Monday night was the final race in the Saratoga Stryders' Camp Saratoga 5K trail race series. Before the race even started, I knew I had essentially no chance of winning the Ironman Award for the fastest cumulative time over the 5 races. I was in sixth place after 4 races, and even though attrition plays a big role, I would need the 3 or 4 fastest guys to stay home to have even a fighting chance. But the Ironman Award was never my goal anyway – like most runners my only real goal was to run my best time.
For some reason the middle mile of this course is always the slowest for me. It’s not a matter of terrain, since miles 1 and 3 are hillier. Adrenaline likely accounts for a faster first mile, and motivation to just get the damn thing over probably accounts for a faster third mile. The middle mile just sort of languishes in between. Tonight followed that familiar pattern with sub-7 splits for miles 1 and 3, and a 7:15 for mile 2.
Maybe the cooler, less humid weather Monday evening played a role, maybe I was well rested following a week’s vacation, or maybe it was one of the hundred other factors that determine the outcome in a race. Whatever the reason, I ran my fastest time on this course to date, just under 22 minutes.
I had wanted to improve my times in this year’s series over last year, and I’m pleased with my results. I took seven and a half minutes off my cumulative time, or nearly a minute and a half improvement on average per race.
I hadn’t specifically planned on any road 5Ks this year, but maybe I’ll have to squeeze one in this fall to see what kind of time I can put up. Results for a road 5K should come in 10%+ faster than on a trail course, so I’d be looking for something sub-20. I’m not going to win any races with a time like that, but I should at least be competitive within my old-guy division.
Thanks to the volunteers of the Saratoga Stryders and the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park for putting on such a fun, well-organized race series. For local runners looking for a fun, low-key series of races in a beautiful setting, please consider joining us for next year’s trail series.