SCHENECTADY As a music teacher, Jodie Robertson knows all about good timing.
The 27-year-old Voorheesville resident picked the perfect time to make her move in the 36th annual Stockade-athon Sunday, edging past Albany’s Ashley Gorr at about the 10k mark and going on to capture her first women’s division crown by 16 seconds.
To make the family celebration even better, her husband, Aaron, also a music teacher, finished fourth in the men’s division.
“We’ll have quite a celebration tonight,” said Robertson, who finished third in last year’s Stockade-athon.
Robertson, who clocked a 54:46 over the 15k course beginning and ending at Central Park, knew exactly where her main competition was at all times.
“Ashley led until about the 10k mark. I sat on her and finally moved past her just about then,” said Robertson. “I knew she was behind me the final 5k, but I stayed in front and didn’t have to change my pace much.
“I felt great the whole way, and I’m happy with my time. I think this is a great course. The first 10k is flat, and then you have some hills. I also thought the weather was perfect. A little windy, but perfect for running.”
Although music is one of her passions, Robertson is also serious about running. In fact, she is taking a leave of absence as a music teacher to train for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which she qualified for by posting a sub-2:46 marathon. After winning the USA Track and Field 50k national championship in 3:20:12 at the Caumsett Run in March of last year, she clocked a 2:42.53 in this year’s Long Island Marathon. She is a native of Levittown on Long Island.
“I’ve been a music teacher for the last five years. I teach the band, and my primary instrument is the flute, although I play all the wind instruments,” she said. “But I decided to really put my focus on training for the U.S. Olympic Marathon [Trials] this year.”
But Robertson is fortunate to be moving without pain, let alone running elite marathon races. She’s been battling multiple stress fractures ever since she started running.
“I took three months off running after my last stress fracture in my back,” she said. “I also had three stress fractures in my pelvis and another in my fibula. All the training and running I’ve been doing took a real toll on my body, and some people told me I should give the sport up.
“But now I’m working with Matt Nark of Plaza Fitness. He’s been helping me to run with the right form so that I don’t have these stress fractures any more. He’s a part of the Albany Running team, and both my husband Aaron and I joined that team. It’s helped both of us. There are a lot of good running people in that organization.”
Meanwhile, Gorr, who finished in 55:02.6, said she ran a good race, but didn’t feel capable of making a final push to retake the lead.
“I felt great over the first 10k,” she said. “All I wanted to do was to maintain my speed. I didn’t really have any set time as a goal.
“But I was tired in the final 5k. I wasn’t really looking to make a final push at the end, because I didn’t think I had it in me,” she said.
“Overall, I was happy with my time. When I’m on the course, I’m not thinking about the time, but I was pretty solid over the first 10k, and my speed was good. Although I slowed down quite a bit over the final 5k, my time on this kind of course was pretty good. The way I look at it, the first 10k is just fitness for me, and what I do in the final 5k depends on how I’m feeling.”
Gorr qualified for the Olympic Marathon
Trials with a runner-up performance at the ING Hartford Marathon, finishing in 2:45:30 four weeks ago. Before that, she won the Schroon Lake Half Marathon in 82 minutes and the Race for the Cure 5k in 17:22.
“Since I’m pointing to the Olympic Marathon Trials, this race was just a steppingstone,” she said. “I ran well, but it wasn’t my ultimate goal to win.”
Gorr, 24, hasn’t always been as confident in her abilities as she is now. She gave up running for the Albany High School cross country team after just two seasons because of a lack of focus, but slowly got back into the sport a few years later when she transferred from the University of Buffalo to UAlbany and competed in the Freihofer’s Run for Women and Utica Boilermaker.
“My passion for running was always there, but I lacked discipline,” she said. “To be a really good runner, you need to be persistent and to be focused all the time.”
Her big turnaround in the sport occurred when she ran in the New York City Marathon through the Boomer Esiason Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as a fundraiser.
“I knew the fire still burned within me,” she said. “After competing in the New York City Marathon, I knew I wanted to get really serious about running again, but I realized that I needed some help. Now I have a coach [Team Boomer coach Gerard Pearlberg] who opened my eyes to how much talent I have and who motivates me to keep going. That’s the big difference now.
“As a runner, it’s nice to have someone who looks out for you and tells you how you’re doing. It can be a lonely sport sometimes.”
MHR Marathon champion Sara Facteau, a 35-year-old runner from Plattsburgh, was third in 56:06.6, while Kristina Gracey, a 28-year-old Guilderland resident and Albany Medical School student, was fourth in 57:46.0 in her first competitive Stockade-athon.
Rounding out the top five was 23-year-old Brittany Burns from Watertown, with a time of 58:05.4. The Marist College graduate was running in her first 15k race, but was fourth at the Festival of Races 5k this October.
Two-time Stockade-athon champion and four-time runner-up Emily Bryans, 44, of Schenectady was sixth in 59:11.0, followed by 32-year-old Shelly Binsfeld of Clifton Park (59:16.0),
46-year-old Anne Benson of Clifton Park (1:00.03.4), 37-year-old Renee Tolan, also of Clifton Park, (1:00.46.0) and 33-year-old Sonya Pasquini of Albany (1:01.12.2).