Sunday, June 12, 2011


Last year, I participated in this 5K race. It was my 4th 5K race of 2010. It also was the race in which I established my fastest 5K time since I started running again in 2009. I have no blog record of running this race, but I have my results:

June 12, 2010
5K @33:54
Pace 6:39/km

Back in 2003, I achieved the following time in a 5K race, my PR back when I was younger and somewhat lighter - LOL!:


This is the race that I chose back in February to spend 14 weeks training for in order to achieve my goal of running a '5K in under 30 minutes.'

So how did I do?

Official Posted time
Pace 5:58/km
Blow horn start / bib slip collection

Garmin time
5 km @29.21
Pace 5:52/km

a.k.a. "The Monkey Off My Back" Run!
(I say this jokingly ... if I were truly bothered by running 5K races in over 30 minutes, I would tried much harder before running so many of them!)

a.k.a. "The 5K under 30 Club Membership" Run!

Well, I did it, folks. :) I finally earned my membership into that club of people who can run a 5K distance in under half an hour. :)

Since returning to running, I've just been showing up to races to see how I do 'this time.' Today, I was both nervous and excited because this was the race I have actually focused on for the last 14 weeks. I have run 14 - 5K races, almost always for fun, but this is the first time since I have trained for one with time goal. I did this as a way of getting myself back into running shape after the winter and to increase my mileage to the level where I can start training for my rematch and new PR in the Niagara Falls half marathon this fall.

Usually when I blog about a race, I can describe it in detail. I am usually very aware of what is going on around me, making observations, watching other runners, checking out the scenery of where I am at, learning something new, etc. Not so much today! I have to admit that this race was more of a blur. I truly ran with focus, running full speed ahead with my eyes on the road ahead of me, trying to find my pace! I really can't say much about the actual race except that I recognized the route while running it, and unlike most of my recent races, I was always surrounded by a lot of people running a similar pace (it was VERY nice not to be a lone runner in a race for a change!).

After a tough personal week of wondering if my injured achilles tendon was going to be okay, and having trouble sleeping the night before, the signs this morning leading up to this race were all in my favour:

1. The weather channel predicted unseasonably coolish weather. It was just awesome! Ideal for me for running. Most people were complaining about the drop in temperatures, but I was rejoicing!

2. Morning prep and breakfast ran on schedule. There was no "I can feel the breakfast heavy in my stomach" for me today!

3. I took a hot shower in order to feel 'clean' and awake. Most race days I just go and then shower when I get back, but I wanted that super fresh feeling before leaving.

4. I wore my favourite tech running shirt, the black Grand Bend tech shirt from last fall's Pinery Provincial Park race (I am wearing it in the Niagara Falls half marathon pic at the bottom of my blog). I also wore my newest Saucony running shoes.

5. My Garmin was properly set, my iPod has my special 'Bayfield' playlist, and I have practiced using my new black Sprint Palm holder so I do not have to stop at any water stations. :)

6. The drive up there through farmlands is beautiful and relaxing.

7. There is just under 400 runners participating in either the 2K or the 5K so the event is a nice, 'fuller' community race without being too large.

8. My bib number is great (9 - 4 = 5 my favourite number!)

9. Warm-up goes well. Although I think it feels a little sluggish after some striders, my pace is actually quite good.

10. I have Ben with me. I owe Ben a lot for being there for me when this environment is really not his ideal (he hates any type of crowd with a passion), but he held my hand and then my gear while I warmed up. He kept me smiling with quips and encouragement, and was the partner I needed him to be before the race started.

I knew going in that I had selected a race with an ideal running course (all flat - literally no hills or inclines), but I also knew that this would not be chip timed. This meant that I had to run that much faster to ensure my official time was under 30 minutes. My official time was going to be negatively affected regardless by where I stood at the start and where I placed in the finishing chute. This is why I didn't want to stop for water anywhere along the way. Can you tell I was taking this very seriously? :)

And at the sound of the air horn, 293 runners took off in the 5K. My training program suggested that I stand back from the start line where all the racers are jumping out and running full tilt so I wouldn't be forced to run with them. No worries there as I usually take middle back position! But I did move up closer than usual to the front because this race was not chip timed, and I really did not want to miss my PR by a few seconds as a result of my starting position. My training program also suggested that this placement in the pack would slow me down a little (ideal) while I warmed up and would keep me from swoosh!-ing out too fast. This was good advice and it worked - my start was slower and built up as a result:

1 km - 5:56 (best pace 5:01)

However, I started running too fast in the 2nd km and I knew it:

2 km - 5:40 (best pace 4:27)

I kept telling myself to slow down and follow the plan, but it was really tough to do! It was as if I hit a certain pace (5:30/km) and felt very comfortable there so I didn't want to leave it, yet I knew I couldn't keep that pace up and I was hurting myself in the long run if I didn't bring it down. Maybe this is why I don't remember the race as much as I was struggling with myself to run the the logical pace and not the 'adrenaline-fuelled feels good' pace.

3 km - 5:58 (best pace 5:12)

And this is when I started to feel it. There was no hill to blame or change in course ... I started to feel tired and you can see this in the next km split. After 3km at a speed much faster than what I should have been running ideally, it's not a surprise:

4 km - 6:04 (best pace 5:01)

It was at around this point of the race when something unique to me happened, and whether you call it 'Providence' or fate, this is what occurred next. As I am tiring, I turned to my left and saw someone I knew - my running partner from last spring! We had run this same race together last year and she had returned to Bayfield to run it as well. I reached over with my hand and lightly touched her on the shoulder to get her attention, and we then had a mini reunion on the course while running. We had lost touch with each other by choice so to have something like this take place in the middle of my 'important' race was surreal! I have to give her credit where credit is due because when I told her I was trying to break 30 minutes today, she johnny-on-the-spot said okay! I'm in! It was a small miracle for me because what are the odds of finding an old running partner while trying to PR and pacing each other to the end? We chatted but I can't remember what was said because I was not zoned into the conversation while trying to maintain my pace and because I was feeling anxious about making it to the finish line in time. The race is a bit of a blur except for when I finally saw the finish line ...

5 km - 5:46 (best pace 5:11)

For the first time in a long time, I had nothing extra to offer at the end. I was very tired, breathing more heavily than usual, and running my heart out to reach the end in under 30 minutes. We passed several people, but then we were passed by others. The crowd laughed as a woman wearing a cape sprinted past most of us to the finish. There was no way I could catch up to her even if I wanted to as I was just fighting to maintain my pace at that point. :)

0.09 km - 6:22 (best pace 4:58)

This is when it's a little funny ... both in the funny 'ha ha' and the funny 'peculiar' meanings. Ben took a photo of me walking after my finish with the clock in the foreground reading "29:45." I was expecting an "official" time of 29:40 range so I was a little shocked to see "29:51" as my official time. And my running partner was listed as two seconds slower than me when in fact we crossed the finish together. :( Again, I should not be surprised by this because of the laidback timing method used for this race. However, once again, I am really pleased that I didn't make any water pit stops and that I pushed it when I did.

So! In conclusion ... my learnings from this race ...

1. I see now how cutting two weeks of my 'track work' had a negative impact because I struggled to find my pace throughout this race. I am sure that if I had had another two weeks of track work, I probably would have had proper pacing. Lesson learned. :)

2. I may sound like I am 'out to lunch' saying this, but I really like the 5:30/km pace. It feels comfortable to me, and I struggled with slowing myself down to the 5:50 - 6:00/km pace range, which did not feel as comfortable to me. I find this very odd because I really do not have the fitness level to run a 5K at 5:30/km! However, this is not the first time that I have noticed my gravitation to this particular speed. It seems to be my default fast speed. I'm not trying to run at this speed - I just find myself going to it first and then having to force myself to slow it down because I can't maintain it.

3. Having a pacing partner really works! I know this already from my experiences with running with others, but because it has been so long since I paced with someone, it was a nice reminder. :) I am unsure if I would have achieved today's goal if I didn't have someone with me to help maintain the pace.

4. It doesn't matter if someone has run 3 races or 31 races (like me!), there is a huge difference between running a race casually for fun and running a race for a specific time! Now I need to learn how to find the right balance between the two. :)

5. This was! I felt sooooo low in February after 10 weeks of not running. When I started this training program, it still felt like a big letdown to me. After running a half marathon last fall and then starting to train for a '10K in under 60 minutes' for the spring, followed by a planned spring half marathon, instead I was going to focus on a dinky 5K?!?! But as I have progressed through this training, and learned so much more about running, I realized that it had actually been a blessing (for me). I have a new appreciation for 5K races :) and focusing on the improvement of my speed will clearly benefit me in the next 17-19 weeks as I train for a half marathon in the fall. Hindsight is 20/20 - I did not think this way at the beginning - but I truly believe it now. I am feeling very jazzed after my race (and my 2 hour afternoon nap!). I am enthusiastic about my plans moving forward, and much, much better prepared at this point to start training for another half marathon than I was a year ago. Pretty pretty cool! :) :)

No comments:

Post a Comment