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Third Time the Charm for Fred Petrie?

The Hambletonian's country lanes are one of its greatest attractions.
The Hambletonian’s country lanes are one of its greatest attractions.

Will the Third Time be the Charm for Fred Petrie?

I didn’t really start running seriously until after college in the late 70’s. I lived in Rockland County so most of my earlier training was done at and around Rockland Lake and along the Hudson River from Nyack to Haverstraw. My first NYC Marathon came in 1985. I was with a friend, Joan, who passed away a few years ago.

I still think about her during my long runs. The race was unforgettable and, daresay, a life changer. I decided to run the NYC Marathon every year I could get in. Close friends would get me to the start, then party their way through the course, meeting me in Central Park. I ran 11 NYC Marathons from 1985-1997. I also ran the Long Island Marathon twice.

After a move to Sullivan County, my running career went on hiatus for quite a few years. I was never really a “serious athlete,” and my best time in the marathon was a somewhat unimpressive three hours and 57 minutes.

After many years of not really taking care of my health, (I’m a former smoker), I began walking, mountain climbing, camping with friends and generally taking better care of myself. When I retired from teaching, I took up running again.

The main reason was to take myself off of the numerous medications I’d been prescribed for the various conditions with which I’d been diagnosed. These included Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Sciatica, and the usual maladies of middle age.

I ran the Long Island Marathon in 2014 after what was a severe winter here in Sullivan. Training was not easy. Every run started with the question, “What if I can’t finish this?” I had the usual running injuries which always made me doubt my resolve and go into panic mode.

I joined a gym mainly because it was simply too cold to train and the snow was all too cruel. But I had to do this marathon, just to prove to myself I still had it, or at least SOME of it left. (The Long Island Marathon was just as painful and just as exciting as I’d remembered a marathon to be.)

I did and continue to do most of my training solo on back and forth courses near my home in Woodbridge; very quiet, but somehow very exhilarating. I also like to train at Belmont Lake, Sunken Meadow, and Minnewaska State Parks.

In spring 2014 a neighbor told me about the Hambletonian Marathon in Goshen. This race, I was told, had an inaugural run as a “gift” to the marathoners of NYC, the year Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of the NYC Marathon. After seeing the course, with all of its challenges, I fell in love with it.

I run because there are no excuses; there is no pretense. I suppose I will always run. If not, I will walk.

I have always loved the Autumn, for too many reasons to describe here. The idea of running past farms and fields and finishing on the Historic Track in Goshen made accomplishing this marathon a top priority.

I visualized running past Johnson’s Farm near mile 19 and experiencing all of the sights (and aromas) it had to offer. I began training that summer but was seriously side-tracked and was unable to attempt the race.

Instead I marshaled mile 25.5 and had a wonderful experience as a volunteer. I was determined to run in 2015 but again was deterred from my effort, this time by family issues.

It is now 2016. Again I am registered and training to the near-best of my ability. While I have doubts about success, the next few weeks will probably determine whether I will go for it or opt for the half-marathon. The Marathon is a uniquely nerve-wracking but equally thrilling experience.

If I have the guts to do another one, The Hambletonian is my pick for so many reasons I cannot begin to describe. I truly feel blessed, that at the age of 63, I have good health and can contemplate accomplishing this goal.

I think that what will get me through it all is the thought that every mile we are greeted by enthusiastic volunteers encouraging every step and giving us much needed support.

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