|Last turn before the finish|
Today’s run (Marcie Mazzola 5K): 3.1 miles
This morning I ran the Marcie Mazzola Foundation race for the fifth year in a row. This race was originally scheduled for last April, but the date was moved to the end of June because of a Mazzola family issue. I was concerned about running this race in the summer heat, but the ample shade made it bearable. This year I was joined by a couple of industry colleagues who were running this race for the first time.
As I’d expected, my performance did not match prior races I’ve done at this distance, but I was not disappointed. In previous years, I was racing every month and that helped me maintain my competitive focus. It’s halfway through the year and I’ve only participated in two races so far. I ran about 15 minutes on the treadmill yesterday to “activate” my leg muscles, with a combination of elevation (training for the hill on Woodhull) and speed. It’s hard to know if that helped, but I don’t think it did any harm.
Team Emerging Runner arrived at 7:45 AM for the 8:30 start. Unlike the spring race, when the morning temperature requires extra layers prior to the start, it was nice to be comfortable in just my race gear. Registration went fine, and we watched the kid’s fun run that happens 30 minutes before the 5K start. Soon after that I saw my friend Bill, an experienced racer, who had never run the Marcie Mazzola race.
Bill and I made our way down to the starting line on Park Ave and I noticed that the crowd was smaller than last year. No doubt this was due to the race date change, because the organizers announced that there were over 500 registrants. The race results showed 15 DNS’s, most likely runners that signed up for April but had scheduling conflicts today. There were 103 less finishers this year than in 2012.
Once Bill and I established our position behind the line, we were joined by another friend, Mike, who had walked to the race from his house. Mike runs triathlons, but had not run Marcie before today. As we waited for the countdown, I described the course and tried to prepare them for the hill on Woodhull Rd. Neither seemed intimidated by it.
|The official Marcie 5K Pace car|
The race started on time and soon after seeing my wife and kids on the sideline, we took the right and climbed the big hill that goes on for half a mile. I felt like I was moving at a decent clip and I passed a number of runners along the way. I’m still experiencing upper respiratory issues and as I made my way up Woodhull, I started to wheeze and cough. I think I’m getting closer to recovery (it’s been three weeks now!) but I was concerned about pushing too hard. I backed off the throttle slightly, until my breathing regulated. With all that, I was a little disappointed to see that I ran the first mile in 9:30.
|Seconds after the start|
In past years, I’ve run that first mile even slower and still finished in the 26:00 range. I ran as fast as I could today, but missed my average 5K finish time by almost two minutes. I was hoping to break 27:50, but I ended up finishing in just over 28 minutes. If this race had a timing mat at the starting line, I may have have hit my targeted time. Considering the lack of race training I did to prepare, I’m fine with today’s number.
|Post-finish hydration and electrolytes|
I ran miles two and three in the high 8:00 range, bringing my overall pace close to 9:00. I never felt concern about sustaining my pace, although the last segment going east of Heckscher Park, followed by a brief but noticeable hill, always makes it challenging at the end. I always want to break nine minutes, but that didn’t happen today. Still, even with a small field of runners, I ended up in the top 40% of finishers.
|Racing buddies, Bill (left) and Mike (right)|
Bill came in half a minute before me and Mike came in shortly after I’d finished. The path to the finish line is on an incline that has a dogleg that points runners to the chute. I thought the timer said 27:58 when I went through, but the official results have me 10 seconds after that. Either way, I was happy at the end, with my family cheering me on as I crossed the line.
After taking almost three months off from racing, it was great to be back in competition. I didn’t have any expectation that I would perform well today, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself either. Another Marcie Mazzola race is in the books, and I’m looking forward to my next race, that is likely to be the Dirty Sock 10K. That’s a race that demands some real training so I’d better get started. But today, I’m going to focus on a little post-race relaxation.