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Dry Martini: A Woman’s Right to Run

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

My daughter brought me this souvenir from her trip west. For the record: my first mile was red; second was yellow, last was blue.

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.

I found another mother runner Penny before the race. She was fresh off a couple of pre-race miles because she is a badass.

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.

Running suffragettes at the 5K start.

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 stopped to take a picture with Susan B. and Elizabeth C. I'm standing in front of Amelia Bloomer (who invented exactly what you think she invented) who introduced them.

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.

Which would you rather encounter on a run: hot and humid or cold and windy?

18 responses to “Dry Martini: A Woman’s Right to Run

  1. Great job and you certainly earned badass Fred for racing in the heat and humidity! Also, I loved listening to you on the podcast about single-day relays. How did my son manage to attend Hobart & William Smith, in Geneva, NY, for four years and NOT TELL ME ABOUT THE SENECA 7??

  2. I ran my PB for a 10km on a hot summer night. So I guess I am part of the very few who do tolerate heath more easily. Will be running my first trail this weekend and a heatwave is coming our way. I’m excited!!

  3. I’ll take cold over heat and humidity! I survived Boston ’18, no problem. This weekend, I’m doing a 20K trail race called the Savannah Sultry Swamp Run … it’s going to be TOUGH!

  4. I think the cold wins– but am I just saying that because it’s July? Could be. Check back with me in January when there’s ice on the sidewalk. But I loved this piece– the whole thought process that something is better than nothing and you never regret the miles you run, only the ones you don’t. Love the idea of celebrating the suffragettes. Cady Stanton is a rockstar, of course. And SUPER bonus that your kids were UP, had eaten and were cheery?! Seriously, Christmas in July! (I too have a rising HS Sr & Freshman and if they are both awake by 9AM and have not attempted to murder the other, it is a miracle– prayers for you this school year, girl!) Cheers!

  5. Cold any day but I say that having only run in hot, humid, nasty FL and not any races in my home state of IL. I’ve had a half marathon start where it was already 78 at race start time-at 7am, in November! It was my first and it wasn’t pretty.

  6. Cold for me! This past weekend in Northern NJ, we had that awful heatwave the rest of the country was feeling. I had to do a 9-miler on Saturday. I woke up at 4:00 am to see if it was feasible. NOT…I lasted only 4 miles and I felt awful for the rest of the day. My least fave weather is wind. That just sucks the breath outta me! Congrats Adrienne on a fantastic effort and result!

  7. I think I am going to be in the minority when I say hot and humid. It makes me feel more bada**, plus dumping cups of ice cold water over my head, down my back, etc. feels wonderful when I feel as if I am about to die. 😀

  8. As someone whose sprits were lifted by your good humor in the midst of rain, wind and crashing waves — any extreme condition is hard!! So proud of your dedication! Way to go!!

  9. I have never heard of this race but love the idea of honoring the women’s suffrage movement and the women who worked so long and hard for our right to vote! No matter your time, I think it’s awesome that you showed up for it. And, having a rising freshman and 7th grader, the scene back at the hotel would have made my day as well. Well done on both the race and years of good parenting paying off (at least in that moment, right?!?!)

  10. Az resident here since the 70s , so HOT suits me fine…I ran a “Susan B. Anthony” race here in the 70s- a 10k. As long as we have people like the Kardashians, and the foul-mouthed soccer player, women continue to be not thought of as equals, thanks to them.

  11. As much as I dearly love summer every year after struggling through our Midwest winter, as a runner this summer has sucked. I have to admit that running in the cold is seemingly preferable to me now. You can always add layers…you reach a point where you can’t shuck anything else off!

  12. A group of run friends and I signed up for the 19K! I agree that the organizers were appropriately sensitive to the weather in changing the distance to 8 miles. And it still kicked my butt! I loved the spirit of Seneca Falls Convention Days too and I hope to run this again next year.

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