The 2012 road racing season got off to a good start. I signed up for the St. Malichi 5 mile run and set a goal of 50:25 based on my training in recent weeks. In training runs, I've been able to get some decent runs in at about 10:15 per mile and I figured I ought to be able to knock 10 seconds per mile off that in a race environment. I downgraded my goal a little because I decided to run the 2 mile race that day with my grand daughter. In my senior year in high school, I did double duty in track. I competed in both the mile and half mile and although my half mile times did suffer slightly when I ran two races in a day, it wasn't dramatic.
Going into the two mile, I had already eclipsed my goal of 19:00 in training with an 18:50 earlier in the week, so I was hoping to take 10 seconds per mile off that and get a 18:30. I reached the mile mark at 8:54 and thought to myself, "Wow, if I can keep this pace I might crack 18:00". Last half of the course was mostly uphill, so my 2nd mile split dropped off considerably and I finished at 18:34.
After a 15 minute break in which I wolfed down a banana, downed a bottle of water and changed my running shoes it was time to line up for the five mile race. The starting line was a mad house with over 2300 hundred runners jammed into the narrow Washington St.. I spent most of the first quarter mile jockeying for position, weaving in and out of the masses trying to get some running room, but after the first mile the runners became spaced out and it wasn't too bad. My strategy was to try and run this race with negative splits, to just take it easy the first mile and run a pace that I knew I could improve on in the 2nd mile, then to run the third mile faster than the 2nd, and so on so that my last mile would be the fastest. A sound strategy I thought till I realized that the first half of the race was primarily down hill and that I would have to battle 1 very tough hill and two long and steady inclines on the return back to the finish line.
The first incline was from the west side of Cleveland Browns Stadium running up West 3rd to Lakeside Avenue. It wasn't a real steep incline, but it was long. The reward for getting to the top was a brief level run west on Lakeside Avenue which then went down a steep hill into Cleveland's FLATS. The bottom of the hill was the four mile mark, which I passed at 39:59. Hmm! Under 40:00 which meant I only had to run the last mile in 10:25 to beat my target of 50:25. The only problem was that after running through the Flats, we had to run up a long AND steep hill before getting to the home stretch. I looked down at the ground through most of this hill because looking up would only tell me how much more I had to go up.
Finally I reach the top of the hill at Superior Avenue. Just over a half a mile to go and the watch reads 43:10, but half the distance left still in on an incline. When I reached the highest point on the Detroit / Superior bridge I knew I had a chance to break 50:00 if I could finish strong. When I turned the corner onto Vermont Ave I could see the clock at the finish line and it read 50:30 with still another 50-60 yards to go. I crossed the finish line at the clock read 50:53, a new PR but not as well as I hoped. Then I realized that was the Gun Time and not my Chip Time. Chip time was 49:49:32, A new PR and 35 seconds faster than my target time.