Going home is always nice. This weekend, I had a chance to race in a race that I first ran 25 years ago in 1986. For those that might be working their calculator, this means I was 21 years old for this race. At the time, I would have never guessed that so many years later that I would still be toeing the line again in one of the most unique race in American.
But this is enough history; let's talk about the race.
Who knew that I would leave Charlotte, NC where the temperatures are in the 80s with low humidity and head up to Charleston, WV where the high today's temperature was 97 with 90% humidity. The conditions were ugly from the start with a temperature of 72 degrees with 92% humidity. This was much like it was at Blue Point 5k a few weeks ago here in Charlotte. All I can say is there was a lot of sweating happening this morning but not much evaporation going on.
This was to be a recovery week for me and I was hoping that the recovery would result in me running a fast time.
Well, they fired a Cannon to start the race and runners quickly started stringing out in front of me. There were so many in-facts that I lost count of the number of runners ahead of me.
Hit the first mile in 5:52. The second mile was 5:59. Third and forth miles were 5:55. Then, looming in front of me was what they call Capital Punishment Hill. This hill is pretty a straight shot up hill and steep. My mile 5 split was 7:08. Even thou, they have a sign at the top that says Capital Punishment Hill ends, the hill actually doesn't end. It continues on a winding and twisting upward grade road until about 6.5 miles. Then the road rolls through a series of hills before heading downhill and back into downtown Charleston.
My legs didn't feel great during the first couple of miles and while I was not breathing particular hard on the hills, I just didn't have any spring in my step. Sluggish and heaviness feel just was leaving my legs. Partly, this can be attributed due to the heat and humidity of the day and partly to my lack of good recovery this week. Honestly, I just felt stale and slow.
Once we were back on the flats, I wanted to pick it up. We'ed finished the ugly loop which was about 8 miles. The last 7 miles were virtually flat. I so hoped my legs my find some speed. I was dumping water over my head at every water stop and running through every sprinkler along the course. At 14.5 miles, there was a guy with a garden hose. As I came up to him, I said let me have it. I was truly hot.
Finally, I hit the Laidley field track where the University of Charleston plays football. The stadium was a great site for hot, sweat covered eyes. I rounded the track and crossed the finish line in 13 overall and 2nd in my age group. When the announcer called me name, time, and place I was totally surprise. I guess the conditions effect more runners than just me.
My time of 1 hour and 35 minutes was a little disappointing. Definitely, I thought I could run faster, but given the race day conditions and my heavy training load, I guess this was all my body would allow me. Honestly, I am not great hot weather runner and never have been. I have to put today in perspective. 6:18 pace is a decent effort for me today and it added another stone to my marathon training pyramid.
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner