A race report for young J. First 5k, in 39:00.
A race report for young J. First 5k, in 39:00.
A one-way (generally Northbound), organized half-marathon on the west side. In the view following, downtown Cleveland is in the upper left. Hopkins is near the route (though one wouldn’t know from the course).
Northbound also means an overall elevation drop: about 170′, although between the intermittent ups and downs (I recorded +360, -530) and annoyingly cambered sweepers, this was not an easy race on the lower eighths.
For me, in at 1:53 (an 8:37/mi average pace) and 312/900 overall (32/56 AG). The last two miles were a good and painful push at that. (Mantra: running slower will make it hurt longer. Mantra should have been: there’s Mitchell’s at the end!) As a super-bonus, the missus and I both got to run this one, sans stroller. I felt like a streamlined butterfly.
Finally, a suspiciously-low-resolution action shot. Um, I’m the taller one. Cheers.
Sunday in Lorain, OH. My first (only) tri this year, and it felt great to pin a race number on again.
Swim course changed to inside the breakwall. (A typical risk for a late-August event; the Coast Guard didn’t want to scrape too many bodies off the rocks.) Too-shallow punctuated by sections of big rollers between the wall segments. But, a sprint swim is just a formality.
T1 1:31. No socks or shirt today. Felt slow coming up from the beach, probably not helped by the long running-swim exit (think: Hasselhoff).
Bike 39:26. Shoes on before mount, but buckled at speed. Feet out of shoes on bike. 14.3 mi @ 21.8 mph. I used my imaginary aerobars for a good bit of the downhill; next season might be time to relieve my sore elbows with a set of clip-ons. T2 1:05.
Run 25:19, 5k @ 8:09/mi. Out-and-back from the park through mostly industrial lakefront to more industrual area along the Black River. An almost-nice finish with a downhill, run along the boardwalk (pictured below), and steep uphill path to the finish line. Wait, is that the finish line? No, those are the swim mats: please make a 90-degree turn around this cone and *then* run ten more paces to the finish. Honestly, who throws their shoe?
Lorain’s Lakeview Park has pretty nice facilities; a long boardwalk above the beach, some sort of restaurant, and a big rose garden to boot. The transition are was small and manageable, with plenty of room for the 150-or-so racers.
For my first race number since Thanksgiving, I ran the Hermes Cleveland 10-miler on Saturday. The route changed last year from downtown streets to an Edgewater Park start (just west of downtown) with a westward out-and-back. The route was pleasant enough for a 1D course (and with a nice loop down at the end to finish on the lower level of Edgewater), but I maintain that a race called the “Cleveland” something should use urban streets. Strike one. Strike two: instead of the Brooks tech tee giveaway in previous years, someone sold out to Adidas. I mourn the loss of the best souvenir race shirt around. There was no third, however: the weather was cool and only slightly rainy, the race was well-organized with good route support, and the sold-out field of 1700 just about the right size.
[Route map: gps track imported from Garmin to SportTracks, displayed using Google Earth.]
I’ve been riding some but running almost none; I ran this one with Andrew C. (with whom I also ran much of the 2008 race) at a conversational pace and managed pretty steady splits (aside from a slow first mile stuck in the crowd and faster final mile with a moderate downhill): first five miles in 43:46 and second five in 43:36.
Thanksgiving week was a rough one. Monday was off work, one of many such days, thanks to a change in vacation policy that requires us to burn more banked days before year’s end. Tuesday and Wed were slow, thanks to everyone else doing the same to comply with said policy. And Thursday, turkey.
Before Turkey, though, a trot. This was the first time I’ve run the big Turkey Trot downtown. Let’s call it 2500 joggers, with street closings, chip timing and charity benefits: the whole works. Another benefit: a free low-res photo! (As I understand it, with some connection to the photographer wanting people to order the real print; I don’t know anyone who actually has.) As with all such photos, I look reasonably athletic, but the less-athletic folks in the background give a better perspective to my pace. According to Garmin, 5.00 miles at 8:30/mi. That being that, we did various family turkey-related things, driving from place to place. Friday was turkey day at 2211, complete with stuffing, potatoes mashed, roasted brussels, saucy cranberries and dinner guests. Our bird was brined [*] and roasted, bought fresh (that is, cleaned and refrigerated, just not frozen). Saturday involved some sort of walk to the library, and some sort of car trip to the Home Despot. Par for the course.
Sunday morning was our first running group run in some time. Starting at our place, we ran a lake loop (5.8 @ 9:25), then chowed some brunch. Good times. Then a little stretching, naptime routine and a hop in the VW for the 6-hr drive to Chicagoland. Busy highways on a holiday weekend aren’t a boatload of fun, but I’ll take them over airport delays. The tollbooths each required a ten-or-so-minute wait, but other than that, and a few interchange slowdowns, the only costs were 350 miles on the odometer, 11 gallons of premium, $20 in tolls and an incredibly dry reading of Heart of Darkness (audio books for road trips: highly recommended; check out twice as many as hours needed, since ~50% are intolerable).
View Larger Map
[*] Ohio was part of the ‘Brine Belt’, according to this nifty NYT map of recipe search popularity by geography.
A few Saturdays ago I attended the Run for the Cheetah, a 5k at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The zoo is a fine place for a run; the entrance and savannah (and race start) are about 100′ lower in elevation than the primate building and aquarium. The route, as we found out a few minutes before the starting whistle, would encompass two laps of the hill.
My memory of the race: beep, escape crowd, gradual uphill; monkeys! Left turn, winding path, giraffes! Past the flamingos, hang a right, big uphill. Tortoises, cheetahs, big downhill. Kangaroos lined up along a fence, snouts flopping side-to-side like tennis spectators. Lap; repeat. The attentive kangaroos made my day, and I enjoyed walking around the zoo afterward seeing the unusually attentive critters pre-opening-time.
Unless I’m mistaken, this is my first 5k running race. 23:07, a 7:27/mi pace averaged over this elevation profile.
Given the coincident start of the fall semester, this concludes the bulk of my 2008 training as well, for a total of about 700 miles of cycling, 600 miles on foot and 10 miles in the water. Time (no time?) for some mild strength training and occasional anti-stress running before rebuilding a winter base.
On Sunday was NCN’s Lorain Sprint/Olympic tri, at Lakeview Park  on the far west side. I opted for the longer distance; I missed my chance at an oly earlier with the swim cancellation at GTC, and needed to offset a fair amount of couch-sitting watching the actual olympics.
First, if you’re driving an hour to a 7am race registration, remember to leave time to find a bridge completely closed for repair and investigate detour possibilities. I did so, surprisingly. The sprint waves were scheduled to start at 8 but started late (par for the course, I learned), so the olympic wouldn’t depart until 8:30. That left me just enough time to break off my front valve stem while topping off to 120 psi, then jog over to the Bike Authority tent for a quicker (and more reliable) tube change than I could have managed myself. I racked the bike, dropped my gear into little piles on my stripy blue towel and headed toward the beach.
The weather was beautiful, though we could tell at 8:30 that the run a couple hours later would be toasty. The swim was largely outside the breakwall and featured reasonable rollers, enough that breathing into the waves was (for me, at least) impossible. Once I got that rhythm down I reduced my intake of crisp, clean Lake Erie and was able to start swimming; yet, it took me a solid 15 minutes to do so. That swim ate my lunch like a sixth grade bully.  (Fortunately, it would be nice enough to return it halfway through the run.) Regardless, starting at about the halfway point I did really start to enjoy the swim. I was slow, and a wetsuit wouldn’t have hurt, but I had a steady crawl going and it started to feel like a nice pool workout interjected by the occasional panicked search for and realignment toward the next buoy. I express my displeasure in histogram form.
The bike and run were uneventful. The bike course was fairly flat, two loops. I averaged 19.4 mph for 22-ish miles, which is about right for me but sub-median in this crowd, composed mostly of the 20-22 crowd. Transition to the run was fair; I had taken in one bottle on the bike but needed more, not having hydrated well before the race. That hit me on the run, which started off as expected (painful for the first mile, then picks up) but just died at about mile 4. I ran / jogged / limped through cramps and dizziness for most of miles 4 and 5; either my gel and generous use of gatorade stops or fear of a weak-looking finish in front of the crowd helped pick up the last mile or so. 10k at 9:19/mi, bringing me one bar further left in the aforeshown histogram.
 Not to be confused with Lakeside Park (willows in the breeze / so many memories?)
 As I recall, no bully ever actually did this to my lunch, not even on cucumber sandwich day
On 8/14, I joined the local Twilight Trail Run, an 8-km, moderately-hilly trail route. It’s halfway between an actual race and an after-work jogging party. There are numbers and a clock, but the start is a fun stagger by age (with bumps in exchange for small charity donations) and you receive a can of domestic on your way through the finish chute. It was a nice chance to say hi to numerous folks I’d met or seen at various training groups throughout the summer.
The route is the same year-to-year, so I thought it provided a nice benchmark.
This year: 39:08 (7:53 pace, 59th/160)
Last year: 44:01 (8:52 pace)
It was a little cooler this year, but still humid, so I’ll chalk up the improved time to my increased level of awesomeness.
Sunday was the Greater Cleveland Triathlon. The race was on my list for the summer, but my training schedule hasn’t been strong (exercising: yes; training: um…), so I hadn’t signed up. But, as racing is more fun than not racing, I stopped by Headlands Beach Saturday to sign my waivers, join USAT for one day and admire the whitecaps on Lake Erie.
At six o’clock Sunday morning I arrived at the race and admired the same waves on the same lake. It didn’t take long for the race organizer to note that the local Coast Guard couldn’t find a calm place to park to oversee the swimmers, so the Tri was rearranged into a Dualthlon, with a 1+ mile (foot) sprint to the bike racks replacing the swim leg. Running a mile certainly isn’t as tiring as swimming, but it does use a remarkably similar muscle set as the biking and, well, running portions.
I entered the Olympic-distance race. (Had I known that the swim would be cancelled, I would have tried the half-iron bike+run; please don’t tell any of the real triathletes that I’m swim-limited.) The start times were all pushed back a bit to account for reorganization; the half-distance (twice the Oly) started at 7:30; we at 8:00 or so. I kept a good pace for the opening run, middle-of-the-pack -ish at 8:13 (m:ss). My transition to the bike was fair, at 1:21. I managed to keep a clear head and get my helmet and sunglasses on, switch shoes and jog out of transition. I was near the back of transition (furthest from the bike entrance/exit), but I think if there’s a separate split for running on cleats while pushing a bicycle, I would have been in the top 3. A la Gazelle.
The bike course had some medium-frequency undulations, but overall was 2/3 uphill followed by 1/3 downhill, with a couple of long, drawn-out bumps in the middle. I did more passing than being passed, but for the most part played tag with the same few riders throughout. There were a number of right-angle turns, guarded by the local PD and littered with cones, that I executed well, winning several positions by exiting them quickly (credit: my high-speed commute route through Cleveland Heights). I was also surprised how much passing I did on the downhill sections, considering that I ride road bars, but I did make an effort to push on the downhills to keep momentum through the rolling sections. The strategy was successful in getting to an occupied train track for a 3-minute stretch break while the gravel express rolled by. (The stop time was noted by race officials, who subtracted it at the end. Classy.) I thought it would be bright to change to a lower gear while stopped, and was still turning the crank with my hand trying to get it to shift when the train cleared. Oops.
The end of the bike was a big, clumpy mess. The ride back up route 44 to the beach is downhill and smooth, but all three race routes converged, and there wasn’t enough room to ride quickly or keep four bike-lengths (the no-drafting distance rule). Probably out of fear of drafting, slow riders weren’t pulling back right after passing, nor riding quickly enough to pass effectively. I spent some time outside the cones, in the car-traffic lane, and passed gobs of folks (the slow end of the sprint race, I’ll bet). 1:14:28 for 23 miles.
For the first time, I successfully removed my feet from my shoes while coasting and semi-elegantly hopped off my bike for the run into transition. Yet, somehow, I spent 2:12 in T2. Did I stop to read the paper?
The run went as expected. The first mile was painful, and interrupted briefly by a bathroom break (beginning of the run course next to the big public park restrooms? Brilliant!). I walked through the first water stop for a chug of classic lemon-lime, but ran the rest, taking advantage in several cases of very steady runners moving just a bit too fast for my comfort. As I ran, my comfort increased, and I passed most of them. By mile 4 I was ready to run and upped the pace a bit (I guessed at the time, from 8:30 to about 7:50) and ran in moderate exhaustion through the end. I attacked the downhills well (the last a little too aggressively, which is why my foot is up today in hamstring-extension mode). I actually let up a bit at the end to let a woman who’d unknowingly helped pace me through the end of the run finish ahead; but, as it turned it didn’t matter in the standings, since my train-waiting time would be subtracted. I’ll keep that in mind next time: always beat women. Upon looking at the results, I thought I had actually beaten the women, but I hadn’t noticed the top 3 finishers listed separately, each of whom handily smoked me. Run: 10k at 51:12, an 8:14/mi pace.
Thus ends a long race report for a small race.
2:17:26; Placed 41/109 overall and 3/6 in my age group.