One Tough Cookie: I Went Two Buttons Deep at the Freihofer’s Run for Women

Over the weekend I did it all for the cookie and went Two Buttons Deep at the Freihoferís Run for Women in downtown Albany, a Capital Region favorite and a nationally recognized, premier, all-womenís 5K road race.

It was my first time crossing the finish line at the 40th edition of the famed fun run, alongside thousands of women from 22 states, including mothers, daughters, sisters, best friends, Olympians, professional athletes and survivors of every age and ability. There were 3,564 participants to be exact –running together in a celebration of sisterhood. Oh yeah, and cookies. Cookies everywhere!

In 1979, the Freihofer’s Run for Women was first held in Albany, NY to, “foster the growth and recognition of women in sports and inspire all generations of women to experience the benefits of exercise and good nutrition,” says the carb-heavy company.

(You can check out the 40th Anniversary Infographic†for a full screen of illustrated race highlights.)

To back it up even further, the legendary Freihofer’s Baking Company has roots in North Troy, and it’s basically like the OG Amazon — the Prime of its day. The Freihofer Brothers were ahead of their time, thanks in part to an†innovative seventy-foot-long traveling bread oven and a cavalry fleet of horse-drawn wagons, the brothers were able to meet the demands of their customers and grow their deliciously starchy empire. An unabridged version of the entrepreneurial bakers’ story is featured in a cool exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art titled, “The Capital Region in 50 Objects.”

Historically, my experience with the Freihoferís Run has gone something like this:

February: ďOoooh, I want to run that this year!Ē

Race Day: ďOhhhh, thatís today

So in the year of our Lord 2018, I took the bull by the horns and signed up with one of my running buddies when there was still snow on the ground (February snow, not April snow); however, I didnít really warm up to the idea of showing up competing†until race day, but boy am I glad I didnít get cold feet.

While Iíve done a fair amount of running in my day (have you spent consecutive summers at West Point running in formation and singing cadence?), I wouldnít say itís my favorite aerobic activity; Iíll admit my lungs, legs, and heart muscles (ya know, the ones doing the real work) werenít quite on the same page as my ambitious brain at the time of sign up, or probably at the starting line for that matter, but I credit much of my race day performance to my ensemble and sheer adrenaline.

2BD - Freihofer's Run - Katie Finish

Itís said the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and thatís pretty much how I feel about signing up for the Freihoferís Training Challenge, and then failing to really stick with it. Hell being running a 5K with little-to-no consecutive training, and the good intention being signing up for Training Challenge in the first place.†

While I earned a gold star for attendance and workouts for the first five or six weeks of running school, deadlines, meetings, work, and the unrelenting winter got the best of my inner/wannabe type-A student, and I soon fell to the back of the class pack.

Fast forward through April (freezing rain) showers, May flowers, several questionable, self-guided training runs, countless psyche outs, and BOOM! Race day was finally here.

Truth be told, I was disappointed in my rogue training methods and lack of preparedness, but deep down I knew I couldnít pass up the chance to go Two Buttons Deep at the Freihoferís Run on its 40th birthday, so I shifted my focus from getting a good time to having a good time, and the rest is history.

I threw on the official 2BD squad jersey and was a changed woman, ready to tackle the course and run alongside elite athletes and even an Olympic gold medalist!†Wait, what?

Yeah, you heard that right: one of the features that makes the Freihoferís Run for Women so special is that runners of all levels, ranging from high school students to real housewives, run side-by-side with professional and Olympic athletes and Gold-medalists, like the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Samuelson is an American marathon runner who won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the year the women’s marathon was introduced, making her the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon champion, holla. So it’s not just sweat that’s rubbing off on the course, there’s mega inspo all around.

Running tends to be an individual sport, however, the Freihofer’s Run for Women offers entrants the unique opportunity to run as a member of a team. This year there, were 65 Mother/Daughter teams, 32 Sister/Sister teams, and 6 Grandmother/Mother/Daughter teams (yeah, Grannies!), not to mention countless others teaming up to run together and share the fun and camaraderie.

Even though the teams are limited to size and therefore are mostly duos, I think Taylor and I should round up as many ladies as possible from the 2BD fan fam, and run all buttons deep together next year! (Figuratively, not literally – we’ll obviously need some buttons and plenty of spandex.)

Jokes aside, I’m serious about that proposition –I would love to run this race again, and it would be so much fun to run with a tribe. Unfortunately, my running buddy was a late scratch and didn’t run the race after all because of an injury, so while I didn’t feel lonely on the course running alongside the thousands of other bad mother runners, and ran into plenty of people I knew along the way (no pun intended!), it definitely would have been more fun to experience it with some friends.

I have plenty of great memories from my enjoyable 3-mile jaunt through downtown Albany and picturesque Washington Park, some highlights being the live entertainment along the route (I’ve never run a race that booked a live band, let alone two of them, to jam out and provide a live soundtrack for the runners),†plenty of encouraging signs (one that got me to chuckle said, “If†Trump can run, then so can you!”), the enthusiastic crowds who came out to cheers us on up and down the course (More cowbell, please!), and all the “unofficial” team uniforms and homemade running shirts.

My favorite was one that had, “Crossing the Line Since ’79” neatly arranged in black, block, letters ironed on to the back of a simple grey t-shirt. It wasn’t until after the race that I read this write up on those dedicated, hearty road warriors wearing the ’79 t-shits, and felt lucky to have seen one of them on the course.

2BD - Freihofer's Run_IG momfreckles - crossing the line 79
photo: Instagram | @momfreckles

To see if you’re down to go Two Buttons Deep next year, head over to the 2BD Instagram account†for a look at the Freihofer’s Run for Women from my POV, now immortalized as a Story Highlight, (our first one to boot!)

Massive kudos to everyone involved in the #FRW2018 –from the race directors, sponsors, volunteers, the City of Albany, Albany PD and the OGS workers for putting on a first-class racing experience, and congratulations to all the finishers out there – you ladies killed it!

So if you’ve got a pair of XX-chromosomes and live in the 518, round up your best gals and put this race on your bucket list because whether you walk, run, walk/run, shuffle, hokey-pokey, or crawl when you cross that finish line, just do it all for the cookie! Me? Can’t wait to PR next year!

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