Saturday, August 24th was a beautiful day for the 43rd annual Crim in Flint, Michigan. This was my third time running the 10-mile race and the great experience reinforced why so many local runners make this race a yearly tradition. 2015 was the first year I ran the race. I had to watch from the sidelines with a stress fracture in 2016, and I returned to run again in 2017. I missed last year’s race but knew early in the season that I wanted to return this year. My training schedule for the Chicago Marathon actually called for 10 miles on race day so it fit in perfectly.
After training through another hot summer, I was thrilled that we lucked out with perfect weather for this race. Some years are hot and humid, and last year’s race had multiple delays due to storms. I guess it’s good that I happened to miss the race last year! The weather had been hot and muggy during the week leading up to this year’s race. My speed workout on Tuesday was not very successful because it was around 90°F in the afternoon. Fortunately the temperature and humidity dropped later in the week and I was actually shivering on race morning because it was in the 50s. Even though I’ve struggled to run fast paces most of the summer, I knew that training through the heat was making me strong. I hoped the cool morning would make me feel like I was flying.
I got to Flint a little before 6:30 so I could park easily, hit the expo, and still take my stuff back to the car. I usually luck out and find some discounted shoes at the expo and this year was the same. I couldn’t resist saving $20 on a pair of shoes.
I ate my second Picky Bar of the morning about an hour before the race, got everything ready, then decided a warm up jog would be a good way to stay warm once I left the car. I had signed up to be a part of the Corporate Challenge and represented the Chevy Running Club like I have in the past. The results are gathered after the race and various companies compete based on how their participants place. Our group was able to meet at Factory One before and after the race. I had never been there and enjoyed seeing a few historical vehicles on display in the big, open space.
They had some snacks, but most importantly, there were real restrooms without any wait. We gathered at 7:30 for a group photo then I did another short jog to the starting line in time to see the start for the group of people who have run the race 30 years or more.
I was in corral B and ended up finding several friends there. There was a 7:30 pace group nearby and I knew I didn’t want to start that fast, so I hung back a little from them.
The wave start works really smoothly at this race. Shortly after the elites started it was time for my wave to go.
I didn’t have a specific race plan but I usually do well when I start slow and gradually speed up through the race. I was a little above an 8:00 pace when I glanced at my watch during the first mile. I wanted to go a little faster than that and sped up enough to drop to 7:55 for the first mile. After that I kind of surprised myself. I was hitting paces in the 7:30s and even high 7:20s early in the race. I worried that 7:40s would have been smarter but just kept rolling with it. I wasn’t suffering and it seemed to be coming naturally. I just really hoped I wouldn’t crash and burn later as a result. I haven’t been running paces like that at all this summer. I think it was proof that the cool morning really did help.
Aside from running with such a large group of people, one of the fun parts about Crim is the entertainment along the way. Since I love the band Collective Soul, it was especially fun to hear their song “Shine” played by one of the bands on the course. The official entertainment is great, but the unofficial entertainment gives this race something special. You can always count on multiple beer stops and the Champagne Corner. Somehow I completely missed this, but apparently there was a greyhound-petting stop! I always love the guy who sings random karaoke songs at the end of his driveway. There’s the woman who bounces on a small trampoline. There are plenty of things to see along the course.
Although I did enjoy and welcome some of the distractions, I spent most of this race grinding away. I had to really work to hold onto the ambitious pace I had set in the early miles. I slowed down a little bit during the infamous Bradley hills portion of the race between the fifth and sixth miles. It was a relief when I got through them, but I remembered from the past that the rest of the course isn’t exactly flat. There are plenty of rolling hills that make things a bit challenging. I think it’s interesting to see that my heart rate didn’t spike during the Bradley hills but jumped for the remaining miles afterward.
Usually I like to push the pace for the last few miles. However, I’d already been running that pace nearly the whole race! I just kept trying to hang on. When I was eight miles into the race I started to calculate how fast I would have to run to hit my PR of 1:16:00. It might be close. That helped motivate me to keep it up. I kept doing the math as I hit the ninth mile. That was my time to give a final push. I appreciated the spectators who cheered, especially when they read my bib and called out my name. I saw my buddy Don up ahead and knew I couldn’t quite catch him, but he gave me something to watch. For the most part I kept my head down, grimaced, and gave it all I had. Soon enough I made the turn and “hit the bricks” on the final stretch. It’s unique to finish on bricks at this race but it’s not the most even surface. I flew through the finish line and needed a couple minutes to recover.
I received my medal then caught up with a few friends who finished a little before and just after me.
Eventually I checked my watch and saw that I had run 1:15:43! My official time shaved a second off of that so I had run an 18-second PR! Here’s how my splits broke down. I thought it was pretty funny to see how consistently I swapped between miles in the 7:30s and 7:20s. I’m not sure if that was due to hills or because I naturally adjusted to try to maintain the ambitious pace.
I looked back at the previous two Crim races and was surprised to see that my 2015 race was actually fairly similar. I kept it a little slower for the first couple miles, but then I did nearly the same thing where I rotated between 7:30s and 7:20s. It blows my mind how consistent I am. Even four years later! Somehow I still managed a decent PR this time around though. Here are the final results:
After downing a bottle of chocolate milk and grabbing a granola bar, I worked my way over to the ring the PR bell.
I was fortunate to have some good company during the post-race party, which included a slice of pizza. Eventually a band started playing and it got too loud to talk, so it was time to head out.
I always find it interesting to look at my statistics and compare my races from past years. When I ran my previous Crim PR in 2015, it was also the year when I ran my current half marathon and marathon PRs. If I managed to improve my time in this race could I possibly have some other PRs in me this year? It surprises me because although I’ve done a couple of marathon-pace workouts this summer, I have really slacked off on true speed workouts. Most days it’s been too hot to pull it off and other days I’ve backed off due to racing so frequently. Racing several times each month has been a good substitute for workouts. I keep telling myself that I’m racing my way into shape this summer and it seems like the approach is working. I know I’m also building strength by running in the heat. It may not seem like it when I suffer through some of the miserable, sweaty runs, but speedy times seem to follow when the temps drop. I’ll be curious to see if I can keep rolling along and run a solid marathon in Chicago this October.