Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Achievement: 2011 Resolution Run 5K Race Report: Now with pictures!

The 5K and I have been in a love-hate relationship for some time now.  When I ran a 16:53 back in March on a flat course, I was elated to finally break 17:00.  I figured that I'd have many 5ks to come in 2010 under 17.  I then proceeded to run three 5Ks at 17:00, 17:05, and 17:05 on courses of varying difficulty in varying weather conditions.

I then focused on some speedwork over the summer to see if I could make sub-17 a bit more doable.  After that session I ran three more 5ks at 17:46 (humid, hilly), 17:16, 17:03.  I finally decided that after years of loving the 5K, that it was no more.  The race is just too short and too quick for my marathon legs!  To add insult to injury, my 10K PR which I ran the day after that 17:03 performance was only slightly more than twice that time, which is just stupid.

Deep down I was wondering why all that speedwork didn't do anything.  My training interval times had improved but yet I still couldn't hit a sub-17.  I was hoping that maybe after an easy December, my 5K legs would finally break out of their slump.  And I was right!

On a rather difficult course, with a ~300 meter hill in the middle of the race I ran a 16:47, 6 seconds faster than my now 10 month old PR which was run on an extremely fast course.  More importantly, for the first time ever, my splits were relatively even and I didn't feel like absolute death after mile 1 like I usually do.

Splits: 5:15, 5:33, 5:33 with a ~27 second last 0.1 mile.

I lined up in the front and as soon as the air horn went off, about 7 guys busted hard off the line.  Being the grizzled veteren, I knew most of them were probably going out too hard.  I could tell too based on their strides, it looked like they were digging a bit too deep.  One guy ran alongside me but dropped out of the picture about 2 minutes into the race.

As we looped around for our first mile, sure enough, one by one 5 of the 6 remaining runners started fading.  I still went out too fast in 5:15 but thankfully, avoided the early mad rush.  A 5:05 or 5:00 or whatever they ran would have killed me.

Here is a shot right before the big hill slowly picking people off (I'm in my customary red shirt).  The one runner ahead of me would put up a fight, the others let me pass without resistance:

After passing the first mile marker we made a sharp turn up to the big hill in the race.  I was now side by side with the 2nd place runner.  He was panting ridiculously hard going up that hill.  I knew I had him.  If he couldn't stay with me on the hill, he wasn't going to beat me at all.  I never let up on the hill and ran it as hard as I could, leaving my foe in the dust.

Here we go as we approach the hill:

 And up the start of the hill...

We had a good fight going up the hill.  Lately, I have been killing hills in races and few runners stand a chance if they are near me!

I took a slight breather at the crest, slowing just a tad before hitting an equally big downhill.  Hitting 5:33 for my second mile was awesome, and I knew that if I could just hold that pace, I would PR.  The 1st place runner was about 10 seconds ahead of me and though I closed the gap a bit, I had no luck catching him.  My marathon legs just don't have the ability to surge in a 5K like they do in 10Ks, 10 milers, and half marathons.  So despite my best efforts, the win was not in the cards.

A couple of more photos, the first with probably about 3/4 of a mile to go and the last right before crossing the finish...

     It was about this time when I was throwing everything I had left to try and catch the leader but after closing the gap ever so slightly around the 2 mile marker I couldn't make up any more ground.  He remained about 11 seconds ahead.

A bit blurry, but I'm about 2-3 seconds from the finish line and for a change, feeling like I didn't fade too badly.  My splits would confirm that feeling once I looked at them relaxed rather than in the middle of the race.

However, the time is what I cared about, and more importantly, how I felt.  Generally all my 5ks are the same.  I go out too fast in the first mile, start to feel oxygen deprived by 1.5 miles and then fade really badly in the second half of the race.  Then, when it's all over, I feel fine about 10 minutes later and my legs don't even acknowledge that I ran.  Any "expert" who claims there is no such thing as "oxygen debt" clearly has never run a 5K with a 1 mile split 10-15 seconds faster than what he/she intended.

In this race though, I never felt the "fade" or the "sucking wind" feeling I normally associate with a 5K.  Though my 2nd mile slowed, the hill was to blame.  I also held pace very well on the 3rd mile and really only started to feel the burn at about mile 2.75, which is where it should be.  Once the finish is that close, I can suck up the pain and make a mad dash for the line.

Overall, this is a great way to start off 2011, better than I could have hoped.  It looks like I may finally have a big breakthrough in my 5K.  I've got two more scheduled for the first half of 2011 and both are on faster courses.  These marathon legs still have some speed in them!  And my 5K time is going to get forced down sooner or later if I intend to run significantly faster marathons.


  1. Glad to see you are adding pictures to your blog. It's great to see the pictures along with your detailed race report.

  2. Well someone, who will of course remain nameless seemed to be complaining that I was lacking pictures. I hope he is happy!

    Of course, I have to thank the BOMF cheering section for taking so many great pictures!

  3. The nameless person is VERY happy & be sure to also thank the BOMF cheering section from the nameless person. They are doing a great job.