Sunday, May 05, 2013

Chena 5K A Soggy and Cold One

The Fairbanks spring of infamy continues. Following the third coldest April in the city's history, May so far has proven no better. With three feet of snow on the ground most places, and icy roads, puddles, you name it there was talk that this year's Chena River Run would be cancelled. Now that would be a disappointment. It's not my favorite race here, but it has the deepest field of any race in Fairbanks and the course, while winding and a bit slow is fair and accurate. Not happy about the $25 entry fee, but that's another topic.
 Start area had to be rerouted (May 4, 2013)

It snowed off an all week and we barely saw the sun. The organizers did a good job of preparing the course. They altered and re-routed the start because there was a hug puddle in the first 50 meters, and several corners were treacherous. Including one just before the mile where they had to throw out 300 lbs of gravel to circumvent a huge ice puddle. The one part they didn't fix was about 300 meters the bike path along the Parks Highway, which was covered in about 3 inches of snow.

Although I started training early this year with hopes of a stellar age group effort, I kind of gave up any idea of a course PR or even matching last year's sub 17:40. Sub 18 would be okay. It played out as they usually do, although the atmosphere was subdued (at 25 F the runners were just a little less festive, not that I didn't mind that the pre-race Jazzercise volume was quieter than in the past). Per usual the field went blazing fast the first half mile. Although the pack wasn't quite as big (I'm often 50th place in that first stretch), they pulled away and I found myself in no man's land by the mile (approx 5:42), with just a few runners strung out ahead.

Last year and this year (this photo Amy Lanam via Fairbanks Daily NewsMiner)

Only one, my son's friend Joe, seemed within range so I focused on reeling him in through mile 2. I caught him just after the 2 mile (approx 11:30) and we ran together the rest of the way. He was breathing hard, but I'd get around him and he'd stick right on my tail. In the past few years I've been able to muster a long 600 m kick. This time I did surge but it wasn't powerful. We rounded the final turn with 150 m or so to go, and the clock was in the 17:30s; right at the turn I took it as tight as I could, and little Joe surprised me by stepping off the pavement into the gravel on the inside to pass. He put on a little burst of speed and all I could do was count the seconds down to beat 18. It sure takes a long time! 17:57 to Joe's 17:55; 15th and 14th place.  The next guys up were 15 sec ahead, and behind more than 30 seconds back.

Okay, a decent effort, but not exactly jumping up and down about it. I felt better/faster/more competitive last year and the year before. Still sub 18 is okay for early season on a cold day. New CRR age group record: Old record Bill Perry 18:10 or so two years ago.

Age grade 85% (15:04 predicted). I'll take the 85% for sure, but that was not equivalent to 15:04. When I was younger (say 20s or early 30s), 16:15 to 16:30 maybe.


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