Friday, November 25, 2016

I found the magic formula for running 5Ks in the 18s

Here it is:
  1. Select a holiday-themed race
  2. Run on tired legs
  3. Set no goals, and in fact plan to run at 10K to half marathon pace
  4. Make sure there is another barrier to running well (e.g., the course has 160 ft elevation gain, you'll be running the whole race alone and finish 5 minutes in front of the second runner, etc.)
We trotted!
I signed up for the Joplin Turkey Trot 5K at the urging of my sister-in-law, as we both ran the race last year and it's the closest Turkey Trot to my in-laws, where we have the huge Ibbetson Thanksgiving.  I registered before I decided to run the White River half marathon, so it wasn't planned that I'd be racing again 5 days after a half, but that's what happened.

My struggle with 5Ks has been real (although I felt better about it after I stumbled upon a blog written by an Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier who noted she couldn't seem to race 3 miles at 6:00 pace; however, she ran 26.2 miles at 6:15 pace!).  After a particularly rough 5K in July that I couldn't even finish at half marathon pace in the third mile, I pretty much just gave up ever running a 5K in the 18s (I tried many times in 2015, and nearly always came up with a 19:0X).  Then, I had a good 5K (for me) at the Trick or Trot last month, finishing in 18:46, showing me it wasn't impossible.

After I was already registered for this Turkey Trot, the race organizers posted on Facebook that the course was different than the 2015 course.  This disappointed me, because the 2015 course had been flat and fast (the struggle at that event, though, was 30+ mph winds, and I ran a 19:0X).  Looking at the new course map, I thought it went around a park that was quite hilly, so I mapped the course on mapmyrun, and the site confirmed my assumption and quoted the route as having 164 feet of elevation gain.

So with these factors in combination, in addition to being in a recovery phase, I wrote off worrying about my time in this event.  I wanted to try to repeat my overall win from 2015, however, but said I'd run to win and hope it was faster than the final 5K of my recent half!

On race morning, I tried something new with my warm-up.  I've noticed that I nearly always feel the worst on my first repeat of any speed workout, and I nearly always am able to speed up throughout tempo runs and longer races, so it's like I need some faster running to get going, and more than just strides.  I ran a 3.1 mile warm-up, which is pretty typical, but I threw in a faster mile (6:29).  In the end, I think this was helpful and got me really warmed up; however, at the time I was running it, it actually made me question if I could even run that pace for the 5K!  I guess that is proof that I needed it.  I did everything else as usual, including some plyometrics, leg swings, and pre-start strides.
Starting photo, from the event's Facebook page - where's Sara?
When the gun went off, a high school aged girl took off quickly, and after a quarter mile or so I figured I'd better go cover her since I wanted to try to win, and worried I was going to have to really hammer it if she could maintain her pace.  I pulled up on her and went around her rather quickly a bit before the mile mark, and she was breathing really hard.  I came through the mile in 5:52 due to chasing her and the decline, so then I thought, "Well, it's already 1/3 over, I might as well try to get in the 18s."

Then I saw the men ahead of me turn right and start climbing a mountain.  I soon learned that this was not a course to negative split on!  My second mile was 6:03, which I was happy with considering the major hill.  There were several men around me to work on pulling in, which was nice.  At the mile 2 marker, in my typical 5K fashion, I was split between thinking, "Wow, these things are short; only 1 mile to go!" and "Oh geez, this is way too fast, I have to run another whole mile at this pace??!"  Mile 3 had two major hills, and I ran it in 6:07 (oy - a major positive split!), and then we also had to go up incline and against the wind to the finish, so my final 0.11 was only 5:57 (compared to a 5:19 final 0.1 in my last half, haha!).  But it was good enough for an 18:42 official time and the overall female win, which I was pretty pumped about!  And my little Garmin read 3.11 on the certified course, making me proud (it is crazy that I get super excited every time my Garmin is super close/right on on certified courses?)?  Official results here.

The old course was better
18:42 is actually my fastest 5K as an adult on a certified course!  I ran an 18:18 in 2010, but the accuracy of that course was questionable, so I kind of keep it in mind with an asterisk, and my actual certified course PR is 18:25, run as a teenager.  So, after this race the wheels started turning...could I have run 20 seconds faster on a flat course?  I think I could have - and if I wasn't 5 days off of a hard half perhaps I could go a little faster than that.  So, add a lifetime 5K PR to my ambitions...or maybe don't, because if I plan to try I'll probably run 19:0X!

Another really fun thing about the race was seeing my friend Liz and her entire family (and running a cool-down with her)!  She and her husband, son, daughter, parents, older brother, and younger brother run a ton of races together and always have the best family photos in matching race gear.  For this one they all had adorable turkey hats!  Liz and I used to train some together when we both lived in Southeast Kansas, and in this race she out-sprinted the high school girl who went out too fast and placed second overall female.  She is apparently really good at out-sprinting teenagers, which is pretty impressive (I for one would not want to get into a kick battle with anyone younger than me!), and I thought it was a great showing for us 30-something moms!

Also along those lines, my sister-in-law told me before the race that there was no way she would break 30 minutes, and I told her I knew she could.  She ended up running a 29:01!  Her 3 young children watched the race with her mom, Jon, and Albani.  We loved having our nieces and nephew there!

After the race, our blessed Thanksgiving continued with Jon's extended family as well as my amazing parents (around 50 people total in attendance!).  I challenge myself to be thankful every day, because we have sure been blessed and we have so much, but it is also wonderful to set aside a day where our whole country is especially thankful, and everyone just seems to be nicer to each other.  Anytime any of us complain about anything, we should be required to list five reasons we are grateful!

Wishing you and yours blessings to be thankful for today and always!

Jon wanted me to mention that he took this clock shot while holding our 3-year-old niece

This is my 5K face!  Those gloves were so bulky, but warm.
It's a cutting board!
P.S.  Ironically, my next 5K and final race of 2016 is at the Christmas Mile on December 10.  And I'll be really living on the edge and also racing the 1 mile, as it's the same price to run both, so how can you not?!  My plan is to run both at 10K pace, hahaha!  I have some Christmas themed compression socks that I'm pretty pumped about wearing there.

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed with Jon always getting finishing pictures with the clock in them. This was such a fun race! I'm so glad I got to watch you running ahead of me for about a mile before you disappeared, haha!