2019 Workforce Challenge Race Recap

The CDPHP® Workforce Team Challenge is a 3.5-mile road race open to teams of employees from corporations, businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, not-for-profit corporations, and financial institutions. Participating companies, organizations, and agencies use the event as a platform to provide health and fitness opportunities in the workplace while promoting goodwill and camaraderie among their employees.

It takes place at the Empire State Plaza in Albany on a similar course to the old Freihofer course. It sells out early with a cap of 10,000 runners.

At my former job, I ran this race once (in 2011), the only year I convinced them to have a team.  It was fun so I signed up to be part of a team at my new job two years ago. We didn’t actually have enough runners for our own team so we partnered with UAlbany. I ran it with this team last year, as well.

I enjoyed it and it was a good way to get to know others where I work

Anyway I remembered the course from 7 years ago and the course starts with a steep uphill and then flattens out.  You run through the park which has rolling hills and then it ends with a steep downhill.

It is actually more of a run than a race.  With 10,000 participants and many walkers, you feel (at least I do) no pressure to do anything but finish.

Another issue is fueling. When and what do you eat for a race that starts at 6:25 pm?

So when I finished work at 4pm, I ate a bar and a banana and hoped that would be enough.

To avoid the crowds, I parked my car (where I used take yoga) and walked about 1.5 miles to the start.

The weather was a little warm (70) but at least we had a day without rain. I had woken up that morning with a headache and stiff neck. My neck was still stiff but not enough to prevent me from running a race.

My team was very organized. Again this year, they had set up a tent with water and refreshments.  I walked around for a while searching for the tent but finally located it (in a place not far from where it was the year before.)

I had already picked up my team tee and bib during lunch at UAlbany.

But I wore the shirt from two years ago but only put on this year’s team tee for a pre-race photo. It was too big again this year (Unisex!!)

I think I missed the photo but it was pretty much the same cast of characters as last year plus or minus a few.

While waiting for the race to start, I chatted with those that I knew from work. We chatted about running, of course and made plans to go out after the race.

We eventually headed to the start. With a cap of 10,000 runners every year, this year, they decided to add corrals.  I was in the second corral (LIME green). We pushed our way in (as predicted many ignored their correct corral) and moved up as far we could.

And then just waited in the crowd.

Two years ago, Sawyer Fredericks (winner of The Voice and a local) sang the National Anthem. This year, it was an unknown local.

Eventually, the race started.

Of course, it took awhile before we even moved.


last year’s start

The biggest problem with this race was that unless you were in the front and very fast, it was impossible to gain any speed.  Even with the corrals, I was playing bumper cars the whole race. It seemed even more crowded this year even without the walkers in front of me. So middle of the packers, like me, just weaved in and out, bumped into people saying “excuse me” though out the entire race.

My neck was stiff and the sun in eyes.  I was too warm. Plus so many cracks in the pavements to watch out for (In fact one of my co-workers fell during the race).

But then again except for a chosen group, it was not a “race.”  It was just a way to get out of the office and get some exercise with their co-workers.  Some businesses had 200-500 employees participating.

I think it’s a great thing. So I tried not to get annoyed or take it seriously. It helped that I ran much of race with a running friend (until I lost her), listened to music and soaked up everyone’s excitement.

Back to the race…

We started up a long uphill climb which flattened until we entered the park.

The course continued through the park with rolling hills – one or two being rather steep but I didn’t walk.

There was a water stop that you passed twice.  I ran until the first stop and then I walked.  I walked again at the 2nd water stop. I walked one more time at the mile 3 sign.

Because I started out so slow and never ran fast, I never felt tired or out of breath.  A new concept for me.

Warm? YES!!


photo from last year

Eventually, you headed toward that downhill finish.  I was tempted to go into an all out sprint but it was a steep downhill so I had to hold back.

Runners make their way down Madison Ave. during the 2019 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge at the Empire State Plaza on Thursday, May 16, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

photo from TU

When I saw the clock in the distance, I picked up the pace so that I could finish under 33 minutes.

And I did (chip time).

Then I slowly made my way back through the crowd to the tent and my co-workers. This year again, they had a huge spread for us  – cheese, crackers, humus, salsa, chips, marinated veggies, fresh fruit, etc.

I was very impressed by the race organization again this year.  After you picked up water, you proceeded to a tent to get your time.

not speedy but a course PR.

Then you continued on to get your race shirt, followed by another stop to a get bag with food. The lines moved very quickly.  There were lots of volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly.

I bumped into many running friends and we chatted as we walked around the Empire State Plaza.

Eventually, I made my way back to my co-workers and we made plans to meet at a bar downtown for beer and wings.

I, however, had to make the long walk back to my car…and my stiff neck was even more painful than before the race so I decided to go home.

Runners/walkers were still heading toward the finish line.  Everyone looked happy and to be having a great time.

It made me smile but I quickened my step to get to my car since it was getting late.

The highlight of the evening was chatting with co-workers and meeting new runners.  Getting in my last run before my half marathon was just gravy.

Race Splits:

mile 1: 9:39
mile 2: 9:31
mile 3: 9:16
.5: 8:16

Negative splits – Woo Hoo!! Course PR and a 3.5 PR (well I don’t run many of these.)

No age group awards given but I would have placed 2nd.

I am glad to have participated in this race. It is run by a local running club and they seemed to try to improve the race each year. This year, for example,

  • They added corrals in the start area to separate participants by their predicted times. Participants were issued a bib of the color of the corral where they will be expected to start.
  • Capital Cardiology Associates offered blood pressure tests at their tent prior to the race and post-race.
  • Albany Massage Professionals offered massages both before and after the race.
  • There were five bands performing for the race participants.

I definitely plan to run it again next year.

It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:  Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

I’m linking also up with Coaches Corner–Debbie and Marc.

Happy Running! Ever participate in a team race? 

Weekly Run Down – 5.20.19-5.26.19: Back to the Big Apple


Working in NYC  is always a treat. Not as much running as I would have liked but some weeks are like that.

Last Week –

  • Monday – After I arrived in Manhattan, checked into my hotel, trekked out to Queens to set up and then trekked back, I managed to get in a run in Central Park.  I took a subway all the way to the north end (110th St) and ran around the Conservancy Garden and beyond. So beautiful!!

so beautiful that I may have walked more than ran…and met a guy in the NYRR info booth who has run NYCM 20 times.

Then I walked back to my hotel on 35th St. A nice but warm night for a LONG walk.

the statue was in Rockefeller Center

10.2 miles on the feet the day after a half. Yikes. Surprisingly the legs felt no pain.

  • Tuesday After a long work day, I hopped the subway (subway, LIRR, subway) to see the Warhol Women exhibit. Got off at 72nd W not 72nd E.  UGH!! Thus a long walk through Central Park. It was a beautiful day and the exhibit was worth it.

Then I walked back to my hotel (on 35th) so I could change out of my work clothes. I planned to run along the Hudson River. But it was so windy. So I ended up at Hudson Yard with a climb up to the top of The Vessel. It was cool to see the city from above at sunset.

No run today. 6 miles on the legs for the day would have to do.

  • Wednesday – A rest day because I had to take the train home after work.
  • Thursday – Another rest day because our monthly tennis girls night out was on the schedule.  Tonight we went on a garden tour followed by a lovely dinner (and we didn’t even get rained on).

a little FOMO because I had wanted to go to a club-sponsored trail run)

  • Friday – And yet another rest day before mah jongg night.
  • Saturday – A 15k race at noon or FTC training run with friends…Decisions. Decisions. I chose FTC because it was the last one and a chance to see my Sole Sister running friends.  I ran with the “advanced” group and we ran 6 miles, easy enough to chat the whole time.  I was glad that I went. Then I went out to brunch, stopped on the way home to do some errands, then there was cleaning, laundry and weeding.

Well, it was National Wine Day.  You know what that means…

  • Sunday – Our first outing of the season on our boat. And the weather was PERFECT. A relaxing day with water views and catching up with our marina friends.

Friday Five – Loving

It’s Friday so I’m linking up with Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five linkup! Join in! Don’t forget to link back to your hostess and visit some other bloggers.

It’s time for a What Am I Loving post so that’s my topic this week:

1. Running in Skirts 

Finally it is warm enough (most of the time) to run without tights and capris.

I wish the season was longer cuz I have TOO many skirts.  The good thing about skirts, though, is that you can wear capris and tights under them in the other seasons whereas tights and capris cannot be worn when it is too hot.

I may have bought one more… but that’s it! I am done!

2. New Running Friends

I love ALL my running friends but recently a local running club started a group called SOAR (Sisterhood Of Athletes and Runners). They meet at 6 pm every other Wed at a different location. The organizer always plans cute ice breaker activities. I plan to attend whenever I can.

Another runner has planned ice cream group runs – each time ending at a different ice cream establishment.  I’m all over that!!!!!!!!!

3. Shorter Races

With 4 halfs and a 15k in FOUR months, I am enjoying spending less than an hour at a race on the weekends, (That will be short lived as I start Marathon training July 1).

4. More Daylight Hours

As a working runner, I can now run at different locations besides UAlbany since I don’t have to worry about lights!

5. Tennis

Due to work and finances, I did NOT play tennis all year.  I thought that I didn’t miss it. But I played everyday (for 7 days) while on vacation in Florida.

Yup, I still enjoy it. I do miss it.

Running is #1.

But I hope to add in some tennis once a week this summer and maybe join the club again next fall so I can play twice a month.

Happy Running! What are you loving right now.  Please share.


Summer Smith Memorial 5K Race Recap


May 11, 2019 – 9:45 am

This was the fourth year for this 5K race which is organized by the mother of one of the STEM runners who died of an overdose after completing her first 5k. This is her story – https://www.gofundme.com/Summer5k4addiction


I had just returned the day before from 8 days in Florida where I did a lot of eating, drinking and sitting on the beach. I did some running but due to the heat and humidity, it was more of a slog. Plus the forecast for today was cool and windy.

However, I just had to do this race. I knew that there would be many other runners and volunteers from the STEM program. I wanted to support this cause and I am fortunate to have known and run with Summer.

I did run this race the past three years as well. I remember it as NOT being flat. But I did win my AG and finished with a respectable 28:29, 27:26 and 27:24 times.

Photos from two years ago:

It was cool, sunny (in the high 40s – low 50s) with lots of wind.  I was still exhausted from my Florida vacation, woke up with a headache and really did not feel like running.

But as soon as I arrived, my mood lifted.

The race starts at a local high school so there are real bathrooms, easy parking, and ample room to hang out before and after the race.

I grabbed a needed cup of coffee and immediately bumped into some purple shirted runners. Many who were in Summer’s STEM group were there. It was pretty emotional. I still get teary-eyed when I think about her.

Sean’s Team last year

Another local runner that I know, Karen, also led a team of runners. Her son, Sean, had also died of a drug overdose. I forgot to sign up to be on her team this year (so I just ran for her virtually).

This race was one of the most organized races I’ve run. After you got your bib, you got a bag labelled with your name with a shirt and other swag.

There were tables with representatives from relevant organizations (alcohol & drug abuse) also giving out freebies.

There were also many many raffle items  (most running-related but again I forgot to bring $$).

Before the race, there was a dedication ceremony followed by a balloon release.

31 balloons released for Summer

Then more balloons released for the others who also lost their lives due to drugs.  Probably not a dry eye in the crowd.

The ceremony was followed by music and a Zumba session.  I opted out and went inside.

I stayed inside until it was time to proceed out to the road to start the race.

I approached the start line and bumped into fellow Sole Sister (and STEM mentor), Judy and my running friend Tom.

in his standard “power pose”

Here’s the course description:

Start/Finish of this out-and-back 5 km course is on West Dr on the south side of Guilderland High School. The course proceeds out West Dr to turn L onto School Rd, continues across the intersection with Depot Rd onto Meadowdale Rd, then bears L at Frederick Rd to Mile 1 on Meadowdale Rd and continues to the Turnaround point. The inbound route retraces the outbound route of the course to Mile 2 on Meadowdale Rd and Mile 3 on West Dr just after the turn off School Rd, and continues to the Finish.

I lined up pretty close to the front since there were many slower runners and walkers in this race.

I just did the best I could.  Not PR fast but I wanted to finish with a respectable time.  With the chilly temps and no warm up, my legs felt like lead at the beginning.  It was also a slight uphill for the first mile. I wore my DIY arm warmers for a bit but quickly pulled them down. The sun made it feel warmer than the actual temps. But the WIND!!! We seemed to be running INTO it most of the race.

The course levels out a bit and then when we turn left, there is a steeper hill (but not bad at all).  There was a lot of support along the course.  Friends of the families who lost loved ones to drugs were holding signs in their memory.  I was glad that I was running to support this charity.

We turned around at the halfway point and continued on this country road back to the high school.  I just tried to maintain a consistent pace. It was windy and I didn’t have the energy to push myself to a PR but I tried to save some so I could sprint through the finish line, at least.

I crossed at 27:XX.  I was satisfied.

I wanted to wait to watch some of the other runners finish but I was chilly so I went inside to put on my long sleeve shirt and get some food.

There was chocolate milk, fruit, bagels and donuts.  I was a happy camper.

Tom and I checked the results and we both got an award!!

Race Splits:

mile 1 – 8:55
mile 2 – 8:51
mile 3 – 8:46
.14 – 7:49

Garmin time = 27:39

All my laps were under 9 m/m.  I was pleased with that and I ran NEGATIVE splits!! It wasn’t a 5K PR and it was not even a course PR (last year I finished in 27:21.) But it was faster than last week which was on a FLAT course.

Champ liked my metal too

Could I have Pr’d?  Doubtful.  These legs are getting older. Tom says that I will not get faster unless I lift weights. (Not happening!!)

I must say that I have enjoyed my last two 5ks. I have won awards without doing any speed work. My calf feels FINE too.

And especially loved this race. I was happy to support this charity. Plus the race was so well-organized. The only negative was the the wind and how tired I was from my trip (and the day delay in getting home. 😦

I am so humbled by these STEM women and others who have overcome adversity. And I am glad to be a part of their lives.

Tyler has WON this race 3 years in a row. His brother Zach died in 2015.

With a half marathon in a week, I had planned to run 7 more miles and then go to the Tulip Fest in the park with the girl I mentor and her two sons.  (May 14, 2018 was our 11 year anniversary.)

the kids are getting so big…I had a blast

But I decided to skip the extra miles and do my long run the next day. (Well, bad idea because it rained all day and I never got the run in 😦 )

Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with these ladies. Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner). Hope you do too!

I’m linking also up with Coaches Corner–Debbie and Marc.

Happy Running! What is your favorite charity to support for a race? Do race because of the cause?


Weekly Run Down – 5.13.19-5.19.19: Home Sweet Home


Back to my normal schedule…plus a weekday race and a weekend Half Marathon. Maybe not so normal to most.. lol

Last Week –

  • Monday – Since my run got rained out the day before, rain was predicted for the afternoon and the day after, I felt compelled to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 am to run before work.  It has been years since I have done a pre-work run.  Besides being tired, hungry and over-dressed, it wasn’t too bad.

neighborhood views

I felt guilty but I skipped my FTC group run… I am sure my die hard friends did the workout in the rain. (yup they did!)

  • Tuesday A rest day, only because it was raining and I had a chiro appt. I did stop off for a few minutes at the gym on my way home.

after 3 days of rain, only flowers from Trader Joes could cheer me up (and my cat photobomber)

  • Wednesday – I skipped the SOAR run two weeks ago but I decided to go today. It’s a new group of women runners that run in different locations every two weeks at 6 pm (perfect for those who work!) I chatted with some old friends and even made some new ones.

They asked us to pair up so I ran with Colleen (whom I had worked with for 10 years at my last job) and we chatted the whole time.

After the run, I rushed off to the mall where I met my BFF. We did some walking and gabbing.

  • Thursday – For the third year in a row, I participated with some of my co-workers (and 10,000 others) in the Workforce Challenge Race. This year, at least they had corrals but it was still so congested for the entire 3.5 miles. Again, I ran just for fun and it was fun.

survived the heat (and a stiff neck) and had a course PR.

  • Friday – More rain but a scheduled rest day. Just worked, went for a lunch walk (when the rain stopped)

lunch walk view

Then stopped by the STEM celebration after and played mah jongg in the evening.

  • Saturday – Catch up day on the home front. Laundry, cleaning, weeding.  Then we decided to take a trip up to Lake George.

We didn’t take the boat out for a ride but we walked to the Sagamore Hotel and had my belated birthday dinner out.  I had to carb load for the race the next day anyway.

great view and great food (which was followed by a root beer float on the way home)

  • Sunday – Today with some running buddies, I ran the inaugural Great Sacandaga Half Marathon. It was a little too warm (but no rain) and my long runs in preparation have been 3 miles so it turned out to be a struggle but in a good way. The course was challenging but I won my first trophy ever (even though my time was 2 minutes slower than my last half.) Afterwards, we all went out to lunch on the lake to celebrate.

Friday Five – Running on a Non-Running Vacation

It’s Friday so I’m also linking up with Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five linkup! Join in! Don’t forget to link back to your hostess and visit some other bloggers.

I just returned from a vacation where the purpose was to play tennis and bond with my female tennis friends.  Not one of them runs but I did FIVE out of 8 days!!

Here’s my topic today:


1. Be prepared.  

Pack clothes for all weather conditions. Cool, hot, rainy, etc. Pack enough clothes to run every day.

This trip was easy for me. It was sunny, warm and humid EVERY DAY. I was also able to re-wear my skirts but the tops got pretty sweaty (but I brought many and we also had a washing machine if necessary)

2. Schedule your runs.

If you leave it to chance, it won’t happen.

I chose not to run the day I arrived, the day before my 5k race and the day of our road trip.

All the other days, I took out my clothes the night before, set my alarm and got my run in between 7 and 8 am before I was scheduled to play tennis.

3. Be flexible.

Sometimes other persons’ needs or desires will come before your running.

It was a tennis vacation first and foremost.  We only had 7 who could play. That meant I had to play twice every morning.

I ran fewer miles than I may have wanted. Some days, I just went for a walk.

one day I even had to run in my tennis outfit.

4. Find a scenic route.

Pretty views make all the difference. If you plan to run often, you need to vary your route.

Sometimes I ran around our community (World Tennis Center) and other days, I ran along the road outside the community (and even in other communities.)

5. Lower your expectations.

Distance & speed goals will probably not happen.

With the heat and humidity, my runs got shorter and slower.  I walked more often.  But it was better than staying in bed.

**Register for a race in the area, if possible.

This is not required but a short race does not take any training or much time out of the day. It is a fun way to get in a run.

Tropicool 5k

Happy Running!  Do you run when you are on vacation (not a race-cation)?


Tropicool 5K Race Recap

May 5, 2019- 7:30 am

As you may remember, this race took place during my annual non-running tennis vacation in Naples, Florida. I take lessons and play tennis every morning and then spend the afternoon on the beach.  Each evening I go out for drinks, dinner and dessert with my tennis friends. Eight days of pure relaxation and enjoyment… (every May since 2005)

I love it.  It’s usually my only vacation that doesn’t include a race.  You have to admit that racing during a vacation does add an element of stress.

Two years we changed our dates. We were in Naples two weeks earlier and that meant that the temps were only in the 80s (not the 90s) and that the racing season was not over yet.

I happened upon a 5k race that took place on the Sunday during our stay. One of my friends offered to get up at the crack of dawn and drop me off and another offered to pick me up.

I unexpectedly bumped into a tennis friend, Rebecca, who had moved to Naples and despite the heat, did fairly well.

And so I registered for the same race again last year. I did even better than the year before.

met Rebecca again at the race

Here again is the description of the race and the course map:

Enjoy a wonderful 5K race that showcases the beautiful streets of Olde Naples. This course is two loops starting on Broad Street.

I’m not a fan of loops but at least it was only a 5K and I don’t remember it bothering me. So of course, I signed up again!!

As she did last year, my friend Catalina agreed to drop me off at the race start.  I was familiar with the race location so I didn’t need to arrive as early as I did the first year.

The day before the race, we went out to an awesome dinner which included a few glasses of wine.  (Oops I don’t usually drink the night before a race but I was on vacay…) Then we went to the theatre followed by a stop at an ice cream shop.  Obviously, it turned out to be a later night than normal.

Sunday morning, I groggily ate my usual race breakfast at 5:30 am.  I got dropped me off in town around 6:30 am. It was still kinda dark and there were still not many runners there.

Unlike last year, I did not pick up my race packet the day before.  So I did before the race. It was again a mug (instead of a shirt).  I had to hide the mug under a tree since I did have a bag or a car.

so happy to get practical swag.

Then I walked a block to the beach to hang out until around 7 am.

This was not a big race.  There were about 350 runners – all ages and very friendly.

The sun was now out and it was starting to get warm.  But it was not as warm as it could have been.  I checked the weather app on my phone. Holy cow!!!

I wore my usual race attire minus the compression socks –

I wasn’t sure if my friend Rebecca was racing but she was and showed up only minutes before the start of the race.

As you can see from the map, the course winds around town and through the neighborhoods twice. And it was flat!!

I had no plan for the race – just finish and get back to my tennis friends so we could get on with the day’s activities.

I race a lot as you know but lately it’s been longer races. In fact, I hadn’t raced a 5k since the end of September. Over SIX MONTHS ago!!

This made me a little nervous. Do I remember how to run fast?

From the get go, my legs felt like lead but my biggest problem was that I had a hard time breathing and I felt dizzy. Was it the heat?  Most likely it was not being acclimated to the humidity. I couldn’t wait to get to the water stop… It seemed like forever but I think it was during mile 2.  I stopped and walked for a while (longer than normal). I actually felt worse after walking so I ran and tried to just get to the finish line without puking.

Eventually it appeared and I gave it my all.

I was shocked when I crossed at 28:xx. I felt so much slower.

As soon as I crossed, I saw my friend Pat who was picking me up.  I quickly checked the results to see if I won an award.

Two years ago, I was 3rd in my age group. Last year, I was the Senior Grand Masters Winner. But this year with my slowest time on this course, I came in FIRST!!

I told the race director that I had to leave so he gave me my award and I didn’t have to wait for the awards ceremony.

Race Splits:

mile 1 – 8:58
mile 2 – 9:12
mile 3 – 9:08
.14 – 8:00

So back to the race…

The course was small so there were spectators cheering all along it.  Although we looped, I didn’t find it boring because I didn’t even notice.

I enjoyed running around Olde Naples and especially along Gordon Drive where you could see the Gulf at the end of each cross street.

I am so happy that I ran this race again.  I loved the course and it was very well-organized. (I am sure that I’ll return next year.)

Yes, last year I ran this race in 27:28 under similar conditions. But my slower time was due to injuries, more long races or maybe just the aging process. I am just thrilled to be running pain-free!!

After the race, I had to rush back to play tennis with my friends.

in Pat’s convertible 🙂

It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:  Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

I’m linking also up with Coaches Corner–Debbie and Marc.

Happy Running! Ever run a 5K race while on vacation?