I *love* the Freihofer’s Run for Women. It’s not so much a race, as a fast parade in the spirit of sisterhood.
The race starts at 10am, which means that you’d better get your rear downtown by 9:15am if you don’t want to be stuck on the 787 off ramp for 30 minutes.
The first people I saw were my friends Kristen and Mark and their adorable baby, Grady.
Kristen was the person to brought me to the Freihofer, which was my first race, ever. Turns out, she’s like the Crack Pusher of Freihofer – this year she brought three newbies with her!
Kristen and her cadre of first timers
The Mamas were meeting at the top of the East Stairs. It’s a good spot, because you have a good line of sight, and you’re close to the stairway to get down to Madison.
Jes, Stella and Anastazia
Kim, Stelly and Me
Me and Kristen - it's Kristen's first 5k!
Crystal, Jes and Kim
Jenn and Kristen
We milled about until there were about 15 minutes until start time. And this was the view of Madison from the top of the East stairs. Behind the barricades, jam packed, 4200 women, cheek to cheek.
Heading into the throngs.
We squeezed in with the White Corral, inching our way across Madison Ave to the left side of the street, where usually there is some breathing room. Crystal and I led the group, wishing the women we were politely shoving in front of “Happy Freihofer Day!” and “Good luck, ladies!”, until we found a spot the 6 of us could breathe in until the start.
This was the first year that the race had an aggressively enforced corral system, and I have to give it two thumbs up. The starting line is always going to be a cluster f^$*, but it turns out that once we were off, I only passed two walkers up the Madison Ave hill – way less than usual.
On your marks.....
ahoy Crystal and Rae Ann!
Waiting for Jerry to stop talking...
We were just on the other side of the bridge, and totally unable to hear anything the speakers were saying. The woman who sang the Star Spangled Banner was flat out amazing.
And then with an airhorn, we were off.
Our last views of Kristen and Megan. Not bad views....
The weather was simply amazing – not too hot, not too humid – truly perfect 5k conditions. The course had a few different bands that were also really, really good. Better than half the bands they had at the NYC Half Marathon, actually.
Rae Ann peeled off first, then Megan and Kristen, with their super long legs. Crystal, Jes and I hung together, settling into a great pace for Freihofer run/cheering. Even more than my love for cheering AT parades, I love cheering while I’m IN the parade. So we cheered for the other runners (“Great job, Lobster Hat!”), the Spectators (“Excellent cow bell, sir! Thank you!”), the Cops and the Volunteers. My absolute favorite is when people clearly identify who they are on the backs of their shirts so that when they pass us, or we pass them, we can cheer for them by name. (“Great Job, Janz Girls!”
Music on the course
In the park were our good friends, Heather and Michele. They are truly Super Fans! They were in the park, and we were able to see them as we were headed back out of the park, back on to Madison.
The finish line was fast – Jes was going to very easily crush her previous Freihofer time, and I was so excited for her. How many times do you get to sprint down a hill, across a finish line in front of a crowd of hundreds of cheering people? In Albany, the ladies get to do it every year! We are seriously so lucky!
After finishing, Rae Ann and Jes headed off to find their children, and I wandered over to the medical tent to visit Kristen and Megan, who were hanging with Kristen’s husband Pete, and our friend Michael, who were manning the medical tent.
Max made me work hard for this smile.
All seemed pretty quiet in the medical tent, until a teenage puker wandered up, clearly in gastronomical distress. Megan, with a hair trigger gag reflex, and I decided to head up to the plaza to check out the action.
The Mamas at the finish.
All in all, I think this was one of my favorite Freihofer’s of all time. The Albany Running Mamas truly know how to bring the party.