Downsview 5k Race Report

on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Ran the Downsview 5k race last Saturday. This was the first "tune-up" race for this marathon training cycle.  Pfitz typically wants an 8k to 15k race and wants it done on the Saturday.  There were really only 5k races available and considering that I haven't done one in over 4 years, I thought I'd give this a go.  The race takes place in Downsview park which is sort of an urban park in Toronto, but it's not really in an "urban" part of Toronto.  It's a former military base that was recently converted into park lands. I'm sure one day it'll look nice once there's a bit more residential density in the area.

Race start was at 8:30 and temperatures were a bit cool at around 11C.  Arrived way too early at about 7:30am and trying to figure out what I could do for the next hour other than sit in my car, I decided to check out the course.  I wanted to see if the course was marked and secondly to see how hilly it was. The emails sent out kinda suggested that the course was flat, but asking the race director about it while I was picking up my bib, he said that it's not really flat.  Ended up walking out to the 1k mark and back. Not too hilly,a few rolling elevations, but not flat. I think the walking actually helped with the warmup. I usually do 3miles warmup before doing repeats, but in previous races, I find it hard to actually run for close to half an hour before a race, because it just tires me out, so the walking helped warm up the muscles.  About 10 after 8, I started my real warmup which consisted of about 1 mile of light jogging with 3 strides towards the end.

Arrived at the start line with about 5 minutes to spare and squeezed into the starting corrals. Decided to move close to the front, but not at the front. I wanted to try and start off at a comfortable pace and try and hold it for the entire race. I've been able to hold 7:00 min/mile LT pace for 7 miles in training so I was fairly certain I could go faster than than. Assuming that pace over 10k, the predictors said that a 21 minute 5k (6:45 pace) should be doable so I was going to aim for that.  To that end, I decided not to use the Garmin, but rather the polar GPS watch.  The polar GPS watch doesn't have a lap pace like the garmin which is good for pacing, but rather it has an overall pace for the entire run.  I really only need the pace info during the first mile or so when I have a tendency to go out too fast and in that sense, the polar and garmin would give me the same information.

So the race starts and the first little bit is on a curvy non paved gavellly trail. Try to hold back a bit and don't glance down at the watch for about 400m or so, when I do it registered me at 6:20 pace, whoops, a bit fast. Start to slow down a bit and try to get into a bit of a groove.  Pass the first km mark and hit the lap button, 4:07.  Feeling good.  The second km is a bit of a downhill and I try to run at a good effort and hit the lap button and it registers at 4:00.  Breathing is doing okay. At some point during this lap, I look down and see that I"m averaging about 6:30 pace for the race up until this point which seems quite a bit faster than the slightly faster than 6:45 pace I was aiming for. Get to the 3 km mark and the lap button says 3:30. Hmm, course is mismarked.  I think in hindsight, the sign was facing the wrong way as km 3 has a turnaround point so the end of km 3 was supposed to be on the coming back portion and not the going out portion like I had assumed it was.   Into km 4, I pull up behind and pass one of the profs I had while I was doing my Master's degree.  He was the prof who I had noted way back when was wearing a garmin during class.  He's also the guy who scheduled a due date for a take home exam on Boston Marathon day which I was registered for, but couldn't do that year.  At this point, I've basically passed all the people that I was going to pass since the next person ahead of me had a minute on me with only two km to go though one guy is sticking close to me, nipping at my heels.   My watch at this point has me at 6:31 pace overall which was really starting to surprise me. Normally my 4th km in a 5k sucks bad as I'm panting like a dog and wanting to slow down, but I didn't have that feeling this time around.  The lap button for km 4 says 4:45 which was long because the previous km was short.  For the two km that would be about 4:07 pace, though the watch has the distance for the two laps at about 20m longer than 2km.  Through to the finish, I'm jockying back and forth with the guy who is trailing me.  With about 400m to go, while he's ahead of me, he forgets to make a turn and I yell out for him to turn right, and as he does, I kind of zoom past him, and then tried to step on the gas through to the finish and finish about 4 second ahead of him.

Final time was 20:45 chip time (20:49 gun) which was good for 7th overall and 2nd in my age group.  The guy who finished 1st in my age group finished 6th overall and over 1.5 minutes ahead of me so there was no chance of catching him. I'm pretty sure that no one actually passed me during the race with the exception of the one guy towards the end who I was swapping back and forth with.  I was initially quite happy with the time considering the last time I ran a 5k 4 years ago I finished in 20:46, but crunching the numbers afterwards, it seems the course may have been long.

My watch has the total distance at 3.18 miles which is about 118m long.  My average pace for the whole race according to my watch had me at 6:32 min/mile pace (4:03/km) which would be a 20:16 5k and a new PR.  I realize that GPS watches aren't completely accurate, but an extra 0.07 miles over 3.1 miles seems a bit much considering that there weren't any tall buildings or tunnels to screw up satellite signals. Checking garmin connect for other peoples routes of the race, they have the course pegged at 3.21 miles (160m long) which is even longer than my measurement. I tried to map the course manually using google earth, but the satellite pictures that google has for the area are from when the park was being constructed so it's hard to plot the route precisely because there aren't any paths to trace over. I did end up uploading my gps route to Google earth and manually plotting the course that way though there's still some error in there. It measured it at 5072m which translates to a 20:27 5k and overall pace of 4:05 min/km. That feels about right since I've been doing my track repeats at a slightly faster pace.

On the plus side, no HR spike. I had run this without the HR being visible and I was happy to see no spikes in HR afterwards.  I was hoping to get an idea of my maximum HR on this. It topped out at 186, but I'm not sure if this is my actual max since it only reached 186 for a few moments at the top of the hill during km 4 and right at the end when I was basically sprinting as fast as I could. Ideally I would have liked to see if reach a number and stay there as opposed to reaching a number and then drifting back down like it did during this race. More details available here

Swag included some samples, a medal and a really nice T-shirt.  The t-shirt feels soft like cotton, but it's made of 100% polyester (ie, technical fabric). I'm curious to see how well it wicks sweat.

I'm not sure how good 5k's are at marathon predictors, but this does give me a general idea of paces I should aim for in the 10 k next week.


Robin said...

Congrats what a great race and result and a huge confidence booster I'm sure. That's the neighbourhood I grew up in so love the events there. Sorry they cancelled the 1/2 though. Great 5K result...super fast and AG placement!!

mg said...

Fantastic race! You're really running well this year.