I ran my second Adam’s Heart Run Saturday, having last competed in 2019. Held in scenic (and hilly) Oak Mountain State Park, the race is named in honor of Dr. Adam Robertson, avid B’ham runner and director of the race for many years. The event consists of 3 races: a 5k, a 10k and a 10 mile. To me the park is too far a drive to run a 5k and I usually plan to run double digit miles on Saturday anyway, so I opted for the 10 miles as I had 2 years ago.
Like many of you my racing activity has been significantly curtailed by Covid-19. Most of the events I’ve run annually have either been cancelled or turned into virtual runs, of which I’m not a big fan. So when opportunities come up to run in socially distanced versions of races I have a history with, I’m eager to participate.
We arrived at the Dogwood Pavilion where the race begins to a scene remarkably similar to 2 years ago. The big difference was that most of the people were wearing masks to respect and protect their fellow runners, although there were still a few obstinate misanthropes without. Unlike 2 years ago we knew exactly where to go and we got there in time to park close to the start line and wait in the car until the start. After we got a little pep talk from Dr. Robertson we were off and running.
One of the main reasons I run repeat races is to keep track of my progress, or regress as is more often the case these days. I ran the race at a clip of 8:19 per mile in 2019 and I was hoping to keep close to that even though my average pace has been steadily rising since then. If you’ve read my boring blog before you won’t be surprised to learn that I went out way too fast, finishing the first mile in 7:51. By the second mile I slowed to a more reasonable 8:24 as I ditched my mask to increase airflow. Miles 3-6 are mostly uphill and I ran in the 8:20 – 9:20 range as I tried to right the ship. I didn’t bring any fuel with me figuring it was “just 10 miles” but by mile 6 I wished that I had. I could feel my energy level drop after negotiating the uphills. Luckily the downhill runs came along to rescue me and I finished out without dipping into the 9:00 end for the rest of the race. I crossed the line at 1:26:27, 3 minutes and 19 seconds slower than 2019.
There was no award ceremony after the race so as to keep social contact down to a minimum and although there were snacks to be had we opted to leave straight away and go to Edgar’s bakery for a coffee and cinnamon roll. Besides, I came in 4th place last time when I ran a faster race, so I was pretty sure I didn’t win anything anyway. As it turned out I did finish second in the old man group. But I don’t think you get anything for that.
When I got home I processed the data from the race to see how it compared to last time and determined that I took 4% more time to finish than I did in 2019. Now maybe adding 4% is over 2 years is ok for someone my age, but I was curious to gain some perspective. So I analyzed the races of a couple of other old guys who had run both years. To my surprise they had both added about 4% to their times versus 2019 as well. So now I wonder, are there some days when a course just yields different results? Or does 4% just represent a normal rate of decline for my age group? I’ll be crunching those numbers as I run other normal(ish) Birmingham Track Club events this year.