A 5K Race PR Today

Last weekend I wrote about a new goal of running a BQ 5K.  During the week I searched around and found some local races for the Fall race season.  One of the races I found was Vern’s No Frills 5K in Georgetown.  It’s a small monthly event which is run year-round and only costs $1 to enter on the day of the race.

The first No Frills 5K, since I learned about it, was this morning.  So on a few days notice I decided that I needed to get an accurate picture of my current fitness level and test myself.  I didn’t think I was in quite the same shape as I was this spring where I surprised myself and turned in a 51:00 (8:12/mi) performance at the Cap 10K.  My previous 5K PR was a 25:13 (8:07/mi) in 2007 when I actually trained for 2 months for that race.

When I woke up this morning I decided I would be very happy with a sub 8:00/mi pace today.  I crossed the finish line at 24:50 or (8:00/mi exactly) and had nothing left.  I think my HR was maxed out at 181 for the last tenth of a mile to the finish line. 

I’m very happy with this performance because I didn’t specifically train for it at all.  That means I turned in a PR simply because I’ve been more active and consistent this year than any time since high school.

Vern’s No Frills 5K

A little note about the race event.  This is the perfect race to help you train.  You just show up on the 3rd Saturday of every month with $1, ready to run.  Most training books recommend that you test yourself about every 4 weeks anyway.  A 5K race is a great test because it is a real simulation of race day atmosphere plus the 5K distance doesn’t require a taper or much recovery time.  So even as you move on to longer distances you probably will periodically want to run this type of recurring race.

The event was small at about 150-200 people and had everyone from super fast runners (18:00 5K times today) to Mom’s pushing strollers for fun.  It is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in a nice park in Georgetown with family and friends.  I’ll be recruiting more people to go with me next time.

Pre-Race Preparation Journal

I need to document my routine this week so I know how to reproduce it next month. 

I ran a quality run on Wednesday but then took Thursday/Friday off.  My diet was clean on Friday but I didn’t get to bed early enough so I only had about 6.5 hours of sleep.

This morning I weighed in at 186.0 lbs.  I only ate about ~225 calories (fig newmans, yum) and drank a single cup of coffee on the way there.  I arrived at 7:30 and only had about 30 minutes to get registered and warm up.  I did feel a little rushed for time so plan to arrive a little earlier next time.

For warm up I did exercises from the core performance book and jogged in the parking lot a little.  It was already hot outside so I was sweating by the time the race started and felt great.  Nothing of note was bothering me so the race prep worked pretty well.

The race timer guy didn’t show up so the clock started when the gun went off.  It pays to be near the front of the line on the pavement so you aren’t dodging slower runners to start.

Race Journal (82 Degrees / 66% humidity)

I made the classic mistake of going out too fast chasing the fast kids.  We started off at a sub-7 minute pace which I tried to back down over the first half mile or so.  The first mile was slightly down hill so I ended up going out too fast at a 7:29 pace.  At the mile 1 marker you turn around and run right back uphill so you do need to be a little fast on the way down.

During mile 2 I was growing scared that I went out too fast and that I was going to fall off in mile 3.  This is all I thought about for 10 minutes “when am I going to fall over?”.  I slowed the pace down to an 8:04 average and I know it slowed closer to 8:45 at times.

Mile 3 was a mentally challenging 8:24 pace.  I had no power in my legs although there wasn’t any burning or pain.  My HR was resting in the high 170’s at this point which I knew couldn’t last long.  Lucky for me, there was an old man (maybe mid-70’s) who locked in with me as we raced to the finish.  I know it sounds funny because this guy is twice my age but he was a real runner.  I honestly was worried because I knew he was trying to beat me and I didn’t want to drive him to an early grave or anything trying to prove something.  :)

So the old man passed me on my left and immediately tried to cut me off once he thought he safely passed.  This was a deliberate move on his part to try and shut me down and establish dominance.  However, I had sped up to answer his challenge.  So I decided to hit the grass and pass him convincingly to see if that would break his will.  When you pass you are supposed to pass with authority and pretend that you have a whole extra gear if that guy wants to test you again.  I was throwing psychology back at him you see. 

This lasted for another few tenths of a mile before I began to get really weak.  He passed me again with .3 miles to go and I couldn’t answer this time.  I was just trying to hang on and not stop by that point.  The challenge did take my mind off the race for most of mile 3 and I really think it helped me.  It helped both of us.

The last tenth of a mile (a 5K is 3.1 miles) I opened it up and crossed the finish line in a low 7 minute pace and my HR was maxed out at 182 BPM!  The old guy was just in front of me when I crossed as my final kick almost took him down.

After the race I approached the old guy and shook his hand and commended him on a fun race.  He thanked me for giving him such a challenge too and we exchanged comments about the weather for a while.  It was clear that we both had a good time with it.  Hopefully I can run that fast when I’m 75!

So that was it.  I averaged an 8:00 pace and didn’t puke or anything.  I ran a good race I thought and it was a good start to the Fall race season.  I know with focused training I can improve a large amount from here.  I’ll have to lose the last 6 lbs for my 180 goal and run a 7:13 pace to achieve my race goals for 2010.  Wish me luck!