This year did not start out auspiciously for me. After last year’s Boilermaker, a stubborn hip injury, coupled with some plantar fasciitis and a bout of COVID, kept me from getting any sort of training in. Luckily, sometime during the summer, my hip improved and I was able to start cautiously training. While my volume and intensity were still nowhere near what I used to do, I was able to build up to 35 miles per week and do a few hard workouts.
Since I had no marathons or other large races to build towards, I focused on the Pete Glavin Cross Country series. This is a fun, competitive series that Roadkill Racing has participated in since its inception. The first race, a 5K at Long Branch Park, went about as expected. I forgot my racing stuff at home, and finished with a pedestrian 20:11 (6:33 pace). For comparison’s sake, last year, when I was in decent but not good shape, I ran 18:35 on the same course. But I was just happy to be healthy and race.
The next race I ran was at Akron Falls. Due to construction, the typical 6K course that I know and love so well was turned into a 2.7-mile race in an unfamiliar part of the park. I had no way of gauging how I was doing other than the runners around me, but I finished in 17:00, or 6:10 pace. I was pretty happy about that, and felt like I was able to actually push and race instead of just surviving, like I did at the first race.
The last race was the championship 8K at Center Park in Fairport. I know this course pretty well, and knew it was going to be challenging. The weather turned sunny and warm as the morning went on, too. I had figured that anything under 33:00 would be good, with a secret hope that I could run under 32:30, or around 6:30 pace.
The gun went off, and I immediately tried to hang with Trisha Byler. But she was in fantastic shape and I quickly lost sight of her before we even hit a mile. My legs felt flat and sluggish, although luckily I didn’t notice the heat. We did three loops of the dog park hill (if you know, you know), and each one seemed steeper and longer than the previous. By the time we had completed the third lap and started back to the finish, I was sure I was running 8-minute miles. But I kept pressing, trying to keep up with each person who passed me (and failing). Eventually, the finish line came into sight and I mustered a weak kick to cap off my lackluster race. But then I saw what time I ran, and rejoiced. Officially, I logged 31:34, or 6:21 pace.
Looking back, it’s pretty awesome to see that in just two months, I went from running 6:33 pace for an easy 5K to doing 6:21 pace for a hilly 8K. And that’s with not a lot of training. I’m still nowhere near the shape I was in five or ten years ago, but that’s ok. To be honest, I don’t want to be in that kind of shape again, because I remember how much I had to train, and I just don’t have the time or energy for that anymore. Now I am running a healthy amount, improving quickly, and feeling like I could improve even more.
I am taking a short break now, and will probably dial back the volume as winter approaches. But Ashlie and I have been discussing the possibility of a marathon next fall, so we’ll see what becomes of that. For now, I’m just happy to be able to run and race with my team again!