Friday, December 2, 2011

Run Wild For A Child 5K

Yes, you read that right.  I ran a 5K.  And I surprisingly have a lot to say about the experience.

I pretty much stumbled into this race having secured a free entry.  I have long and often said that I am afraid of 5K's and therefore avoid racing them like the plague.  However, it didn't take me more than a few seconds to decide that I'd race this event vs. just running it for fun.

My current 5K PR was from April, 2005 when I ran a 25:51.  And this was a huge deal for me at the time to be running in the 8:00's.  But that race hurt and I remember feeling as if my heart was literally going to pound out of my chest as I approached the finish. I swore off 5K's.

That 2005 5K PR was an 8:19 pace which is a pace I can probably hold sans heart attack feeling for 7 or 8 miles now.  So I knew I had a PR in the bag barring any huge catastrophe.

I was a bit scared of this race because I don't spend a lot of time doing short interval or even 5K pace work.  During marathon training, 3-4 times I'll do mile repeats.  And my last mile repeat sessions were early JULY and mid October.  Not a lot to go on there.  I've always thought it would be super cool to have an average race pace in the 7:xx's and the 5K distance seems to be the only distance this could ever happen for me.  So I've had that teensy goal in my mind for a few years as a pipe dream sort of thing.

In October I ran two mile repeats in 7:46 and 7:54.  Based on how I felt during those repeats I doubted I could hold a sub-8:00 pace for 3.1 consecutive miles.  On a bit of last minute decision, a week ago I did another two mile repeats in 7:31 and 7:38.  Not bad progress in a month.  I figured with the new training mile PR I had a more realistic shot of going sub-8:00 pace during the race.

My plan was to go out at a 7:50 pace, hold it, and ratchet down as appropriate.  I ran a little over 2 miles to the race start from home as a warm up.  I luckily found Boyfriend at the start, as well as Naomi, and got there just in the nick of time for the gun.

The race panned out like this (0.5 mi Garmin splits):

The first mile or so, all I could think about was that I had no clue how to pace myself for a 5K.  I'm on pace but is that too much?  Should I back off?  Will I implode?  Oh wait, now we're going to slow.  Must speed up.  But now is this too fast?  Repeat.  Shortly after the first mile, I realized I felt the same amount of physical distress as I would at about the halfway point of a marathon.  Gah!

Mile 1:  7:52, 8:00

One thing I totally forgot about 5K's is that children run them.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like pushing along at 5K pace right next to a 10 year old with horrid form, obviously not pacing themselves, wearing a huge backpack, and yet there they are right by you and hanging on.  Oh wait!  And now that little snotty kid is actually pulling away from you.  Gah!

Mile 2:  7:53, 8:02

I saw the awesome Courtney who was out cheering.  Such a great surprise!  Since I hadn't known she'd be out I was wondering if I would get to see her after the race.  "Are you coming to lunch after?" I asked her as I ran by, "I hope you can make it!"  As soon as I uttered those words in such a cheery fashion I realized I was not running this 5K hard enough.

I saw Alyssa who beat down the 10K race shortly after that.  We had a smiley exchange and again knew I wasn't in the right effort zone.

Then all of a sudden, I was at mile 2 with only one more mile to go.  I started to push the pace a bit.  I was running along and realized I'd finish with a sub-8:00 pace!  I tried to time pushing my pace so that feel-like-puking would coincide with just after crossing the finish line.  But I never quite got there.  I was giving it my all at the finish, though.

Mile 3:  7:45, 7:29
Mile 3.15:  6:49
Official finish time:  24:32
Pace:  7:55 min/mile

So I'm totally impressed with myself for putting down a sub-8:00 pace somewhere officially.  Never thought that would happen.  And so with that, you'd think I'd officially retire from 5K's, right?  But alas, there is always just a little bit more to squeeze out of yourself, and I'm hoping to one day finish with a sub-24:00 time.  I think this is pretty doable with just a little better pacing in the early miles and a little more speed work.

I actually really enjoyed pushing the pace a bit and am hoping to race 5K's more than once every 6+ years in the future.  It is a very different change of pace for me from marathons, but I think it will help me to become a stronger runner.

A couple of observations about 5K's:

  • The marathoner in me loves the parallels between the marathon and the 5K.  The 5K is just a little truncated version of the marathon.  You feel like it is mile 16 at mile 1.2, it feels like it is mile 24 at mile 2.1.  And there is that awesome dash to the finish.  
  • But it all happens so quickly!  And if it goes badly you can try again so soon!  Gotta love that.
  • Sadly, you won't be setting any 10 minute PR's in the 5K.  Not sure how I feel about trying to whittle away 10 seconds here and there. The marathoner in me does not like this aspect.
  • My garmin stats were as follows:  3.15 miles, 7:48 average pace.  Quite frankly, that is right about where I wanted to be for my overall average pace.  And I only ran an "extra" 0.05 miles.  Surely that means my average pace on the garmin is going to be pretty identical to the official average pace, right?  An extra 0.05 miles in a marathon is like nothing and wouldn't even put a dent in your average pace.  But alas, I learned this is totally not so in the 5K.  That extra 0.05 miles cost me 7 seconds a mile off my official pace.  The marathoner in me dislikes this, too.  Note to self, learn to run tangents better.  Or find a straight 5K course.

I've got no photos to share so enjoy this one of Mario looking so handsome and stately :)


Alisa said...

Wow sub 8, awesome! We did a turkey trot on thanksgiving morning and Justin ran it in under 19 minutes! Surprisingly there were 12 people faster, that's insane to me!

Rabbits' Guy said...

5K strategy? Run like hell.

I think doing some fast-as-hell 5K's - even out on the training course - will drop your marathon time quite a lot.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Oh crumb, forgot - CONGRATULATIONS! You had a plan, went with it, and adjusted as needed! We all should do so well!

Angela @ SF Road Warrior said...

Awesome!! May you score another 5K PR in the not-too-dim-&-misty future!! :)

I'm the opposite of you -- I'm so used to a few seconds being a big deal in terms of dropping 5K / 10K times that the concept of dropping a marathon PR by 5-10 minutes seems extraordinary!

Sammie's Mom said...

Such a handsome boy! Hope he's still on the upward swing or recovery!

Anonymous said...

My first mile totally mirrored yours. Wait, too fast? Too slow? Why's this kid running faster than me? And yes, you EASILY have a sub-24:00 in you.