Yesterday Salty gave you her Blossom Time report and now here’s the race from my perspective!
This year was my first Blossom Time Run as a single gal, a topic for another post. In the past I have done this run because it was my ex’s hometown run on the towns biggest weekend of the year celebration. While most of the country is celebrating Memorial Day weekend, the town of Chagrin Falls, OH is celebrating Blossom Time. Think big festival, lots of people, two parades, lots of parties. And then add a 5.25 hilly race to the mix. The race brings out residents for their one race of the year as well as some local ringers each year.
I knew this probably wasn’t going to be the breakthrough race it was for me two years ago and I was pretty confident it wouldn’t be as smooth as Chili Bowl and Boston this year. But I put on my racing flats and gave it a go 🙂 You never know when you might get lucky!
Along with Salty pushing the stroller, our CED teammates LJ and BB were also racing! My boyfriend was doing the race too despite coming off a 4 day red eye (the fun life of a pilot) and riding his bike to the race. So no sexy boost for me pre race this time!
It was hot on the warmup and I showed LJ and my boyfriend a bit of the course as this was their first Blossom. Noted that a few fast local women were there and made it the goal to stay as close to them as possible. It was muggy and hot, but not nearly as hot as it has been here the past few years. On a spunky day it would have been a good one for running the course relatively fast. The question was would Sunday be a spunky day? I figured best case scenario was probably 5:55 pace for this one and more likely between that and 6:15 pace. Two years ago I cruised through each mile averaging 6:03 with a fast first mile and a big finishing kick.
The first two miles of Blossom are mostly uphill and LJ and I managed to cruise through mile one easily in 6:05. I was pleasantly surprised by this and we were sitting in 3rd and 4th after getting by 3 or 4 other ladies who went out a bit faster. I pulled away from LJ in the second mile at some point and did my best to hold the gap between myself and 2nd. A bit before mile two you finally crest the hill and I instructed myself to pick up the turnover. I surprised myself with a 6:06 this mile which was actually better than 2 years ago. It certainly didn’t feel like I was flying, but it felt solid.
While Jinger was back running with Salty, her boyfriend JS had been running with me and helping me focus on 2nd, at some point between 2 and 3 after catching a pack ahead of us he motioned that it was time to close the gap on 2nd, but my legs had no response. I was sitting steady in that 6-6:08 pace range and the legs weren’t going anywhere. I watched as JS easily caught the 2nd and 1st girls before picking up speed to get in a decent training day. I focused on trying to stay with the pack that included my friend JK hitting mile 3 in 6:08.
Mile 4 is tough, a lot of sun and you have a nasty climb towards the end of it. I focused on a few males this mile and hit 4 in 6:00 thanks to BD helping me push that incline before the end of the mile. After that it was mostly a survival to the finish. BD coached me to use my arms and encouraged me to do a better job on the hills, I just had no fire.
I let three guys pass me that I normally would have been competitive with. I just didn’t have that extra “juice.” I knew I’d have to fight if I wanted to sneak in a PR and hitting mile 5 in 6:06 I was sure it was close but a little shy. That extra gear didn’t show up on the final kick and I managed to get to the finish in 31:54, over a minute behind 1st and 2nd! Ouch! But only 16 seconds slower than two years ago here.
Based on the way I felt I’m happy with it. It was a really even and solid effort. I’m glad I was able to keep the effort high despite being far out of contention and knowing a PR was not likely. I’d like to think if 1st or 2nd had been closer I might have found some extra drive, but truthfully I was working hard out there. It just wasn’t one of those days where I felt “like a boss.” And both the gals that came in 1st and 2nd ran much faster than normal here. Kudos to them! I’ve got my work cut out for me this year!
The best part of Blossom is sharing it with so many local friends. LJ snagged 1st in her age group (6th overall), BB crushed her age group record, still getting faster at 61, and my boyfriend was just 10 seconds out of 3rd in his age group. And our own Salty amazed everyone running pregnant and pushing two little ones the whole way! My parents were up for the weekend and as always were excellent spectators. We all followed up the run with a nice trip to Jeni’s Ice Cream for a treat!