12 June 2010


OK, so if I don't run a lot, it won't take much to get a "personal record"!

One year after running my first 5k race, I ran the same event again this morning.Last year, my time surprised many people, myself not the least, since I had never run an organized event before. Apparently 24:05 was noteworthy, and ... well, I guess I became committed to running as cross-training.

The return to Run for the STARS had a sense of competition for me. I've now run enough to have a log of distances and times, and most of my running is either 5k or 5 miles. So, I have some sense of what I could do at this race. I would not be on the podium - my age bracket is very competitive, and this race is growing. But could I shave my time? Cut it?

Adding to the fun of the event, daughter Kathryn and her roommates, Lauren and Sheila, signed up for the event. Lauren has been the runner in this apartment, but both Kathryn and Sheila have taken it up just this year. They drove out late last night, slept at the house, and got up eager and jittery to run.

Adding to the challenge of the event, it has been a tough week for my asthma. Complicated, perhaps, by a summer cold, and the humidity, and forgetfulness. Two mornings this week I got all dressed and was in the street before realizing that I had not used my inhaler before heading out. I'm supposed to "puff" 30 minutes before beginning this kind of exertion, and with the timing for work, once I was in the street it was too late to make that up. So ... they were not stellar training runs, and one at least was shorter than I would have liked.

Which raised the specter of not actually being able to complete today's 5, or at least to not manage the time I hoped.

I wanted to break 24 minutes, at least. And was pretty sure I could cut a minute from last year's time. My plan was to run a 7:30 pace, and bring the run in at about 23 minutes. At mile 1, the split clock read 6:57 - which would be off a few seconds from my tag time. OK, so that was faster than it maybe should have been, but I had worked out the math: If I run the first mile in 7 minutes, I can slow down to an 8 minute pace for mile 2, then pick it up to the end.

Split clock at mile 2, just under 14 minutes. Oops, this isn't going right! It should be closer to 15 to work my plan! I slowed a bit (at least, in my head I did), and was really feeling the asthma thing in the humidity. I slowed to a walk and gave myself a 30-second recovery, then returned to what I was sure must be about an 8-minute mile.

It's a funny thing. I have a pretty decent metronome in my head, when I am working on music. It isn't atomic clock accurate or anything like that. But it's always in the ballpark. But when I run? Without a chrono watch, and clear mile markers, I never have a good sense. And so it was today.

The Run for the STARS takes place on a beautiful residential course out from and back to College Church. When I got to Howard St., I pretty much gave up trying to sort out what my pace was. I could hold it steady, whatever it was. Based on my time at 2 miles, and even with my 30-second walk, I was reasonably certain that I would come in under last year's time.

All along the course, though not packed along the way, there are people encouraging and cheering the runners. But from College Avenue and Chase Street the route is packed, with people standing or walking back and forth from the finish line. Mile 3 is pretty much at the bottom of the last little rise in the course, and the finish line beckons from the front of the sanctuary building. One doesn't see the finish line clock really until Washington St. But I wasn't looking for that this year, for some reason. I guess with "D-tags" and my chrono watch, I knew I'd have my time more exactly.

Cross, click, 22:13! Almost 2 minutes off last year's run. (But probably less than that, since last year's race was only gun-to-finish, with a chip marking the finish.) It was the hardest exertion ever in my running. And I'm not sure I will try to better it next year. And even at that, it did not put me near the podium: 3rd place in Men 50-54 was just over 20 minutes!

Official time - 22:15 (there was some trouble with timing today, but I will accept this 2-second difference between the official time and my watch)
Pace - 7:11/mile
Placed 5th of 24 in Men 50-54
Placed 71 of 558 overall
Oh, and if I had this time in the 55-59 group, I would have been on the podium. So, maybe there is something to shoot for next year!

I enjoyed this again this year, and look forward to June 2011. I may not run another 5k between now and then, and I sure don't need to. But this one is on my calendar.

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