Monday, April 24, 2017

Ravenswood Run 2017 Race Recap

I've been swimming 4x a week in the three weeks since the Shamrock Shuffle. Post Shuffle, I was feeling run down physically and decided that low miles and swimming was the best thing I could do in order to start feeling better. Since I have no major races on the horizon, I could afford to pamper myself and float and kick in the pool for a few weeks. Once I dialed back my running I could really notice how sore my hips and upper legs were. Sometimes running every day helps to mask pain, and an extended break lets me realize which areas need to heal and time to strengthen.

With the extended run break, I was going into this year's Ravenswood Run with slightly less endurance than I would have had if I had kept up with my miles. However, even with the run break, I could sense my endurance had only faded slightly. My Shamrock 8k time of 29:54 translates to a 18:09 (5:50/mile) using McMillan, so I guessed I was somewhere around 18:30 shape.

I came up with the following strategy for the race: First mile at around 6:00 and then evaluate how I feel. If I feel good, then drop to 5:50 and try to hold onto that for the remainder. If an initial six minute mile felt too fast, slow down in order not to crash and burn in mile three.

I woke up at 6am for a three mile shakeout run in which I ran the last mile of the Ravenswood Run course. Since the pylons were up and the streets essentially closed, I made mental notes of which stoplight the turns were at, where it was best to cut the tangents and which point I would start my final kick. Then I ran home, where I had ate two hard boiled eggs, a cup of black tea, a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. I took my dogs out for a half mile jog then my dad and I ran 1.5 miles over to the start line. We got there with five minutes to spare.

Anyway, the national anthem was sung, a prayer was said, and to the sound of tolling church bells - we were off!
Video of the start of the Ravenswood Run

The Race:
Mile 1: Since this wasn't a CARA Circuit race, and hence I would probably place fairly high, I started about three rows back. Once the gun sounded, I was still passed by 20 or 30 runners, but luckily didn't have to weave too much. For the second race in a row, I passed the 12 year old girl who was featured in Runners World. Hit the mile 1 marker eight seconds faster than planned. 5:52/mile.

Mile 1 (src)
Mile 2: It was time to evaluate how I felt to determine if I could speed up. I didn't feel as good as I did at this point last year, but I thought I had room for just a little acceleration. However, when I went to speed up, I couldn't muster any extra turnover in my legs. I don't know if it was the wind or if my legs were tight, but I actually started slowing down! I started to get nervous that I might crash and burn if not in this mile, maybe in the next one. 5:56/mile.

Mile 3: Right after starting mile 3, we ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and I said my goodbyes to the soon-to-be-closinig Chicago Brauhaus. Luckily, after trying another acceleration, my legs finally started to obey and I quickly adapted to a slightly faster pace. We ran down Damen and then made the final turn onto Wilson for the quarter mile homestretch. 5:48/mile.

Tera Moody at the 2013 Ravenswood 5k (in front of the
 Chicago Brauhaus)
Mile 3.13: I wanted to run at a blistering pace, but had pretty much tapped all of my reserves. I focused on just running with a controlled kick.


I came in with all I had and was finished!. 5:04/mile.


Official Finish Time: 18:16
Official Pace: 5:53/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:50/mile

Place Overall: 26th out of 2,498
Place Age Group: 1st out of 157

My first first place AG finish ever at the Ravenswood Run. This was my fifth fastest 5k ever just behind these four: 18:15, 18:10, 17:54 and 17:36.

So, taking a three week run break didn't really hurt me too much since I ran only seven seconds slower than I would have had I kept my fitness from the Shamrock. That said, I'm probably "living on borrowed time" and if I don't want to dig myself out of too big of a "fitness hole" I should resume running more miles in the next couple of weeks.

Post Race:
I ran backwards through the course (using the sidewalk) and met up with my dad. I ran most of mile three with him and then left him for the last quarter so he could kick it to the finish by himself. We met up after the finish line and since there was no awards ceremony, we slow jogged home.

I'm likely not going to race for another month, but in the interim, I'll continue to swim and run low miles. It's tempting to ramp up the mileage so my fitness won't fade, but getting a restart with my legs this summer is a higher priority. Declan mentioned maybe doing a fall marathon together. So, if I want to have any chance of keeping up with him, it would be best to have some fresh legs and be rested going into a potential 10 to 12 week marathon cycle.

Next Up:
I have my eye on the Run For the Animals in June and the final Grim Mile the day after. 


  1. Congrats Pete! Such a blazing fast time, despite swimming and not running. You're super smart for listening to your body and backing off running for a bit longer. I have a feeling if you do a fall marathon, you will be in a much better place- because of all the knowledge you've gained thus past year.

    1. Thanks! I really want to get back to having confidence that my legs and body can handle the rigors of marathon training and running 26.2 at the end of it. We'll see how I feel in a few weeks. Thanks again. :)

  2. You've still got it, Pete! I'm so impressed with your speed and your racing strategy. What fall marathon are you looking at?

    1. Thanks Wendy! Declan is registered for the Last Chance BQ race in September, so if I run with him I would do that one. However, I'm already BQ'd for 2018, so if I run a week later I could qualify for 2019 instead of double qualifying for 2018 (if that makes any sense)!

  3. It sounds like you had a really great race and a memorable day! Muscle memory seems to be working favorably for you :) and swimming!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it was a nice day for a race and I am fortunate to have maintained most of my fitness for the race. Swimming helps to keep my cardio up and at the same time it helps me to work out the kinks.

  4. Awesome, awesome, awesome right back at you!!! Congrats on your first AG win at this race!!! I love your finish line pictures, you look so pleased :)

    Going by the Brauhaus was my favorite part of that race - shame that it won't be there much longer :(

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I guess I was pleased since I was targeting an 18:30 and I felt relatively good once I finished. Yes, I ate at the Brauhaus last weekend and thought that it might be my last meal there. We will be down to only two German restaurants in the neighborhood now!

  5. Congrats on a great race Pete! How encouraging that swimming has served you so well. I'll have to remember that the next time I'm struggling in the pool.

    1. Thanks Marcia. Yes, swimming is very therapeutic!

  6. Yay! Congrats on your first place in AG! Did your dad place too? He does sometimes, right?

    Do you typically run 5 miles before a 5K? Or would you stick to three if it was further from home?

    I hope the swimming and lower mileage continues to make your body feel better!

    1. Thanks! I usually run 3 to 5 miles before a 5k. I think running a minimum of three miles prior to a 5k is ideal to help me loosen my legs. Yes, if it was further from home and I was pressed for time I might only do a couple of miles near home, but hopefully could get in another mile once at the race. My dad got 4th in his AG, but he will be in a new AG next soon, so watch out for him to start getting a few 1st AGs!

  7. Congrats on winning your AG and maintaining your fitness!! That's awesome.

    Also, who is this Declan person?

    1. Thanks! For all I know he's just a guy on twitter. :)