Sunday, April 10, 2011

Race report: 2011 Marcie Mazzola 5k

Rounding the corner -- finish line ahead
Today's run (Marcie Mazzola 5K): 27:33 (8:52 pace)

This morning I ran the Marcie Mazzola Foundation race for the third time. My family and I have a sentimental attachment to this event because the 2009 race was my very first competition. I ran well today though I didn't come close to a PR nor did I match last year's time. The important thing is that I did fine and had a great time running this race.

It was cold this morning and I was glad to have worn insulated sweat pants and two jacket layers to keep me warm prior to the start. Having my family at the race helps tremendously because I can wear the warmer layers and then hand them off to my wife before the start. This race is always well organized and today was no different. However, the usual on-time start was delayed 11 minutes to accommodate last minute adjustments related to routing car traffic around the race. I was chilly in my short sleeves and running shorts but not uncomfortable. I looked forward to the start so I could generate a little body heat.

Off to a good start - the big hill was still to come
The congestion at the beginning prevented a fast start but that didn't bother me because I've learned to take the first mile of this race slow and steady. While it isn't as steep or onerous as Cow Harbor's Widow Hill, there is a steep incline that runners reach about a quarter mile in that goes on for a while. I took it a little faster than planned but still came though mile 1 with a split time of 9:36. I was alarmed at that but I figured I could make up some time on the flat and downhill portions of the race. It's been a while since I've run at a sub-9:00 pace but I was ready to do that today.

I wore my new Saucony Mirages and liked them a lot. They gave me no trouble on their maiden flight and moved me along well. I wondered briefly at one point whether I should have run with the Kinvaras because they are a little more flexible but in the end I don't think that mattered. I suspect the Mirages will loosen up a little after I put on more mileage. 

I came through the second mile at 17:58 so I'd already made up 37 seconds by then. That put my overall pace under 9 minutes. I was running well but wished I had drank a little more water prior to the start. I thought only of preserving the pace I was running and concentrated on holding off other runners that tried to pass me. I was only partially successful there. Before long we were crossing Main Street on our way to circling Heckscher Park. I knew we were near the end but the last half mile is always tough on a 5K. I took a half cup of water which I sorely needed and it helped.

I knew the last hill was coming and when I saw it my heart sank because I felt my tank emptying and dreaded a bonk just an eighth of a mile from the finish. I decided to take the hill fast, passing a few runners in the process, and suddenly I was on the last patch of road before entering the grounds near the finish. The final leg was routed up an incline with a dogleg turn to the finish line. I saw my family cheering me at that turn and my wife snapped the picture at the top of this post. I came over the line in a sprint and noted my end time. Not my greatest effort on a 5K but comfortably under 9:00/mi which was my goal today.

Post race awards and Mr. Softy near the back
During the cool down we enjoyed the generous variety of recovery foods -- fruit, energy bars, bagels, cookies and chips, administered by the always helpful and cheery volunteers. It's a really nice race with a nice small town feel. This year the race organizers had three Mr. Softy trucks parked at the race grounds who were handing out free cones to anyone with a race bib. Our big surprise was when we ran into one of my daughter's favorite teachers who had left her school last year. Ms. M had run the race with her mother and another friend. Their reunion was sweet and it characterized the feeling we always get from this event.

I'm now setting my sights on the LI Half Marathon that's less than a month away. I'm going back to my long base runs and thinking about strategy for the longest race I'll run to date. But today it's about enjoying the feeling that comes from a good run on a good day. Another Marcie Mazzola race has been run. Can't wait for next year.

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