Sunday, March 20, 2005


The Human Race 8K is not quite and out and back course. It runs about 2.25 miles out, loops around a college, and returns about 2.5 miles. Temps at the start were around 35 degrees with sunny skies and a slight E wind – meaning a first “half” headwind. The first mile is a gradual uphill, so when combined with the headwind I decided to go out controlled for the first 2 miles, re-assess as we looped around the college, then hopefully pick it up once the wind was at my back. Again, my goal was to break 30 minutes, but I also had sub-6:00 pace (29:50) in the back of my head.

One thing that’s unique about this race is that it starts on a boulevard-section of Summit avenue. The elite men start on one and the elite women start on the other. I like to start with the women since I’d usually place in the top 10-15 (if I were a woman) and it makes it easier for me to pace. So the gun goes off and I stick to my plan. About 2 minutes in I see Eric about 5 seconds in front of me - he’s basically leading our side of the road. I was a little surprised because last week I told him I’d like to break 30 and he said he wasn’t ready for that. But I look around and I see familiar faces, so I know my pace is in the ball park. About 3 minutes into the race the boulevards merge and we form 1 big pack. I remain controlled and hit the first mile in 6:06. It’s a tad slow, but that’s the toughest mile on the course. Feeling controlled I think sub-30 is possible. During the 2nd mile I was breaking the wind a little until a guy passed me and I jumped behind him. It wasn’t a brutal wind, but I thought the less resistance, the better. We hung together and passed 2 miles in 12:03 (5:57).

Given this course layout, I usually get to see the top men heading back right before I start looping around the college. This year I see the top-3 before I make the turn. 3 blocks later and we’re heading back the way we came. The tail wind feels good and I pick up the effort and pass the 3 people in front of me. The 3rd mile is a very gradual uphill, which I pass in 18:05 (6:02). Running the course beforehand, I know there is a steeple with about 1.1 or 1.2 miles to go. That steeple also represents where the course begins its gradual downhill to the finish. I keep telling myself to stay relaxed and just make it to the steeple. I do a pretty good job and pass 4 miles in 24:03 (5:58). I figure sub-30 is in the bag, but 29:50 could be tough. I see Eric up ahead again (probably 10-15 seconds) and he’s having a great race. My legs feel strong, but I can’t really turn them over any faster, even with the gradual downhill. A couple of guys pass me and I don’t go with them. I manage a 5:52 for the last .97 of a mile and finish in 29:56. One goal achieved, one missed.

Others: Eric ended up at 29:33, while the 60 year old Superman, Jim ran 30:35. The group I’ve been training with ran well, Jenna 28:34 (2nd overall woman), Mary 36:35, Jack (63 years old) 38:46 and Noreen (who’s really a fish) 40:22.

On the positive side: Last year I ran a 5k on Memorial Day at 6:01 pace and finished the year on Labor Day with a 10k at 6:03. So to start this year off with an 8K at 6:01 pace is great. Plus, I finished 48 seconds faster than I did last year.

Race History Date Time Pace
Human Race 8k 3/16/1997 32:14 6:29
Human Race 8k 3/28/1999 34:19 6:54
Human Race 8k 3/19/2000 30:09 6:04
Human Race 8k 3/18/2001 29:52 6:01
Human Race 8k 3/24/2002 29:20 5:54
Human Race 8k 3/21/2004 30:44 6:11
Human Race 8k 3/20/2005 29:56 6:01

I still remember thinking after that 1999 race "how in the hell am I ever going to break 3 hours for the marathon?"

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