Sadly last year, they covered the cinder with large chunks of gravel. I get an on-and-off neuroma in my foot, which the gravel would wreak havoc on. Once that was laid down, I stopped doing anything faster than a slow jog there. Fortunately, they recently paved over the gravel, so my ban has been lifted. Enough rambling.
But for some reason, I have never race well here. In 2010, I felt like I was in sub 21:00 shape but was only able to pull out a 21:16, which according to the McMillan Calculator, is only worth a 33:59. Yet a few weeks later, I was able to run 32:12 for 10k on a much tougher course, running the last 5.5 miles alone.
In 2011, I was nailing my workouts and felt like I would be able to crush 20:00. Come race day, I only managed a 20:34.
When the race started, no one wanted to take the lead, so I slowly worked my way to the front. I went through the first mile in 5:20, with a small lead over Jacob Carrigan. I turned it up a bit and I guess I got a little too excited, because I covered the next mile in 4:56. There went the gradual progression.
Because I didn't want to continue to accelerate, I decided to slow it down again. Right after the second mile, you run up what appears to be a small hill, but for the past two years, it has taken a small part of my soul with it. However, I was able to power up without the slightest hint of booty lock.
Right after the climb, you get a generous downhill and then you get jump back on the trail part of the park. I went through the third mile in 5:09 and I got a bit lazy the last mile and finished up with a 5:18, which gave me a 20:43 for the four mile distance. The time was slower than last year but I gave a much easier effort and conditions seemed to be a lot more humid this year. I don't think I could have broken 20 minutes in this race but it wasn't too bad of a day.
I was glad that I was finally able to win this race and enjoy running it every year. Except for the usual summer weather, it has the potential to be a fast race and the park workers always have their stuff together. I also like how they give cotton shirts every year. It seems like every race gives the "tech" shirt now, and all those do is take space in my closet. If it's hot enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt, I'm going to scare the neighbors and not wear one.