Make it two in a row for Seaford’s Kelly Perno-Grosser. The 36-year-old math teacher from Seaford won her second consecutive Long Island Marathon 10-kilometer championship, breaking the tape in 39 minutes, 42 seconds.
Conditions were a lot kinder to Perno-Grosser this year after rained dampened conditions in last year’s race. Although the runner admitted that rain isn’t always a bad thing in distance sports, the moisture providing a much-needed coolant, she was a lot happier to be walking around in dry gear.
“It was a great day to run,” she said. “It was a little windy but, otherwise, it was beautiful.”
Perno-Grosser said that the wind was most difficult between miles three and four, but once she approached the finish line, the roar of a cheering crowd pushed her through.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” she said. “I didn’t think about [the wind].”
A mother of two and a teacher at Plainedge High School, Perno-Grosser has to carefully manage her schedule in order to train. But, like most runners, her love of the sport pulls her close. She gets up at 4:30 a.m each morning and, typically runs six to 10 miles per day on the treadmill, six days per week.
This week, however, her preparation changed a little bit — with her eyes on being perfectly prepared to defend her title.
“I tapered down a little bit,” she said. “I did some strides and 400s on the treadmill. I did speed work, nothing long [distance].”
Perno-Grosser finished the race in 39:22 last year. While winning again was ‘unbelievable,’ she didn’t put too much pressure on herself before the race.
“I just wanted to give it all I had and that’s what I did,” she said.
McGrath wins women’s half marathon
Oakdale’s Katie McGrath is back, and she’s still the best half-marathoner on Long Island. The 32-year-old personal trainer won the women’s half marathon in one hour, 23 minutes, three seconds in her return to the annual event after winning in 2014.
McGrath didn’t run in 2015 because of a foot injury and, after winning the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disney World a few weeks before last year’s race, wasn’t quite ready to snap back.
But, this year saw McGrath ready to defend her title, albeit a bit belatedly.
“I was hoping I had a shot,” McGrath, who is also a lifeguard at TOBAY beach, said. “You never know who’s going to show up. But I wanted to beat my time from last time and, if I could win with that, I would be thrilled. “
McGrath won her 2014 crown in 1:23:43.
“I ended up going a little bit faster in the beginning, because their was a girl running with me and I didn’t want her to get too far ahead,” McGrath said of this year’s edition. “So, I picked it up and ended up being able to hold that. I got nervous in the middle. When you still have halfway to go, it seems like forever. But, you just have to think about each mile you’re in and, eventually, you make it.”
While the wind was, as one runner crossing the finish line put it — ‘brutal’ — McGrath said that her training conditions all winter pretty much mimicked it.
“It was tough, but it’s been windy all winter and spring,” she said. “So, we’re kind of used to it by now.”
McGrath said she intends to run the half marathon next year and may run the Suffolk half marathon this fall because it goes through Oakdale, her home town.
Kavanaugh enticed to finish line in debut
As Northport’s Katie Kavanaugh approached the 24th mile of her marathon debut, she looked quickly at her phone. Her mother, Nancy, had just texted her words of encouragement and a promise.
The words? ‘You’re almost there, keep going.’
The promise? A donut after she finished.
Both enticements did their job as Kavanaugh, the former Northport High School shot putter and current Princeton University molecular biology student, finished in three hours, 57 minutes, 36 seconds.
“I could have done better, I think,” Kavanaugh, 22, said. “But, all in all, it was a good experience.”
The 26.2 miles was only a warm-up for Kavanaugh, who is currently training to run the 52-kilometer Bay of Fundy International untra-marathon in Maine with her sister, Corrie, next month.
And, as a prep-run, the Long Island Marathon certainly did it’s job.
“It gave me confidence that I can run over 20 miles,” she said.
As for the donut, still no word on the flavor.
“I guess I’m going to have to see,” she said.
Practice makes perfect for Hodge
For North Babylon’s Albert Hodge, practice makes perfect. The 39-year-old teaching assistant made his marathon debut at the Suffolk County Marathon last fall. Knowing what to expect, and how to approach training, Hodge said he felt that Sunday’s Long Island Marathon was ‘definitely easier.’
“I trained better for it,” Hodge, who works at the Hagedorn Little Village School in Seaford, said. “I put in a lot of long distance training and a lot of mileage.”
Hodge finished in four hours, 29 minutes, and 11 seconds.
“The toughest part was getting past mile 18,” he said.
The triathlete was running to raise funds for the school’s literacy program.
“Today was more of a fun race,” he said. “I like being active. The more active I am, the better I feel.”