March 3, 2012
This was an inaugural event put on at BSU to raise food for the Idaho food bank! It was great to see so many runners out today and all the barrels of food that they donated to help the needy!
I haven’t ran a 5k in about 16 years. I was kind of excited to see how I’d do just to get a benchmark of my road fitness before I head into my 100 miler in three weeks. Considering I really don’t have any speedwork in my program (and have not had any for more than a year and a half, I wasn’t expecting to see any “blazing speed” from myself and figured it would be a good chance to see how much work would lay ahead of me in the upcoming months to get in “faster road shape.”) That will change after the Buffalo Run, when I can turn my focus and training towards BQing in the fall.
I told Wayne before the race how my strategy goes in road racing. I start mid-pack, let the surge happen and then let the truly fast pull away and those who go out too fast fade back one-by-one as they huff and puff and need to walk, and try to maintain my consistent effort until the final mile where I gradually push on the gas until the final kick where I go all out. I headed out and rather quickly found myself closer to the front 1/4 of the pack, where I remained comfortably for most of the race. Within a mile, several were huffing and walking and I stayed steady, passing several. I was surprised to see how comfortable a 7:15 – 7:45 ish pace felt since I wasn’t breathing hard at all. I was a bit fearful to really lay it down since I haven’t practiced this short, fast distance, so I held back a bit, telling myself to “stay in cruise control and wind it up in the final mile and some change.” That “this feels easy” feeling wouldn’t last of course.
I’d checked the McMillan Chart I keep posted at my desk before I left. I printed it out, based on the time I need at a marathon to BQ (3:44:45 it says – though I can do 3:45:00 technically.) For those unfamiliar with the McMillan charts, it basically gives you a specific time and pace for each distance from 100 meters to the marathon, where, going all out on your best day, you’d hit these if you were properly trained for each distance. I use this as a guideline as I work up to a marathon goal since it gives me benchmarks and let’s me see how close I am at shorter distances to displaying the kind of speed I need to really qualify in September.
For a 5k, my all-out, perfect race would be a 7:25 pace for a time of 23:03. I figured that was possible, though I wasn’t sure today would be that day, since I’ve been having problems with my calves the last week. I figured I’d be in the ballpark, though and told Wayne, “I’m sure I can go sub 24. Not sure I can hit the 23:03, but I’ll be close.”
My first mile was 7:37. I was comfortable with that since I tend to start a bit slower than race pace and ramp up gradually, finishing the last mile faster than needed. After 1.8 miles, I started to get a bit worried. We were still heading out and I was thinking, “How are we going to get back to the start/finish by 3.1 miles if we haven’t turned around yet?” Mile 2 was 7:42 as I started to have doubts. By the time I hit mile 3 and was ready to final kick, we still hadn’t crossed the bridge to bring us back to the starting area and I really struggled mentally. My pace was 7:30 for that mile and the finish line was nowhere near. I saw my Garmin show my pace slip to 8:30 as I wondered if I’d accidentally gotten on the 10k course instead of the 5k and knew I could not hold the 7:37 ave (at that point) pace for another 3 miles without some pain. My calves and shins were burning, even though I was wearing my new, awesome compression sleeves from Les A. and I was wondering if my finish would even count if I’d done the 10k accidentally instead of the 5k. My head was in a bad place. I shook it off once some race volunteers pointed me to the bridge and said, “This way for the 5k.” I said, “It’s 3.76 miles already. I think it’s long!” They said, “We think you’re right.” Knowing that I was, in fact on the proper course, I found my resolve again and started pumping the legs and arms harder. I crossed the bridge, ran along the Greenbelt for a ways, then turned right onto the BSU campus, sensing that the final kick was finally here!!! I pushed and pushed and once I heard the music from the finish line and could see the people gathered at the end, with about 2/10ths to go, I laid it down hard, crossing the finish line at a pace of 5:04. That 4th mile was an 8:21 pace (I’d settled into a jog while I was trying to determine if I still had to run another 3 miles), then the final .18 was at an ave 6:56 pace.
Average HR: 185 Max HR: 202. I did look down at the watch at 3 miles. It was 22:49. I really think had the course been correct, I would have landed within seconds of my “all-time-best” needed McMillan 5k time I need to be on the BQ path since I always push, push, push the final stretch when I’m certain the finish is coming and that helps my overall pace. I think my lesson today was to not let my head get to me, even if things don’t go as planned. It really doesn’t matter that the course was an extra mile long. It was a great race on a pretty course for a good cause!! And my paces weren’t half bad. I wish I hadn’t gotten discouraged and faded, but it was another lesson that I can take away and improve upon as I head into my upcoming 100 mile race. There will certainly be things that don’t go as planned in the course of a 30 hour event. I need to be able to keep my head in the game no matter how tired I’m feeling, no matter what the weather is, no matter if I’m fighting a ton of blisters or chafing or get off course, or if I have stomach problems. It doesn’t really matter. Relentless forward motion! That’s all that matters! Keep going! Keep pushing on! NEVER GIVE UP NO MATTER WHAT!!!
It turns out I shouldn’t have been so focused on the time. No official time was kept at all. I really did enjoy chatting with the other runners at the finish line. I got to cheer Wayne in for a fantastic finish (way to go, honey!), and I met this wonderful little gal who is part of the 50 states club (meaning a marathoner who wants to run a marathon in ever single state in the United States.) She is also an ultra runner and has recently moved to the area. We hit it off really well and I invited her to come running with me soon! That was a total highlight!!! The yummy, fresh apples and chocolate milk also hit the spot! Mmmm!
P.S. My total time for this event was 32:27 for an average pace of 7:45 for the 4.18 miles.
Here’s a link to the McMillan Calculator