Name of the race: Investors Bank Sunset Classic
Where: Foley Field, Bloomfield, NJ
Date: June 22, 2015
Time: 7:30 pm
Distance: 5 miles
Terrain: Loop course with rolling hills and a steep climb just after Mile 1
Entry fee: $27 by June 18th
USATF members $24 by June 18th
$30 after June 18th
Swag: Tech shirt and plastic mug
Post-race Food: Hot dogs, various ice cream (ice cream sandwiches, cones, popsicles), cold sodas, and ice water
Performance: Overall: 124/408; Gender: 31/164; Age Group (35 – 39) 5/20
Weather: 86 degrees, 46% humidity
The Sunset Classic is one of Ben’s favorites. Last year we had to miss it because we were on our way to Peru, so Ben was particularly eager to do this year’s race. We even lined up our vacation so that we would come back from the Poconos right in time for this race. This race is a popular one for all the local Jersey runners. I was open to doing this race because I needed to do a hard 5-mile tempo run for Run Less, Run Faster and I knew that I would have a hard time hitting the intended pace unless I was in a race.
What’s different about this race is that it’s a rare weekday evening race. I have to be careful about what I eat when I’m running in the evenings because I digest food very slowly (not that it stops me from being hungry 3 hours later). After I eat a meal (not even a heavy one), I need 6 hours to digest it or else I get terrible heartburn while running. I ate a late breakfast and then had a large slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (SUGAR!!!!) at 2 pm. This worked out perfectly. I didn’t suffer from heartburn at all.
Ben decided that he was going to run the race with Bandit. We knew she could easily run 5 miles because we did 6 miles with her last week. We were curious and apprehensive how she was going to handle the huge crowds of people.
The logistics of the race worked out well. We found a parking lot a few blocks away from Foley Field, where we picked up our bibs and swag. The RLRF training plan had me do a mile warm up, 5 miles at tempo, and then a mile cool down. It was already warm, so I had no intention of doing the warm up and getting myself tired before the race. We lined up near the front of the start line because there was no timing mat at the start and so that Bandit would be calmer. She’s very competitive. At first she only cared if either Ben or I were in front of her, but now that she’s older, she hates it when anyone is in front of her. We were both kinda nervous about Bandit because Ben’s not fast enough to win the 5-miler (Bandit probably is).
When the start horn blared, everyone took off, especially Bandit who dragged Ben behind her. I could hear her high-pitched yips protesting that there were people passing her. Ben later told me that thanks to Bandit, they started off way too fast. After a half mile, she settled down and ran without making a sound. Bandit was apparently the star of the race. Everyone who saw her, cheered for her. There was a big crowd of spectators at around Mile 4.5. They roared, “Go, Puppy!” Puppy is Bandit’s nickname and she answers to Puppy too. Her ears perked up and she was very happy for all the attention. Other runners in the race jokingly complained to Ben that she was running without a bib.
“That’s why we call her Bandit,” Ben said.
Bandit (and Ben) finished in 36:28. Bandit ran right across the finish line fresh as a daisy. She could have easily done the race much faster if Ben hadn’t been holding her back.
As for me, I had a very good race. I wasn’t expecting one because I had ran 12.5 miles the day before and my legs were feeling a bit tired. I was hoping that I could get around my old time of 42:11 (8:26 pace) that I got two years ago. RLRF wanted me to do 5 miles at 8:30 pace, and I would have been happy with anything between 8:25 – 8:45.
The first mile was fast (7:57). The second mile I knew I’d slow down dramatically because of the steep hill that greets you right after the first mile. The third mile had a nice decline in the middle, so I used it to gain back some time. The fourth mile has a long gentle incline. The last mile is a lovely long gentle decline and there’s a stadium finish. It’s always fun to run around a track to the finish line.
While I was running, I was warm and working hard, but surprisingly I did not feel that I was going to die at any point on the course. While I was running, I worried that I was starting off too fast and that I should slow down. I decided that I felt okay and that I would just keep pushing myself hard for as long as it felt comfortably hard (exactly how a tempo should feel). I wondered when I was going to implode, but it never happened. Instead I managed to pick off a number of runners who were in front of me. I rarely pass runners because I’m one of those people who always start too fast, so it’s a fun treat when I get to pass runners. When I reached the last mile, I knew the hardest part was behind me and I just had to hold it together for one more mile.
I heard Ben cheering for me as I entered the stadium. There was a female runner who had been running more or less along with me (I pass her, she pass me, then I pass her for a mile) who moved ahead when we entered the track. I tried to pass her, but she kicked it up and sped away from me. I need to work on my kick. I looked at the finish clock and saw that I could make it under 41 min. Ben cheered for me some more. Tick, tick, tick, the numbers ticked away. A few seconds before it turned 41, I crossed the finish line. My time of 40:55 (8:11 pace) was much better than I had anticipated. I was quite thrilled with my time. I know I was supposed to do a mile cool down, but there was no way I was going to do that.
Afterward we ate hot dogs and ice cream (even Bandit). While we sat and ate, people came up to us to talk to us about Bandit. One speedy female runner ran up to Ben to ask what Bandit’s time was. She said that she saw Bandit pass her and couldn’t believe that our little puppy was faster than her. Other people remarked how Bandit didn’t look tired at all and could probably run another 5-miler no problem. She was very much the center of attention and lapped it up. We were, of course, very proud of her.
It was another wonderful fun race.