Saturday, June 10, 2006

5K in the dust

I ran my first 5k since getting serious about training 2 months ago. The course is a 5k loop along the trails in the Reach 11 recreational area in North Phoenix. I haven't look at the final results yet, but my guess is that 600 people were out there stiring up the dust.

I ran the same race last year in 24:50. I really struggled during the first mile last year and never could get in the groove. This year was a completely different race. The course was the same (hot, dry and dusty) but I got into a good stride early and finished in 23:01.

Although my training has been much more intense than previous years, I haven't done any speed work to speak of, so I had no idea what pace to shoot for. I was very confident that I could do 8:00; 7:45 seemed reasonable; 7:30 was possible; 7:15 was a stretch; and 7:00 was only a pipe dream. After fretting over the pace decision for longer than it was worth, I decided to try for 7:15 and see what happened. I figure I could always cruise in at the end if I started feeling punky during the race.

I also decided to do something I've never really done before. I started the morning with a warm up run. I ran 2.8 miles of the course at a nice and easy 9:41 pace; finishing the warm up 12 minutes before race time. This felt about right. I had a bit of sweat going, but wasn't out of breath. Muscles felt good and loose. I walked around a bit and took my place in the chute, about 20 feet back from the starting line.

As I left the line I was immediately stuck behind several joggers (one more time people ... if you're not going to run when you leave the line, don't line up in the front of chute). I broke around the right side of the joggers in a burst of speed and kept up the quick pace for way to long. 1/2 mile into the race, I was doing 6:40. I slowed downed a bit and see-sawed between 7:00 and 7:30 to the first mile marker. Mile one was in the bank at 7:08. This was a bit faster than my 7:15 target, but certainly within the raange I had hoped for.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. I had just completed my fasted mile in years and wasn't feeling any pain in my left foot nor any sign of fatique. I steadied my pace around 7:15 and kept going. I tried to find someone to pace, but I was still passing people with a few runners blowing by me from time to time.

About 5 minutes later a guy with a funny red hat passed me. I've seen this fellow at lots or races and have talk with him on several occasions. He's a real nice guy and I know he finishes 5ks at or around 21. I foolishly and very optimistically asked him if he wouldn't mind if I paced with him for a while. He kindly accepted and warned me that he didn't think he could keep up his current pace and asked that I didn't let him slow me down. I assured him that there was little to worry about. After 10 or 15 seconds at looked down at Mr. Garmin to get a feel for my new pace. 6:09/m.

Now ... I've got absolutely no business running anywhere near a 6 min pace. Maybe in my next life, but not this morning. I quickly thanked my new friend and dropped off his right shoulder. Although it was fun while it lasted, the damage was done. My hamstrings started to tighten a bit and breathing was becoming a bit more stressful. I knew the dust and heat were starting to take a toll, but my little fartlek was more than I've trained to accomplish. I was quickly running out of gas as I passed the 2 mile marker.

The last mile went by uneventful. My pace continue to slow down step by step. I realized that I wasn't going to go under 22 and 23 was looking doubtful. But I wasn't about to give up either. I put the legs in cruise mode and held the best pace I could. People weren't passing me in droves and I was still passing people every minute or so, so I knew that I was keeping up with the field more or less. I passed a guy pushing a 3 wheel stroller just before getting to the 3 mile mark and "sprinted" to the finish.

As I said, I went across the finish in 23:01. Not bad for a "first" 5k. After talking with friends, (see picture above) I drove across the street to the east side of the Reach 11 recreational area and ran a slow 5 mile cool down.

Keep running

Training for the week:

Sun 7.5 Miles - 9:10/m pace
Mon 5.0 Miles - 9:24/m pace
Tue 6.7 Miles - 9:32/m pace
Wed 5.0 Miles – 9:13/m pace
Thr 6.9 Miles - 9:07/m pace
Fri - REST DAY (after 18 days of straight running)
Sat 2.8 Mile - warm up at 9:41/m pace; 3.1 mile race at 7:25/m Pace; 5.1 mile cool down at 9:39/m pace

Total Mileage for the week: 42.1 Miles - 9;13/m pace


Mike said...

Nice race Phil, that's quite an improvement in a year's time. While I'm addicted to the same Garmin you have, I stopped racing with it after it started to boss my body around. I would do the same thing you did, look down to see I was running too fast by the numbers and the brain would seemingly tell the legs to start hurting and they would! I think you have enough miles in your legs to go ahead and run races by feel, though I can understand your trepidation since it's been awhile since the last 5K. Your body should thank you for the cool-down also. Good week.

Phil said...

Thanks Mike ... I have an other 5k planned for July 1st. I think I'll go solo and simply try to feel my way around. Once I got beyond the first mile this morning, I more or less stayed with the same runners. I passed a few and a few blew by me. So besides fretting about my pace, I didn't really gain anything from the Garmin. In fact, I still blew out of the chute like Justin Gatlin even with the Garmin telling me I was running at a unsustainable pace.

I also think I'm ready to start including a bit of speed work in my running schedule. I've stuck to nothing but easy runs over the past 6 weeks just to get my core conditioning pumped up a bit. I can't see myself going much beyond 40 to 45 miles a week at this point and I've been able to stick to the schedule and continue to travel regularly.

Good comment on the cool-down. You're the one that put this notion in my head along with the concept of a good warm up run. The big test, of course, will be tomorrow. Even a 5k usually knocks me out for a day or two. I feel really good now, with no residule soreness. I have a 7 mile easy recovery run planned for Sunday. I'll consider it a vicotry if I can roll out of bed and slip on my shoes at 5 AM.

Thanks for your advice. You've been a big influence on my running and have really help to get my performance level up. I feel like I'm really running again instead of simply jogging.


Andy said...

See you at South Mountain on July 1st....