Race Report: Fitger’s 5K 2015

I finished!

Official Results:
Time: 37:00
Pace: 11:55
Overall: 1330/1680
Division (F 30-34): 145/190
Gender: 811/1076

Watch Results:
Time: 37:04
Pace: 11:39
Distance: 3.18 mi
Heart rate: 173 bpm

A: 36:00
B: 40:00

What I ate the night before: Chipotle burrito bowl
What I ate on race morning: nothing
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: Running tights, tank top, long-sleeved hoodie, gloves, headband.
Gadgets: GPS watch

Since this is my first official attempt at a race recap, this format is experimental.

I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning, then hit snooze and slept for another hour (not really since I had to get up and feed my cats to shut them up). I puttered around the house until about 8:10 and then headed out. I probably could have walked to the race, as it started only a mile or so away from my house, but that would have meant an annoying uphill walk home.

I left everything except my keys in my car. At first that included my bib. I didn’t get very far before I was like oh yeah, bib, that’s important. The race packet even said “no bib, no time.” A nice reminder for absent-minded morons like me. I probably should have stayed at my car a little longer, since I had like 30 minutes to kill until race time. It would have been a good idea to take a few more sips of water. I don’t say that ominously, nothing horrible happened, but I was really worried about that once I got there.

There were people all over the place and I was really intimidated. I was also sort of rolling my eyes because people were doing all kinds of super serious warm-up stuff. I’m not sure if running hill repeats as a warm-up is even a good idea, but maybe this guy was trying to psych everyone else out. For all I know, hill repeat guy was the winner.

I didn’t know when to put my bib on. I ended up going inside the Fitger’s complex to put it on, which was stupid because it was jammed full of people. I don’t know why, it wasn’t that cold out, and most of the people inside were dressed similarly to me. Obviously some people were just in line for the bathroom. There was also a huge porta-potty line outside. Since I didn’t need either, I just observed.

I ran into my co-worker, whose son was running, and we had a nice chat. Then I did a tiny warm-up jog. Then I stood around feeling like a loser. I didn’t have my phone with me and I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I was kind of stuck standing there feeling nervous. I don’t know why I was so nervous for the stupid race but I was. People started filling the street to line up for the race, so I followed suit, and then I got my watch ready, making sure it would pick up my heart rate monitor and GPS and would be ready to start when I crossed the timing mats.

I lined up near the back, because I am not stupid. I may have almost forgotten my bib, but I am not such an idiot that I put myself in a position to get trampled or in everyone’s way. Starting at the back of the race is kind of great, because it meant I passed more people than I was passed by, according to the race results thingy.

I was so nervous my resting heart rate was in the high 110s. I was nervous about not having much water pre-race, I was nervous about getting lost, I was nervous about… I don’t know. I just wanted the race to start so I could run and enjoy myself. It was sunny and warm enough.

I’m not 100% certain when the race started. I heard an air horn, but then nobody moved, so I am not sure if there was an “elite” start or what the deal was. Eventually we started going. I had no idea when I crossed the timing mat relative to the gun time (+1:31 according to the race results), but that was nice because then I wasn’t doing mental math the whole time trying to figure out if I was on pace for my goal times.

The first quarter mile or so was spent jockeying for position. Since I was at the back, I was intermingled with walkers and groups of slower runners. Groups are tough. I understand that some people are doing this for fun and camaraderie with their friends, and they want to stick together. I do not understand why that means walking four abreast. There were lots of people who were cognizant of their surroundings and only went two-by-two, but I am sure at any race there will always be people who are in their own world. I can’t complain too much because those folks kept me from going out way way way too hard, but they also forced me to speed up a bit to get past them when I saw a window of opportunity.

When we crossed the freeway, I was so so so so so thankful for every hill run I had done. It slowed a lot of people down but I kept on keeping on. I finished the first mile in 11:38. When we were turning around onto Lake Avenue, there was a short line of cars. This woman in the first car got out and approached the police officer guarding the turnaround. Clearly annoyed, she asked if they ever stopped to let cars through, and the officer answered “not for a race, no.” She was not happy about it. Sorry, lady, you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes or so to get your meth.

I was trying not to be competitive with anyone other than myself. I imagine most people show up at races and slowly size up the competition, eyeing who they think they can beat. I assumed every person I saw was faster than me. Young, old, big, small, clad in expensive running gear, wearing beat up workout stuff from the ’80s (those are the real hardcore runners), they all had the potential to beat me. Once out on the course, I really wanted to beat these two women who were loudly talking the whole time and who kept passing me, slowing down to walk, and then passing me again. Unfortunately their run-walk strategy paid off and I lost them somewhere before the second mile marker. I wonder if a run-walk strategy would pay off for me. I don’t think it’s worth it in a 5K. I’d rather run the whole time.

The turnaround on Railroad St seemed to stretch farther and farther into the distance, and I kind of thought I would never get there. I mean, not really, I wasn’t that melodramatic, but I kept thinking I was close to it and I wasn’t. I didn’t mind because that just meant I had a shorter “home stretch.” I hit the second mile in 11:49. I am pretty sure the race photographer took a picture of me just as I was wiping my nose on my glove.

As we crossed the freeway I was once again pumped to have done all those hill repeats and hilly running routes, because I think it was a killer for some people. Either that or they strategically chose to walk. I kind of expected to pass more people on the hill but I really didn’t. Once over the freeway there were only like 6 blocks to go, and the inflatable yellow finish line sign was in sight. I got a little bitty bit excited and kicked it into high gear (sub 10 minute pace) a little too soon and had to back myself off. The race finishes on a slight uphill, which I had not considered when I was running the slight downhill at the beginning. It wasn’t horrible, but it just meant I needed to start my kick later in order to not die.

I started my real kick right at the 3 mile mark according to my GPS (I only know this after the fact, at that point I wasn’t looking at my watch). My third mile split was 11:44, and the final 0.18 I ran at a 10:10 pace. No one passed me once I kicked it in, and I passed a few people, so that was nice. I picked up my nice green race shirt and considered getting in line for food and water, but I felt really claustrophobic so I decided to just leave. I had water in my car, I didn’t need to wait for a tiny cup or for a banana or whatever. I went to Caribou and had a blueberry muffin and enormous latte instead!

This is a longer race recap than some people write for 100 mile races, but I guess I had a lot of thoughts about the race. I enjoyed running it, I didn’t get lost (that was a stupid fear. It was so obvious where the course was), and I hit my goal pace! I didn’t hit my A Standard time, but I don’t really mind. I ran sub-12 minutes, which was really what I intended my A Standard to be. I sort of blew off that extra 0.1 miles and rounded the race distance to 3 miles when setting my goal, without realizing that at a 12:00 pace, 0.1 miles takes about 1:12. It’s not insignificant! What’s silly is I did take it into account when setting my B Standard time. I thought hey, 13:00 pace is 39 minutes, but there’s an extra tenth, so tack on another minute, etc etc. It doesn’t matter, I slaughtered that B Standard and I will crush 36 minutes next time around!

I’m surprised my GPS only added 0.08 mi to the distance. I felt like I was going all over the place, and I made zero effort to run tangents. I guess mentally it seemed like a lot more sideways/diagonal running and dodging than it actually was. Or maybe I accidentally ran some tangents.

Overall I ran a nice, consistent race, had enough left at the end to finish strong, smiled the whole time, and didn’t embarrass myself, get hurt, crap myself, vomit, die, or get lost. I have a brand spanking new PR of 37:00 that I can’t wait to beat!

Week Seven Update

Let me pat myself on the back for yet another awesome training week. And by awesome I mean I didn’t wimp out on any workouts.

A quick recap:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5.3 miles, road, 6 hill repeats
Wednesday: 5.2 miles, road
Thursday: 4 miles, treadmill
Friday: 4.1 miles, Lakewalk, speed work
Saturday: 12 miles, road
Sunday: 2.9 miles, road/trail (Chester Bowl)
Total: 33.5 miles

Friday’s speedwork went well. I hit an overall pace of 12:35/mile, with about 3 miles of “medium paced” running. I feel like I’m in a good spot for my 5k this weekend. I doubt I can hold the speedwork pace for 3 miles (around 11 min/mile) but I think I’ll be able to be somewhere between my A and B goals.

Saturday was my first double-digit long run. It was not the best idea to plan it the day after my speedy day, but Saturday’s forecast was better than Sunday’s, and Sunday is my “desperately catching up on homework” day. So the first couple miles felt slow as molasses. My 2nd mile was the slowest pace (17:11) of the whole run, except for the one where I took a break. I planned an 8-mile loop, back to my house, followed by a 4 mile loop. My hips and my back were pretty sore the whole time, but as I turned off Rice Lake Road onto Central Entrance to head down the hill right before my break, I couldn’t stop grinning. It was a gorgeous day, the lake looked beautiful, and I was high on endorphins.

I planned a break at 8 miles just in case I had to pee or was dying of thirst. I had felt pretty thirsty toward the end of my 9 mile run last weekend, and I didn’t want to carry a hand-held water bottle, so I stopped at home for about 5 minutes. Somehow I still ended up with a “pace” for that mile of 19:23, which is faster than some of my trail running paces.

The last 4 miles felt pretty terrible. I made a kind of stupid route choice, with too much uphill. Maybe I am doing too many hills. That sounds lazy, but I also think it’s a valid question. I finished the run with an overall pace of 16:30 and an average heart rate of 151 bpm, so I didn’t push too hard and only lost about half a minute off my 9-mile pace, even with the break.

Sunday I ran as slowly as I could stand, and took it easy on my body by running down the Chester Creek path from Skyline to 9th. I stopped and took a picture of ducks.

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#chesterbowl #conservationofmomentum #trailrunning #ducks

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5K on Saturday. At 9 am. And it’s not going to be warm. Blahhhh.

A Dream Postponed

My self-imposed deadline of March 31st has come and gone, but I haven’t made up my mind about Grandma’s Marathon yet. It’s fine, it costs $115 instead of $105 to enter, but I think of it like a stock option. It’s not quite analogous, but it works for me. There were 4 possible outcomes to my plan: enter before March 31st, pay $105, race; enter before March 31st, pay $105, DNS; enter after March 31st, pay $115, race; or enter after March 31st, pay $115, DNS. I would rather pay $10 more and be more certain about my ability to run the marathon, than save $10 and find that after 15 miles my body falls apart, or to find that I have so much work during the semester that I don’t have 5-6 hours to devote to those long runs. I will not go into this race undertrained.

Now I have until May 31st to decide if I want to compete (unless the race fills up). By that point I will have run 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 mile long runs. That 20 mile run is going to be the deciding factor, I would guess. As of March 31st, my long run had been 9 miles, which I don’t think was a good enough gauge of my strength and endurance to justify spending $105.

I do have the Fitger’s 5K coming up next weekend, which will be my first real race in a long time, and the first one I’ve done with specific training since high school. (I did do timed runs in college for physical training requirements for the NROTC, so I guess they were kind of like races.) I am looking at the forecast and getting annoyed, although it does look like it might be nice again by next weekend, in time for the race. I need to run the route of the race at some point. I also need to try to get in at least one a.m. workout, because I tend to feel like complete garbage in the morning. I’m also probably going to have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn on the 11th in order to be functional. I hear the sunrises here are beautiful.

I do plan on racing the 5k, rather than running it at a training or even tempo pace, but I also don’t plan on sabotaging my training. I won’t be collapsing in a puddle of my own vomit at the finish line. I do have some time goals in mind. My B standard, let’s call it, is 40:00. My A standard is 36:00. If I finish under 30:00, I will sign up for the marathon right then and there. A sub-30 5k is HIGHLY unlikely, so don’t think I am actually gunning for it. Achieving 29:XX or under would indicate I am significantly underestimating my running ability, hence throwing down the cash for the marathon immediately. I am pretty sure I am only slightly underestimating my running ability, although who knows? Maybe the 5k takes me 48 minutes and I light fire to my running shoes and vow to never run again because I can’t even run 3 miles under my “slow run” training pace. Maybe the 5k takes me an hour because I miss a turn. I am prepared for all possible outcomes.

At A Medium Pace

Yesterday I had my first “medium pace” run of this training cycle. My training plan defines a “medium pace” as follows: “You should feel like you’re running faster than your normal training pace but not so fast that you can’t keep it up for a little while. You may not be able to talk very easily and your breathing will be more labored.” Ok. I wasn’t sure how hard to push it, but I knew that I needed to be done in time to watch the Bulldogs’ hockey game. I was supposed to warm up, run at this mystery pace for a mile or more, jog for a bit, repeat.

I went to the Lakewalk for the run because I didn’t want to deal with giant hills. I could gamble because the game before UMD’s was going into overtime, so it pushed our starting time back. I needed 4 miles for the day, so I decided to keep an eye on my watch and then turn around at 2 miles, instead of doing the whole Lakewalk and adding another 0.6 miles. Time was of the essence!! Hockey was occurring!

I crushed that medium pace run. I am pretty pumped about it. I ran three 1-mile intervals, and ran all 3 around 12 minutes. On the last one I got a side stitch and had to slow down to keep it from getting out of hand. I finished 4 miles in less than an hour for the first time in forever, so that was exciting.

12:27 (This was the only mile that was entirely at the faster pace)

This doesn’t mean much for the marathon yet, but it does bode well for the Fitger’s 5K in 2 weeks. I was really afraid I wouldn’t be able to run very fast or that I couldn’t keep the pace up long enough. I used to be a big quitter when running. If I felt crummy or frustrated, I would just give up. I need to continue to build mental toughness; it’s really lagging my physical fitness.

I finished up my run and made it home just in time for the hockey game to start, the Bulldogs won, and the Wild won, so it was a great day overall. I still have 14 13 miles to go this weekend (5 only 4! today and 9 on Sunday, or maybe flip-flopped), but I am a little concerned. My hip has been bugging me, just some overall soreness. I might need to back off on the 5 miler.

I’m pleased to have had a good training day after several not-so-pleasant ones. Yesterday was still cold, but the sun was shining, the lake was a gorgeous deep blue, and I enjoyed speeding up instead of plodding along. The next few days should be in the 40s or even 50s, so I hope to have a few more nice workouts.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

…begins with a single race registration.


Holy crap. I registered for a race.

The Fitger’s 5K is April 11th, which means there will probably be a foot of snow on the ground. It is also far enough in the future that I should be a tiny bit faster. I joked to the Grandma’s Marathon Twitter account that I would be coming in DFL (Dead F**king Last), but I don’t really believe that. I looked at last year’s results and am confident that I would be able to avoid DFL. Maybe not in my age group, but overall, yes. Even running with my self-imposed heart rate restrictions, even running on the treadmill, I am above the pace of the last finishers from last year. So, that’s already checked off the list. Now I just have to figure out how to run in the morning, and how to speed up a little so I’m not in the stragglers at the back. And how to avoid chickening out and skipping the race.