This is the first time this year I’ve raced the course counter-clockwise. I’m usually much faster going clockwise: the first mile or so is downhill, and then the elevation gain is slow and gradual. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a relatively flat course anyway, but there is some elevation change. Running clockwise gives me that pronounced elevation loss to get my pace up and just burn through the first half of it. Running counter-clockwise has always posed me some issues. It starts out pretty flat, the elevation loss is gradual (the reciprocal of the clockwise course, obvi) and then a half mile of the last .8 of the course it just up. Again, not “UP”…but up. Suffice to say, the better runners in the group seem to like the counter-clockwise better; the less well heeled runners, the clockwise direction. As you’ll see below, my track record going in this direction is spotty and erratic. At least one of the times – February 11, 2017 – was affected by a snowpacked course: I wore obstacle course specific shoes to maintain some traction on the street, but even without that outlier my paces are uneven.
It was pretty chilly to start – about 28 degrees: when you’re standing around a sweatshirt leaves you still a little cold, but warm enough that choosing gear is a bit of a challenge. Should I take off the Under Armour? Will a cold weather shirt suffice? Gloves? No gloves today, sweatshirt and cold weather shirt. Athletic pants. All of which seemed to be the right choice for me as I was neither overheated or cold. One caveat: while running the Upton State Forest Half Marathon last year, I wiped out and skinned my knee and (I think) broke my left pointer finger. It hasn’t felt right since, and it has been the first finger to get noticeably cold since.
On the “go” command, I was off at a decent clip. I had my watch under my sleeve as I was using the sleeve to cover my hands in lieu of gloves so I really couldn’t see the pace or time. I was just running. I kept up with the fast kids for a short moment, but they were gone pretty quickly. At the first mile the watch vibrated, so I pulled up my sleeve to see and it was about a 7:20 pace. That astonished me. The second mile was about a 7:40 pace, quite astonishing to me. Ah, but June Street. That point when running clockwise is a nice shot down, is much less friendly to me when it’s a harrowing shot up. I just couldn’t maintain my pace, and slowed way down. I finished that mile with an 8:20 or so pace, so not horrible in terms of my usual pace, but certainly enough to kill my shot at a sub-24 minute race.
The upshot is that I ran a pretty strong race overall, faltered a bit toward the end, but still wound up with a personal record for the Counter-Clockwise direction and truly for the course in either direction overall. It was a good race day. Overall, I finished in the middle of the pack, 10th of about 21 or 22. 9th was within my grasp, but I was outflanked by a far better runner – finishing as close behind him is a personal victory to begin with, never mind having had the chance to finish ahead of him. So, I’ll add that to my awards case too.
28 Degrees and Clear.
Counter Clockwise Direction (Last 5):
February 17: 24:22
October 21, 2017: 25:13
March 18, 2017: 24:42
February 11, 2017: 26:17
January 28, 2017: 24:48