Our first race of the year is officially in the books. Saturday, Valentine’s Day morning, we got our butts out of bed bright and early and headed down to Loveland, CO for the Sweetheart Classic 4 mile run. The race didn’t start until 9:00 a.m., which is actually fairly late for a typical fun run. The weather was just about perfect, about 43° F at the start (felt chilly, but nothing compared to last year when it was maybe low 20s). No wind, and no ice on the ground! Can’t ask for much better in February.
This is a pretty laid-back event, and it seemed like there was a bigger turnout than last year (results say 455 participants). It is put on by the Loveland Road Runners, and raises funds for the local High School cross country team. The course is nice, running through a couple of neighborhoods and around Lake Loveland. I think the size of the lake probably dictates the 4 mile distance, rather than it being a typical 5k.
Jesse and I were both aiming to run around an 8:30/mile pace. We’ve been running about twice a week on the treadmill, and we have yet to run more than about 4.3 miles or 40 minutes per run. We’re still working slowly into a consistent base after taking several months off after our wedding. My average pace at the gym has been around 9:20 to 10:00 miles, which feels surprisingly difficult some nights. Treadmill running is a completely different animal than running outside, and even though it should be easier, it somehow feels harder most of the time. I usually try to run at a 1% incline on the treadmill, as I’ve read that this is supposed to offset the lack of air resistance outside to make your workout fairly equivalent to an outdoor run. However, as I’ve looked into this a little bit deeper, I’ve seen a few articles claiming that the 1-2% treadmill standard is total junk if you’re running slower than 7:09/mile. Well I’ll be dipped in shit. I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever maintained that pace on the treadmill.
We both ended up doing better than expected overall. We probably would have started out far too fast if it weren’t for the crowd of people to get through and our overly excited dog, who tried weaving back and forth for about the first mile to try to get ahead. She was there to WIN, dammit! So, we managed to hold back for a bit, and we actually were able to talk to each other for most of the race. This may be a sign that we weren’t running hard enough, but we actually ended up running negative splits the entire race, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Here is what my race looked like, according to Strava:
Jesse and I ran together until about the last 3/4 mile. I was feeling good and picked up the pace slightly, but Jesse stayed pretty close on my heels. I was extra careful to watch my footing on the last downhill stretch back toward the high school, since I rolled my ankle last year. My official finish time was 33:32, and Jesse came in at 33:41. Our combined times earned us the #8 couples spot, out of 40 in our age group. Not bad!
Of course we celebrated with some tasty microbrews and friends afterward, and enjoyed a date night dinner out at one of our favorite places. Who doesn’t love a 24 oz. heart-shaped ribeye? Overall, an extremely productive and successful Valentine’s Day!