Sunday was what may be my final race of the year, the not-so-fall Fall Classic Half Marathon and 5-K. My 5-K time of 24:20 (7:50 mile pace) is now my standing "smooth" time for Vanilla's Shave Your 5-K Challenge. Not my smoothest shave ever, but an improvement of 1:17 faster than my 25:37 stubble recorded in March.
This misnomer of a race started at an un-autumn-like 20 degrees with overcast skies, solid snow cover and a windchill that made it feel like 13 degrees. The 320-plus runners were doing everything they could to keep body parts from numbing. Some were even kissing.
Roadways and Obstacles
The race course meandered through one of the Cleveland Metro Parks, mostly over a road surface with a turnaround in a parking lot and finish on an asphalt footpath. The road was clear of snow and ice, but the parking lot and footpath were not.
Also, the kids, those brats. It was an invasion of elementary school-age children who needed a stern lesson in getting the hell out of the way. There were more than 100 kids under 12 years old running, walking, pushing, shoving weaving and wheezing. At one point I ditched to the snowbank on the side of the road to get ahead of two boys after calling out that I was passing on their left.
Slow Second Mile
After a relatively strong first mile at 7:37, I bogged down during the second mile. The icy turnaround in a parking lot was partly responsible for the slowdown, but I also let myself get comfortable with the pace of a fellow runner, whom I should have passed earlier than I did. I logged the second mile at a discouraging 8:20.
Back on the road, the leading half marathoners, who started 25 minutes before the 5-K, were returning from the turnaround for their first loop and provided good motivation to pick up the pace.
Not Enough Speed
I made some headway on the road back, picking off a handful of runners. However, passing became difficult when the course entered the footpath for the final quarter mile stretch. The center of the path was iced over and there was a particularly treacherous sharp turn before the final straightaway.
The tight path and minimal sure-footing didn't leave much room for running. A fact that was exacerbated by the half marathoners who also clogged the pathway before they broke off for their second loop just before the finishing chute.
I made a desperate charge to pass a couple runners at the finish line, but as predicted I didn't have enough speed in my legs to PR. Though, had I been a year older, I would have taken third in the 30-34 age group. Maybe next year, right?
The race was pretty well supported with a mid-point water stop and water and sports drink -- actually, they were more like ice slushies -- at the finish. There was also food and hot drinks available, but I skipped the spread in favor of breakfast and Guinness at a nearby pub.
The race shirt was surprisingly nice for such a small event, providing the first 800 registrants with a black long-sleeve tech shirt with an attractive race logo over the heart and the race sponsors on the back (and not the typical hideous smattering of logos you normally find).
O-H, and Ouch!
Sarah, how'd you like the "game" on Saturday?
Back to Running
Because of the race, I didn't get in as many miles as I'd hoped to -- only 18 last week. I hope to make up the difference this week to get back on target.
1,000 Tracker: 132 miles to go
Fall Tracker: 37 miles since last tumble