Friday, July 04, 2008

ARR Summer Series 5K Report

It was ugly, real ugly. The course was nice, the post-race food was fabulous, the race organization was great (as usual); but my performance was as ugly as it could get. In fact, this was my slowest 5K since I started running. No good reason for a poor performance; I only managed 4 hours of sleep the night before and had to get up at 4:30AM to make it to the course in Peoria, AZ in time to warm up, but I've done that before. I run 4 easy miles the day before the race, but I've done that before. It was already 85F with humidity at 43% when I got to the start line at 6AM, but I ran my 5K PR in July '06 under tougher conditions - so what gives?

After picking up my bib-number and timing chip, I warmed up with a slow and deliberate 1.6 mile run, but was already sweating profusely by the time I got back to the start line with 10 minutes to go 'till gun-time. The race course has a sharp left within the first 0.1 mile and narrows significantly as it enters a foot-bridge over a dry river bed. I didn't want to be in a mob while trying to negotiate the turn, so I pushed my up through the 600+ runners to a spot about 40 feet from the start line.

This was a good spot, most of the people around me looked very fit and as I guessed, they took off like shot. I got through the left turn, over the bridge and made the hard right on the far side of the bridge without problem. I was cruising along nicely and spotted one of my faster friends 5 seconds in front of me, so I had some confidence I was running a decent clip. Not too fast - not too slow; just about right.

After I got off the bridge, I noticed a woman on my left shoulder and sped up to give her some room. She reacted to my acceleration stride for stride and hung on to my shoulder. Cool, she looked like she was in great shape and it would be nice to have someone push me along. We continued to run together past the 1 mile marker at which I logged a 7:38.

I wasn't burning up the course, but running decently. I felt good, I had a new friend running on my shoulder, an old Neil Young tune with a perfect 90 beats/min was wailing in my ear-buds, the sun was shining, the birds where chirping, life was good. However, 3 minutes later, my outlook on "life" changed dramatically. As we neared the turn-around point, my quads started to fatigue. I could feel the lactic acid building up quickly, but I was determined to hang in there; heck this was only a 5K. I've run a million of these, what could be so hard about running another mile or so?

Well I found out. Just before the turn point, the trail dips down to go under a major East-West thoroughfare. As we headed down, my little buddy on my left shoulder must have smelled blood in the water and surged by me and up the raise at the end of the underpass. I had NO response. None, zippo, nothing. All I could do was watch her run up the hill, around the turn point and head back to the finish line. As she continued to open the gap, the burning in my quads just got worse. Within a few minutes, my tiny brain started murmuring to stop running and walk back. By the time I got to the 2 mile marker, the voices were screaming, STOP STOP STOP.

It was all I could do to continue running as better prepared runners trickled by me. The trickle was soon a torrent, but I hung in there; slower and slower and slower, but I kept running. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot ... I couldn't even hear my iPod any more. The voices in my head were way too load and their internal arguments were blocking out everything else; but I finally made it back to the finish line and thought I was going to drop.

I don't remember feeling so bad at the end of a race. There was no way I was going to run a cool down. Know I should; but just couldn't get my quads to move. Of well ... we all have bad races; but 7:38 / 8:16 / 8:55 splits is approaching the absurd. What I'm having a hard time accepting is my performance progression during my club's 5K Summer Series:

Race #1 - 23:53 (Temp-61F) - Group Placement (10/21)
Race #2 - 25:40 (Temp-83F) - Group Placement (19/35)
Race #3 - 25:52 (Temp-88F) - Group Placement (16/36)

If there was anything positive, this race must have kicked a lot of folks in the butt. I placed a little better in my aged group than the second race ... probably could have done better if I'd started slower.


I spent the 3rd of July out on Lake Pleasant (see pic below) and got in my first ever open water swim. I don't know how you triathletes do it. Looking down into the murky depths of the lake, realizing that sinking in a few hundred feet of water could really ruin your day is really motivating to keep you going. But unlike running, you can't simply stop. However, it was a cool swim. I got in 0.7 miles under perfect conditions. Hard to beat.

View from the top deck of my friends house boat

House boats everywhere

Still smiling before my warmup this morning

The bridge - didn't want to be on this behind 600 people at the start

Post-Race barbecue - Nothing beats hamburgers and hot dogs at 7AM on the 4th of July.


Melissa said...

dad, does that mean you were swimming with no life jacket?
remember, safety first!
that's arpaio's land out there, i'd wear two if I were you :)

Mike said...

Sounds like no fun Phil, but it's probably good that you put yourself through it. This is becoming a brutal summer to run through, but they all are.

I swam one race in Lake Pleasant, and all I remember is that the water was warm and murky, and that I couldn't wait to get out of it.

Anne said...

I've had my quads give out on me, but it's usually on very hilly runs. Maybe it was an electrolyte imbalance from all that pre-race sweating? You're right though, some races are just like that. Next time....

Thomas said...

Last week I ran a race after far too little sleep, and it went very similar to yours. Maybe not a coincidence.

Bex said...

Hi Phil - thanks for your comment about my video of the Tahoe Relay race report! And about your 5K race - we've all had our bad days. I'm thinking that Anne may be right - if you were sweating profusely before the race, perhaps you needed more salt in your system?! And even though you've raced in tougher conditions, the heat can sap anyone's strength.

DawnB said...

We are bound to have one sooner or later,You hung in there and kept moving Phil thats what matters

Grellan said...

Tough race Phil. But remember it was touigh for everyone out there and you placed well. only 4 hrs sleep is fine normally but catches up with you when running in the heat.

Deene said...

was it so ugly you didn't list the time or is it the #3 you are referencing? it's barely a minute difference.
nice lake photos.

Ewen said...

If it was 61F (or cooler) you would have done better Phil. The sprint for position and fastish first mile would have hurt your overall time too. I wouldn't be too disappointed.

The 44C heat you mentioned on that ride reminds me of the feeling when we got our of the air conditioned car in Death Valley. It was so hot, it was simply fascinating how hot it felt!