Saturday, March 14, 2015

First Time, Long Time

Weather: Cloudy, 38°F, 83% Humidity, Wind: From SE @ 8 mph; feels like 32°F.
Route: Johnny's Runnin' of the Green
Time (Pace): 42:44 (8:33 min/mile)
Effort: 4 of 5
How did I feel? Very nice :)

Pre-Race Observations: This morning for the first time in two years (and for the first time in six years at this particular race), I lined up at the start (toward the back of the pack at the start at any rate) for a road race. I have been "running" for three weeks now following a six month hiatus, and felt it was time to get my feet wet with something that might necessitate a faster pace. Though my long runs (at this point, up to five miles) have been showing a steady increase in pace, it was time to step outside my comfort zone once again and run with others.

I have run the Johnny's Runnin' of the Green in the past, and as our local St. Patrick's Day road race held in conjunction with the Rochester's St. Patrick's Parade, it is a festive affair with runners (fast, slow and all points in between) decked out in green shamrocks and the occasional leprechaun costume. Because the unusual race distance of 5 miles  fit almost perfectly into my planned weekend long run (6 miles) it seemed a natural way to double dip.

Things have been going well on my training runs, but I am certainly not the same "athlete" (a term that makes me sound wa-a-a-y more intense about it than I am) in years past. Part of my intention in embarking on this most recent running cycle is to do so with an eye toward personal improvement and discipline, and the hardest lesson I would likely begin to experience in this race was realizing the limitation my current training will have on my performance. The out-and-back route provides the additional assurance that I won't get lost on the course (a positive given my past trail race experiences) and allows the competitors to see those in front and behind running toward them in the 2nd to 3rd miles (kind of a drag--but I get it).

Post-race Reflections: Things went much better than I had expected. I began the race with the hope of finishing in 50 minutes, but after finding a colleague about one mile in (and recognizing his pace as better than mine), I joined him. We ran the rest of the race together, a time during which we occasionally conversed, a habit I have never been one to embrace but that was, in this case, reassuring. In the end, we crossed at 42:44 (gun time and starting toward the back I'm certain a true chip time might be better). The 8:33 pace is just slightly quicker than what I have been doing independently, and though I could have pushed the pace more, the level of exertion was just enough to validate the ache in my hamstring, and not too fast to exacerbate any discomfort. I was very happy with my finish, and with reconnecting with a number of members in the local running community with who I used to regularly race in the past. This morning's experience left me looking forward to the next one!

Full results for the 2015 Johnny's Runnin' of the Green are available here.

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