The club for runners in Saratoga Springs, NY

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  • 05 Sep 2022 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By now most of you know I had a heart attack in early July. It came without warning, although had I been armed with foreknowledge, I could have recognized some of the signs.  I had thought my race times were inching upwards because I was getting older, a logical assumption when one reaches the age of 75.  And perhaps my running-induced asthma was getting worse…  

    All in all, it was rather a ho-hum heart attack.  I completed my Wednesday night Stryder workout, albeit slowly, drove home, showered, ate supper and then was taken by surprise.  What I experienced was extreme dizziness and faintness, with brilliant pixilated dots taking over my normal vision, probably not dissimilar to 100 miler hallucinations.  No chest pain, no headache, no sore arm. All symptoms that could have been explained by severe dehydration after a hot and humid evening workout. Fortunately, my daughter was there and called 911.

        Two weeks later, I started cardiac PT and the following week I was back to working full time. I would like to say my comeback was due to being fit, but in reality a lot was due to sheer stubbornness.  In hindsight, I probably should have planned on working more half days as I became extremely tired toward the end of the day.  As runners, we are all accustomed to negotiating the road to recovery after an injury, so this part of my rehab at least was familiar. But there is an additional Catch-22.  Re-spraining your ankle isn’t fun, but at least it isn’t life-threatening.  Having another heart attack, not so much.  The result is I am afraid to push it.

        If I am honest, this is a good excuse. Still, I was hoping that I would automatically get faster once my heart recovered.  A golden ticket to the fountain of youth.  The jury is still out.  So for my grand debut at the Thatcher Park 10K, my real goal was to finish and feel good.  My imaginary goal was to at least beat someone.  I achieved my first goal; the second was more elusive.  Perhaps had I not gotten confused by what I thought were alternate markings, I might have been second to last.  But that’s quibbling.

        Overall, I felt great—like I was dispatching vast distances in metronome style.  It is funny that as you get older, the workouts seem just as difficult and satisfying, albeit at a slower pace. And you don’t even feel like you are running that slower pace…Denial? Endorphins? Flashbacks?  Who knows.  At one point a course marshal greeted me with, “Nice to see you.  Didn’t think I would ever see you out here again.”  At first, the compliment carried me through.  On the drive home, however, I began to read into his message…Was he surprised I wasn’t dead?  Or at least grateful that I didn’t die on his watch?

        Saratoga runners were surprised to see how dry the course was.  Known for its muddy, oozy stretches, the dirt resembled the pictures you see of cracked Western lakebeds.  I totally wore the wrong shoes. My Sauconys, which function outstandingly on mud and soft dirt, were way too unforgiving.  I would have been better off with road shoes; the surface was that hard.

        The best part of the race was when Master of Ceremonies, Josh Merlis, welcomed us personally as we crossed the finish line.  I always look forward to that because it makes me feel valued and validated.

        And the future?  I am hoping to cross the finish line in one of this winter’s snowshoe races in second to last place!


    Words By Laura Clark

    Pictures By Don Proulx

  • 30 Aug 2022 5:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

           Hudson Mohawk runners might be interested to know that their Tawasthentha Race Series and the Saratoga Stryders’ Camp Saratoga Trail Race Series have a lot in common. In fact, Camp was modeled on Tawasentha when I got tired of taking off from work early so I could drive my daughter and her teammates an hour each way for yearly cross-country rehearsals.  As with most light bulb moments, there were glitches.  While Camp was a no-brainer for Saratoga locals, as race director, I simply replaced a long drive with race preparation tasks!  Still, I was happy to give my friends the opportunity for a similar experience closer to home.

                Both events are now on Mondays in August, which is a conflict only for those for whom rush hour driving is a hobby.  While there are some retired folks, like Ray Lee, with a foot in both directions, most of us appreciate the dual options.  Unashamedly, I copied Tawasentha’s Dollar Store raffle concept, but instead of the last-picked booby trap prize of toilet paper, Saratoga features grout, mostly because that always seemed to be a leftover giveaway from the Silks & Satins Race.  Plus, grout lasts forever and is stockpiled happily in my garage.  I remember at Tawasthentha the most popular prizes were the food items. I get it, as our crew of high schoolers always earmarked a junk food recharging stop at the nearby gas station.  Remembering this, Camp offers watermelon and squeeze ices.  The final day at Tawasentha meant a huge celebration cake.  I tried this for a while at Camp, but switched to BJ’s cookie platters during COVID.  I will never go back, as cookies are self-contained and not prone to melting.  Plus, there is no need for a volunteer to fetch said cake and no need to cut down a tree for the requisite paper plates. Our Saratoga store, IRun Local also solicits a variety of shoe and equipment reps who bring shoes and gear for us to try out for size while we race.  Real-life testing sure beats a hurried run around the store.

                The most memorable feature of the Tawasentha course was the stream, which could at times be fairly deep and swift, necessitating a Western States-style rope crossing.  This appeared the year after Vinny Reda (who can’t swim) nearly got swept downstream.  My favorite part was the muddy climb up the other side of the bank, where again ropes were the order of the day.  Alas, Camp has no stream crossings, but we do have a sizeable swamp, which on rainy years, has to be circumnavigated.  And we do have a series of plank bridges—think “slippery when wet.” We also have bees. I remember once at Tawasentha I apparently stepped on a ground bee nest and couldn’t figure out why everyone behind me was shouting.  Subsequent races featured a brave (foolhardy?) volunteer posted nearby to warn runners!  At Camp I learned that toothpaste is an effective salve for beestings. I wonder who originally discovered that?

                As far as timing goes, Tawasentha featured self-timing and index cards where you recorded your time and age.  Camp has progressed to chronoprinters and numbered popsicle sticks.  I still cringe when I remember the year a young runner burst into tears at the finish because she thought she was going to get a frozen popsicle treat. While there are no formal awards at either, at Camp overall winners and age-graded winners get first pick at the upgraded final raffle which features gift cards from IRun Local as well as free entries to upcoming area races.  We have a family award for the family with the most members (including aunts, cousins,  etc.) over the span of the five races.  In my mind, the most difficult is the Continual Improvement award for those who run faster during each consecutive race.  I achieved that once, and it is the most stressful thing I have ever done as the momentum builds relentlessly over the five weeks.

                Most notably, both events are series format, meaning you race with pretty much the same folks every week, allowing for friendly rivalries.  And the weeknight format doesn’t interfere with summertime weekend mini-vacations.  Entry fees are ridiculously low, which encourages family participation and a low-stress feel.  What could be better than running in the woods on a summer evening with a group new and old friends whether in Albany or Saratoga?

    By laura clark

     

  • 05 Jul 2022 6:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    All or nothing is not necessarily the way to go, as I recently learned during a weekend spent running both the Adirondack Runners’ Race to the Lakes 15Kand Albany Running Exchange’s Dodge the Deer. I thought I was doing a road race at Lake George and a trail race at Schodack Island State Park.  But in reality, much of the Lake George route consisted of shaded bike paths and had the ambiance of a run through the woods, while Schodack Island has a truth in advertising problem as well.  Once a group of six Mahican islands, it was reshaped into a peninsula in the 1900s when a federal canal dredging project caused the spaces between the islands to be filled in, resulting in wide, mostly level, fairly smooth trails. So, we have a road race with the feel of a pleasant jaunt in the woods, and a trail race with winners’ times rivaling those of a flat 5K road event. 

    For a bit more history, this was the third “annual” (not counting the COVID years) Race to the Lakes, which serves as the replacement for the 10 mile Lake George to Bolton Landing run. Dodge, now celebrating his 20th rendition, was the first event ever offered by ARE as well as the first race they hosted after the pandemic. Being a grazing animal, Dodge the Deer has covered considerable territory, spending his formative years at Rensselaer Lake Park, then moving to Schodack Island State Park. After a pandemic break, he emerged at the Chromczak Family Farm in the Slingerlands.  This was a good deal for Emily and Chris because a crew of volunteers cleared a one-mile loop through their fields and woods.  After that, Dodge moved on to Thacher State Park and now, once more, returned to Schodack Island.  I wonder if Dodge is secretly in training for an ultra?

    Thankfully (once you got over the early wake-up call), Race to the Lakes began at 7:30 a.m. so we got the unshaded road portion over with before things began to seriously heat up.  During this section, we toured parts of the campus and then headed out adjacent to the open fields of a golf course.  This is also the hilliest section of the route, so it was good to tackle the elevation early on.  Dodge the Deer, on the other hand, began at a leisurely 10 a.m., which should have worked well being that we were running in the woods, except that the final mile, flat, straight and seemingly endless, was very wide and was not fully protected by foliage.  That, combined with the dust of a dry summer, gave a desert feel.  Yes, the tree tunnel was there, but more detached and not as enthusiastic as it could have been.  The asphalt trail portion of Lakes was delightfully shaded, regardless of the fact that the invasive spongy moth caterpillars had been busy munching.  In case you were curious about the sand-colored deposits on the trail, it was not dust storm sand, but caterpillar poop—wash those sneakers!

    A couple of women posing for the camera Description automatically generated with low confidence

    Despite its youth, Lakes is more of a grown-up race because of its 15K format and logistics.  It is staged from SUNY Adirondack and culminates on Lake George, where participants catch a bus back to their cars. Because of this factor, there is little lingering, although next year some of us are talking about organizing a car shuttle for an extended beach stay. Dodge is right there in the thick of things, with a kids’ playground the centerpiece of the action, a storyboard walk, and a great view of the Hudson River.  Not to mention the multiple kids’ sprints.  Afterwards, participants and their crew from 1-81 years old enjoyed a plentiful barbecue picnic and Josh Merlis’ TV Master of Ceremonies-worthy finish line and awards banter.  I spotted several cars hefting kayaks and figured some were planning to make a day of it. 


        Both venues merit future returns in non-race mode.  I would like to stroll along the Hudson and read all the informative signage and walk the Lake George bike path and learn about the trees and land features I had breezed by while running.  In both cases, I felt like I only had time to read the signage headlines and was left wanting more.  And after all, that is one of the goals of these events—to get to you to return to the venue, to explore further and to make it your own.

  • 01 Apr 2022 8:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out this review by Laura Clark.

  • 07 Mar 2022 5:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good morning. I hope you had a great weekend, especially Sunday with our brief warmup and glimpse into spring. It won’t be long now, with any luck.

    Thanks to everyone who RSVP’d for our Annual Meeting/Election Dinner set for 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 8) at Jacob & Anthony’s on High Rock Avenue in downtown Saratoga Springs.

    We have 45 people on the RSVP list, a great number for the first in-person Annual Meeting since we snuck in the 2020 event just before Covid-19 took over and the shutdowns began. The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is attached, along with the minutes from the February meeting and the approved 2022 budget. Thanks to all for their work on the budget, which was approved at the February meeting.

    Annual Meeting attendees can use Jacob & Anthony’s private entrance, which leads to our event space. Food provided by the club and there will be a cash bar for beverages. Remember, if you cannot attend and already sent in an RSVP, please let us know ASAP since we’ll be charged per person.

    The nominations for the 2022 officers are:

    President – Larry Toole

    Vice President – Lee Briggs

    Treasurer – Neil Tyrrell

    Secretary – Gary Bourgeois

    Nominations for any or all of these positions can also be taken from floor at the Election Dinner. Tuesday will be a great day as we welcome the 20th president of the Stryders into office.

    Other regular club events are on schedule for this week:

    • Wednesday Night Downtown Run at 6 p.m. Start/finish at Whitman Brewing. Don’t forget reflective gear, headlamps, taillights, etc. Parking nearby, mindful that the lot at 20 Lake Avenue is a private lot. Street parking or the Woodlawn garage might be best options. The optional WORKOUT from Stryders coach Mary Fenton was sent to members via email. 

    • Saturday Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. at the Warming Hut at the Saratoga Spa State Park.

    • Sunday Long Run at Noon at Unified Beerworks in Malta.

    Finally, thanks to all who have reached out with kind and thoughtful notes the last few weeks and days as my time as Stryders president comes to an end. I appreciate it very much, just as I’ve appreciated the support of my fellow officers and members these last six years. It’s truly been a pleasure serving alongside Frank Lombardo, Don Proulx and Lee Briggs (vice presidents), Hilary Claggett and Neil Tyrrell (treasurers) and Jamie Mastroianni and Cori Houry-Kling (secretaries) these last six years.

    Thanks as well to Laura Clark, Stryders coaches John Couch, Tony Lupo and Mary Fenton, all our amazing volunteers, group run and event leaders and organizers and of course to Cc Larner for being my rock, sounding board and steady voice of reason.

    Last and certainly not least, to you, one of the almost 250-strong members who make the Stryders the Stryders. I’ll see you all very soon, on the roads, trails or tracks here in our wonderful community.

    As always, have a great week!

    Tom Law

     

     

    Adirondack Expo volunteers needed

    Laura Clark is heading up the effort to work the Stryders booth at the Adirondack Sports & Fitness Expo March 19-20 at the Saratoga Springs City Center. The Expo runs from 10-5 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday. She’s looking to fill volunteer spots:

    Saturday: 10-12, 12-2, 2-5 (or any variation)

    Saratoga Chowderfest will be Saturday, March 19, so Laura expects “it will be busy … get your volunteer point and some good lunch in the process.”

    Sunday: 10-12, 12-2, 2-4.

    Please email Laura if you can help. lclark@sals.edu


  • 06 Mar 2022 12:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How Far Can You Stretch It?

                The truth can be stretched, taffy can definitely be stretched and dollars used to be stretched, but snow?  I guess if you think of melting snow, that is another form of stretching, but not a deliberate expansion.  But what do you do if you are stuck with directing a snowshoe race on limited snow?  For Winterfest, the answer was easy: order some icefall and cover with a burst of below-freezing temperatures.

                While coverage was minimal for both Winterfest 5K and Camp Saratoga 8K in Saratoga Springs, it was rock-hard and not going anywhere. In the photos below Winterfest is on the left and Camp is on the right.  You can see that while Winterfest managed to hold out, Camp offered more ice.  In fact, the day before Camp Matt Miczek and I ditched the bridge, deeming it too hazardous to support a fast finish and scuttled the steep downhill start, which was worse than any airport’s icy runway.  At first glance, it seemed as if Winterfest, which traditionally is a questionable snow day, was the better deal.  Not only did we have stretchy, icy snow, but we had a beautiful not too hot, not too cold sunny day. (The picture on the left was taken the day before).

                You can see from all the pockmarks that wearing snowshoes, and not spikes was the better choice.  Besides providing a better grip on icy inclines, Dions would glide right over all those holes waiting to capture an unwary ankle.  You would think that would be obvious.  But after explaining all that to one runner to no avail, she turned, fell and went back to the car for snowshoes! 

                While Winterfest was doable, I was concerned about the icy conditions at Camp.  I told everyone to regard the first mile on the course as a warm-up, insisting that the race truly began upon reaching the less-trafficked trails at Mile 2.  But then the snow squalls hit.  I had always thought that squalls were brief, intense bouts of heavy snow accompanied by gusty winds—but 6 inches of white stuff?  That was deep enough to cover the ice and add traction, not to mention cover the outdoor registration table!  My only worry was that the spring pond, which had materialized the day before in the middle of a field, would be hidden and not quite frozen, but fortunately it held up admirably.

    One of the beauties of a trail race is that most of the time you are alone in the woods with nature.  In smaller events, with not so many folks to alarm the wildlife, that often makes for some four-legged or feathered spectators.  Winterfest featured a porcupine chowing down on pine branches and at Camp Matt and I spotted an owl and later on Matt even spied an eagle soaring overhead.  It is nice to know that we can co-exist peacefully!

    by Laura Clark

               

  • 22 Jan 2022 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Both have been published online by the American Trail Running Association (ATRA)

    Brookhaven, race 1

    Cock-a-Doodle Shoe

  • 20 Jan 2022 7:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good evening. Hopefully you’re enjoying the snow, or at the least not too terribly inconvenienced by the lighter-than-forecasted amount on the ground. Thanks to all who logged into last week’s Business Meeting, we had a great conversation about the upcoming Stryders Grand Prix and other doings related to the club through our association with the Road Runners Club of America and USATF. More on that to come in the days and weeks ahead.

    Some folks asked the coaches about resuming the wintertime workouts on Wednesday evenings and the coaches obliged. The first was sent to members by coach Mary Fenton. The workout is obviously optional and anyone who turns out for the run/walk is welcome to do the usual route in town and up to Skidmore.

    Speaking of which, the slate is back to the usual schedule this week:

    • Wednesday Night Downtown Run at 6 p.m. Start/finish at Whitman Brewing. Don’t forget reflective gear, headlamps, taillights, etc. You’ll need to find parking nearby, be mindful that the lot at 20 Lake Avenue is a private pay-per-day lot, so street parking or the Woodlawn garage might be your best options. Whitman reopened over the weekend after a short break. Remember to follow NYS guidelines regarding masks, etc. if you head in after the run.

    • Saturday Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. at the Warming Hut at the Saratoga Spa State Park.

    • Sunday Long Run at Noon at Unified Beerworks in Malta.

    Have a great week. See you soon,

    Tom Law

  • 03 Jan 2022 7:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Year. We had a great turnout of Stryders for our first “Resolution Run” collaboration event with the Roundabout Runners and Clifton Park Beer Runners Sunday at Unified Beerworks in Malta. It was great to see so many of our members kick off 2022 with a good run around Malta. Here’s hoping it becomes a tradition, regardless of when New Year’s Day falls. Special thanks to Paul Loomis (who also heads up Roundabout) and John Couch for making sure the 4-mile, 10K and Half-Marathon loops were marked.

    We’ll talk about the Resolution Run and many other topics at the January Business Meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11. Given recent trends post-holidays, we’ll conduct the January meeting via Zoom. 

    One key topic for the meeting will be the Stryders Grand Prix for 2022. The Grand Prix committee led by Richard Lynch have been working and planning over the holidays and need your help. They’ve created a brief survey to get a read on participation and interest in the series, which is now more than a decade old and possibly in need of a reboot. Please note you need to sign into your membership account through the Stryders website. 

    Other regular club events are on schedule for this week:

    • Wednesday Night Downtown Run at 6 p.m. Start/finish at Whitman Brewing. Don’t forget reflective gear, headlamps, taillights, etc. You’ll need to find parking nearby, be mindful that the lot at 20 Lake Avenue is a private pay-per-day lot, so street parking or the Woodlawn garage might be your best options. PLEASE NOTE: Whitman will be closed Jan. 5 and Jan. 12 but the run will still originate from the parking lot. Feel free to offer a post-run gathering spot for those interested.

    • Saturday Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. at the Warming Hut at the Saratoga Spa State Park.

    • Sunday Long Run at Noon at Unified Beerworks in Malta.

    Have a great week. See you soon,

    Tom Law

  • 01 Jan 2022 7:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Reviewed by Laura Clark and published on the American Trail Running Association website: https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/book-review-trail-running-illustrated-the-art-of-running-free/

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The Saratoga Stryders, a 501(c)(3) affiliate chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. P.O. Box 1467, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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