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Half marathoner returning to site of first race in 2014

May 17, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Andrea Harwood Palmer is returning to where it all began.

The first half marathon she ever completed was in Lake Placid in 2014, and on Sunday, June 9, she plans to participate in another Lake Placid Marathon and Half Marathon race.

For Palmer, a 38-year-old financial advisor based in Queensbury, this year's event marks an important milestone. It will be her 10th half in five years.

Article Photos

Andrea Harwood Palmer poses at the finish line on the Olympic Speedskating Oval after completing the Lake Placid Half Marathon in June 2014.
(Photo provided)

"I cannot wait," she said.

In 2014, Palmer completed the 13.1-mile course in 2:38:09 at a 12:04 pace. She placed 842th out of 1,005 runners.

This time, she's set a lofty goal.

"I'm hoping to meet an 11 minutes per mile average, which is so slow to begin with," she said. "The last time I raced, I was passed by ladies who were in the (70 and over) age category. For me, this is very optimistic and illustrious."


Lessons learned

Within the first few miles of the Lake Placid Half in 2014, Palmer knew she wanted to return to compete again. The natural beauty of the course was striking, and the route was well-marked.

"I've gotten lost on half marathons before," she said. "It's really nice to be able to trust the race directors."

But that first go-around wasn't easy. Although she'd trained for it and felt well-prepared going into the race, the final hill climb to the Olympic Speedskating Oval proved difficult.

"I felt like the race directors had a sick sense of humor, having us finish that way," Palmer said. "It was just absolutely - what a brutal way to finish.

"Now it's notorious. If you've done the marathon - everyone mentions that finish. It's a shared experience with other marathoners. Everyone has experienced that same trauma."

What Palmer took away from that experience was something that has never quite left her.

"It really made me want to sign up for every race I could," she said. "It's amazing how in shape you feel after you forget the pain of that last stretch."

That first experience also prompted her to buckle down and begin seriously training for more races to come. While juggling a full-time job and being a mother to two children and two step-children, she trains for eight months out of the year, typically with 4.5-mile runs in the morning.

"I do mostly shorter runs, trying to work on my speed, or do hill runs," she said. "If I don't have time to do a long run, I'll do hill or speed work. That's really helped my endurance."

Palmer has also started participating in Ragnar Relay Series races, typically a 200-mile course tackled tag-team by groups of six to 12 runners.

"Those are very cool and very, very brutal on the body," she said.


Her running style

When Palmer runs, she usually brings along some entertainment to help ease the pain and make the time fly by.

"The worst part about a half marathon is the boredom. It goes on forever," she said. "Always have a good playlist, an audiobook, whatever."

The first time she ran the Lake Placid course, she was listening to an audiobook of "The Shining" by Stephen King.

"The entertainment distracts you from how uncomfortable and boring running is," she said.

Also, Palmer said she always stops at the hydration stations. And with the course running along the lake, she tries to enjoy the view. When she makes it to the end and spectators are cheering her on, she takes it all in, and she feels like a movie star.

"This half is hands down one of the very, very best," she said. "I'm looking forward to chasing the dream."



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