Once I saw the forecast for Saturday’s Right to Run 5K, I strongly considered skipping the trip to Seneca Falls, finding an air-conditioned movie theater, and staying put for the duration of July and maybe most of August.
Only two things kept me from my plan:
- my kids had been on a trip to Seattle with their Rochester, N.Y., based grandmother and she was handing them off in Geneva, N.Y., which is only about an hour from her house and not far from the race's starting line.
- if I can run 13.1 miles in a nor’easter, I can run a 5K in its weather opposite.
Besides, this race captured my curiosity — and I didn’t have anything more interesting to write about. Some people do it for the ‘grams; I do it for the blogs.
The Right to Run event is part of a larger weekend for the Women’s Hall of Fame and is all about honoring the suffragettes who organized to pass the 19th amendment to the Constitution, which is the one that guarantees a women’s right to vote.
By some measures, the whole movement started here. The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention adopted the Declaration of Sentiments, which stated that women should have a say in their representation. Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, and many, many others spent the next 70+ years fighting for women’s voting rights. The amendment wasn’t fully ratified until 1920, which means the country is only just closing in on 100 years of letting women have a say in their government. I remain awestruck by this.
Fun fact: the 5K goes past Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house. She was one of the leading voices for women’s suffrage but died before it was enacted.
The Right to Run organizers did a great job keeping everyone up-to-date on heat-related changes to the race. The longer race, the 19K, was scaled back to 8 miles so that no one would be on the course when the temps and humidity reached dangerous (as opposed to incredibly uncomfortable) levels. The 5K, which had been scheduled to start at 8:45, was pushed back to 8:05.
Once it became clear that Voldesun and his humidity henchmen wasn’t going to pass us by, I started hydrating. My 2.5 hour drive up to Geneva took longer because I kept stopping to pee. You will be happy to know that Crystal Light levels were achieved.
On Saturday morning, I abandoned my sleeping teenagers in the hotel and drove 20 minuted to the start. I was drenched with sweat 20 seconds after leaving the car. Even now, 24 hours later, my Brooks Ghost 7s still squish when you squeeze them.
Initially, I’d planned to run this 5K as fast as I could. Last week, I was feeling pretty confident I could get down to 32 minutes, if not faster. I could set a new amazeballs PR. But part of being a more mature runner is the realization that a fast time isn’t worth dying for.
I had that same attitude as a younger runner, too, mind. Ending the race upright and breathing will always be my first goal.
I did want to run the first mile reasonably hard, however, just to see how it went. I swam through it in just under 11 minutes. The second mile was a minute slower. The third mile was slower still so I stopped for pictures when the spirit moved me. I emptied the tank for the last .1 and finished in 67th place, with a time of 37:11 and Not Dead. Good enough.
During mile three, I decided that I’d much rather run in a nor’easter, because oppressive heat is just plain boring. At least gale-force winds and stinging rains (to say nothing of crashing surf) command your attention. That kind of weather is majestic and invigorating. Eighty degrees with 90 percent humidity is just a monotonous, sticky grind.
Regardless, this was a race worth doing, if only for the reminder of how far women have come and how far we still have to go. The organizers keep the suffragette spirit alive, as did many of the racers, who showed up in their purple, yellow, and white gear. It’s not a women-only race but is a decidedly women-forward one.
Also, it was an emotionally rewarding run, if a physically exhausting one. I felt like a total badass who can do hard things on the drive back to the hotel. I was greeted with an even bigger reward: my rising high school senior and rising high school freshman had not only woken up and repacked but had also helped themselves to the hotel’s breakfast bar without anyone calling security. When I walked in, they were cracking each other up and genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
This could have been a heat-induced hallucination. I'll take it as a win, regardless.