This past Sunday I ran my not only my 2nd road race of the year, but my 2nd road race of the weekend. Crazy? Yes, some would think that. Especially this early in the race season. I've always been attracted to doing things that most people won't try and this weekend was no different. Following up Cleveland's hilliest race with the hilliest race in the Akron area. Joining me in the insanity were fellow friends Ryan McCartney and Jessica Bagwell.
I did not have a real plan heading into the weekend except to use it to test where I am at in my fitness and survive. I had wanted to save energy for Sunday's race since it was a distance race and it was on roads that I train on. The plan was to run strong and to eat the climbs, but I was on my "A" game Saturday and couldn't pass the chance to do something special. Running a hilly five miler at an 8:01 average pace. My best 5K pace was 8:00 on a flat course.
On Sunday, my legs felt surprisingly good. We were also blessed with amazing weather. The temp was in the mid 60"s!! Roughly 40 degrees warmer than Saturday's race. It was my warmest run of the year. I got to the race early and met up with my friends and fellow dirty runners Jessica Bagwell, Ryan McCartney, and Allison Colleen.
|Fellow Dirtyrunner Allison and dirtyrunner mascot, Brody|
After the start debacle from the day before. I decided to do something i've never have done before. I started towards the front. I must admit, I felt out of place being surrounded by tons of runners who weigh about 100 lbs less than me. I felt like the were looking at me as if I would be guaranteed to be in their way.
The race began and I got off to a great start. It was so refreshing not being held up by race traffic. I moved to the side as to not get in anyones way. I kept up with the main back and ran mile 1 in 7:35. The first 3 miles are mostly down hill with some portions being a steeper grade than others. I still haven't mastered the art of getting down hill at race speed, but still managed to run the next to miles in the low 8's. Mile 4 was mostly flat with a false flat towards the end. I felt ran and continued in the low 8's. Now, the next 5.3 miles is when the real race starts. It is a consistent 5.3 mile climb that will test every fiber of you being. Approaching the climb from the North. You can see it till you make the left and this is what you see.
I hit the climb and I was done. I had zero strength in my legs. This was the first time I could feel Saturday's effort. My pace immediately dropped and I ran the next 3 miles at 9:20, 9:30, and 9:20. After Saturday's effort. I decided it would be good for me to run my marathon pace. Since I will be faced with adversity and fatigue. I would to practice fighting through the pain. Fortunately, all my training on Stow's rolling hills has paid off as I am able to recovery quickly from climbs. So, I was able to attack the last two miles as the climbs were separated by some short flats. I fought hard those miles and finished in 1:22 for an average pace of 8:51. Exactly what I would like to run my marathon in.
It was a great weekend and I survived. I learned that I am even further along in my training than I thought and I am excited to continue to build on my form.