The St. Malachi 5 Mile Run in Cleveland is the first big race of the year in Northeast Ohio, featuring an extremely deep and competitive field in all age groups. This year was no exception. I’ve done this race six times since I’ve lived here and though the course has been changed four times, the one constant is that it’s always on the hilly side. I liked this year’s course the best though it may have been the most challenging.
The conditions at guntime were a little chilly but pretty ideal — sunny and about 30F. The race began on Washington near the church but instead of having a crazy downhill start into the flats, we hit 25th and made a quick left over the Superior Bridge. The gradual uphill beginning gave the faster runners more breathing room to maneuver. I got off well and was able to lock into a good groove, trying not to go too hard too soon. The first few miles were very quick as we barreled down the bridge and then hit another downhill as we worked our way down to and around Cleveland Browns Stadium. I hit the mile in 5:40 and the 2-mile in 11:35, feeling pretty under control. the third mile was flat as we headed by the Rock and Roll hall of Fame and down a stretch near Voinovich park where we hit the halfway mark and turn around point. I hit the 3 mile mark in 16:57 and was now starting to get that redline feeling you get in the last third of a race. The last mile and a half was also the toughest part of the course as we hit a steep quad busting downhill into the flats followed by a brutal climb out, and almost immediately, a big climb up the Superior Bridge on the way back. I was battling it out with a good group of three or four runners at this stage and this helped me focus on the race and not the pain. Once I got to the downhill portion of the bridge, the finish came almost too quickly. In retrospect, I wish I started my final sprint a touch sooner. In any case, I crossed the line in 28:50, ending up 25th overall and third in my age group. A good start to my first serious effort of 2012.
Next up is a 5K this coming Saturday in Louisville, OH (Akron-Canton area). This course is supposed to be pretty fast so it will be nice to get on the south side of 17:30 again. According to the McMillan Running calculator, 28:50 is equal to 17:25 for 5K and 36:09 for 10K so I’ll see how this holds up.