- 21.6 miles of running. I reduced my mileage partly to get in a 5k and partly because I didn't feel great for a few days
- NDB, just a little 5k PR...for the 3rd time this year.
- My 2nd fastest 10 miler ever
Ok, let's get started!
Here's how the mileage when down this week:
Monday: rest day, part necessity and part strategy. I was really tired AND looking at the week's forecast, the morning temperatures were coolest on Tuesday, so that was the best day to run the 5k.
Tuesday: 5k! More about that in a moment.
Wednesday: I came down with a spell of fatigue that dictated an extra rest day. Chalking it up to pushing myself so hard the day before and/or fall allergies.
Thursday: I was still awfully tired, but had enough in me for a short run. 3.25 miles and I could not have run another step.
Friday: back to normal! 5.25 miles. The difference between Thursday and Friday was mind boggling, like someone flipped a switch.
Saturday: my final long run before half marathon #5. I went out to the hiking/biking trail and really didn't have a clear idea of how far I was going to run. I've run 8 miles as my final long run for my previous halfs and had toyed with the idea of doing 12 this time...in the end I split the difference and did 10. I faded pretty badly toward the end and did some run walk BUT I didn't stop at any point in the run AND it was my fastest non-race road 10 miler yet.
Now let's talk, and talk, and talk about that 5k!
The 5k PR
My favorite 5k ever is held the first Saturday of May. This year of course, in person racing was not an option on race day, so the race went the route of "hey no problem, we'll
defer to September when this whole COVID thing will be long gone and if
that's a good enough plan for Boston it's good enough for us" and here
we are in September and my little 5k made the same call as Boston that
virtual is the way to go.
I love this race because there's a family connection (my SIL volunteers and a couple of the kids in our family usually run and one of my stepsons has a birthday around that time of year so it's usually the same day as our family party), it's local, and oh yes, the course is almost perfectly flat and the weather is always perfect that time of year. Basically this is a "PR Engineered" race. Each year that I've run I've gotten a PR, improving the previous year by about 30 seconds. A quick recap:2015: 32:15
2017: DNS (nasty weather + in the process of selling my house at the time, just a little stressed out on race day)
I've run many other 5ks but a quick scan of the results shows that prior to March of 2020 I'd never beaten my 2015 time outside of this race. And then 2020 happened and I started running all of my 5ks in PR engineered conditions. I beat my time just slightly in March and then a by a bit more in June, nailing a 30:28.
I started my morning with a Cliff bar, coffee, and a glass of UCAN and drove to my standard 5k/10k race site, which is a park about a mile from home. For my first set of virtual races last spring (here and here) I walked to the park, which caused issues on the porta potty front...let's just say that those races were a little harder than they needed to be and that I was extra motivated to finish.
I arrived at the park and walked about half a mile on the trail from my car to my official race starting line of a park bench. Yes folks, I know it's been a while so some of you have forgotten what a race start line looks like:
As the bench came into sight, I started my music and fired off the ol' Garmin and the race began. I have a workout set up on my Garmin to encourage a ~9:50-9:40-9:30-ish split. While in a "real" 5k I have a solid race strategy and am fairly good about pacing myself, my virtual 5k game isn't quite there and by the 3rd mile in the past two races there was nothing left. Miles 1 and 2 passed by and predictably mile 3 was quite hard, so the negative split was a nice idea but I didn't have the resources to execute it. The common sports psychology question "how bad do you want it?" by the 3rd mile was...not very much, really the only thing keeping me in the race was that there isn't much sense in quitting in the final mile.
One strategy that I like to use in "real" races is to catch up with other runners and then pass them by, something that is sorely missing in the virtual race world. But I got the virtual equivalent in that there were a few other walkers on the trail. My visual estimate is that the path is about 4 feet wide, so it's standard practice that if you need to pass someone, both parties step to either side to increase the distance to 6 feet. The problem is that it's not very comfortable to run in grass, and in some sections it's pretty swampy, so my solution was to really gun it anytime that I needed to pass to minimize the discomfort. I had to pass two people in my final mile so that gave me two huge surges that I didn't think I had in me. Because of the way I had the workout set up, the only thing that I could see was my pace for the mile I was in, I couldn't see my splits or my overall time. I thought I was kind of in line with 30:28 but I wasn't sure. Mile 3 beeped and my thought wasn't "hey only a tenth of a mile" it was more like "oh God I cannot even" so I slowed down and then I got my spunk and shot off with all that I had in me until I "crossed the finish line" (a.k.a until I heard the Garmin beep that the workout was over, my virtual start lines are visual and my finish lines are aural).
OK, with the race over here are the goods. I had no idea that I came out even for the first 2 miles or that they were so fast. Mile 3 was identical to my previous race and the final 0.1 was faster this time:
The Smashrun accolades:
- It felt so good to push myself (I mean, it didn't feel good in the moment, but afterwards it was very satisfying).
- Ha, ha the irony that I ended up being exactly 30 seconds faster than my time last year, so I'm going to go ahead and declare that my 2021 result for this race will be 29:41 (I made a joke about that in last year's recap).
- At my June 5k, the gap between 30:28 and sub 30 seemed insurmountable...no way could I have run each mile 10 seconds faster. Now the gap between 30:11 and sub 30 seems pretty tiny, in fact it seems downright achievable.
- I always set my virtual races a bit long (3.12 vs 3.1x because the various running apps that I use sometimes drop the last few data points and won't analyze a 3.09 mile run as a 5k), but Strava tells me that my exact 5k time was 30:04...c'mon I can improve by 4 seconds. And hey the "real" race course is just a bit short, about 3.07, so in theory I coulda sub 30'd the real race.
- Oh by the way I really didn't do any 5k specific training. My speed workouts are either at my 10k pace or my mile pace, nothing in between, and because of the weather I haven't done speed workouts for a few weeks.
- My tentative plan is to do some 5k specific training after my October races and then take another shot on Thanksgiving (it's a given that I'll run a Turkey Trot that day, most likely it will be virtual).
- To everyone who says that they are sick of virtual races: yes I feel you but I'm in a different place. Virtual races are a whole lot better than nothing and I'm so glad that I got the experience of my favorite 5k even in its 2020 format. My PR's are in my future and not my past, so yes my perspective is all "running is not cancelled and PR's are not cancelled" but someone who is in a different place in their running journey will of course feel differently and that's just fine. It's kinda everyone's first time at the pandemic rodeo and we're all allowed to fell the way that we feel.
- Sigh, it was a bit of a letdown to merely come home and go to work instead of heading off to a family birthday party, but it was what it was.
Whew, that was a lot to say about a 5k! Tune in next week for half marathon #5 (in theory...my intention is to run it on the real race day but if weather/life circumstances change I will defer to October).