When does a 52:00 minute 10k beat a 49:00 minute 10k?
When you run them a week apart.
Two weeks ago I ran the 39th annual Oak Apple Run 10k in Royal Oak, MI. I’ve probably run 35 of those 39 races. This year they moved the start time from 8:00AM to 9:00AM and it was a warm, sunny day. I ran a 48:50 which was not a personal best but one of my better times for the last few years. And I was fourth in my age group. Of course, they give medals to the first three places.
Then a week later I ran the Detroit Riverfront Run 10k. They also had a 9:00AM start but that day was even hotter at 80 degrees and full sun at the start. The combination of heat and tired legs from the last race was a challenge. I forced myself to keep pushing but I ran a 52:40. One of my worst times I recent years. So imagine my surprise when I checked the posted race results and saw I placed first in my age group. Apparently the heat affected the other “old” guys more than me. I collected my medal although it felt somewhat unearned based on my own pace standards.
Last weekend was the Martian Races here in Michigan. I’ve heard of the race series for many years but ha never run it so this year I ran the half-marathon. With temps in the mid-20’s and gusty winds making it feel colder I knew I wouldn’t set a PR. The 2:00 pace group felt like a good place to start to I cruised along with that group for 3-4 miles. Then as the snow started falling and the wind picked up I decided to pick up the pace also. As we ran through Hines Park and around University of Michigan- Dearborn I continued to push the pace and felt good. Finishing with a 1:55:13 was good enough for 8th of 38 in my age group and 268 of 1035 overall so not bad for a snowy, cold, windy half. (And of course here in MI one week later it’s 73 degrees!)
My running team is in first place. Yep, I joined a virtual team this year on Running Ahead and after seven weeks we’re in the lead with 74 points, which is 7 points ahead of the second place team. So far it’s been fun and has motivated me to get an extra run in a few weeks when I would have used the winter weather as an excuse otherwise.
The league seems well-run (pun intended.) There are 20 teams of about 30 runners each. The teams are balanced based on each person’s projected annual miles. I set my annual goal at 1000 miles. In 2015 I logged 850 miles which was a little light due to some injuries early in the year.
I haven’t taken the time to learn the exact rules for scoring yet. I just know that each person contributes to the team’s points by exceeding their mileage goal for the week. The weekly goal is your annual goal divided by 366 then multiplied by 7. I’ve exceeded my weekly goal in 6 out 7 weeks so far this year. The week I was short was due to a twisted ankle after finding a pothole on a dark, pre-dawn run.
Normally, this time of year is the hardest to keep my weekly miles up due to the ice and snow. Fortunately the weather hasn’t been too bad this winter although I have used the treadmill a few times in order to hit my weekly miles. Once Spring and Summer come I should be able to increase my miles and hit the annual goal without problem (assuming no injuries or set backs.)
Hopefully I can keep putting up points for the team. A little extra motivation never hurts.
Most of the time when race day arrives I feel ready to race but other times I don’t. On those rare race days when I don’t feel ready, I still run but I don’t push hard to get a great time or set a PR.
Yesterday was the annual Jingle Bell Run in downtown Detroit. This is a nice event with a 5k and 10k that draws several hundred runners, many of them dressed in holiday costumes. This year I saw more than a few Buddy the Elf outfits, Santa Claus, Christmas tress, and even a Gingerbread Man. But the morning of the race I wasn’t feeling it. I hadn’t done any speed training in several weeks and even my weekly mileage had dropped to under 20 per week this month. So as I headed downtown to the event I was planning to treat it as a simple 10k training run. Probably at tempo pace but not much faster.
As the crowd gathered in the starting area I did a couple laps around the building to warm up then stretched a little. Among the tall office buildings downtown my GPS was not getting a signal when the gun sounded. I started near the front and kept pace with the crowd. It didn’t feel like I was pushing it and without the GPS or mile markers I didn’t know my pace until my watch restarted and I had run about 2.5 miles. My watch showed that I had run the last actual mile at a 7:45 pace. I was surprised but I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard so I kept going at the same pace. As I ran through Greektown, the Riverwalk and the Dequinre Cut I kept the pace. Heading back into downtown I passed the 5 mile marker. My watch showed 38:30. I knew I could break 48 minutes if I finished strong. That would be close to a PR (at least for the last five years or more). Turning the corner to the finish line I started my kick and crossed the line side by side with another runner at an all out sprint.
My time of 47:45 was close to my recent PR of 47:30 from 2008. And it was good enough for 2nd place in the M55-59 age group and 31st of all males.
The Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Half-marathon has got to be one of the best races in North America. It has it all. A great course that starts in the USA, crosses a bridge to Canada then comes back to the states through a tunnel under the Detroit River. Awesome views from the bridge and throughout the vibrant urban core of the Detroit. Fans lining the course. Live music at almost every mile. A heavy, custom designed medal. And much more.
I’ve run this race a number of times but it never get old. As we all start in the dark and wind through the streets on the way to the Ambassador Bridge each runner settles into their own pace. While crossing over the bridge many runners take out their phones and snap selfies of the sunrise. Running down Riverside Drive it seems as if every fan in Windsor Canada is ringing a cowbell while holding a sign cheering on a friend, family member or the entire field. The temperature and air in the tunnel under the river is always hot which makes the blast of cold air even more noticeable when we exit back into Detroit. The fans in Corktown and Mexican Village watch and wave from their front porches as the parade of runners snakes through their neighborhood on an early Sunday morning. Then it’s back downtown in the canyons of high-rise office buildings among crowds cheering us across the finishline.
And the race was even better this year as I set a personal record of 1:51:14 placing 35th out of 402 in my division.
I shouldn’t be disappointed but I am. Sort of. I ran the “Move to the Beats 10k” last weekend and had a decent time of 50:47. That’s an 8:10 pace so not blazing fast but not too shabby for my age group. I really didn’t think I’d qualify for a medal but when I checked the results and saw that I placed fourth in my age group I had mixed emotions. Since I wasn’t expecting to place, I was initially quite pleased. But then it hit me how close I was to getting the third place medal and I felt a little deflated. In general, however, I’ll take my pace and overall time, whether I medal or not. I can’t control how the other guys run, I can only control myself, and overall I did the best I could do that day. In fact, it was my fastest 10k of the year. No complaints.
I ran my first 5k of the year recently. It was the “Cruise in Shoes” 5k that kicks off the Woodward Dream Cruise. It’s grown each of it’s four years and now gets about 1200 runners. When I run a 10k I know my pace and keep a steady pace from start to finish. I knew I could start faster in a 5k so I came out strong. My goal was to run sub-8 minute miles. Well, at the one mile mark I was at 7:05. Much faster than I thought but I felt okay so I pushed on. I didn’t intentionally slow down but I couldn’t keep the pace so my finish was a 7:36 pace for a 23:36. I thought that may qualify for a top 3 medal but instead it was 7th place in an age group of 39.
I’ll take it.