Monday, April 28, 2014

Race Report: Rockstar 5k

With Shamrock now in the past and the distant memories of the marathon starting to fade, I wanted to get down to business of seeing where my fitness is.  I mentioned in my last post that I was looking to race some shorter distances, so what better than to race a 5k only a mile from my house?  Well, aside from knowing the hilly course all too well, there wasn't much to argue against, so I signed up a few days before the race to see what my legs had in them.

After a quick packet pickup, I went for a 2 mi warm up about an hour before the race.  I ran into a running buddy who was also headed out for his warm up, so we ran together and caught up on things.  Just nice easy paced running and good conversation.  We split off after the 2 miles and I went to do a couple of strides to finish out the warm up.  I took the next 15 or so minutes to relax, chat with some friends, and stay loose.  With about 15 minutes to go, I threw on my racing shoes to do a few more race paced strides and then jogged back over to the start line where folks were lining up.  Since this was a =PR= Trophy Series race, I knew there would be some competition, so I placed myself about 3 rows back from the front.  In hindsight, I probably could have put myself on the line or at least 1 row back, given how I placed.  Oh well, live and learn.

That's me, 3 rows back.  And yes, Rory's got a kitten tank/tights combo going on!

With the magic "Go" word spoken, we were off...except I got an elbow in the side of my chest trying to move around the 4 people in front of me within the first 50 feet.  So much for placing myself well!  After about 100 yards, we make a right for another 100 yards, and then its out of the town center and onto the main roads for the rest of the race.  That turn onto the road is followed by a 1/2 mile downhill, into a 3/4 mile uphill (I mentioned this was a hilly race!).  So I knew I could let my legs go on the down and just try to lock in the effort once we hit the up.  Flying downhill, I glanced down to see myself running around 5:15/mi, which is around where I figured I'd be.  Then we started the uphill grind and that pace slowly creeped back to reality.  By the time we hit the hill, I was essentially in no man's land.  All the super fast guys were way out front and I was running solo with a couple of people I could hear behind me.  While I was racing for time against myself, its always easier if there others to pace off and keep you in check.  I hit Mile 1 in 5:43 and came to the realization that I was likely out there to run the rest of the race solo.

Still grinding up that hill, I finally approached the turn, but being familiar with the course, knew I still had another tenth of a mile to continue up.  The rest of Mile 2 was essentially a rollercoaster, with a few smaller bumps, but a big downhill, followed by another big uphill.  I was hurting, but calmed myself by repeating, "If you feel like death halfway into a 5k, then you're racing it right".  While that sounds terrible, its the truth.  5ks are so short, but they seem like an eternity.  As I crested the last uphill of the mile and tried to open up my stride on the down and get a breather before the next hill, I got hit with a decent headwind on the down.  I noticed it while I was out on the warm up, but was hoping it would be gone during the race.  It wasn't terrible like Shamrock, but it was about 10 mph per the weather, which is enough to make you hurt that much more.  Shortly before starting the next roller, I crossed the Mile 2 marker in 5:47.  It was at this point where I noticed I probably wasn't running the tangents very well, since my watch went a few seconds before I got to the mile marker.

The last mile is by far the hardest on the course.  As a whole, Mile 3 is always the most difficult in a 5k, but on this course it is virtually all uphill.  The legs are already burning and you just want to be done.  I struggled on the hill here, but I gave it what I could.  In the middle of the hill, 2 guys came moving past me, which motivated me to keep pushing a bit harder, but I couldn't go with them.  I kept them in my view, but they came and went pretty quickly.  I didn't think they'd be in my age group either, so my thinking at the time was to let them go and try to not blow up in the middle of the hill.  It was at this point with about 1/4 mile to go in the uphill, that I had all those crazy thoughts, like pulling off the course and calling it a day.  I had to slap my head for thinking that one up.  2.5 miles into a 5k and I want to quit?  How stupid is that!?!?  Again, I used those crazy thoughts as validating that I was racing hard.  Gasping for air, I finally crested the hill and tried to burn out the legs toward the finish.  I had another .1 mile to go before turning back into the town center for the last bit of the race.  My Mile 3 split was 6:05 and I worked every second of it.

Last 100 yards or so - not the greatest pic, but they never are :)
When my watch beeped, I realized that I really didn't do a good job on the tangents in that last mile, because those few seconds were now more than a few!  Not that I had much time to think about it at that point, since I was so focused on just finishing, so I just put my head down and ran hard through to the finish line.  As I crept closer to the line I could see the clock inching closer to my current PR and I decided at that moment to give it just a little more to make sure I set a new PR on the day.  As I ran through the finish, I saw 18:35 on the clock and figured I had at least a 1-2s delay from crossing the mat, so I knew I had set a PR.  I just wasn't sure by how much.  I covered the last bit of the race at 5:38/mi pace, which I was glad to get my pace back down to.  Turns out, that was my official time, so I PR'd by 3s on a much tougher course than the previous PR.

Final Stats:
Time: 18:35
Pace: 5:59/mi
Overall: 10/386
Gender: 10/156
Age Group: 3/23

Speedy 30-34 Age Group
My only regret on the race is that I ran 3.17 miles on the race, which means I really did a poor job of nailing the tangents.  The course has a lot of turns and I wasn't always sure where the measurements would have been done to get the shortest distance.  There were a few sections of the course that had shoulders in the road on a curve, so maybe the measurement was done in the shoulder?  The guys I could see in front of me all stayed on the road, so I stuck to that course, as I didn't want to cut it short.  To give some perspective, I ran .15 extra at Shamrock, which means I ran half the extra distance I did in a marathon, at this 5k.  Not good, but its something to improve on and its free speed next time, so that's the good news.

I know I have a better 5k time in me and it'll come when I race on faster course soon.  I just wanted to set a baseline, since it had been 2 years.  So now that its set, I've got some more work to do.


it's all about pace said...

nice PR

Kimberly Westrich said...

Great recap. It's interesting to me to read about the strategy and planning of actually "racing" a race. I'm still in the mindset of "running" them, which is quite different. I appreciate the perspective!


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