A month ago hubby and I planned what is quickly becoming our annual trip to Saratoga Springs, NY to watch the horse racing at Saratoga Race Course while his mom spent a week with our daughters. We went last year and had a blast, so we decided to try to squeeze in a trip up to Ottawa to drop the girls off at my in-laws place, then head down to Saratoga between the girls’ softball tournaments. I was disappointed that the way our schedule worked out we weren’t going to be in Saratoga over a weekend because I really wanted to do a race while we were away. Running is like a universal language and I wanted to hang out with other runners. I then decided to look for other activities on the Saratoga website event calendar when I found an ad for the Monday Night Mile.
What’s the Monday Night Mile? It’s a 1 mile race on the harness track in Saratoga Springs on a Monday night after work (5:30 pm) to raise money for the Saratoga Springs History Museum.
The start time was perfect – we could have a nice relaxing breakfast together, spend the day at the thoroughbred track (Saratoga Race Course), then I could change & jog over to Saratoga Casino and Raceway as a warmup to run my race.
The race kit was simply a bib with a timing chip affixed to it. I wasn’t expecting anything more because the race was only $20. I’m quite ok with this because most of the race kit stuff I just end up throwing in the garbage which then just goes into landfills. I’d rather pay less for a race than to pay for a bunch of stuff that I throw out.
Monday Night Mile Race Recap
What really makes this race fun is the location and the way it is organised. The race is ON the harness racing track – right where the horses normally run. The finish line is set up with timing mats right at the wire where the horses finish.
The race is run in self-seeded heats. You estimate your own finishing time, then run in the correct heat – the goal was to have competitive races that would be entertaining. There was a gentleman who was really funny calling the race over the PA system, just like the runners were horses. Each heat was two laps of the track.
I wasn’t sure which heat to run in. For most of my runs lately I’ve run at about a 9:20/mile pace, but I know when I “sprint” I can run less than 8:30/mile, and once I think I ran a sub 8:00 min mile. I chose to run with the 8:00-8:59 group – I was hoping to be one of the lead runners in my heat.
Each heat had a jogging start, just like thoroughbred/harness racing has. They even were using the starting truck, that we had to line up behind. It was pretty funny. The truck was about 75 meters from the start line so we all started jogging together and when the first runner passed the starting line the clock started timing.
(I’m the one in the oink tank top, black skirt, and bright yellow New Balance Vazee Pace running shoes).
I kept up with the runners through the clubhouse turn but according to my watch we were running a 7:19/mile pace and my lungs felt like they were exploding and I was light-headed. I backed off in the back stretch to find my pace. I glanced down and I was running a 7:46/mile pace – way too fast and I knew I couldn’t last a mile at this pace. I somehow managed to hold the pace through the paddock turn and the stretch, but lost my speed through the second lap around the track. I was the second female in the race and because of the way the heats were being run, I knew that unless the girl ahead of me was in my age group I was sitting first. I pushed as hard as I could through the headwind on the paddock turn, then sprinted as hard as I could down the stretch to the finish line – I looked at my watch.. 7:51 – my fastest mile ever!
I felt like I was dying! I can run long, but not fast! that HURTS!!!
I hung around watching the rest of the heats and had a blast laughing at the jokes being cracked by the race announcer. The high light was cheering for the 13-year-old boy who won the race – first overall in 5:15!! Man that kid is fast!
After all the heats were run I stayed around for the awards ceremony where I found out that I was THIRD in my age group! I was so excited because I have NEVER ever placed in my age group before – check out that silly grin on my face 🙂
My age group award was very fitting for the race, it was a bronze horse shoe!
All in all I had a fantastic time and I REALLY hope that hubby and I can time our annual vacation to Saratoga Springs to coincide with next years 4th annual Monday Night Mile race – it was so much fun!
Have you ever run a 1 mile race before?
Have you ever raced on a horse track before?