Twenty-one minutes and twelve seconds. This is my personal record 5k – it did not come at the 2020 Great New Year’s Eve Race. In fact, there were zero PR races for me in 2020.
I try not to get overly competitive in running. Having picked it up as a hobby a few years back, I realize that I am old enough and slow enough to not be winning races. But that is the beauty of the sport. Even when you know the podium is out of reach, there is always another personal goal to achieve.
There are few things more satisfying than to be a beginner in running. Every first race at a new distance is a new accomplishment. Improvement comes fast. Training stays exciting. PR’s come easy. But at some point, we inevitably reach that initial peak. We lay down a set of PR’s at various distances that took a great deal of consistent effort to achieve. Where do we go from there?
The Great New Year’s Eve Race seems as good a race as any to reflect on the year behind and look to the year ahead.
Pulling my Strava profile, I logged 566 miles over 118 runs in 2020. This is down 20% from 2019 but still a number that I am happy with. I spent 99 hours and 36 minutes of my year running. A modest number for a more serious athlete, but that is still over 4 full days on the road or the trail. These familiar miles were a welcome escape in a year where so many other things were different.
The Great New Year’s Eve Race had some changes as well. Foremost, was the location of the race which moved across town from a start/finish at Stow High School to one at Fred Fuller Park in Kent.
The course began along Middlebury Road in front of the Roy Smith Shelter. The start was staggered between a 3:30 and 4:00 time which allowed for social distancing of participants. The corral was well marked with flags to allow runners to position to their expected pace.
Upon the start, we first headed north and made a loop to the right around the old Kent Jail. Fun fact, if you have never taken notice of the Old Jailhouse, it is worth a look next time you visit Fred Fuller Park. The structure was originally constructed in 1869, just two years after Kent was incorporated as a village. The jail was used for incarceration until the 1930’s and ultimately moved to its current location in 1999 to make way for the Walgreen’s at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street.
Once around the corner, the course quickly connected with the Portage Hike & Bike Trail. From here, it was essentially an out and back course with views directly along the Cuyahoga River. The surface is paved asphalt with an occasional bridge traversing across a steep section of embankment or over the river itself. At 33 degrees at time of race, the trail was in very good shape except for some packed ice remaining along sections of bridge. The last mile includes a steep gravel grade with just a short sprint to the finish.
I wore a pair of Brooks Ghost 10’s which are well beyond their manufactured mileage but still work great for me as a winter road shoe. My Garmin Forerunner 245 measured the course at 3.12 miles with a modest elevation change of 52 feet, most of this coming from the initial drop and final climb to and from the bike and hike trail. Average heart rate was 163 bpm. Finish time of 26:28.
For now, it looks like my 21:12 PR is safe. But as I look ahead to a still uncertain year, I am excited by the prospect of getting back to training, racing, and reaching new goals.