Today I ran the Gaspee Days 5k in Warwick, RI. It is sort of in Cranston, too. Whatever.
It is a really tough course in that it is an out-and-back that starts down hill, and finishes climbing back up the same hills.
I've run it twice before, in 2014 I ran the course in 21:50, in 2015 in 23:20, and this year's time is 22:03.
I have a couple of ideas as to why I ran the course faster two years ago: for one thing, the conditions really have to be ideal for a race like this. One or two things being just slightly off effects the performance quite a bit. Today wasn't too bad, temperature-wise, but it was humid, and I had a lot of congestion going on in my nose. Big crowds along the course meant I felt bad clearing my sinuses (using the patented snot-rocket I learned in Runner's World) so I had to do all my breathing through my mouth.
Additionally, the start chute doesn't make it easy for runners at the Gaspee to seed by pace, so you basically have to guess and then fight your way out at the start. It means working really hard in that first mile until the pack breaks up, which makes it hard to save effort for the back half of the course (which is all climbs.) According to my gps, I covered that first mile in 6:40, but the effort cost me because I covered mile three almost a full minute slower. I was able to kick it in to the finish chute with some good rhythmic breathing.
Coming into the chute I could hear the race director say "Somebody is really proud of her daddy!", and I could hear the cowbells we brought along, but I couldn't find my wife and I was focused on hammering the pace into the chute. After I found my wife, she said that the race director was directly commenting on her ringing the cowbell! So cool. Can't wait until the little one is old enough to run some of these races with me. The Gaspee is a real family affair, and there are lots of little ones who run it, although strollers are prohibited on the course.
So, certainly this isn't a course I'd expect a PR on. But it is really fun to run before the parade crowds, and to feel the energy of the pack. This race is one of my 'tent pole' races (one of the big ones that holds up my running calendar like a tent pole) so I'll certainly run it next year. I'm going to dig back into my running journal and see what kind of work I was doing back in 2014 to get those times. I'm pretty sure I was doing speed work and tempo runs much more regularly back then, so they will need to find a way back into my training this summer.