Today I raced at the Cleveland Heroes Run, which is billed as Cleveland’s hilliest 5 mile race and I’m not going to argue with that! Rolling hills early on and a brutal half-mile climb from 3.5 miles to the 4 mile marker definitely give your quads a good workout. The last mile is flat, but it’s hard to get back your old groove after destroying your legs on the climb.
Last year I ran 30:26, so this year I was quite pleased to lower my time by a full 40 seconds with a 29:46, good enough for first master and I think 6th overall. My strategy for the race was to keep it pretty even paced early on and try to make sure I still had something left in the tank after the big hill. On the flat, fast opening mile, which includes a nice downhill I contained myself well and came through in 5:56. I picked it up slightly on the second mile, which included a gradual climb of maybe 1/4 mile, followed immediately by a short downhill. I seemed to do most of my passing here. I hit the 2 mile mark in 11:48 and at this point the only people directly ahead of me were the top woman and the guy who was the second master. Both were a few seconds ahead of me and I managed to catch them by 2.5 miles. After that I was in total no-man’s land for the rest of the race. The top 3 guys (open guys from Team Good River) ended up running 25:58, 25:59, 26:00 and I think 4th was under 27:00 as well. I could see the 5th place guy maybe 60-90 seconds ahead of me but that was it. That said I kept my focus on the 3rd mile and hit the marker in 17:40. I kept the pace going and felt like I ran the big hill well. Climbing the hill felt like running in quicksand in comparison to my previous pace, but I felt strong. At the top of the hill I hit 4 miles in 23:52, which means mile 4 was 6:12 (I think I did the climb in 6:30 last year). With one more mile to go I was able to get it back together and I held on for a 5:54 and 29:46.
Really happy with the race and I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. I think if I had someone maybe 10-15 seconds ahead of me in the last mile I could have run 10-15 seconds faster, but that’s just being picky!
As a side note, the training has obviously been going well. I’ve been averaging 55 a week or so over the past 5 weeks, focusing on two key workouts. The first has been a 12 miler midweek with speed-work mixed in the middle (stuff like a 2 mile at 1/2 marathon pace; 60 second rest break and then 4 x 5 minutes at 8K/10K effort with brief 60 second rests). The other main workout is a long run of about 15 miles unless I’m racing.