Sunday, January 31, 2016

MEC Race #1 - 5KM Point Pleasant Park Winter Classic, 2016

As usual the end of January brings with it crazy conditions for racing. Last year this race was cold, blustery and the path was hard slippery ice. This year was warm, melty and icy, though the ice was a combo of mushy and hard. Fantastic!

After last year's race where I had to slow down in some spots, this year I opted to spike my shoes to add some grip. This is a common thing done by winter runners, but this is the first year I have decided to do it. 10 big fat screws per shoe gave me plenty of grip.

This race had 2 options, the 5km and the 10km. I opted to do the 5km as I had in the past. I was hoping to beat 19 min (not a PB) on this hilly icy course, as it would be a course best for me.

We lined up (a little late due to the huge popularity of the race and the last minute sign ups) and after a good pre race warning about icy conditions we were off!

Last year I raced a guy for the 5km lead, not worrying about the 10km runner in front of us. That 10km runner dropped to the 5km race at the end and took the win. This year I was not going to be beat that way. I fell in behind Drew (who I knew was 10km all the way) and held pace with him for the first 3km of the race.

It was pretty rough footing, with ruts, ice, slush, mud and even bare sidewalk. My shoe choice, though, was working perfectly with plenty of great grip. Perhaps I had a little too much grip when we hit the cement sidewalks, but that section was really short, so not an issue.

I really like the 3 km mark of this race as you get to run for about 150-200m with the other runners going the other way. So there is a little cheering and high fiving. But then you immediately head to go down Cable.

If you don't know Cable, you are lucky. It is a steep hill with twists and turns, off leash dogs and random people. Running up it is hard. Running down it in the ice is worse. At this point I fell off a little from Drew but held on to second overall and first spot on the 5km at this point. Remember, in ice lots of little steps are better than a few big ones. So high cadence is your friend! ( I just did not have enough trust in those spiked shoes to go full speed but maybe I should have).

Follow Cable, it is a pretty straight forward run to the finish. Power through some small rollers, watch your footing and stay strong.

I was comfortably in the lead of the 5km at this point, but was still hoping for that sub 19 minute finish. A few more dogs got in the way, though nothing major. But this section of the park was quite mushy now that the sun was warming things up even more. It was really sucking the oomph from the old legs.

Time was getting tight so i picked it up a little, and then pushed hard for the finish line. I crossed first and won, but alas fell short of my goal time and officially finished in 19:14. I really think that if I had more trust in my shoes and cadence I could have found that speed on Cable, but thems the breaks. Besides, it is a nice way to start the season of running. A win! I was 1:27 ahead of second place.

Now to get back to some speed and hill work again. And a build on some distance, which has been lacking a bit. But I think some more speed skating races are going to happen soon as well.

Once you think of this race as a trail race or cross country epic, you really start to like it a whole lot. Can't wait for next year!

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