Albany Triathlon TEAM
Local News from the Road
LUNA is a big name at the Freihofer’s Run for Women
It was another great race at the Freihofer’s Run for Women. This year the LUNA Chix played a bigger role in the race. Once again this year I coached the Training Challenge. Last year it was a pure couch to 5K program. This year we had some returning ladies and strong runners, so we added a 5K to faster 5K program. Again we had our awesome media partners. Jennifer Gish, writer at the Times Union for the 6:00 am slot, Kelly Lynch WGY radio host at the 1pm slot, and Ann Hughes Fox23 News anchor at the 6:30 pm meeting. Once again the program was incredibly popular with over 400 women signing up. To help guide the women we recruited mentors to help. Paula and Karen, along with a great group of other ladies, helped mentor the runners on a weekly basis. The group met on Mondays and again at 8am on Saturday. We designated one Saturday in May as LUNA day. The whole team came out to run with the ladies and then Tammy led one of her famous yoga sessions afterwards. Everyone enjoyed bars and we recruited for our workouts .
The Friday before the race is busy. Kristen attended the press conference in the afternoon where the Training Challenge was highlighted along with the elite women. Of course Freihofer’s is the major sponsor, so cookies and donuts were available, but George (Race Director) let me hand out protein bars to everyone. The tables we set up by country/continent, so the Ethiopians and Kenyans were together at a table. Kristen and mentor Jen Casey sat with the Aussies - Benita Willis (love her) and Lara Tamsett at a table. The Masters athletes were together as were many of the young up and comers American runners for the race. The American women had all had LUNA bars, but some of the international runners had not yet tried them. Mamitu and Alemitu from Ethiopia tried the chocolate protein bars and I did not need the translator to understand they wanted more!! I gave Mamitu a box and GUESS WHAT?? Yup she won the race for the 2nd year in a row. Now I won’t give full credit to the LUNA bars, but that nutrition was in her body fueling her for a fantastic run!
As we were wrapping up at the press conference I told (OK asked) Joan Benoit Samuelson about bringing bars to hand out at the clinic later that evening. Her response, one we hear often, “I love LUNA bars”. Peanut butter is her favorite protein bar flavor. That evening we hosted a clinic with Joan - the ‘84 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon. She had some fantastic stories which I will retell in an examiner article. Karen, Paula and I took a picture with Joan before she headed out for her autograph session. We provided LUNA bars for both her and Benita Willis’ autograph sessions.
Then on to race morning. Karen, Paula and I got there a couple hours before race time to get bars out for the Training Challenge participants. As they started arriving they pitched right in to help open boxes and learn more about LUNA and the LUNA Chix. We posed for pictures and did a cheer for Fox23 News before heading to the start line. The weather forecast had said rain, but it stopped for the start and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Roxanne Wegman. Rox is a newly minted west Point grad and fantastic triathlete. Almost 5000 women hit the streets for Albany. The Training Challenge women were all finishing with huge smiles on their faces and so many did far better than they had anticipated. There were lots of PRs for women who already had 5Ks under their belts including our own Karen Casper. Catherine Bologna who often attends LUNA events had yet another run under 30 (this after being told she would never run again post knee surgeries). The media gals also all met their goals, so a great day all around. Post race everyone fueled with LUNA bars - they had learned during the training to always get some protein in post workout to fuel their muscles!
It is an emotional day for many of the women. They are accomplishing something they once was only a bucket list item. We had great attendance from the Challenge ladies at our May Brick and are looking forward to seeing more of them this Thursday. We felt so lucky to be part of the challenge and the race as it truly is about empowering women. I am sad to see it end each June, but I know there will be another great group ready to transform their lives next March. Of course we’ll have many more returning as well. We’ll be building an even bigger role for the LUNA Chix next year and touching more women - from Ethiopia to Albany! Congrats to all the runners.
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