The weather conditions for the Salemfest 5k on september 19th couldn't have been better. Clear blue skis and a bit chilly at the start. I was just on the verge of goosebumps in a technical long-sleeve and shorts before warming up. Registration was in an industrial condo park, on a hill. I was told the finish line was at the top of the hill, and I could see the staging. The start, though, was at the entrance to the park, a good 1/2 mile away,and at the bottom of the hill.
Turn out was light. Coolrunning shows just over 100 runners. I didn't see any of the 'usual suspects', though there were quite a few very fit people, and a number of people that looked like serious runners. The promos for the race mentioned hills. I saw the finish and that was certainly on a hill, and the start took a right out of the industrial park and went up a short steep hill. Once we took off, we hit that little hill, crested it, and started a long gradual downhill. I immediately found myself running in 4th spot. I wasn't pushing the pace, and was actually looking for a pacer. One guy, later identified as craig fram jr. took off (yes, the son of the local legend craig
fram, who was in attendance but chose not to run). He was clearly running a well-under six minute pace...to fast for me. But, the two right in front of me soon dropped their pace and I was running in second from about the first 1/4 mile to about 3/4 mile, when one other runner came by. I paced him for a bit until the one mile marker. I looked back and we had a good 15 second gap on 4th place. First place was long gone.
From the 3/4 mile point to probably the half-way point the course was uphill. Not by much, no way would I call the course 'hilly'. It was enough though, that the runner now in second was able to distance me by a solid 20 seconds by the 1/2 way point. The course runs an incomplete figure 8. We head out pelham road, take 3 left turns and come back out on pelham road and take a right to go the other direction (back towards the start) and predominantly downhill. To make the figure 8 path, we then took a left on commercial drive.
So far, I haven't seen any hills that would be worthy of mentioning.
I'm running completely alone now. Second place is out of sight, and 4th place is nowhere to be seen. Looking at my watch, I'm thinking I should be approaching the finish, but wait, the finish was at the top of a hill.....hmmmm
I come around a right hand bend....oh, my.....yup, that's a hill. I'm guessing about 200 yards long, and at the time I was thinking about 10%. Checking the course on mapmyride.com, it shows 100 feet of elevation gain in the last 3/10 of a mile, with the pitch varying between 6 and 11%. I could see second place almost at the top, where he took a right.
Hills kill me. I'm not sure why. On a bike, hills are my strength. Running, I always lose ground. I wish someonecould tell me why this is. I like hills, I've never seen a long climb and felt a sense of dread. But for some reason, running them slows me down like an extra large philly cheese steak.
I know I'm near the finish, so I dig deep. I get to the top, take a right, and it keeps going up but at a significantly shallower grade. I still don't see the finish, but I keep plugging away. Finally, just over the crest of the hill, I see it, and cross the line in 19:54.
I know I ran the first mile in 6:10. I didn't catch the second mile marker, but I'm sure it was similar or better since it was downhill. My aggregate pace was 6:25. I'm thinking that last hill added 40 seconds to my overall time.
The lesson was learned - preview the course. I'm not sure I would have had a better time if I had known about the hill, but I certainly would have been more comfortable.
After the race, they had the kids races. They set up a 200 yard loop behind the building where registration was held, and had them run laps.
Here's the visual. 10 5-7 year olds, let loose for one lap, while the PA system plays Yakety Sax (aka The Benny Hill Theme). It couldn't have been anymore appropriate. Half the kids didn't know what they were supposed to do and just ran, in what ever direction they were facing when they were let loose - "no, no, tommy, run that way, tommy, over here...over here". It was hilarious.