A few days ago, on a total lark, I decided to sign up for the Ravenswood Run, a 5k in the north-side neighborhood of Ravenswood, about a mile west of my apartment in Uptown. I figured since my River to River team canceled and I was being lame that weekend and didn't run the Wrigleyville 5/10 I should at least get some kind of race in before the summer hit.
At the time I signed up I think I'd run a total of three speed workouts in the past 5 months and only one on the track (my disastrous 20x200 day). After signing up I did one more on Friday night: my classic 2-day-before-a-race workout, 3x400 with 3 minutes rest. The idea is to run each one 2 seconds faster than the one before. The execution... not so much. I ran 67 for the first one, then 69 for the second. And my legs were just dead. That's what I get for not running speedwork. Between the second and third the storm that had been brewing all day finally broke. My last one was 69 again. I guess that's all I can expect to do in stiff winds and rain having done only distance training for the last few months.
So the goal for this race was 17 minutes. My speed chops were pretty weak but my distance chops were pretty strong, and I'd been doing brutally tough long runs and tempo runs for the last month. That's gotta be good for something, right?
The Ravenswood Run is a fairly large race that attracts lots of pretty serious runners. The winner last year ran 15 minutes flat. The PA system was too loud and people were crowding at the start line. Grumble. This is why I prefer small races. As in all big races they tried to get people to check in their bags and get to the starting line early, and, as always, I fell for it, while the other people near the front jumped in just before the start. A recording of the national anthem was played, and I am a bit of a national-anthem connoisseur, so indulge me: it suffered from the overdriven PA system. The performance, from a professional or military band, was solid. The arrangement was uninspired. It was loud and bombastic throughout without a hint of contrast in dynamics, instrumentation, or mood. On the weakness of the arrangement, I give it two out of four stars.
And the race. Started at Wilson and Hermitage, ran south down Hermitage to Irving Park, a block east to Paulina and then back north. I could tell these guys up front were serious, nobody was dropping off after starting too fast at the mile marker (~5:27), around Paulina and Belle Plaine. Turned left on some random street a block north north of Wilson, passed the 2-mile marker (~11:00? Didn't really get a good look), jogged another block north at some point, turned back towards Wilson probably at 2200W or so, then shortly back onto Wilson for the finish. It was probably 600m on Wilson, and the two guys I'd passed (after some serious resistance from both) in the third mile looked like big strong kicker types, so I figured I had my work cut out. I saw what I thought was the finish banner in the distance and measured out a kick, but just before Damen my brain turned on and realized that I was looking at the elevated train tracks along Ravenswood Ave. So the kick was mismeasured, I fell off the table in the last 50m, and got passed by one guy just before the finish line and another one just after. Finished in 17:07.
That's OK, given my current distance focus. I'm just not going to run well at 5k without speed training like I did in the fall. I ran into my sort-of roommate Danno after it was over, and we sat through the awards and I surprisingly got second in my age group... it seems like most of the good runners around here are over 25. Winner ran 15:12. Congrats to that dude!
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