|Coming in to the finish
Photo courtesy of The Petite Pacer
Today’s run (Marcie Mazzola 5K): 3.1 miles (29:55)
This morning I ran the Marcie Mazzola race for the sixth consecutive year. This was my first race after returning to running in 2008 and it’s the only one I’ve never missed. In terms of performance, it was not only my slowest Marcie time, but my slowest 5K ever. That was a disappointment, but not to the point of discouragement.
I’ve definitely lost speed over the last couple of years and I’d hoped that the structured training I’ve been doing for the Brooklyn Half would reverse that slide. My speed training last Tuesday went well and made me hopeful for a sub-28:00 finish today. Running this race two days after covering 19 miles earlier probably didn’t help, nor did some lacing issues I had during the race.
Although the temperature at race time was mid-forties, it felt very cold when we arrived. Even with a pair of track pants and a jacket (that I planned to take off prior to the start) it felt too cold to stand around outside. We ended up hanging out for a while in the lobby of the Huntington Y. At 8:00 we went over and watched the kids fun run and, fifteen minutes later, we walked down to the race’s starting point. With only short sleeves and running shorts, I was anxious to get going so I could warm up.
|The start on Park Ave.|
Unlike most race day mornings, I was not particularly excited to compete today. I was almost in denial that I’d be racing, until reality hit when the horn went off. We were quickly dispatched up Park Ave on our way to Marcie’s biggest challenge, the hill on South Woodhull Road. I saw my wife and kids cheering just before I made the turn on Woodhull. I took my first steps up the hill and told myself to focus and prepare to work.
|The long run up Woodhull
Photo courtesy of The Petite Pacer
I thought I was doing well and passed a lot of people on Woodhull. I was hopeful that all the long runs I’ve been doing on hilly routes would pay off. I did start feeling the effort about 2/3 up this long hill and did my best to hold my pace. My Garmin chirped before the Mile 1 marker because I’d started so far back that it took me 20 seconds to get past the starting line. When I heard the volunteer calling first mile times in the 10 minute range I was shocked.
The second mile went by fairly quickly, with enough downhill sections to help make up for that slow first mile. My laces had been cutting into the top of my ankle before the race and I’d retied them a little looser to alleviate that pressure. That was a mistake. About halfway through the race, my right lace untied. I tried to ignore it, but the laces were whipping my legs and I was afraid of tripping. When my shoe began to slip, I decided to pull over and re-tie the lace. That cost me at least 30 seconds, but I wish I’d thought to tighten my left shoe at that time.
I made up as much time as I could from there, but when I crossed Main Street at Heckscher Park, my left lace untied. With less than a mile to go, I decided to risk the dangers of tripping and slipping and did my best to avoid a spill. I know this course pretty well and I anticipated the final challenge, a fairly steep rise where Sabbath Day Path connects back to Main Street. I was very ready to finish the race and plowed ahead. I knew that once I got past this hill, I was less than a quarter mile from the end.
|Rounding the dogleg to the finish|
The race ends with a run up the driveway of the YMCA and I put everything into getting past the incline. I saw and heard my wife and kids right before the dogleg that leads to the finish chute and saw that I still had a chance to come in under 30 minutes. I crossed the line and didn’t even see TPP who was taking race pictures that she posted to the GLIRC Facebook group. She did a great job, just like last year.
In the end, I was glad that I ran the race. Although I would have liked to have cut a couple of minutes off my finish time, I felt I put in an honest effort. We hung out afterward for the raffle and went back to the Y building so I could get a cup of coffee. We ran into my friend Mike who was there to swim laps in the pool. Mike ran Marcie with me last year but suffered a heart attack right before this past New Year’s. He’s recovered well and is back to running and other sports. In fact he’s planning to do an Olympic-length triathlon in May.
|Post race food and recovery|
We didn’t win anything at the raffle, but that didn’t matter. I saw my time posted on the Start2Finish truck and realized that I’d averaged in the mid-9:00 range. Small consolation, but I’ll take it. Despite all my training thus far, I’m clearly not on track to PR at Brooklyn. What probably matters more is that all the base running I’m doing will make covering 13 miles a far more realistic challenge than it was a month ago.