Racing a short 5k?

on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Since i last updated, i've moved onto shorter stuff. Topping out at 8 miles or so during the week and then a long run in the low to mid teens on Sunday.

Last Tuesday: Did 4 miles recovery

Last Wednesday: 8 miles including 5x1000m (3:57 per repeat)

Saturday: 8 miles including 4 miles LT at 6:53 pace
Sunday: 12.5 miles averaging 9:16 pace. I bonked big time on this run. I hadn't quite recovered from the LT run on Saturday and though started this okay, i struggled to maintain 9:30 pace towards the end.
Tuesday: 8 miles including 4x1200m (4:52, 4:48, 4:48, 4:47) 20min 5k pace is 4:48 so first was slow and the others okay
Today: 6 miles recovery about 9:15 pace

So the reason for the shorter and faster stuff is to prepare for another try at breaking 20min in the 5k.  I've looking at a race on Nov. 22 which is in a little over a week. The race is in Whitby and i think the route might be the same route for a 5k race I did in the spring.  However I observed at the time that I thought the course was short.  After doing a little searching on Garmin Connect and Motionbased where other people with garmins have raced the course, i'm almost certain it's short as they all report a distance of around 3.05 miles (about 90m short) . There's another 5k on the same date close by but it's an out and back with a hill and i don't like hills so it looks like i'm going to be choosing this short one even though i'm pretty sure it's not 5k.  Maybe I'll get lucky and they measure the course accurately this time. 

On to the shorter distances

on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Last week consisted of a whole lot of rest days and then a 3 mile recovery run on Saturday and a 10 mile long run on Sunday at about 8:40 pace.

So an 18 week training plan for Boston starts sometime at the end of November/early December. Prior to then, I'm going to take another shot at breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. I've found a bit of a support group in the Runners Worlds forums. There's a bunch of people that are all aiming for sub 20 in the 5k so it's interesting to keep track of what other's are doing training wise and performance wise.

If the 20 min 5k is successful, i may also take a shot at PR'ing in the 10k before years end. It probably doesn't help that I've eaten more chocolate over the past week than I have in the past 6 months. I still have a 95 pack of mini chocolate bars left over from Halloween that hasn't been opened. I think I'll have to bring it in for my co-workers cause I have no will power.

Niagara Falls Marathon Race Report

on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 12:11 AM

(edited to correct half split time which was based on gun time not chip)
So I decided to run the Niagara marathon. It basically came down to either Niagara falls or Hamilton which is a week later. I thought that Niagara would be more influenced by weather and Hamilton had the faster net downhill course, but in the end I choose Niagara because it had more aid stations. From their website, Hamilton only had 12 whereas Niagara probably had over 20.

Signed up for the marathon on the Wednesday before the race, which was the last day one could register due to immigration reasons. Apparently they have to send a list of the participants to both Canadian and US immigration to make sure you're name doesn't set off alarm bells. I ended up staying at the Sheraton by the Falls. I had wanted to stay either there or at the Crown Plaza since these hotels were right by the bus pickup on race morning. I didn't want to be walking any distance on race morning. I ended up having to stay two nights at the Sheraton since they required a two night minimum and it was actually cheaper to stay for two nights there than to stay for one night at the Crown Plaza.

Evening before the race, i partook in the race sponsored pasta dinner which was being held at the Crown plaza. It started at 5pm, but i thought that was a bit too early. I ended up eating at around 6:30pm. Ended up sitting beside a tall lanky guy from just outside of Chicago. Made a bit of small talk and started talking about races we had done. I was trying to get a feeling for how fast the guy was and pretty much decided he wasn't a fast guy since he didn't talk about qualifying for Boston and he had done a bunch of smaller races. I asked him what his goal time was and he said: "Around 2:35". Yikes, guess i was wrong. He ended up finishing fourth overall in just under 2:40.

Two tables over from us were sitting the Smiths (Tara Quinn and Andrew), the husband and wife team that ended up winning the race. Was very tempted to try and get a picture taken with them, but decided to let them be.

Think I had about 4 plates of pasta, not full plates mind you, but I was defintely stuffed when i headed back to my room.

Was in bed by 10:30pm and set the alarm for 6:30am. Ended up waking up at 6:00am. Ate a bagel with peanut butter at about 6:45am with some water. Left my room and headed down to the bus at about 7:20. Boarded the bus for the little over hour bus ride to Buffalo. Got held up a bit at the border cause some of the people on the buses in front of us didn't have the right documents. My bus was filled with a Japanese tour group who had come to do the marathon which probably meant the US immigration guys were a bit more cautious with our bus. Arrived in Buffalo at the Art gallery at around 8:45 and had about an hour to kill before the race start. wondered around a bit seeing what passes for art these days and ended up chatting with some of the pace bunnies. As it would turn out there was no 3:15 pace bunny this year.

With about half an hour to go, I headed out to do my warm-up. For marathons, i usually just do some light jogging for 5-10 minutes. But this time, my goal was to try and get my HR to spike. I've had this problem before but I've had it happen enough times that I've realized if i can get the Hr to spike during warm-up and then allow it to come back down, it usually doesn't bother me afterwards. When I did my half a few weeks ago, i had the same problem with the HR spiking during the warmup but once it came back down, it didn't happen again. So i was able to get it to spike and then come back down which i thought was good, but i think i did the warmup too early cause i was basically standing around for 15-20 minutes afterwards and would end up with the Hr problem during the race.

So i wander to the startline and ask around a bit and find one guy who's going for 3:15 so we line up together and start the race. Decided to leave the garmin at home though i did run with my HR monitor which i've found useful for gauging effort in the past.

Race starts and the first little bit is a bit confusing in that you do a big loop that has you retracing the first little bit of the race which means you pass the 1 mile marker a few hundred metres into the race not realizing that it's only vaid once you've completed the first loop. Buffalo tends to get a bad rap as being a bit of a dump, but the area we were running in was quite nice with some nice homes. Not a lot of spectators, but wasn't really expecting them on the US side of the border.

Mile 1: 7:20
Mile 2: 7:21

Pass the first mile marker at 7:20 which is slightly faster than the 7:27 which i was hoping for. Fall into a bit of a rhythm and am clicking along. My HR is tad high at about 175 which was concerning me a bit but i figured it could be the adrenaline and the start of the race. During the 2nd mile, the one thing i had feared occured which was my HR spiked. I passed the 2 mile marker also a bit fast at 7:21. At this point, i was trying to figure out whether i should stop to let it calm down or just continue on. it was still a bit early in the race so i thought i could handle a mile or two with the HR racing.

Mile 3: 7:19
Mile 4: 7:18

During these miles, I let my 3:15 companion go. I didn't actually slow down, but he started to speed up a bit. In the end, it was for the best. I wanted to be able to stop if I wanted to and didn't want to be dragged into someone else's pace. The HR thing was starting to worry me. I was able to do 12 miles during a marathon pace run a few months ago, but i'm pretty sure that i couldn't maintain this type of HR the whole way. In fact, looking back at the marathons that have sucked, i think it may have been cause my HR was racing. I don't have the HR data to prove it, but i'm fairly certain that was the reason. So at this point, I was thinking that maybe i should stop to let it calm down. I ended up deciding to wait until after the bridge cause the effort up that might cause the HR to go racing again.

Miles 5-6: 14:34 (7:17 pace)

The peace bridge and crossing the border happens somewhere during miles 5 or 6. I had kinda feared the bridge since the elevation profile on the website has this thing as a steep hill, but it wasn't as bad as i was expecting. It was still a hill, but it's over with pretty quick and is immediately followed by a very long gradual descent which drops you to lower than where you began the hill. Though good from an elevation standpoint, there was a really strong headwind on the bridge.  I had to grab my hat a couple of times to keep it from blowing off. The wind wasn't really noticible in Buffalo, but it was clearly felt here out in the open.  So I missed the mile 5 marker which was presumably on the bridge since i was looking at the ground. After the bridge, we did an out and back in Fort Erie. At some point, i looked down at my watch and realized that the HR had returned to normal.  Yah, I wouldn't need to stop.  But in order to make sure it wouldn't spike again, i had to make sure that i maintained the proper pace.  By this point, I had caught back up to my fellow 3:15 pacee who was now running with a bit of a group.  There was a bit of a head wind in the out portion, so i tucked in behind the group and let them lead the way.  Coming back it was nice to have the wind at our back.

Mile 7-8: 14:46 (7:23 pace)

having tucked in behind a group, I missed the mile 7 marker.  Seemed to hit the paces properly.  The group I was going with was motoring right along and I was starting to settle into a groove.  I had carried a gatorade bottle with me all along drinking diligently. I've done enough marathons to realize that I can never get enough fluids from the aid stations unless there are a heck of a lot of them where i can grab two or three cups at a time (like in chicago) so it helps to bring along an extra bottle. 

Miles 9: 7:29
Miles 10: 7:17
Miles 11: 7:27
Miles 12: 7:32
Miles 13: 7:27
Mile 13.1:  1:36:42 1:36:34

Miles 9 to the half way mark went by without too much incident.  The group I was running with slowly started to pull away.  We were running into a bit of a head wind after mile 10 and though i would have liked to have stuck with them to block the wind, I was clicking on at my expected pace and had close to a minute banked so i decided just to run my own race.  The other 3:15 guy stayed with me for a while but i passed him somewhere shortly after the 12 mile mark.  Hit the half way mark at 1:36:42 1:36:34 which averaged 7:23 7:22 pace.

Mile 14: 7:25
Mile 15: 7:24
Mile 16: 7:26

So passing by the half way mark, we are running due west into a direct westerly wind.  It wasn't that strong but still noticible.  I had banked 48 seconds ahead of 3:15 pace and even more if you factor in that Boston needed 3:15:59 so i decided at this point to just run by HR and slow down if the wind dictated it. 

Mile 17-18: 14:55 (7:28 pace)
Mile 19: 7:38
Mile 20: 7:23

One thing was that the mile markers coincided with the aid stations which was a bit problematic since one had to grab a cup of water, hit the watch split and then drink This required a bit more dexterity than I was capable of and i ended up spilling lots.  Over the course pf the race, i took three gels, half a gel at a time, but i don't really remember where. . 

Mile 21-22: 14:52 (7:26 pace)
Mile 23: 7:32

Mile 26.2:  24:01 (7:30 pace)

Don't have much else to comment about the last little bit of the race.  I just sort of chugged along.  I had a couple of spasms in my calves a couple of time, but nothing really sustained.  I found that the markings for the half marathon helped since it gave me another opportunity to gauge how far ahead I was.  For example, I knew when i passed the 9 mile mark of the half, i had exactly 3.1 miles (5k) to go.  Also the 10k markers were present which helped during the last 5k (it's an out and back course from the finish line) so at that point, i stopped hitting the lap button on my watch since i was getting more feedback by using the km markers from the 10k route than the mile markers on the full route.  I should mention there is a nice downhill after the 25 mile mark.  Picked up the pace right at the end and crossed the finish line in 3:14:24 averaging 7:25 pace overall.

First Half: 1:36:42 1:36:34 (7:23 7:22 pace)
Second Half: 1:37:50 (7:28 pace)
1:08 1:16 positive split.

Closest I've come to a negative split in a marathon while racing.  Probably could have gone a bit faster in the 2nd half, but was only looking to BQ so I'm happy with it. HR (and elevation profile) looks as follows.I seemed to have averaged 171-172 during most of the race which was about 4-5 beats higher than what i had averaged during the marathon pace run last week.  This seems to be consistent when i raced back in 2008 where I average about 163 for the MP run and then ended up averaging 168 during the actual race.

Didn't have too great of race pics.  Not looking for or smiling or waving at the camera.  I guess that happens when you're racing for time.  Here's one of me near the end where i look like i'm motoring right along.

That's it.  Spent the extra day in Niagara where I couldn't have asked for better weather.  I leave you with a few pics from Niagara Falls