Monday, June 29, 2020

McKirdy Mile #4

All good things must come to an end! After three one mile McKirdy Mile races, yesterday marked the fourth and final mile of the series. 


Pre-Race:
I woke up at about 7:00 am on Saturday and went for a slow one mile shakeout run around Welles Park. The temps were in the 70's and I was somewhat loose. I had run a few extra miles the week before and was feeling them a little in my muscles. I didn't think I would be able to best my best McKirdy mile which was a 5:36 for race #1. I just hadn't improved my fitness over the last few weeks enough to run an earth shattering time.

Once again, I sat around the house and read and relaxed until noon. I put on my singlet and ran over to Horner Park. As per the last race, I timed the traffic lights - trying to get a full quarter mile in of running, before I actually got into Horner Park itself. 

I saw the lights turn red, jogged back to my starting point along Manor Ave (out of eyesight of the traffic lights).

Starting point for McKirdy #4.
This time starting north and heading south

After 45 seconds of jogging in the opposite direction I turned around, started my Garmin and I was off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I wasn't holding back, but I wasn't flooring it. Since I'd done this three times before, I tried just to run a pace I knew I could hold for the remainder. I came up on the intersection at California and Montrose, the light was red, but would change at any time. Luckily it did (at the last moment) but there was still a car in the intersection waiting to turn left, would they wait for me to cross? No! The car floored it right in front of me, causing me to stop dead in my tracks! They quickly got out of the way, but it was disappointing that I had to stop, however briefly. 1:28 (5:51/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Got to the quarter mile point just after entering the Horner Park portion of the race. 1:26 (5:45/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: Crossing the halfway point, I was winded but not too much. This is the portion of the race where my biggest concern is what to do if I can't make the light ahead. Do I turn left and go uphill along Horner Park or take a right and have to cross eight intersections, but keep it flat? The pedestrian light at the intersection of Irving Park Rd and California Avenue was red as I approached. Would I make it in time for it to turn green? 1:27 (5:50/mile pace).


My McKirdy Mile #4

Mile 1.0: Yes! The traffic light turned green just in time, so I would be able to keep running straight without turns! I crossed the road and up ahead I saw a jogger about 100 meters away. He was too far away to catch in such a short distance, but he was a good marker of my progress as I closed the gap between us. I started to floor it and was gaining. With about 50 meters left in the race, he suddenly stopped and started walking. This may have caused me to subtly slow as well. I should have striven to keep pushing it until my watch beeped, but I was pretty much out of gas anyway. It seemed like 10 seconds of deceleration before my watch mercifully beeped and I was done! 1:26 (5:43/mile).


Stats:
Official Finish Time: 5:47
Official Pace: 5:47/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:47/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:54 and 2:53
Place AG: 9th out of 29 (as of Monday morning)

Post Race

Analysis:
For the first time my first quarter mile wasn't my fastest. In fact it was my slowest. Maybe having a car stop me in my tracks was the reason, but it got me to slow down nevertheless! My splits were all within two seconds of each other, so for all intents and purposes they were even splits. Maybe after four races, I'm finally getting the feel of what my mile pace is? The strategy I had during the final section - where I was focused on "catching" the jogger in front of me - didn't pan out as he slowed to a walk. I didn't determine the wind direction beforehand and I think I may have been running into the wind, instead of with it.

Well, that's a wrap. My four mile times were all within nine seconds of each other, and it would appear my fitness is plateauing at the moment. I was probably in better shape in early May than I am now. In May, I still had residual upper body strength from working out in February and March which could be a bigger factor in shorter distance races (more powerful arm swings).

I'm sad it's over, but after four very similar races (in venue and final time), it is probably time to move onto another distance.


McKirdy Mile Race Pace Comparison:
"Living life a quarter mile at a time"

Quarter
Mile
Race #1
5/2/20
Race #2
 5/19/20
Race #3
6/06/20
Race #4
6/27/20
1
1:19
1:22
1:25
1:28
2
1:24
1:26
1:27
1:26
3
1:28
1:26
1:30
1:27
4
1:25
1:25
1:25
1:26
Total
5:36
5:39
5:47
5:47
                                                                 

Post Race:

Jogged home. 

Next Up:

Maybe a 4th of July virtual race!

Monday, June 8, 2020

McKirdy Mile #3

Three weeks ago, I ran the second McKirdy Mile (of four) in and around Horner Park in 5:39. In that attempt, as well as McKirdy Mile #1, I went out way too fast in the first quarter mile and paid for it on the next three.


I was hopeful that I could will myself to start more slowly this time around and see what would happen. 

Pre-Race:
I woke up at about 7:00 am on Saturday and went for a slow two mile shakeout run around Lincoln Square. The temps were in the mid 60's and I felt nice and loose. I thought that I might have a decent shot at running my fastest McKirdy mile yet. Although in the back of my mind I knew I hadn't upped my training load over the past few weeks, so if the wind wasn't right or I didn't "feel it" by race time, I could run slower. When it comes to a mile race a handful of seconds can be the difference between your fastest and slowest race!

I sat around the house and read and relaxed until noon. I donned my race singlet, took a swig of sugary Gatorade and jogged over to Horner Park. Once again, I timed the traffic lights as I did last time, but this time, I factored in trying to get a full quarter mile in of running, before I actually got into Horner Park itself. That would mean I would need to jog out of eyesight from the lights a hundred meters or so, start my watch and start racing towards the lights.

I saw the lights turn red, and knew that I had about two minutes of the light cycles until I would have the green light to get across the intersection of Montrose and California Ave. so I jogged away from Horner Park along Manor Ave (out of eyesight of the traffic lights).

Starting point for McKirdy #3.
This time starting north and heading south

About 45 seconds of jogging in the opposite direction I turned around, started my Garmin and I was off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I felt like I was holding back, but trying not to hold back too much as a race that is over in less than six minutes is one where you have to stay totally focused and push yourself throughout. I ran through the two or three blocks of Ravenswood Manor and got to the Montrose traffic light as it turned green. 1:25 (5:39/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Just as I crossed the street, my watched beeped indicating I had already run a quarter mile as I entered the Horner Park side of Montrose. Last week I had pulled a hamstring at this point, but there was no pain to be had this time around. 1:27 (5:49/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: Over halfway there, but couldn't muster a big speed increase. The pedestrian light at the intersection of Irving Park Rd and California Avenue was red as I approached. Would I make it in time for it to turn green? 1:30 (5:58/mile pace).


My McKirdy Mile #3
Mile 1.0: No! As the traffic light remained red going north to south, I decided to take a sharp right and cross California and run the rest of the race along Irving Park Road. This sharp turn may have taken a few seconds off of the previous quarter mile. The downside to this stretch is that I had to cross six streets that intersect with Irving Park Road. So instead of full out racing I had to slow ever so slightly at each intersection (to check for cars) before I burst across. After the final intersection, I glanced at my watch to see that I had but a few meters left. I gave it one last surge and I was done! 1:25 (5:41/mile).


Stats:
Official Finish Time: 5:47
Official Pace: 5:47/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:47/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:52 and 2:55
Place AG: 11th out of 46 (as of Monday morning)

Post Race
Analysis:
My time for #3 is a continuation of an upward trajectory in my McKirdy races. I was able to slow down for the first quarter, but wasn't able to pickup the speed for the remaining three quarters. The last section - where I had to be careful of traffic - didn't help me get a finishing kick that I wanted. Maybe I didn't plan out to run with the wind correctly, or maybe the turn at the last quarter mile cost me a few seconds. Or maybe it's my fitness and diet. I'm not improving my fitness, as it has been pretty much level - 15 miles running and 15 miles walking (dogs) per week over the last three months. So, I have no room for error if conditions or I'm not feeling 100%. I've also been less strict on my diet - consuming slightly more potatoes and bread and thus eating less fat. This seems to have the effect of dragging down my overall energy levels and upping the pounds ever so slightly. There is also the possibility that my race strategy is backwards. Maybe starting fast and attempting to hang on is actually a better strategy for me in a mile? Maybe starting fast keeps me more engaged in the race and gets my legs up to speed faster?

I only have one more shot to get this right. I'm thinking about doing my last mile on the Chicago River North Branch trail, so I won't have to worry about traffic lights and intersections, although it does have some downhill/uphill portions under the bridges. Maybe I can map out a flat course there in the next three weeks.

McKirdy Mile Race Pace Comparison:
"Living life a quarter mile at a time"

Quarter
Mile
Race #1
5/2/20
Race #2
 5/19/20
Race #3
6/06/20
Race #4
6/27/20
1
1:19
1:22
1:25
*
2
1:24
1:26
1:27
*
3
1:28
1:26
1:30
*
4
1:25
1:25
1:25
*
Total
5:36
5:39
5:47
*
                                                                 *TBD

Post Race:

Virtual race so jogged home. 

Next Up:

McKirdy Mile #4 on 6/27

Monday, May 18, 2020

McKirdy Mile #2

Two weeks ago, I ran the first McKirdy Mile (of four) in and around Horner Park in 5:36. In that attempt, I went out way too fast in the first quarter mile (5:15 mile pace) and paid for it on the next three as I had so slow down (5:43 average mile pace).


In the ensuing two weeks, I really didn't up my training load, but since I went out too fast last time, I thought with a slower first quarter mile and gradually increasing my speed thereafter, I should be able to run a few seconds faster using strategy alone.

Pre-Race:
I've decided to try and race on Saturday using Sunday as a backup. Probably a good thing to do going forward, since that way I leave myself a spare day if I'm not feeling it or the weather is bad. It's also nice having a backup day in case something comes up unexpectedly on Saturday. If I wait until Sunday and something comes up unexpectedly on Sunday then I'm out of luck.

Anyway, the weather was good on Saturday with temps around 65. When I woke up, I did a two miler really slowly to loosen up/shakeout. Then I rested for a few hours and at around 11:30am jogged over to Horner Park for race #2. Initially, I was going to run from south to north along Horner Park's western edge on the sidwalk along North California Avenue. I was timing the lights at Irving Park Rd and California Ave. (so I could hit the intersection when it turned green), when I suddenly noticed that there was a slight wind coming out of the north. It wasn't a strong wind, but it was enough for me to question why I wouldn't want to have that wind as a tailwind instead of a headwind. So, I walked a mile north so I could run with the breeze to my back. 

After a 15 minute walk along Horner Park and across Montrose Avenue, I arrived at a spot just far enough away that I was able to see the traffic lights at Montrose and California. That way I could time out my start, so that when I ran up to the intersection the lights would be green.


Starting point for McKirdy #2.
This time starting north and heading south

I rested a bit, and let the lights cycle a couple more times and when the lights turned red, I took off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I started out quickly (once again) and glancing down at my watch I once again saw a 5:05 pace. I knew that I needed to slow, and I did a better job at doing this than last time. I crossed Montrose Avenue, just as the light turned green (i.e. perfectly) and was now running along Horner Park. I felt good and felt good about how much I had slowed down. Looks like I'm getting better at pacing, but not perfect as this was my fastest quarter. 1:22 (5:15/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Suddenly I felt a pain in my right hamstring. I was wearing racing flats which I never run in except to race. I guess somehow I overstretched my hammy by my sudden and quick start in "new" shoes, I slowed down so I could get a sense of just how bad of shape my leg was. 1:26 (5:36/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: I figured I was already halfway through and though my right leg felt uncomfortable, I sensed it wasn't a bad injury so I just kept hauling. The pedestrian light at the intersection of Irving Park Rd and California Avenue was counting down 15, 14, 13, 12... as I approached. Would I make it in time? 1:26 (5:52/mile pace).


My McKirdy Mile #2

Mile 1.0: As the traffic light flashed 5, 4, 3..., I burst across the street and made it to the other side of Irving Park Road with no time to spare. This surge may have taken a little out of me and I still had a quarter mile to go. There were a couple of people ahead of me so I dropped down off of the sidewalk and onto California Ave hugging the shoulder. A final burst of speed and I was done! 1:25 (5:43/mile).


Stats:
Official Finish Time: 5:39
Official Pace: 5:39/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:39/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:48 and 2:51
Place AG: 8th out of 41 (as of Sunday night)

Relaxing Post Race

Analysis:
Although I was three seconds slower than two weeks ago, my splits were more even. Instead of a nine second swing between my fastest and slowest quarter, this time it was only four seconds. I had a three second positive split this time, vs. a 10 second positive split for Mckirdy #1. Who knows why I was slower for this race, although a lot of it may have been being slightly hobbled mentally by pulling the hammy mid-race and perhaps I subconsciously leaned towards preservation rather than extending myself. As for strategy, my first quarter was still my fastest, when it should have been my slowest. Maybe a slower start will also help keep my legs healthy for the entire race? Oh well, I have two more chances to get it right. Think negative splits for #3!


McKirdy Mile Race Pace Comparison
"Living life a quarter mile at a time"

Quarter
Mile
Race #1
5/2/20
Race #2
 5/19/20
Race #3
6/6/20
Race #4
6/27/20
1
1:19
1:22
*
*
2
1:24
1:26
*
*
3
1:28
1:26
*
*
4
1:25
1:25
*
*
Total
5:36
5:39
*
*
                                                                 *TBD

Post Race:

Again, it's virtual race so just a walk home. Womp!

Next Up:

McKirdy Mile #3 on 5/3


Monday, May 4, 2020

McKirdy Mile #1

The McKirdy Mile is a free race series of four one mile races spread out over eight weeks. Each race is virtual with a few rules meant to keep a level playing field since there are prizes. For example, the mile can't be run on a track, the net elevation drop can't be more than 1% and GPS data must be submitted with your race time as proof. Otherwise, the only other rule is that on the weekends of a race you have from Saturday at 12 a.m. to Sunday at 11:59 p.m. to complete your mile. 


Since I'm only running short distances a few days a week to keep my fitness up during the pandemic, I thought racing a mile would be fun to do so I could at least be able to participate in a race and not have to wear myself out with any extra training. So, last week I signed up for the first race in the series meaning I had to run my first mile on either May 2nd or May 3rd. The race also had a race prediction contest, so I put down 5:50 for my time which I thought was safe given my low mileage.


Pre-Race:
I debated whether to race on Saturday or Sunday. My first thought was that if I ran it on May 2nd and things didn't go well, I could always try again on May 3rd and submit the better of the two times. Then I realized this would not be keeping with the spirit of an in-person race - meaning typically you only get one shot at it. Therefore I would only give myself one opportunity to do it.

Anyway, the weather was good on Saturday with temps in the low 60s and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to run it on Saturday. I tried to figure out the best place to run and decided that since Horner Park is 1/2 mile in length it would give me a nice place to run a straight shot with minimal turns. Then I realized that turns don't matter as much in GPS measured races since your watch is keeping "perfect" distance and you don't have to worry about running the perfect line. Turns do slow you down a little though, so I was hoping to keep it to just a few.

When I got to Horner Park at around noon, the wind was out of the west and as tempting as it was to find a new course which would allow me to run most of it with the wind to my back, I decided just to keep with my plan of running from south to north on the half mile stretch so the wind would be (for the most part) at my side.

To give myself another 100m of "straight" distance I walked across Irving Park Road and walked to the front of McFetridge Sports Center. I timed the stop light so that I would hit the crosswalk just as the light turned green.

My starting place in front of McFetridge Sports Center

After waiting for the traffic light to cycle one more time, I clicked "start" on my Garmin and I was off! 

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I started out quickly, and I even glanced down at my watch and noticed that I was running at a 5:05 pace. Much too fast. I crossed Irving Park Road timing the lights perfectly and was now in Horner Park. I was blazing way too quickly for my fitness and was risking a premature crash. I kept telling myself to slow down, which I was able to do, but only at the end of this quarter mile. 1:19 (5:15/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Near the beginning of this "lap" I could really feel my lungs burn and lactic acid accumulate in my legs. I was slowing down whether I liked it or not. 1:24 (5:36/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: I was nearing the end of my straight-away and was really slowing down but wasn't in too much pain. I made my first turn of the race on Montrose and headed to the east - happy to have a tailwind for a moment. 1:28 (5:52/mile pace).

My mile (in red)


Mile 1.0: After running a hundred yards with the wind to my back I made the turn into the park and ran back into the wind. I gave it all I had and actually was able to speed up a little. My watch beeped indicating I had run my fourth quarter mile and I was done! 1:25 (5:43/mile).


Stats:
Official Finish Time: 5:36
Official Pace: 5:36/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:36/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:43 and 2:53
Place AG: 6th out of 69


Post Race

Analysis:
I ran by feel and ran too fast to start. Maybe I could have shaved off 5 seconds if I had tried to run a little slower out of the gate. Luckily I have three more races in the series to redeem myself! Most of all, I really enjoyed getting back and running a race. I spent the days before looking forward to it and strategizing - just like I do before an in-person race.

Post Race:
Since it was a virtual race, there was no after party - well no official one anyway. So, I ran/walked home.

Next Up:
McKirdy Mile #2 on 5/16!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Running during the Lockdown

Hey, how's it hanging? The Lakefront Trail is not closed after all! Well, the actual trail by Lake Michigan is, but not this blog which you could have thought was closed seeing as I haven't been updating it for quite some time. Back in 2011, I started out blogging almost every day, recapping almost every workout (pre-Garmin Connect/Twitter days) and then as the years went on it started to evolve into only race recap posts with the last one in June of last year. I did run a two or three races later in 2019 that I actually didn't post about. I got 2nd in my age group at the Hot Chocolate 15k in November. They sent me my "trophy" in the mail. It was the same exact "chocolate bar" medal that everyone got at the finish line, except the ribbon says "age group winner". So now I have two identical medals from the same race!

In any case, I am still running three or four days a week, but only about three miles per run. I haven't been running with a mask. However, all of my runs outside only take 15 to 25 minutes since they're short and I'm consistently 15 to 20 feet from the nearest person at all times as I will literally divert into the street if I see someone approaching on the sidewalk.


As for any other time I'm outside (mainly walking the pups) I have a few etsy made masks that I use.


I guess masks will become mandatory in a week or so, so I may need to get a few more, and maybe even run with one.

There is a one mile virtual race coming up that I was thinking about signing up for. It sounds like it might be fun, although mile runs done on a track are not counted. Maybe this is to encourage social distancing? I've only ever counted my mile runs done on a track towards my PR. I think the run does take your GPS info and factors in elevation drop if you are going for an age group award. I assume they want to keep an even playing field prevent people from getting AG medals if they run their mile entirely downhill!

I haven't had the urge to run long, things are tiring right now and I am trying to just hit that right balance of staying in shape but not wearing myself down too much. As much as I love to run long, there will be time to ramp up the mileage when things are calmer.

Anyway, stay safe and I'll try and post a little more often. Maybe my next post will be a "virtual race" recap!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Run For the Animals 10k 2019 Race Recap

This was a race that didn't turn out as expected. About a mile and a half into the race I realized that it wasn't my day. I blame it on running/walking nearly 60 miles for the week (plus 20 miles of "Bike the Drive") and basically walking all over Chicago the 24 hours before the race. Reminder to self: Don't arrive at the start line fatigued.


Pre-Race
After getting only about four hours of sleep due to a doggy with tummy trouble, I was out the door at 5 a.m. for a shakeout run of 1.5 miles in the city. I was hoping to do a little over two miles, but I was running late. This year there was no need to do a pre-race doggy walk (they had just been outside at 3:30 am), so I jumped in my car and headed out to the 'burbs. My dad had picked up my bib along with his bib (for the 5k) earlier in the week, so I met up with him at his house, put on said bib, and we headed over to the race in downtown Wheaton. At bag check, I bumped into Zoe who had moved back to the area from Colorado. I met up with my nephew who was running his third 5k ever and we did a few warm-up strides, then we slid into our respective corrals. The national anthem was sung beautifully, but at a low volume such that runners in the back of the corral kept chatting for the duration. The temps which were humid and in the mid 60's not perfect, but better than expected for early June. The horn sounded and we were off!

The Race
Mile 1: This was a dual 5k and 10k, so I started a little ways back. My target was around 6:30 and I wish I'd stayed there, but the downhill was so tempting.  6:21/mile.

Mile 2: As we crested a small hill, I could feel I was straining a little too much given the pace, but thought I could push through it, after all my goal pace was 6:17/mile.  6:17/mile.

Mile 3: This is typically the point in a 10k where I either maintain pace or accelerate, but I wasn't able to. Was it my lungs or fatigued legs, or both? Probably both. I made the gut wrenching decision to "admit defeat" and slow down to avoid disaster during mile six. I thought a sub-40 was still doable as I slowly let go of my grip on a sub-39. 6:26/mile.

Mile 4: Slowest mile. A mile I'd like to forget since I was slowing down to start the second half of the race. However, I shall visualize this mile during my training and work hard so that such a mile doesn't happen during the RnR next month. 6:36/mile.

Mile 5: The guy in my AG that I always seem to pass during races was in my sights, so I made an effort to get ahead of him and I did. 6:29/mile.

Mile 6: The final mile is a gradual uphill, which helps to kill most momentum. It really made me work. I forced myself to keep focused despite having my goal time out the window and struggling to keep a moderate pace. A sub-40 was still in the works, but I guess I was not running good tangents, because it started to dawn on me that I needed to run faster to get that time. 'Twas not to be. 6:29/mile.

Mile 6.29: As I made the turn to the homestretch, Zoe was standing there yelling "Go Pete!" and I gave her a wave. After looking back to make sure that no one was immediately behind me, and seeing "40:xx" on the board, instead of "39:xx" - I slowed way down for the last 20 meters and trotted over the finish line. 6:04/mile.
Finish line from 2016. Much more exciting!
Race Summary: 
  • Official Time: 40:22 (a full 1:24 slower overall than last year)
  • Official pace: 6:31/mile
  • Overall Place: 36th out of 590
  • Age Place: 2nd out of 34 (2nd place CARA finish. Okay that was nice!)

Post-Race:
I went to bag check and then over to the 5k finish line to meet up with my nephew and family.

Race Takeaway:
Here were my splits:
6:21, 6:17, 6:26, 6:36, 6:29, 6:29

Last year my fastest mile was 6:14 and slowest was 6:20 - a six second spread. This year my fastest mile was 6:17 and slowest was 6:36 - a 12 second spread. That's double the variation from last year. Maybe if I had held back a little more during the first half, I could have given my tired legs more of a chance to get into the race?

Anyway, my performance in this year was a disappointment. I don't like slowing down at all during the second half of a race and was also hoping for a 38:xx and instead ran a 40:xx. Oh well, not every race goes as planned and I will use this as a learning experience. After a week off, I will ramp up the mileage to get my endurance back and then stick to a decent taper (maybe two weeks long) for my goal half marathon in July.

Next up:
RnR Half!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ravenswood Run 2019 Race Recap

Since the Shamrock Shuffle, I set my sights on gaining more fitness and feeling better in general. That doesn't necessarily mean I ran more weekly miles, it means that I hit the gym more and dialed in my diet by eating less carbs and more fat. In the month since I undertook this endeavor I can really feel the difference. Lifting a little more and substituting the cookies for bacon, helped me feel stronger and to drop those three pesky pounds which were keeping me from my "racing weight". Getting just slightly more fit, brought along a lot of side benefits like sleeping better, having more energy and more confidence that I did all I could (besides running more) to be ready for a race. It always makes me wonder, why can't I don't I do this year-round? Is the cookie habit really worth it?!

By the end of last week it was time for my annual neighborhood race, the Ravenswood Run 5k. How would I fare? McMillan said that I was in 18:54 (6:05/mile) shape. So, the negative splitter that I am, planned to run 6:05, 6:00, 5:55, 5:55. I wanted to beat 18:54. For that to happen - my kick would have to squeak me under 18:54.

Pre-Race:
After accidentally waking up at 4:15 a.m.(!), I did a 3.25 mile shakeout run to the Ravenswood Run course and back. It was about 38 degrees, and there was still snow on the ground from the freak late-April storm from the day before. I found out that the wind would be bad heading northbound, but that would mean a nice finishing southbound tailwind. I also gauged if it was warm enough to only wear shorts and a singlet by taking off my jacket for the final mile. It wasn't so bad, but I realized that in addition to the shorts and singlet, a hat and gloves would make things more comfortable.
Early morning shakeout run to the race
Once I got back home I changed into my race gear, pinned my bib on, walked the doggies, ate an egg and some chicken and then left for the race with my dad, brother and sister at 7:20 for the 8:00 start. We found a parking spot not far from the start line. By the time we left the car there was about 20 minutes remaining until race start. I checked my gear and did some warm-up sprints. Then I headed over to the A corral and bumped into Ken W and John B. Anyway, the national anthem was sung, a prayer was said, and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 1: Since this was a CARA Circuit race, and there were tons of speedier runners present, I started about 10 rows back. As soon as the gun sounded, just past the start line, I once again saw a kid stumble, but he was propped up immediately by a good Samaritan behind him. What's up with kids tripping while racing? Are their shoes too big?!  I was running by feel, and I felt astonishingly good, the wind out of the north certainly helped speed me up faster than goal. My arms were a little chilly, so I shook them out to warm them up. 6:00/mile.

Mile 2: At the start of mile two I knew I had started out perfectly and knew I could hold pace for the remaining 2.1. I spotted a guy who I knew was in my AG and who seemingly always starts out to fast (I passed him mid-race in the Shuffle as well). As I passed him once again, I could tell by his labored breathing that he was in for a positive split. I wonder why experienced runners continue to do this? We headed northbound into the wind, so I tucked behind whoever I could before passing them. 6:01/mile.

Mile 3: Right after passing the two mile marker, we ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and I once again said my goodbye to the still shuttered Chicago Brauhaus. I was looking forward to the southbound tailwind once we made the turn onto Damen and soon enough we were there and the photographer was waiting for the spectacular photo opp under the Brown line! 6:01/mile.

Under the Damen Brown line Station near mile 3 (src).
Mile 3.13: I knew I was close to a sub-19:00 and used that as motivation as I sped up. Nothing like an arbitrary number to push you a little harder at the end of a race. I was running all alone as the finish line neared. The announcer called my name once I hit the first mat.

About to hit the first timing mat (src)
Gotta stop my watch! (src)
I stepped on the second (and final) mat and stopped my Garmin. I was finished!. 5:25/mile.

Stats:


Official Finish Time: 18:51
Official Pace: 6:04/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:59/mile

Place Overall: 57th out of 2,094
Place Age Group: 1st out of 115

Analysis:
AG is usually tough since this was a CARA circuit run, but maybe the weather the day before kept some guys at home because I scored my first ever 1st place AG in a CARA race! I ran the race in over 19 minutes last year, and I beat the 18:54 prediction, so I was pretty happy. My splits were pretty much pristine - 6:00, 6:01, 6:01 and that was running by feel.

Post Race:
I ran backwards through the course (using the sidewalk) and found my dad and ran with him a bit, then I left him and ran further back to run with my brother and sister to the finish. After collecting our things, we drove home. AG medals will be mailed apparently.

I'm not going to race for another month until the Run For the Animals 10k. I don't anticipate ramping up the mileage between now and then. I like where I'm at fitness-wise, so I want to keep the positive vibes going. I think a month of consistent yet moderate training will get me to where I want to be for the 10k - (i.e. in just a tiny little bit better shape)!

Next Up:
Run for the Animals in June!