Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another 5K Race Report

From May...

Let me set the table first with a little background.
You probably remember my goal for this year was to get sub-20. Started off with a nice 20:45 in March. But then the next two races were disappointing (20:51 and 21:32). The last month or so, it seems like my legs were always tired. I didn't feel the pep I needed for a good race.

Since this week promised a fast course and some good competition, I vowed to rest up a little more, and committed myself to going out at goal pace and sticking to it as long as I could. No wimping out and wondering what if. Suicide pace strategy. So my plan was to go out at 6:40, and then get into the 6:30's (at least) and keep it there. I didn't expect sub20 yet, but I really needed to break 20:45, and I wanted to get under 20:30 to feel like I was making progress.

The past week of workouts was encouraging. Sunday I did 8.2 miles on wood chips and felt some pep returning. Paces were good and I felt strong. Monday I had a chance to run with Meb, since he showed up at a Local Running Store (not my usual one). So I adjusted my schedule and did 3 miles with a legend (and 100 others). And got a photo.
So I took Tuesday off, and I also skipped the gym this week. The leg strength work always leaves my legs tired for a few days. So Wednesday I was feeling rested and did 8 miles of hills. Again, the mojo was on point! I was running faster than usual and feeling strong. So I then took Thursday and Friday off and came in to race day feeling confident and rested.

The event was the Armed Forces Day 5K. We have an Armed Forces Day Parade here (longest running in the US), and this year they brought back a 5K that they used to have years ago. It goes along the parade route, so it's kind of fun to see the stands set up for cheering fans. Sadly no butts in the seats for the 8AM race since the parade wasn't until 11:00. But still fun. It was sunny and about 60. Beautiful day. The course was nearly flat and lots of straight, but there were three u-turns.

Here is the long straightaway during the parade. Note the huge Eucalyptus trees that line the street the whole way. Pretty cool.
It starts and finishes at the bottom left. We start South and u-turn after 100 meters. Then turn right for a long straight run. U back and take a little detour before turning left to the finish.

In addition to my time goal, I also had some good competition to motivate me. Scott is a guy from Tuesday run group who always runs real hard on Tuesdays, usually ahead of me. And he talks a lot of smack. He's 58 and fast, but lacks race experience and confidence. So he bet me he would beat me, so we were racing for a beer.

Also, I have a new training buddy, Eva, in both my Tuesday and track groups. She's 30 and fast, usually beating me in intervals, but we run together a lot. I figured she would beat me, but I hoped to stay close.
OK, enough background! Let's race!

 At the gun I just tried to stay in control until we got through the u-turn, and then the next 1/4 mile had a little 10 foot rise. Enough hill to notice, so I planned to stay relaxed and not burn out early. Pace was about 6:45. Perfect. I moved by Scott already. Eva had bolted from the start, and already had 50 meters on me at the turn. Fine. Good for her. Instead, her friend D was running side by side with me, using me to pace off of. Which was great. Having a partner always makes it easier. The two of us started moving up the field, passing the people who went out too fast. Our shared energy as we passed people really helped. Because it was starting to hurt already. Pace was stubbornly staying around 6:43. But, even though I was feeling it, it was good pain, not soul-sucking, "why am I doing this" pain. Went through mile 1 in 6:45.

Before we ht the next turnaround, D had slipped back a little. Eva had got maybe 100 meters up on me. But I could tell she was starting to come back to me now. Slowly. But it definitely gave me something to focus on. My mile two lap pace was dipping under 6:40. I was working hard, but I felt like I could keep it up. Made the turn, and saw Scott was maybe 50 meters back. Figured I had him beat, because I was not going to be slowing down. I was passing people. No one was passing me.

On the way back I pushed a little more and slowly reeled Eva in. Went through two in 6:38, and then saw my lap pace for mile 3 was already at 6:30. Alright! I felt I could definitely hold on and make mile 3 my fastest. A 2016 PR looked  probable! On the little detour I blew by a struggling Eva and powered on. Now I had no one to chase but the clock. But I knew I had a good one and wanted to get every second. So I kept the hammer down and caught a few more guys. My form started to fall apart and I almost staggered a few times, but after the last turn, there was that nice 10 foot downhill to the finish. I pushed all the way in. Mile 3 was 6:28, and I managed 5:48 pace for the last bit.

Official time: 20:15! Negative splits. Solid time. Competition crushed. Yeah, I felt pretty good. Pretty damn good. The high lasted all day. Ended up 27th overall, and 3rd in my AG, which got me a $10 gift certificate at the LRS. Eva came in 2nd female and Scott was 20:57. I thanked Eva for the rabbiting, because chasing her butt really helped me focus during that mile 2 pain. That made all the difference.

So I'm happy, but I'm also planning the next one. My AGPR of 20:06 was 4 years ago at Anaheim. I'm planning to go back there in 3 weeks to run that fast course again and see if I can beat that. If not, there's still more chances down the road.

Life is good.

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