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Lake Placid’s inspiration never fades

January 7, 2016 - Andy Flynn
The image of Mike Eruzione and the rest of the 1980 Olympic hockey team fist pumping the crowd during the medal ceremony is a reminder that history was made here, and it’s the perfect inspiration I need to try and make my own history in the Olympic Village.

When I arrived at the Olympic Center at 6:30 Tuesday morning, it was still dark out and the temperature was about 12 below zero. I parked out front and walked inside and up the staircase with my training sneakers dangling from my fingertips. There, as I stopped on the second landing to catch my breath, was that photo of the 1980 ceremony. Gold medals are hanging from necks of the hockey players on a blue banner advertising that the “Miracle on Ice” was the Sports Illustrated “Sports Moment of the 20th Century.”

Upstairs is the rink where they played that history-making game against the Soviet Union, eventually beating Finland to take the gold medal in 1980. That’s the rink where I’ve been walking for the past two winters to begin my training for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon in June — walking the race, not running.

The Olympic Center is a popular spot for walkers in the winter, and I’d like to thank the state Olympic Regional Development Authority for offering this free venue for people.

Once inside the rink, I swapped my winter boots for walking sneakers and began my first day of training. The 1980 ice in the Herb Brooks Arena was still dark, but the walkways were lit. Five laps equal a mile. That was my goal for Day No. 1.

The arena was chilly, like a walk-in cooler, but much warmer than outside. Some runners were on the streets and sidewalks braving the below-zero temperatures, but I’m not that brave. The Olympic Center is a godsend for winter walkers like me who have no motivation to freeze outside for the sake of exercise.

After a few laps, I heard the familiar “thud, thud” coming from the Zamboni tunnel. “It must be 7 o’clock,” I said to myself. The lights above the ice began to hum and slowly illuminate. It was like watching the sun rise, turning the ice from dark gray to bright white. I stopped for a moment to watch the ice on the “Miracle” rink shine for me.

Figuratively, this was the sun rising on my new year. Literally, the sun was rising outside the arena.

Every lap, I looked out the windows toward the Olympic Speedskating Oval and watched the landscape get brighter and brighter. In the distance, the sliding track at Mount Van Hoevenberg — lit up in the darkness in preparation for the World Cup bobsled and skeleton races this weekend — slowly began to fade. A long cloud hung over the West Branch of the AuSable River, winding through the valley, as the open water cooled in the frigid air. Above the cloud, man-made snow was showering down from the top of the smaller ski jump. By the time I finished five laps, it was light outside but still below zero. This was the perfect way to start my perfect day in the Olympic Village of Lake Placid.

I checked that off my to-do list: 1 mile at the Olympic Center.



Some of my friends write new year’s resolutions, and some don’t. I’m a goals kind of guy, so I always write down goals, or resolutions, for the new year, knowing full well that I won’t achieve them all. Most of my goals are always about diet and exercise.

When I write down a goal, it gives me a destination, like the summit of a High Peak for an Adirondack 46er. For the past two years, the finish line at the Lake Placid Half-Marathon has been that summit for me, and I’ve enjoyed the view from the top each time. Now I’d like to bag more peaks to help me with those weight-loss goals.

I can proudly say that I accomplished at least one goal in 2014 and 2015: finish the Lake Placid Half-Marathon. In 2014, I walked the course in just under 6 hours, and in 2015 I finished in just under 5 hours. This year, I’m shooting for 4 hours, and by the end of 2016, I hope to finish a half-marathon under 3.5 hours. That’s the time limit for a race I’d like to walk in the fall.

Weight is always in issue with me, but I’ve never been able to meet my weight goals for the new year. I’ve had some successes. In 2014, I lost 80 pounds, only to gain about half of it back in 2015. This year, I want to “lose weight,” but I’m not throwing out a number, even though I always have a number in mind. And it’s always more than I can logically lose (eyes bigger than my stomach). We’ll see how it goes.

What’s worked for me in the past — training for the Lake Placid Half-Marathon — seems to motivate me to lose weight. When I’m not training for something, I gain weight. It’s as simple as that.

Therefore, my weight-loss plan should include training more, right? That’s my plan for 2016, to fill my calendar with training, which means adding more races to my schedule. I tried that in 2015, but three episodes of gout and an ankle injury set me back. I hope this year will be different.

How different? Forget the half-marathon training for a minute. How about a full marathon? That’s right, I’d like to walk a full marathon by September. I’ll still be competing in the Lake Placid Half-Marathon in June, but I’ll make it part of my marathon training schedule. Throw a few other half-marathons in the mix, including one in November, and my weeks will be full of exercise for at least 11 months of the year.

After November comes the dreaded holidays, a time that stimulates my food addiction. It was especially difficult this year. I don’t quite have a solution to get through the holidays yet, but as I look toward the end of 2016, I begin to think about the 2017 training season. If I can finish a marathon this year, what else can I finish in the future? Maybe a half-Ironman triathlon in a couple of years? We’ll see. That’s a resolution for another year.


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Blog Photos

Walkers see a lot of activity at the Herb Brooks Arena while walking around the 1980 Rink, including skaters training and a lot of hockey games. (News photo — Andy Flynn)