Cleveland Spring Classic -- 40th Annual 10-Mile Race. The Cliffs note version is I had a great time, finished the highest overall that I think I've ever done in a road race ..... but I am terrible at pacing right now.
So here is the long version. Spring race was supposed to be the Big Sur Marathon next weekend. However, I tripped and fell over a curb and broke my hand trying to avoid a car while out running at the end of February, and the orthopedic doc said he didn't recommend running for more than an hour at a time to let it heal properly. Decided better listen to the hand guy. I was running poorly at the time anyway (to the point I suspected I might even be over training) which made the decision to not run Big Sur hurt less. After a few weeks of easy running, I decided to try and re-focus and run the Cleveland Half-Marathon on 5/19.
On Monday, I picked the Spring Classic 10-Miler as a tune up race. As some of you know, I'm prone to asthma attacks since having cancer five-years ago from the effects of the chemotherapy. Training and racing can be very, very frustrating for me. Hence, I've rarely run races these last five years. Still racing is something I'd like to get back into. Don't think I will ever come close to equaling any pre-cancer PRs, but I'm still fast enough that I can occasionally get up and challenge for an age group award. And I still like the race scene and being around other runners. But running competitively asthma is still a definite challenge.
The last several weeks or so since I got the splint off my hand, I've been running 60 miles per week, with a long run of 13-15 miles on Friday and a 4-mile tempo session on Sunday. I didn't taper except for skipping my Friday long run.
The Spring Classic is run in one of the local Cleveland Metroparks and is an out-and-back north-south loop course. It is basically flat and it is a very pretty course. Day came up cold (39 degrees), overcast, and misty with a pretty stiff head wind out of the north. I wore blue split shorts, an ORANGE tech shirt (it had to be orange...), arm warmers, and gloves. That was about perfect.
Race is well-organized, somewhat informal, low key (no chips...), and starts immediately on time. I'd guess there were 200 or so for the 10-miler, a lot more for the 5K. Lined up towards the front middle and away we went. I had no idea what pace to run so I just went out conservative and tried to run by feel. At the first turn around at mile 2, I counted and I was in 10th or 11th place among the women. I started moving up at this point.
Mile 1-5 was uneventful. Just sort of cruising along, breathing very easy, trying to stay in control, picking off an occasional runner. 8:12, 8:07, 8:04, 8:04, 8:02. After mile 3, no one passed me and I ran alone a lot. At mile 6 we started catching up to the 5K runners. This gave me some people to chase down.
One thing that I can definitely see people not liking about the Spring Classic is if you're running the 10-miler, you go RIGHT past the finish line and you then have to go out and run another 3.5 miles at that point whereas the 5K runners are done. If I had been running harder, it probably would have annoyed me, but instead I spent the whole race joking around with the road guards and the volunteers as I ran. I yelled "oh how cruel to have to keep going" or some other such nonsense when I went past the finish line. At mile 4, I saw a lady sitting on a horse and asked her for a ride. I asked the water station people if they had any wine. Even at mile 9.5 hauling it in I threw a salute to the cop holding back traffic ....
At mile 8 I caught the last woman I would catch, and when I watched the other runners coming back, I think I only saw one woman was ahead of me. She was WAY ahead of me, and there was no way in heck I could ever hope to catch her. A volunteer told me I looked like I was having way too much fun and should start, you know, running. I said "good idea" and decided there was no chance to blow up with asthma anymore and dropped the hammer. I ran the last mile in 6:58. Mind you, the last 5K I ran clocked a 21:25 which is a 6:51 pace ...... 7:57, 7:53, 7:56, 7:44, 6:58. Total time: 1:18:52.
So, I finished as the second or third overall woman and won my age group. They handed out awards in the chute; I got a very nice plaque. Even before having had cancer, I've never actually finished that high overall among the women in a road race before. (I don't think I've ever even cracked the top 10.)
My analysis of my performance ... I had a great time. I don't know that I've ever been in that high spirits while running in a race. It was really cool to finish that high up in the field for the women and to take home a very nice piece of hardware. The woman who won would have soundly beaten me even if I hadn't been goofing off so no regrets there.
However, there is just no way I should be able to throw down a nearly 5K pace mile at the end of a ten-mile race. (Unless my 5K PR is really soft, which I don't think it is.) Clearly, I have a confidence problem. I don't trust my fitness or my body. I also don't see myself as a "competitive" runner and I always go out feeling like for some reason I don't belong (when in fact, I can hold my own just fine). I think to gain that confidence, I need to be willing to race more. Right now, I don't know what pace I'll aim to run at Cleveland (assuming the weather comes up ok). I freely admit that I am still afraid to take "risks" -- and that's not just limited to running, it is something I deal with in my day-to-day life.