New Year's Eve 5K
I had no idea what to expect in this race. I did it last year in 21:15 and then later set a 5K PR in May. I feel like I might have even been close to 20-flat shape before marine corps, but after being confined to the elliptical for the last 3 weeks in November and a low mileage December (170 compared to 250-260 in the summer/early fall), I didn't know what to expect. Anything under 21 would be good, but I feared losing ground compared to last year. I even had a dream last night where I was in a race where I could hardly run (like the dreams where you can't get away from the bad guys). That surprised me since I really wasn't anxious about this at all. I took it casually enough that I forgot to unset autolap on the Garmin before the race, which is normally part of the checklist.
I got there pretty early and hung around and socialized with some people before heading out for a warmup. The course is two laps, so I did one lap as a warmup, which is really nice since you can visualize the race. My heart rate was high for the pace, but it always is before a race -- nerves I suppose. I got back to the starting line 10 minutes before the gun. I would have done another quick out and back, but I ran into friends again and chatted with them. The course has some considerable climbs for a 5K. There aren't any up and downs, but there's one long climb per lap. It's basically a tilted saucer. The highest point is 85 feet higher than the lower point.
I lined up behind a big guy and asked him to lead block for me. I was in the 6th or 7th row of people with entire families ahead of me (including kids I'd guess were about 8 years old -- what is wrong with people?). I took off not really knowing how fast I was going. The Garmin said about 6:30 and I settled into that. The waves of children started to come back to me, but my lead blocker was still pulling away. I resisted the urge to follow him. After the climb, I picked up the pace and the Garmin auto-lapped at 6:20. Crap, I forgot to turn it off. When I hit mile 1 less than 10 seconds later, I hit the "lap" button. Actually, I thought I hit the lap button, but instead I hit "start/stop." Double crap. I spent the next five minutes thinking I was running 6:49 pace and wondering how I could possibly be that slow, but I slowly started to pull in a female runner up ahead that was looking pretty strong.
I started the Garmin again and it was reading somewhere around 6:30. My heart rate was also right at 190-191 from mile 1 on. I've never had this much ease maintaining this high a heart rate. In fact, I've never had it feel this easy in a 5K, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have run much faster.
At the highest point of the second loop, I moved to pass the woman I had been following. We ran abreast a bit and then she picked it up. That was fine with me, so I just stayed behind her again. She started to pull away from me, but I would just pick it up and stay maybe 10 feet back. The garmin auto-lapped in here at 6:28 "garmin" pace, but I had no idea what my time was.
At the bottom of the second loop we started run into the walkers we were lapping. Ugh. They were lined up in rows literally 10 abreast. This forced us to run *very* wide. When the rows of walkers got narrower, we made our to the curb and after a while were generally able to run on the cement part of the curb to get around the walkers. I just stayed behind the woman I'd been following and let her make the decisions. According to Mr. Garmin, we were holding a steady pace and I was at about 190-192 bpm, which is about all I can muster for 5K.
At about 2.5 miles another woman came up behind us and the woman in front of me tried to go with her. I picked it up and stayed with them, but the woman I'd been following faltered and when we reached some walkers who were four abreast, I went right and she went left -- that was the last I saw of her as I was pulled along by a new woman. I was really in cruise control and started to pick it up after we hit 3 miles. Hang a sharp right and we head toward the finish. As I get close, I see the clock. Holy crap, this is going to be close to a PR, so I sprint as best I can, but it ticks 20:33, maybe 20:34 -- I missed a PR by a second or two. I forgot to hit my watch at the finish. Too bad I screwed up the watch or I might have been able to claim a "watch PR" since I must have lined up at least 3 seconds farther back than I did in May (that was a smaller race and I finished 11th).
I ran into the 62-year-old who finished a place ahead of me in May. It turns out I beat him by 10 seconds, so that's a benchmark for improvement I suppose (this was a tougher course I think). After waiting for some friends, I did another lap around for a cool down, and my legs didn't feel beat up at all. They've never felt so good after a race.
I'm not sure why I did so well, but I feel like I have more pure speed than I did before. You might think I'm crazy, but I honestly believe these shoes (Nike Frees) have helped. I can already tell that my right foot that is normally pointed out, points more forward and I definitely have a higher stride rate and heel strike less. If I can get my mileage (and endurance) back up without sacrificing speed, I think I'll have a real shot at 3:15 this spring.
2007 running wrap-up
I set PRs at every distance in 2007.
5K - 20:32 (12 May)
5M - 34:20 (20 Jan)
10K - 43:15 (1 April - 10K split of 10M PR)
10M - 1:09:49 (1 April)
HM - 1:33:28 (16 Sept)
marathon - 3:24:16 (6 May)
The training for the beginning of the year was long slow distance with some races. I had a dramatic improvement in January from a 21:15 5K (6:50) on 12/31 to a 34:20 5M (6:52) on an extraordinarily hilly course. Between those two was the Disney Goofy Challenge where I jogged 39.3 10-minute miles over a Saturday and Sunday.
The goal race for the first half of the year was the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and I exceeded my dream goal in beating 70 minutes. It was the hardest race I've ever run and one I finished with no regrets. I started doing the Benji Durden marathon plan about 4 weeks earlier, which has intervals/hills on Tues, cruise intervals on Th, and a strong long run on Sunday -- the others days are 40 minute recovery runs.
I thought I might parlay that into a stab at a BQ (3:15) at the Frederick marathon. I ran the first 3 miles or so under BQ pace, but quickly backed off. Still, I hit the half at 1:38:54 (a half PR at the time), but struggled through the second half in 1:45:22. There was a wicked wind that day and the last four miles were into sustained 20 mph winds gusting to 30 mph. I was very happy with a 19-minute PR and thought Boston was easily within reach in the fall.
The second half of the year revolved around training for the failed attempt at the marine corps marathon. I was on pace for 3:15 through 17 miles and died at Hains Point, struggling home in 3:27:34. Despite the time, I was in the best shape of my life. Actually, I believe I peaked a couple of weeks earlier when I could suddenly run 6 x 0.5 miles at 3:11 per with no problem, when I couldn't break 3:20 for the life of me.
After that, I got rambunctious and thought I'd double down marathons like I did successfully in 2006. I wound up with an injury (right shin) and 3 weeks on the elliptical for my trouble. I'm still carrying around the after effects, but it doesn't seem to limit my running at this point. I just feel something creepy in my shin.
Tonight I had an unexpected good race to end the year.
running: 2640 miles, 412h 25m, 9:22 min/mi avg pace, 145 bpm avg hr (9/21 - 12/31)
elliptical: 22h 16m, 142 bpm avg
Three weeks of injury really cut into my mileage total. I barely squeaked over last year's 2589 miles, but ran it about 1 min/mi faster.
A while back, I told myself I'd avoid setting race goals and instead focus on training goals. I'm not sure that's the best idea. I'd just be kidding myself. My goal is to qualify for Boston. There's just no way around that. To get there, I need to train. When all is said and done, my total for 2008 should be at least 3000 miles, so I'll call that a goal. If I don't get there, I'll know why I didn't get to Boston.