second grade before school let out for
the summer. Back then I had no adult responsibilities.
My only concern was keeping my plaster cast dry for
six weeks while I, unable to swim at our town park with my friends,
stood waist deep in the water with a plastic bread bag secured
around my arm.
I’ve been more than lucky not to have suffered any serious injuries
since then, but a recent sprained foot poked a serious hole in the
memory of my seven-year-old-self calmly lazing through a restful
summer recuperation as I waited to get back in the water. In fact,
nothing surprised me more than how completely sidelined I felt by
what I considered to be a minor injury.
The pitfalls are out there: tree roots, loose gravel, steep inclines
and rocky slopes. And so it was for me, hiking up a hill in deep
snow, when my foot rolled sideways. I knew I had
hurt myself somewhat, but it wasn’t until I woke up at
midnight in excruciating pain that I knew that I needed
to get to the emergency room. After a struggle to get
dressed and get a sock over my painfully swollen foot,
I crawled across the floor to the top of the stairs. I then
had to push myself down the stairs, inching downward
in a sitting position. At the bottom my husband handed
me an old, hand-carved wooden cane that we found at
an antique shop and kept in an umbrella stand as decoration. It was
utterly useless. Our front steps were icy. The struggle to get to the
car while hopping on my right foot, and actually getting through the
lobby of the ER, was exhausting.
A couple of hours, some good pain medication and an X-ray
later, I learned I had a sprain. Not a break thankfully, but a painful
inconvenience that would certainly need time to heal. My foot was
wrapped in an ace bandage and I was issued a pair of crutches and
sent home. Here are some of the obvious and not-so-obvious things
I learned the hard way:
n Read the doctor’s orders thoroughly. Don’t
just listen to your doctor’s recommendations. Read everything the
nurse gives you, and not just the first few paragraphs. If I had done
so, I would have remembered that I needed to continue icing and
elevating my foot into the 2nd and 3rd day. Instead, I slacked
off after the first day. A week later I had to repeat the entire
icing/elevation process to reset my recuperation.
n Stay home from work for at least two days,
if not three. I only stayed home one day. Feeling invincible, I headed
for the office. It was a mistake. While I pretty much stayed in my
chair and everyone kindly helped me, I couldn’t elevate or ice my
foot. The healing process stagnated and I exhausted myself
n Don’t do any long-distance driving. On the third
day after my injury, I took a three hour trip to a prior commitment.
Another mistake. I figured that my sprained left foot wouldn’t have
to do anything but rest while I drove, but it was one of the worst
things I could have done. By the end of the trip, my foot, resting
in one position on the floor of the car each way for three hours,
turned into a swollen, numb, painful stiff stump. Next time I’ll
cancel and stay home.
18 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
n Take it easy. Yes, even though you are getting help from
loved ones, you will see the chores are piling up around the house.
Or maybe you don’t like being dependent. You begin to feel a little
better and start taking on all of your usual tasks. You start moving
around frequently on your crutches, and hopping and standing on
one foot. Don’t. If you do, you will start to overcompensate with the
rest of your body. Pretty soon, your neck aches, your hands ache
from the crutches and from scooting up and down the stairs, then
your good foot starts hurting and you’ve pinched a nerve in your
armpit from slamming around on the crutches. You may not have
re-injured your foot, but you’ve risked sustaining another injury to
another part of your body.
n A pair of crutches belongs in every athlete’s
emergency kit. As soon as the nurse in the ER fitted me with my
crutches, I realized how valuable they would be to have on hand.
If this ever happens to me again, I have a great tool to use until
I can see a doctor. The crutches are adjustable so that they fit
people within an eight-inch range of height. That means family
members and friends can use them in a pinch. If you don’t want to
invest in crutches, at least get yourself a good cane.
n Check out some videos. It turns out that crutches
are not that easy to use. They take some getting used to. In addition
to the aches and pains mentioned above, navigating on them
too quickly can cause you to lose your balance. After about 5 days
of frustration and discomfort, I finally checked Youtube and found
several instructional videos on how to properly use crutches. The
videos reminded me that I needed to slow down and be more
intentional in my movements. I also realized that the hand braces
were not exactly at the correct height, so I repositioned them.
My only caveat: if you live or work in an old building, check out the
stability of the banisters before you follow their recommendations
for scaling any staircases.
n Backpack it. Crutches tie up both hands. You cannot
carry anything, or even bring a cup of coffee to the table. You will
have to ask loved ones for a lot of help! Not only did I ditch my
purse for a backpack, I kept the backpack with me even in the
house. I found that traveling around my home with a backpack
helped me keep things tidied up and saved extra trips going up
and down stairs.
n A transport wheelchair is an added plus. A week
into my recuperation, my sister gave me our late father’s transport
wheelchair to use. It was a lightweight, foldable dream come true.
If anyone in your extended family has one of these, tell them to hold
on to it. The wheelchair gave me the freedom to tool around the
kitchen and prepare meals. I could get heavy items from the fridge,
carry liquids to the table and unload the dishwasher. If I had gotten
the wheelchair earlier, my entire first week would have been
n Don’t wait until your old age to age-proof your
house. If you are an active person, or you have a child participating
in sports, sooner or later someone in your home will get injured. The
same modifications that help an elderly person age in place are just
as useful for an active athlete. While I was grateful that we already
had a walk-in shower, I still felt the need for a grab bar. A grab bar
in the shower will also allow an injured teenager to shower privately
and safely. I also needed a shower seat because I did not feel stable
standing on one foot on a slick shower floor. Truth be told, we do
have a leftover portable shower seat from taking care of an elderly
parent. However, it was in the garage, legs caked in dirt, as I’d been
using it as a seat while I weeded the garden. I will definitely clean it
up and reclaim it for its proper use. I also found that the two built-in,
counter-height, pull-out cutting boards on either side of my kitchen
stove were incredibly helpful while cooking dinner in a wheelchair.
n Sneakers, Sneakers, Sneakers! I did not try to
wear high heels, but I did try to wear shoes that turned out to be
completely inappropriate. These shoes looked harmless because
they were relatively flat, but they caused a lot of stress. Wearing
shoes and boots with stiff leather or even a one-inch heel will
put a lot of strain on your foot. They set my progress so far
backward that I needed to go back to sneakers again exclusively
during the fourth week.
n Don’t be overconfident. Once you start feeling
better, your confidence will snowball and you will start moving
around as usual. Don’t. Keep your movements methodical and
intentional for several weeks and don’t overdo it, or you will surely
find yourself back at square one.
Snacks for Active
Just because you’re
out hiking, biking,
training or getting fit,
it doesn’t mean you
have to sacrifice great
taste or solid food for
your protein boost.
With the warm weather
approaching, it’s also
good to know these
snacks can go several
Scrambled Egg Muffins: Spray a muffin tin with non-stick
spray. Scramble up some eggs and fill muffin cups, one egg
per cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes
at 350°. Add any ingredients you like to suit your taste:
spices, sauteed onions, peppers or sausage, sundried
tomatoes, shredded cheese...use your imagination.
Let cool, put in a zip-loc bag, pack them up and go.
Beef Jerky and Fruit: Yes, we know, beef jerky
does come out of a package. But, when you pair it with fruit,
it’s a completely different flavor experience as well as a more
complete meal. Our favorite is jerky paired with orange slices,
but apples and grapes also pair well.
Peanut Butter Banana Rollups: Spread a whole wheat
wrap with peanut butter, layer with sliced bananas and roll it
all up. Yes, it’s simple, but also delicious and filling. You may
want to carry these in a tupperware container in your pack.
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 19
active life Profile
Bill training on roller
skis last Fall on the
Warren County Bikeway.
Opposite: Bill changing
into his boots in the back
of his famous van, top, and
more training on the snow
last Winter at Mt. Van
Photos: Jody Katz
Skis the Birkebeiner:
Before and After
B ill Parks waited forty years between
his first ski marathon and his quest for
the Birkebeiner. Here he shows us that
it’s never too late to take on a challenge.
The 2007 gray Chevy Express van
shows the scars of many North Country
winters and is a lot quieter on the inside
and far emptier. What once was recognizable
all throughout the Adirondacks for
ferrying a dozen or so exuberant Glens
Falls High School Nordic skiers and their
gear to practices and meets now usually
carries just one occupant and his equipment.
The laughter that once resonated
through the van’s interior panels has since
subsided but is not forgotten. The odometer
proudly shows 97,000 miles and the
intrepid van still ably climbs the winding,
sometimes icy, often pot-holed hills of the
North Country that can humble many newer
vehicles. Like Bill Parks, the van has
led a focused and sometimes glorious life.
Like Bill Parks, the van is always ready for
the next challenge.
For Bill, his latest challenge was the
European Birkebeiner that he raced on
March 18. It was a 54 km (33.5 mile)
cross country classic ski race-from Rena
to Lillehammer, Norway-that is steeped in
history, and one Bill has wanted to do for
several years. At age 73, and having retired
from over three decades of teaching
and coaching in the Glens Falls’ school
system, he decided to join racers from all
over the world to take on this historic event
that was first re-enacted in 1932.
The Birkebeiner’s nearly 17,000 racers
typically face a variable terrain that goes
through forests, over mountains and even
over bare rock. All skiers are required to
wear a backpack weighing at least 7.7
pounds. The weighted backpack and the
race itself re-enact the carrying of Prince
Haakon, the 18-month old heir to the Norwegian
throne by two of the Birkebeiner
group’s best Nordic skiers in 1206 as they
safely smuggled him out of Norway to protect
him from death by the hands of their
warring rivals, the Baglers.
The escape included spending a stormy
Christmas Day in a mountain with nothing
but snow to feed the hungry baby Haakon.
They survived that great escape and Haakon
grew to be the sole King of Norway,
uniting the two rival factions. This is why
Lillehammer is the only town in the world
with a skier on its coat of arms.
We caught up with Bill training for the
Birkie on two occasions: the first time was
last Fall when he was rollerskiing on the
Warren County Bikeway, and the second
time was several weeks before he left for
Norway, where we met him on snow at the
Nordic Ski Center at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Active Life Magazine asked Bill a round of
questions regarding the Birkie before he
left for the race. This is what he told us:
Active Life: How does your
family feel about you participating in
the Birkie? Any concerns? Anyone
Bill Parks: Everyone positive and
supportive. My wife was hoping I would
find someone to join me. Once I did, she
gave the seal of approval.
AL: So who will be racing with you
in this year’s race?
BP: Darwin Roosa, who joined me on
my first trip to Norway, will travel with me
and will also be racing. He has done it in
AL: Have you fully recovered from
your recent hip replacement?
BP: No problems. My orthopedic surgeon
is enthusiastic about my adventure.
I plan to have a Brigham and Women’s
Hospital logo on my pack! I wouldn’t be
there without their repair work!
AL: When was the last time you
participated in a race of this length?
BP: In the late 1970s I did the Vermont
Ski Marathon...60 kms. from South
Lincoln to Brandon. After that, the longest
races were 25 kilometers at the Masters
race of the Empire State Games in the
early to mid 1980s.
AL: Since practicing on snow has
been hard lately, will you be ready for
the race before you leave?
BP: There was a bad spell from Thanksgiving
through early January. I was sick
twice and missed about a week each time.
Lack of snow and a cautious return after
sickness reduced my training big time.
Things have improved rapidly over the last
week and a half. Finishing the distance
shouldn’t be a problem. How speedy I am
will depend on a lot of things, one of which
is how effectively I am able to train.
AL: Have you consulted others who
have raced the Birkie on how to race
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 21
hard on a climb
at a mid-point in
Photo Courtesy of
it, what to expect, etc.?
BP: I have talked to 5 people who have
raced it or skied parts of the course and
quizzed them about what to expect.
Oddly, none of them mentioned the
eight miles of up hill that one immediately
faces, but rather, they remembered
the high speeds of the six mile down hill
towards the end. I have also viewed the
2015 elite race to appraise the terrain and
conditions I will encounter.
AL: What are your expectations?
BP: In perfect conditions I hope to
average about 8 minutes per mile. Perfect
conditions means no head winds, cool
snow conditions, a good wax job and
nothing falling out of the sky. All of that on
the same day would be like winning Lotto!
22 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
AL: What is your race plan?
BP: Cautious but steady up the long first
climb, cruise as fast is sensible over the
mountain tops, stay on my feet on the
long descent and see what’s left on the
level-ish last 5 kms.
AL: Do you have any tricks up your
sleeve to help you in the race?
BP: I plan to wear a heart rate monitor.
From training: I know how high I can let
things get (briefly) and recover quickly,
how high I can sustain a high rate for
longer periods and recover given a longer
easy stretch, and I know heart rates that
I can maintain for long periods where
conditions are fast. Armed with that
information, I feel I can execute my
Bill’s Birkie Fundraiser for Friends of Cole’s Woods
In addition to everything else he does, Bill Parks is a long-time board
member and trail groomer for the Friends of Cole’s Woods, the non-profit,
volunteer organization that maintains the ski trails in Cole’s Woods in
Glens Falls and Queensbury. With his thoughtfulness and ingenuity,
Bill transformed his Birkie quest into a fundraiser for the Friends of Cole’s
Woods, offering donors the opportunity to sponsor him by the kilometer or
by the mile. The response exceeded expectations, and the
Friends of Cole’s Woods were thankful. Good job, Bill!
AL: What gear will you be using (our
readers will like to know)?
BP: Fischer Carbonlite skis, Madshus
Hyper RPC boots and Swix Star CT1
AL: Are there any break/rest stops
within the race?
BP: Well, if I get tired I can lie down in
the snow. There are food and drink
stations at 9, 15, 28, 34 and 40 kms. They
tend to put them on gradual down grades
so one can grab something and ingest it
as they coast along.
AL: What parts/areas of the race do
you expect to be faster at and what
areas will be harder?
BP: The long, gradual climb will be a
challenge and it is hard to predict how that
will go. I am confident that I can cruise at
the required rate on flat and rolling terrain.
Hopefully the down hills will offset the
slow chug up the long hills!
AL: Will you race this race again?
BP: Currently I am resting about forty
years between these long races....
AL: What’s the next athletic challenge
you will be undertaking?
BP: I have a couple of grandchildren
who need brain washing so we can ski together
for as long as I can wobble around.
SO, HOW’D HE DO?
We touched based with Bill as he
was relaxing in Florida, and still
recovering from a cold that affected his
Birkie race. Here is his follow-up:
It is good to be back in the U.S. and settled.
I was still sick traveling home. Moving
luggage around and trying to guess
which medicine to take to avoid coughing
attacks on a long plane ride were stressful.
I wanted to avoid being asked to leave
the plane at 35,000 feet.
On race day I started cautiously, which
had been my plan. Within a kilometer,
however, I knew I had to almost hike the
initial 14 kms. I had good grip but very little
glide. I hoped to gain time on the mountaintops
where it would be flatter. But my
biggest concern was to finish and that
concern was real because I could feel the
negative effects of the cold and the lack of
sleep I had experienced as a result.
We waxed the night before the race,
(the bus to the start left at 4:15 AM). We
had skied the last 16 kms of the course
the day before the race and had a wax
job that worked well. The forecast for the
start, finish and high point of the course
was for no snow and temps like the day
before. My companion, Darwin Roosa,
and I felt (and our experienced group
leader agreed) that the wax job we had
been using should be good and we reapplied
it. We ironed in a very thin coat
of KR20, added a very thin coat of KR35
and then a coat of K21 silver universal.
After freezing that wax we added several
thin coats of extra blue hard wax in case
we encountered a dusting of powder.
The day was beautiful, sunny, no
serious wind and temps in the high 20s to
mid -30s along the course. Unfortunately,
counter to all the weather data we had,
there had been 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of powder
over about 80% of the course. So, I am
afraid we did not wax correctly as was the
case with a lot of others. At the high point
of the course, I pulled into a complementary
Swix Wax Station. As I explained my
problem (which was unnecessary, since
everyone was having the same problem),
the Swix guys released my bindings and
in about a minute and a half scraped most
of my klister off and applied VR 55. In two
minutes I was on my way! I had good wax
for about the last 18 kms including the big
I got sweaty by the top of the initial 1700
ft. over 14 kms. At that point we hit a little
breeze and I was getting chilled. I stopped
for dry gloves but resisted the idea of a
warmer top. That was good because the
warmer hands and the sun above tree line
warmed me up.
There is a lot of time to think during a
race this long. It was discouraging when I
got up the first huge climb and discovered
that my wax was slow on the parts of the
course where I had been expecting to do
best. On down hills I’d be in a tuck and
skiers would be roaring past. I would be
double poling and they would be off in the
distance still in a tuck. In terrain where I
had been double poling with a kick while
training all winter I was single poling.
There were kilometer markers. At 25 kms
would be a sign announcing I was 29 kms
from the finish. It would cross my mind that
two weeks before I had skied about 25
kms, which was my longer training days of
the winter. Eventually I would subtract 14
kms from what I had left since I knew that
There is a lot of time to
think during a race this long.
It was discouraging when
I got up the first huge climb
and discovered that my wax
part was mostly downhill followed by a few
level kms. That made things seem more
Food and fluids were easy. There were
regular feed stations with warm sports
drinks, some bars and banana chunks
plus I had some favorite granola bars.
The course was every bit as challenging
as I had imagined. I was plenty tired at the
end but I have been more tired on many
occasions. Once I realized that my health
and wax job would make my time goal unrealistic,
I was not pushing the way I would
in race mode.
Approaching the finish line, I had no
idea of a big sprint finish. I was, however
eager to be done and at the last twenty
yards I changed tracks and passed two
guys rather than lose momentum.
Darwin, a youthful 66 and who has been
racing regularly all season, did well but
also suffered with a slow wax job. He finished
in 5 hours and 11 minutes. He was
160th out of 238 65-69 yr. olds. I was 5
hour and 59 minutes and 151st out of 177
70-74 yr. olds.
The best of it was the scenery, being
part of this huge cross country ski happening,
meeting interesting people from
all parts of the ski world and the thrills and
chills of the plummet down the final 13
kms towards Lillehammer. To appreciate
the hills go to https://www.youtube.com/
Assuming you don’t want to watch all
2 1/2 hours, move your cursor to 2:03 and
watch Martin Sundby, (who double poles
the entire race), start down the hills. After
a brief look at the standings, a snowmobile
follows the second and third skiers down
the hill at 45 to 50 miles per hour. The
video will show what the conditions and
weather were like.
I did my first ski marathon in 1977. I
waited 40 years before doing this one and I
plan to continue doing them at that interval.
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Run, Walk, Bike, Ski...Enjoy!
The Trails of Cole’s Woods, Glens Falls
The First Lighted Ski Trails in North America
Maintained by the Friends of Cole’s Woods
For information: coleswoods.weebly.com
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 23
Job # 000 - Friends of Cole’s Woods - Sales Rep/Artist
HIKE IN THE
Constant grade changes,
boulders and steep rock
slopes make this Ulster
County trail a challenging
weekend hike. But for some,
nothing compares to
compressing this 2-3 day
trek into a one-day event.
Story and Photos by Ethan Katz
he night was young and comfortably
cool, but pervaded with a taste
of the mugginess tomorrow would
bring. We stood in silence; the sleepy
sounds of the forest and the glow of
fireflies lazily bobbing amongst the
canopy the backdrop of this summer
night. It was 9:00pm, and we had just
arrived at the western terminus of the
hike we would begin in seven hours. We
discussed sleeping arrangements for
the short night ahead of us as we unpacked
gear and supplies from Jack’s
car and stuffed it into mine for the drive
to the eastern trailhead. Jack, a longtime
hiking companion I’d known since
high school, was one of the few people
I could count on to be excited about
the woods, and walking through them
for untold hours. But this hike would
prove to be different.
The Devil’s Path is a rugged, 25-
mile, point-to-point trail over six of
24 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
the Catskill High Peaks and is notorious
for its difficulty. Although not
as tall as the Adirondack High Peaks,
these summits still sit at a confident
3500 ft. or more, with the trail
fiendishly following what appears to
be the most difficult line over them.
Still, this trail has quite the reputation
preceding it. Legends tell that
the first settlers to the area took one
glance at this imposing ridgeline with
its deep ravines and thought: only
the cloven hooves of the Devil himself
could traverse this landscape. Indeed,
there are three 1000 ft. descents immediately
followed by 1000 ft. climbs,
with numerous rock scrambles that
require hands for assistance.
With a whopping 18,000 ft. of total
elevation change, it’s the neverending
ups and downs that beat your
legs, and your mind, into submission,
lending credence to the legend.
Consequently, most hikers choose to
backpack this route over two or three
days, a challenging feat itself for most
people. Only the crazed and sadistic
attempt it in a single day. That is
why, for this hike, we chose to put in
a little forethought—a rare occurrence
for the two of us, who pride ourselves
with our good sense of spontaneity.
This amounted to dropping a gallon of
water in a reused milk jug at the halfway
point, Devil’s Tombstone Campground
in Stony Clove Notch. Despite
the bonus points for thinking ahead,
we would still be dreadfully thirsty approximately
19 hours later.
Construction of the Path began in
1929, when the east section up to Mink
Hollow was cut. The route up Plateau
was established in 1934, and Hunter
from Stony Clove Notch the following
year. But it wasn’t until ’73 that the
trail down to the falls and up over West
Kill, the final summit of the range, was
added. Over its 25-mile stretch, the
Path has only one road crossing: NY
214 at Stony Clove Notch. This splits
the trail into the classic eastern section,
and the more recent western section,
with the eastern half being considered
more difficult. That was the
half we chose to start with.
At 10:30, we pulled into the eastern
trailhead at the end of Prediger Road
next to a weary wooden shack with
unmistakable signage reading “NO
SLEEPING IN CARS.” Unfortunately,
we had a one-person tent between the
two of us and absolutely no desire to
find a suitable campsite this late, and
by 11:45, we were ready to pass out.
One of us ended up breaking that rule.
A beautiful spot to unload
our gear and take a break
for lunch. Left: An unknown
hiker carved some words
of encouragement onto a
slept erratically, finding it hard to
contort my 6’2 frame in my Camry.
Jack was in his tent immediately
outside the car door. It was so still I
could hear him moving around. And
yet, somehow, unbeknownst to me,
we had midnight visitors. The way
we were positioned, every time a car
drove through, its headlights would
shine right at Jack’s tent. They would
then immediately stop and ponder
the situation for a couple excruciating
moments before driving further.
This apparently happened several
times between 12:30 and 1:30am. The
strangest thing: no one spoke. Not a
peep. Jack could hear one person
snapping photos of the trailhead but
no one opened their mouths. It was a
What worried us more about the
midnight visitors than the possibility
of being busted for sleeping in the
parking lot was that all of those people
started out on the trail hours before
us. Did they know something we
didn’t? After meager breakfasts we
were raring to go, and set out into the
night towards Indian Head, our first
ascent. It was 4:00am, and accompanying
us were barred owls hidden
somewhere in the darkness. Enjoyable
at first, they soon became off-putting
as their hoots morphed into uncannily
human-sounding laughs reverberating
through the otherwise silent trees. I
set the pace, as I would for much
of the adventure, and it wasn’t
long before we were climbing a
steep grade, still at a brisk 3mph.
As the first wisps of morning entered
the horizon, I turned off my
headlamp and looked at the sight
before me. There, 30 feet ahead
was a large boulder in the way.
Surely this wasn’t right, right? Nothing
but a taunting red blaze proved that it
Indian Head brought with it beautiful
views. The fog from the previous
night had gathered into a low, thick
carpet stretched to the horizon, with
the surrounding hills peeking through.
It gave the impression of looking out
an airplane window high above the
clouds. We continued over and down
into our first descent, already humidarmpitted
and shirtless. Next on the
docket was Twin, which afforded us a
view westward over the rolling ridgeline,
with Plateau demanding the most
attention. A quick snack later and we
were on the road again, descending
the col toward Sugarloaf.
On the summit of Sugarloaf, we
snacked again, feeling optimistic. We
had reached the top of the third of six
Despite the bonus points
for thinking ahead, we would
still be dreadfully thirsty
approximately 19 hours later.
peaks in about three hours of hiking.
Overall feeling good, I set a goal to be
out in the next nine hours. However,
in the extremely technical descent toward
Plateau, we quickly realized that
we wouldn’t be making good time for
a while. With loose rocks and some
stretches that were confusing to follow,
we became worried that this
would reflect the rest of the traverse.
So, in Mink Hollow, we took a mental
break before Plateau, opting to follow
the extremely dubious, almost Loony
Tunes-style sign that read, “SPRING,”
with an arrow pointing down a hill.
We were thirsty after all, Wile E. Coyote
The “spring” turned out to be more
of a muddy, leafy, pool and shot down
our hopes of filtering a little supplementary
water. I knew my 2L bladder
was running low, and would likely run
out before our water drop at Devil’s
Tombstone. Nearby, a kitchen knife
had been jammed two inches deep
into a tree trunk in an apparent fit of
rage—such was the frustration of the
Devil’s Path. Turning back up the hill
towards Plateau, our pace had slowed,
and a trail runner passed us easily.
Plateau was the first time we felt the
pressure. After climbing a fourth of
the way, we were in a bad place.
Halfway up, glistening with sweat and
breathing shortly, we stopped for what
seemed like our fifth break in 20 minutes.
Jack realized we needed a little
something, so we slurped down our
first GU packets of the day. Immediately,
Mandarin Orange hit my tongue
like an explosion, and in eight minutes,
I was feeling the benefits of the
sugar boost and caffeine focus. With
heightened determination, I watched
as the pace on my TomTom Multisport
Cardio shot downward, and we
trudged up and up, a cloud of flies
surrounding us, as if old Beelzebub
himself was keeping tabs. Passing
a large mushroom with the words,
“ALMOST THERE” prophetically
scrawled into the surface, we soon
rounded the crest, and felt grateful for
the two miles of flat land on the aptly
named Plateau. By 10:05, I retrieved
the water jug and we broke for lunch
before the beautifully glassy Notch Lake
at Devil’s Tombstone Campground.
It’s about now that I should mention
that our total time, though respectable
for a hike of this caliber, and taking
into account our complications, was
nothing spectacular. All told, it took us
15 hours to hike the Devil’s Path, and,
if given a second shot, I firmly believe
we could knock off three. Still, this is
pitiful compared to the blistering FKT
(fastest known time) of 4:53:45, set by
the insanely accomplished ultrarunner
Ben Nephew, in November 2015.
For comparison, it took us three hours
to reach the summit of Sugarloaf;
Nephew was already pulling into Devil’s
Tombstone Campground, an entire
mountain and a descent ahead of us.
And where he took a 2-3 minute break
to refill water, we stopped for 44 minutes
of carbohydrate gluttony and allowed
the cement in our legs to firmly
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 25
set before starting again toward Hunter
However, do not assume that we
were not competitive. Far from it.
Nearing the shoulder of Hunter, we
passed a group that was also hiking
the whole way from Prediger Road that
we began referring to as “that family.”
Perhaps some of our midnight visitors
that started four hours before us?
We did not know for sure, but this is
what we assumed, and as we passed
we were filled with the excitement and
arrogance that comes with making up
four hours on another party in only 12
miles. Maybe it was this sense of adequacy
that led to our decision to add
the extra 3.2 miles to bag the
true summit of Hunter.
Dude, what if we add this
extra peak, and we pass
that family again?! So that
was our plan. Coming off
Hunter, the extra miles felt
like nothing, but when we
stopped at the intersection
to sit down a minute, I realized
the soles of my feet
were burning. This sensation did not
improve on the featureless descent toward
West Kill, which seemed to take
an eternity. Jack was now leading, and
I was getting flashbacks to the Plateau
descent because, once again, I was
running out of water.
We passed two refill locations, but
Jack hadn’t packed his battery charger
and the UV filter we had been using
was dead. Coming into the falls,
we ran into “that family” once again,
this time lounging on the other side
of the bridge by the water. “Did you
guys make a wrong turn?” they asked
self-assuredly. Then, I turned toward
them, and I said deliberately “Nah, we
felt like nabbing Hunter too. See yah.”
I savored the words. They felt good.
Despite my proud moment, it was
here, at this very intersection,
that we began on a wrong path
that would take us an hour and two
miles out of our way, as well as nearly
defeat our spirits. The worst part was,
After ages we were at the lookout
just below the summit. The views
east were spectacular and we got
a good look at the ravine leading
us the wrong way...
“that family” might have corrected us,
but I was cocky. After realizing our
mistake (thanks to a kind couple that
lent us a map) I took a sip of water
from my hydration pack and felt the
ominous puff of emptiness. We would
not make our 12-hour goal, but hey,
maybe we’d pass that family again! It
was like this that we began our ascent
of West Kill—the longest climb and
our last for the day.
Somewhere about halfway up we
split the last two GUs as well as drank
the last of Jack’s water. I slowed our
pace to a crawl to conserve precious
H2O—we definitely were not going to
see that family ever again. Luckily,
this part of the trail had some of the
most walkable miles, but time was
dragging. After ages we were at the
lookout just below the summit. The
views east were spectacular and we
got a good look at the ravine leading
us the wrong way: it just kept losing
altitude and going south.
Passing a cairn marking the true
wooded summit, we began our final
descent toward Spruceton Road, the
end of our journey. I was hungry,
but would eat nothing other than the
M&M’s picked from Jack’s trail mix to
avoid salt, lest my thirst be further realized.
I went pretty internal here, and
zoned out for a long time. Our conversation
had also been dead for some
time, so I had to check to make sure I
wasn’t losing it when I began hearing
a metallic clanking. Jack heard it too.
We saw some shady figures through
the trees. Maybe the DEC was nailing
up signs? Rounding a bend, we came
upon a couple banging their trekking
poles together as they walked. They
told us they had startled a bear, and it
had run up the trail. Great. I pulled my
ancient Polish utility knife out and we
Mosy of the views are off
the main trail but they’re
definitely worth it. Of course,
there’s not much time to
take them in when you are
pursuing your personal FKT.
26 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
continued on, sounding out our presence
every few minutes.
Bears do frequent the Catskills, and
we had passed a few piles of scat, so I
was pumping adrenaline when I saw
a dark animal move under a tree and
out of sight up the trail. “Jack, I saw it.
There.” We walked a few steps further
to get a better view and I was dumbfounded.
There it was: a wide, black
porcupine, waddling at full tilt away
from us. I could tell it was moving at
full speed, but it was only going about
1 mph, and it was dead set in following
the trail. We continued, now matching
its pace, and providing a berth of
15ft. This allowed the couple to catch
up. “It’s just a porcupine,” I turned
and said, hoping they would cease
the racket that had continued without
a hitch. “OK,” one responded as they
continued slamming their trekking
poles together with irritating intensity.
Wonderful. Just when I thought we
would be stuck following this quilled
tortoise all the way back to the car,
followed by that beautifully composed
metallic cacophony, the porcupine
turned off into the trees. With out a
second’s hesitation, we dusted the two
behind us. The absurdity had me for a
while, and I was beaming.
Soon, though, I was reminded of
my thirst and hunger and just
wanted to be done. I was fantasizing
sugary drinks when I caught
up to Jack who was waiting for me.
There was a large, comical sign that
read “SPRUCETON 1.5” pointing in
the general opposite direction we had
just come for the past hour and mildly
uphill. That was the last straw. All
of my frustration and fatigue boiled
over and I started running angryily,
increasing my pace as I went. Jack
fell off the back but I could just hear
his trekking poles behind me, steadily
clicking away the distance. The final
half mile I sprinted, swearing and
grunting, all the way to Jack’s car. I
reached the lot, but now had to wait
for him to unlock the car. I paced
around, still fuming, but allowed my
anger to slowly steam out.
After a small eternity, Jack unlocked
the car and we split a water
bottle. I walked across the street to
a shallow stream to baptize myself in
its freezing waters. First, with extreme
care, I took off my boots and gingerly
sunk my feet into the water. Heaven. I
then crawled in, sat down, and slowly
laid my body down and stretched out
my legs, allowing the cold to wash over
me, rinsing away the sweat and the
grime, the dead flies, the aches and
pains, and all the frustration. We did
it. After a few more minutes of this,
I sat up, looking at the evening sky,
thankful for the day.
Though most trails are
marked we managed to
lose our way. Luckily, a
nice couple lent us their
map and we headed off
in the right direction.
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DACKS & TOGA activelife | 27
finishing up a
late winter run
with her son
Mom’s Running Tale
by Alex Kochon
PHOTOS: Jody Katz,
Courtesy of Alex Kochon
Monday, May 30 of last year started off as ordinary as
any other day. It was one day shy of my son’s first
birthday, and I had planned to spend the Memorial
Day morning at home while he took his morning nap.
There was a parade in town and perhaps, if he woke up in
time, we’d go to it. I had gone the year before, so pregnant
that I couldn’t zip up my rain jacket, and the year before
that, walked my dog along Glen Street in Glens Falls as
we checked out the spectator-lined parade route — which
doubled as a race course.
Nap time came and went, and my little one was still
awake. I considered that Memorial Mile running race. It’s
just a mile, I thought. We could totally handle that.
It was a beautiful spring morning, T-shirt weather — a
no-brainer for getting outside. I reached out to my parents
and brother who was in town with his girlfriend. “Anyone
want to do this race with me?” His girlfriend immediately
She took care of registering the two of us and we planned
to meet before the start. As an aside, not an excuse, I’m
slightly infamous for cutting times close. You could call me
late, but I don’t like that word since I’m usually right on
With a kid, multiply my tendency toward tardiness times
1000. It’s not easy getting out the door, now add in the lastminute
decision to run a 9:45 a.m. road race.
Always mindful of the speed limit (scout’s honor), I arrived
in downtown Glens Falls with minutes to spare. But
karma, or the running gods, or the real God, was on my
side. I found a parking spot within view of the start and
launched into what would become my pre-race routine:
Park. Gather necessary clothes, water, money, etc. Grab
the Thule Chariot (a.k.a. the Ferrari of baby joggers, thanks
to a collective baby shower gift) and assemble in less than
45 seconds (not exaggerating, I’ve timed myself). Pull the
stroller to a safe place alongside the car, load the baby
(who’s already dressed in appropriate clothes and layers),
toss in some sunscreen, a snack and water for him, and
definitely his bottle, and off we go.
By the time I got to the start, I think I had three minutes
to spare. My family was getting a little anxious about my
whereabouts, but we met up in time for me to get my racing
number and pin it to the stroller. I hadn’t had a conventional
warmup, but I was definitely warm. I took a sip of water,
offered Matti his bottle and lathered him with sunscreen.
28 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
We lined up near the back and focused
on the one-mile, point-to-point race
ahead. My only goal: don’t clip anyone’s
heels with the stroller.
I soon found that was far easier
said than done as I gradually picked
up speed along the fast-and-flat Glen
Street. I had started out faster than I
had expected, but this was only a mile,
so I decided to keep pace with several
young kids running with (or sprinting
away from) their parents. Before
the race’s halfway point, there was a
noticeable trend of among the littlest
ones as they faded hard, some even
stopping in their tracks. I
darted around them, with
Matti chatting the whole
way. Six minutes and 59
seconds after starting, we
How’s that for a workout?
It was my first race in
a long time, and I’ve never
been much of a runner, so I
was pleased with the effort.
Upon careful inspection at
the finish, Matti was happy,
too. We met up with our
family at the finish, walked
back to the start, and continued
on with our day.
Something about how impromptu
that day was and
how positive the experience
was, racing with my son
and listening to him giggle
as he watched other runners,
stuck with me. After
that, I jumped into (meaning,
I signed up on race
day) about a dozen other
road races last summer, all
around 5 kilometers (or 3.1
miles) long, with the exception
of the Firecracker 4 Mile on July
4, which I pre-registered for. I pushed
Matti for all but three of them, and had
a surprising realization as we raced
into late fall: I got faster. In fact, I ran
almost as fast as I ever had at that distance,
which was during college, as a
mom one year out from having a baby.
The other unanticipated transformation
I had from running with my kid
was that, for the first time ever, I truly
began to love running, and moreover,
racing. I would wake up on a given
Saturday or Sunday morning, and if
the weather looked promising, I would
scan the local road-race registry. If one
looked doable, I’d gather all of our necessities
for the outing and load up the
car, almost always cutting it incredibly
close. Never fail, we’d make it to the
start — sans warmup — which was
fine because Matti doesn’t like to sit
for more than 30 minutes anyway.
I’d line up among the other racers
with a clear mind. I wasn’t nervous,
there were no expectations, I didn’t
have to impress anyone (besides Matti,
who mostly just didn’t want me to
stop). At any given time, we could be
done if he wasn’t happy. It started
raining during one of our 5 k races, so
I pulled over to put the stroller’s rain
fly down and make sure the blanket
was tucked around him. I considered
walking after that (I was having a
tough race on a hilly course; not exactly
an advantage when you’re pushing
a 40-pound stroller and 20-pound
baby), but the worsening weather
pushed me to finish quickly. It was
one of my slowest races, but it was all
“...for the first time
ever, I truly began
to love running, and
good. Matti stayed dry, he took a long
nap later in the day, and together we
had accomplished something.
I know he won’t remember last summer
and all the races I brought him
to, but those are memories I’ll always
have with him. While I used to leave
races soon after finishing, all too eager
to get on to the next thing, I’ve mellowed
and become more relaxed, more
supportive of the other finishers, the
other stroller pushers, the other parents
running with their kids. Sometimes,
we earned medals, which Matti
proudly wore around his neck. Thinking
less about myself and more about
the experience heightened my enjoyment
and appreciation for these kinds
of events, with almost all of them benefiting
So, to other moms and dads out
there with children young enough to
push in a stroller, or children who
might be interested in doing a threemile
race with you (most of these races
also have shorter fun runs for kids), I
encourage you to go for it. It’s a lot of
work getting there, but you’ll be better
— physically and mentally — for it.
In terms of tips for running with a
child, I have a few:
n DO pre-register if you know you
can make it. It will save you time and
money (usually at least $5
cheaper than day-of registration)
and you won’t have
to deal with paperwork or
payment on race day.
n DO check the weather,
especially if you have a little
one riding along in the
stroller. Keep in mind that
they’re not running, so they
won’t be sweating while you
might be. Make sure they’re
dressed appropriately, complete
with a hat, sunglasses
(or sun shade, if your stroller
has one) and sunscreen,
if necessary. And if it’s going
to rain, consider skipping.
Puddles are tough to dodge,
and you’re going to get really
wet behind that stroller.
n DO check the race organizers’
website or posted
rules before the event.
If it says no strollers, don’t
be that person running with
a stroller. There’s a reason
they asked you not to, so
pick another race (or have
someone watch your child
and see how fast you can do it solo!)
n DON’T plan to run with a stroller
in a race with 3,000 people. Take it
from me. Bad idea.
n DO go with the flow. If you’re not
having a great race, or something
comes up and you have to stop or
make adjustments, roll with it. Finish
as strong as you can, or turn it into
a different kind of workout (for one
race, I alternated between jogging and
short sprints. The baby loved it. You
can turn it into a game, telling them to
prompt you, “Ready, set, go!”)
n DO check in on them immediately
after. I know too well what “I’m
going to puke” feels like at the finish,
but you probably shouldn’t be pushing
yourself to that point when you’re running
with a stroller, and if you are, the
feeling should pass quickly. As soon
as you can after finishing, pull off to
the side and face your child as you give
them a big smile. They’ll associate that
with happiness and be excited the next
time they get in the stroller.
DACKS & TOGA activelife | 29
“If you really
want to do something,
you will find a way. If you don’t,
you’ll find an excuse.”
Check out some
of these upcoming
events either to
Sat., May 20, 5:00pm*
For info: adkracemgmt.com
Sat.-Sun., May 20-21
Tour of the Battenkill
For info: tourofthebattenkill.com
Mon., May 29, 9:55am*
For info: adkracemgmt.com
Sat., June 3
For info: whitefaceregion.com/do/events
*Start times. Arrive early to check-in, warm-up, etc.
Sun., June 4, 8:00am*
Uphill Bike Race
For info: whitefaceregion.com/do/events
Sun., June 4, 7:00am*
Saratoga Springs ADA
Tour de Cure
Saratoga Spa State Park
For info: diabetes.org/saratoga
Sun., June 4, 1:00pm*
23rd Annual Park Trails
Day Guided Bike Ride
10-12 miles highlighting
the Bicentennial of the
Erie Canal Towpath
For info: cliftonparkopenspaces.org/events
Sat., June 10, 10:15*
Black Fly Challenge
Indian Lake and Inlet
For info: blackflychallenge.com
Sun., June 11, 8:00am*
Lake Placid Marathon
and Half Marathon
For info: lakeplacidmarathon.com
Sun., June 11, 8:00am*
8th Hudson Crossing
For info: hudsoncrossingtri.com
Fri.-Sun., June 16-18
For info: adirondacksupfestival.com
Sat., June 24, 8:00am*
Tupper Lake Tinman
Tupper Lake Municipal Park
For info: tupperlaketinman.com
Tues., July 4, 9:00am*
For info: firecracker4.com
Sat.-Sun., Aug. 5-6
For info: Facebook Churney Gurney
30 | DACKS & TOGA activelife
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