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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Running at 61

That's me finishing strong at the Nick's Run to be Healed 5k in Clifton Park
photos by William Laviano
About a year ago I published a post entitled Running at 60, in which I described some of the challenges of recreational running as an older person, and within which I set a new challenge for myself: To get a first place age-group finish in the annual Dunkin' Run (a favorite, as it is right in my neighborhood). I also promised to provide an update here on that quest.

Well, forgive my bragging, but Mission Accomplished. However, quite unexpectedly, this proved to be unexpectedly unsatisfying. The reason being, I'd been trying (and failing) for about two years to break 26 minutes in a 5k race - and this year's Dunkin' Run was no exception, as I clocked a 26:15. Also, the next nearest competitor in my age group was minutes behind me - so finishing first really had no meaning.

The happy 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers
After that, I felt even more motivated to try to break that pesky 26 minutes, and I trained a little harder than usual for my next race, enjoying some beautiful late summer trail runs with a friend who used to be much faster than me but - well, he's older now, so we can run together these days.

The results are proof that working harder can help you achieve success. On Sept. 27, on a perfect afternoon in Clifton Park, I ran my best 5k race yet, finishing in an official time of 25:52, good enough for second place in the 60-and-over division, while my running partner took third. Though the organizers were only giving awards to the first-place finishers at that race, I went away feeling like I'd taken home a trophy (but without the need to store it). Now THAT was my true Mission Accomplished!

So, what's next? Considering that the person who came in first in that Clifton Park race was minutes ahead of me (and my same age), maybe I can try to get better at this. Anybody think I can break 25 minutes?

UPDATE: A couple of weeks after posting this piece, I entered a 5k race in North Greenbush, sponsored by RPI. I'm not sure how, but I finished in 25:04 (to my astonishment). Clearly, the goal for next year is to break 25. Winter training, here I come!