Saturday was the Chili Bowl 5k, the first race of the 2011 Hermes Road Race Series. I did well in the series last year, finishing 5th overall, so I wanted to run well in this race. My training is going better so far this year as far as getting miles in, I joined a new lunchtime group and this has increased my weekday mileage by about 2 miles per day. I haven't been doing much speed training but I did run 2 indoor track races in January (a mile and a 5k) so at least I do have that.
After a brutally cold 2nd week of February, this week was much warmer, with temperatures in the 50's Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday. Unfortunately, a strong wind Friday night brought back colder, more typical February weather. Temperatures were in the low 30's, and a fierce wind blew from the north.
Luke and I arrived early, picked up our shirts & numbers, and went for an easy warm up from about the 1/2 mile mark out to the turn, and back. This enabled us to feel the wind and I realized it would have a huge effect on the race. I remarked to Luke that as we turned around Cleveland Browns Stadium and got out of the wind, we would have to focus and regain our form, the wind was really strong enough that you had to lean into it.
Back to the car, we both changed into shorts, we were among the few (but of course Frank Z. still raced in a singlet, no long sleeves, he is tough!)
Team Fox shirt & black hat.
I started quickly and by the time we got to the intersection of Prospect & W 6th, the race was starting to sort out. There were 2 guys out front, and then a small pack of at least 5. As we headed north, straight into the face of the wind, I tucked in behind this pack. My goal was to get to the mile mark in a good position but expending as little energy as possible.
I've said it a few times, but the wind really was affecing the race here, despite running downhill towards the lake. As I neared the corner of Browns Stadium, I made a move around the pack. I figured they had to be tiring and would try to drop as many as possible right there before they recovered from fighting the wind. I didn't wear my Garmin as I know the tall buildings near the start mess it up, but the timer at the mile called out 5:40 as I passed. I thought this was a little slow but again, I blame the wind.
I felt good, now in 3rd, and gaining on 2nd. Seemed like 1 guy had gone with me, with all the wind it was hard to hear and I wasn't really sure who was where behind me. Heading out Marginal a short ways towards the turn, I lost a spot and was 4th. Making the turn around the cone, I lost another spot but shortly moved back into 4th, passing the guy who started out in the top 2. Now we were heading west, partly into the wind. I pass the 2-mile mark in 11:28, so my 2nd mile was 5:48. Not bad at all!
Interestingly, I realized after the race that the guy who finished 5th was Sean P., a guy I met running downtown a couple months ago that suggested the lunchtime running group!
Luke and I headed back to the car, changed into some warmer clothes, watched many other runners pass, and then I went out for a cool-down through the flats.
Tower 230 for the awards. Along with the water and granola bars, there was also chili being served to all runners. Luke and I each won a useful age group award, a chili bowl. The shirt was pretty nice also!
I'm not sure about the top 3 runners that beat me, they weren't in the Road Race Series in 2010. But I did beat the guys who were 1st, 2nd, and 7th in last year's series so I am off to a flying start!
Next race will be the Green Jewel 50k in 2 weeks, followed a week later by the popular St. Malachi 5-Mile Race, the 2nd race in the Hermes series.
Hermes put on a great race Saturday. There were over 950 finishers! Most impressive, by noon they had posted not only the results, but also a video of the start and over 100 photos of the finish (on Facebook)!