Sunday, March 04, 2012

2012 Mill Creek Distance Classic

This is the year of the "signing up for races I've always wanted to do."  There's a handful of races out there that I consider every year, but never sign up for for one reason or another.  It started with running the Peace Race last year.  This weekend I headed over to Youngstown to run the Mill Creek Distance Classic.

This is a half marathon race put on by the Youngstown Road Runners and starts and finishes at the Wick Recreation Area.  The route goes along the hilly roads in the park to the Mill, crosses the bridge, does a turn-around about a mile from the Rose Garden then heads back out to the Mill again.

I wasn't sure how I was going to do since my training hasn't been intense mileage, but relatively consistent with some long runs.  Trying for a PR is usually at least in the back of my head, but with this course's hills, a goal of under 1:40 was more reasonable.

The drastic change in temperatures lately made it hard to know what the weather was going to be like until it got closer to the weekend.  It was 60 degrees just days before, but today we had snow flurries and 30 degree weather.

I heard someone say the course has 22 hills.  I didn't want to take the hills too hard, but found I felt strong so I ran them hard.  My legs felt good.  My breathing got naturally heavier going up the hills, but I had time to recover on the following downhills.

My legs started feeling heavier and tired at the Rose Garden turn-around at mile 7.  In my head, I thought "just make it to 10 then you only got a 5k left".  As I ran past Big Bear, I saw Matt Folk flying down the hill with the next person in a very distant second.

When I got to 2 miles left, I got a second wind and my legs felt as fresh as when I started.  I think it was just the adrenaline kicking in though because there were a group of guys around me starting to pick up the pace.  There was one guy in particular who I had been yo-yo-ing with.  I took the flats and downhills hard and worked the uphills.  I could tell he wasn't as good on the uphills, so that's where I made my ground.  Little mind games like this kept me from giving in to a more relaxed pace.  It's amazing how easy it is to add 5 minutes to your finishing time if you decide to just bag it and coast in.

As I came into the finish, my legs were pretty heavy from the last two miles of faster pace and the last 13 of hills.  One guy took off ahead.  I didn't have my usual sprint in me this time, but the guy I had been running by for the last two miles had dropped back.  I finished in 1:36 and was definitely happy with that.  Races are always a great measure of your fitness - they either give you a great confidence boost or a reality check.  Today was a confidence boost.


Jake Winter said...

Hey! That's me in the Saucony jacket right in front! Great race man!

Jeff said...

cool, thanks you too!