DT Active Life 050617 for web-REVISED

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activelife

TM

FREE

SPORTS • FITNESS • TRAVEL • ADVENTURE • WELLNESS • MAY - JUNE 2017

5 fun

ways

to shift

gears

Nick

Marcantonio

chases the

Ironman

hiking

the

Devil’s

Path

still racing

after all

these years

Bill Parks skis

the Birkebeiner

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?

WELCOME TO

activelife

TM

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 3


contents

FEATURES

10 Cover Story:

5 Ways to Spin It

17 6 Essentials to

Fitness

20 Active Life

Profile:

Bill Parks Skis

the Birkebeiner

Before and After

10

24 Road Trip:

15 Hours on the

Devil’s Path

The Toughest Hike in

the Northeast

28 On a Roll

How One Mom Learned

to Love Racing

IN EVERY ISSUE

5 Editor’s Letter

7 Active Life

Short List

8 Tech:

The TomTom

Adventurer GPS

Watch

18 Health &

Wellness

30 Calendar

8

24

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.

20

4 | DACKS & TOGA activelife


editors’ letter

hello...

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

lifestyle community.

See you in July,

The Active Life Team

Get Ready for the 4th Annual

CHURNEY GURNEY

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

Facebook/Churney-Gurney for

Updates on Information,

Activities and Registration

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DACKS & TOGA activelife | 5

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Our Contributors

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.

TM

activelife

Publisher

87 North Publishing, Ltd.

www.87npub.com

Managing Editor

Jody Katz

Creative Director

Gabrielle Katz

Contributors

Drew Cappabianca

Alex Kochon

Eric J. Hamilton

Jared Newell

Ethan Katz

Duncan Callahan

Advertising

To advertise, call: 518-636-5960

or email: ads@87npub.com

Contact Us At:

518-636-5960

or email: info@87npub.com

Manuscripts, artwork, photographs, inquiries and

submitted materials are welcome.

Email submissions to: info@87npub.com

87NORTH

PUBLISHING, LTD.

Dacks & Toga Active Life magazine is owned and operated by

87 North Publishing, Ltd.

P.O. Box 495, Glens Falls, NY 12801

© 2017 by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction in any form, by any means in any form, mechanical or

electronic without permission from the publisher is prohibited.

Ads created by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. for this magazine

cannot be reproduced in print or online without written permission

from the publisher.

87 North Publishing, Ltd. and Dacks & Toga Active Life Magazine

reserve the rights to refuse any advertisements for any reason.

Acceptance of advertising does not mean or imply the service or

product is recommended by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. or

Dacks & Toga Active Life.

6 | DACKS & TOGA activelife


short list

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!

[

Some of

]

the things...

we’re talking

about!

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.

Stay Hydrated

this Summer

TOO BUSY TO

REMEMBER 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

lithium battery.

Get Inspired

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


tech

Off-Road,

On-Road,

Any Terrain:

The TomTom

Adventurer

GPS Watch

is the Perfect

Companion

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

race goals.

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

standalone units.

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

n With

great looks

and multi-sport

functions, the

TomTom Adventurer

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

the interface.

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.

-Jody Katz

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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.

1

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

breaks).

“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

swim coach.

“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

distances.

“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

Falls YMCA.

“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.”

– Continued


SPIN IT!

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.

Nick heads

out for a

training ride.

He is

sponsored by

Grey Ghost

Bicycles

and Nuun.

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.”

LOCAL RESOURCES:

• Adirondack Triathlon Club:

facebook.com/adirondacktriclub,

• Saratoga Triathlon Club:

saratogatriclub.com,

• High Peaks Cyclery Mini Tri Races:

highpeakscyclery.com


2

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

The group

stayed very

close together,

talked about

how sick and

tired they

were of riding

on their bike

trainers...

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!

The Grey

Ghost group

out on one of

their favorite

routes.

Check with

your local

bike shop to

locate a

group ride

you can join.

12 | DACKS & TOGA activelife


PHOTO: Shutterstock

Get on a Mountain Bike:

3

Great Local Trail

Options For Everyone

By Drew Cappabianca

Professionally built

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

trail development.

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

visiting riders.

So what is the importance of professionally

built trails versus their

volunteer built counterparts? Professionally

built trails

are designed for a wide

range of riders and

take into consideration

rider ability and safety,

whereas volunteer/nonprofessional

builds tend

to be used by those that

built them, and they

tend to be more experienced

and capable riders.

Additionally, professionals

know how

to create well-designed

trails that are more durable.

Beyond the environmental

impact it

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

If you

haven’t tried

mountain

biking in a

while (or ever),

I can’t be more

emphatic by

recommending

you try it

again.

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

sport with.

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.

Conveniently located

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

attentive because

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!

– Continued

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 13


4

Take the Scenic Route:

By Eric J. Hamilton

Photo provided

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

ride on.

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

the river.

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

road bicycle.

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,

homemade refreshments

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

you’re free

to stop by a

historic site,

watch a blue

heron or large

raptor fishing

for dinner...

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

visitors discover

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

personal trainer

Bob Olden gives me

a run-through on

the basics.

Right: A better view

of my spin cycle.

5

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

into spinning.

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

roadside food

stand and an

ice cream

truck, but our

pursuit of the

rider ahead

of us never

wavered.

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

your routine!

n

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 15


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16 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

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6 Essentials

to Fitness

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

approach.

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

6

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

Surviving a

Minor Injury

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

hobbling around.

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

immeasurably easier.

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.

-Gabrielle Katz

PHOTOS: Shutterstock

Perfect, Picnic-Worthy,

Pack-and-Go Protein

Snacks for Active

People

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

hours without

refrigeration.

EGGS

6g Protein

per serving

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

7g Protein

per serving

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

8g Protein

per serving

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 Parks

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

Hoevenberg, bottom.

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

against it?

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

the past.

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

t

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 21


Bill working

hard on a climb

at a mid-point in

the Birkebeiner.

Photo Courtesy of

Bill Parks

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

race plan.

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

composite poles.

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

down hills.

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

was slow...

part was mostly downhill followed by a few

level kms. That made things seem more

manageable!

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/

watch?v=gxdz6_8gA-Q

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


oad trip

15

HOURS

ON THE

DEVIL’S

PATH...

THE TOUGHEST

HIKE IN THE

NORTHEAST

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

T

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.

I

A beautiful spot to unload

our gear and take a break

for lunch. Left: An unknown

hiker carved some words

of encouragement onto a

mushroom.

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

ghostly procession.

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

was indeed.

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

or no.

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

Mountain.

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


Our writer

finishing up a

late winter run

with her son

and, opposite,

crossing the

finish line

at the

Memorial

Mile.

On

a Roll

One Stroller-Pushing

Mom’s Running Tale

by Alex Kochon

PHOTOS: Jody Katz,

Opposite photo

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

replied yes.

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

time. Usually.

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

were done.

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

{moreover, racing.”

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

different charities.

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


calendar

“If you really

want to do something,

you will find a way. If you don’t,

you’ll find an excuse.”

Jim Rohn

Check out some

of these upcoming

events either to

participate or

spectate.

Sat., May 20, 5:00pm*

Glens Falls

Urban Assault

Glens Falls

For info: adkracemgmt.com

Sat.-Sun., May 20-21

13th Annual

Tour of the Battenkill

Washington County

Fairgrounds, Greenwich

For info: tourofthebattenkill.com

Mon., May 29, 9:55am*

Memorial Mile

Glens Falls

For info: adkracemgmt.com

Sat., June 3

Wilmington/

Whiteface 100k

For info: whitefaceregion.com/do/events

*Start times. Arrive early to check-in, warm-up, etc.

Sun., June 4, 8:00am*

Whiteface Mountain

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*

Clifton Park’s

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*

22nd Annual

Black Fly Challenge

Indian Lake and Inlet

For info: blackflychallenge.com

Sun., June 11, 8:00am*

Lake Placid Marathon

and Half Marathon

Lake Placid

For info: lakeplacidmarathon.com

Sun., June 11, 8:00am*

8th Hudson Crossing

Triathlon

Schuylerville

For info: hudsoncrossingtri.com

Fri.-Sun., June 16-18

Adirondack SUP

Festival

Saranac Lake

For info: adirondacksupfestival.com

Sat., June 24, 8:00am*

Tupper Lake Tinman

Triathlon

Tupper Lake Municipal Park

For info: tupperlaketinman.com

Tues., July 4, 9:00am*

Firecracker 4

Saratoga Springs

For info: firecracker4.com

Sat.-Sun., Aug. 5-6

Churney Gurney

Gurney Lane

Recreation Park,

Queensbury

For info: Facebook Churney Gurney

PHOTO: Shutterstock

30 | DACKS & TOGA activelife


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