|Posted by kevinhosea on March 30, 2009 at 6:44 PM|
So yesterday I raced in the Heart Mini-Marathon 15K in Cincinnati. This race is almost entirely on Columbia Parkway just out of downtown. For those of you who don't know Cincinnati that well, Columbia Parkway is a very hilly road. Here is a picture of the elevation chart of the race course:
I have done this race many times in the past and have always enjoyed the challenge. It has been years since I have done the race because of going away for college and having other things to do during High School. The last year I did it was in 1999 (when I was in 8th grade) and I set the course record for wheelchairs at 45:16.
Yesterday the weather was terrible. At race time, it was around 38 degrees with some wind and light steady rain. I do not enjoy racing in the rain and do not do it very often. Usually when I race in the rain I use stuff called clister which is really sticky and you put it on your gloves and pushrims to help prevent slipping. The last few times I have used it I still haven't had much luck with it so I never bought new clister when I used up what I had (but after this race I think I might try buying some again). I knew it was supposed to rain so on Saturday I went to the hardware store and got some sandpaper that I glued onto my gloves. I have done this before in the rain and it has worked fairly well so I was pretty confident that I would be ok. When I started the race, everything was going fine. I had very good traction with my gloves and the sandpaper seemed to be doing the trick. I started to slip about halfway up the first hill but it was nothing to serious. When I got to the top I looked over my shoulder and saw the lead runners catching me which worried me a bit because I had never had them that close to me that early in the race in the past. I figured that I would pull ahead by a lot during the downhill so I figured it wasn't a big deal. I hit about 32 mph and definitely did widen the space between us but there was also a downside to that....The windchill made my muscles tighten up some and also the rain/water spray off the road made my gloves and pushrims a lot more wet. I started slipping a whole lot more on the next uphill and was caught by about the top 15 guys by the top of that hill. I passed all but 2 of them on the next downhill. This "leap frog" process kept happening on each hill but as more and more water got on my gloves I started to slip more which caused me to be passed by more people than I was able to pass back on the downhills.
The first major sign that it just wasn't my day was at the first turnaround which was between the 4 and 4 1/2 mile point. The turn around was a total 180 degree turn where you had to go around a few cones. It was on a downhill so I started slowing down early so I would be able to make the turn. There were people on the outside of the turn watching the race. As I got closer I new I still wasnt slow enough so I tried pumping the brake more, then I tried grabbing the wheels, then I tried just slamming on the brake. None of it helped and I just kept slidding on the wet road. I went right past the turn around, almost hit a person that was watching but luckily he got out of the way and he actually grabbed my arm as I passed to help slow me down or I probably would have hit a cop car that was parked not far past him. Once I stopped I turned around, I got going again but the traction with my gloves was next to nothing by this point. I had to start pushing using the palms of my gloves that have cloth on them but this is a risky way of pushing because it increases the chance of injury. I basically had to push like this the rest of the way. Needless to say, it was getting very frustrating by this point and to make matters worse, there was a headwind now.
Right before the next turn around the course turns onto a road called Torrence Parkway. This is the steepest uphill on the course. You are only on it for about half a mile or so but it was REALLY bad. I almost got to the point of dropping out of the race during this hill. I got passed by a whole bunch of people on this hill which made it really bad once I got to the turnaround point because I then was going downhill much faster than them and had to shout at them to warn them I was coming and dodge/weave my way around them. The rest of the race was more of the same getting passed by a lot of people on uphills and not passing nearly as many people on the way down the hills. My final time was 1:11:11. 26 minutes slower than the time I did 10 years ago. The only positive about the race is that I still have never dropped out of a race that I started despite what has gone wrong. I have always finished races despite problems with weather, injuries, or problems with my chair such as flat tires.