Thursday, August 23, 2012

Camp Saratoga 5K trail series 2012 wrap-up

Monday night was the final race in the Camp Saratoga 5K trail series. My primary personal goal for the series this year was to shave a couple minutes off last year’s cumulative time for the 5 races. I improved by 3 minutes, a result I'm pretty happy with. The comparison to 2010 - my first year back running after 6 or 7 years off - really shows the value of cumulative training miles over time:

A tougher goal was to see if I could be the “fastest old guy” – in other words, nobody older than me finishing ahead of me. While I hit that in one or two of the races, there’s an awful lot of fit and fast runners out there in the 50+ age bracket.

Yikes!! I'll remember to race with my shirt on next year!

Photo courtesy of Brian Teague of Fateague Fotos and Saratoga Stryders.
I was somewhat surprised Monday evening when, right before the start of the race, the “Ironman” standings were announced with me in second place (believe me, it was a distant second). The Ironman award is for the fastest cumulative time for the 5 races, so of course attrition plays a large role: miss one race and you’re out. I was able to hold my position in the final race, which was great since second place in the Ironman standings won me a pair of New Balance running shoes from Fleet Feet Sports! Thanks go out to the Saratoga Stryders for organizing the race series and to Fleet Feet for providing the prizes!

The Camp Saratoga series plays a pretty large role in my summer running for several reasons:
  • Terrain – Trails are a lot more fun to run on than roads. Besides the fun factor, trail running is good for overall agility, balance and strength. The Camp Saratoga trails aren’t overly technical, so it’s an excellent course for anyone looking to add some trail miles to their running.
  • Convenience – Since the races are held on weeknight evenings (every other Monday), there’s no conflict with weekend activities or other races. The fact that Camp Saratoga is a five minute drive from home is icing on the cake.
  • Benchmarking – Countless factors go into determining a runner’s outcome in any given race, and results from one race are hard to compare to another. But running multiple races at regular intervals on a single course provides a nice baseline or benchmark for measuring personal performance.
  • Social – Running, at least for me, is mostly an individual pursuit. The relaxed atmosphere at the Camp Saratoga series is great for socializing and interacting with other local runners.
Apparently I’m not the only runner who finds the race series to be a good fit: I’m told that there was a record number of runners this summer. Also the series got some nice exposure from Bill Hoffman in the Times Union Runner’s Blog, you can read his write-ups from Race #1 and #4. Complete race results for the series can be found here on the Stryders’ website.

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