Holly Jolly Fun Run 5k Race Report 2015

on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 10:30 PM

I decided to do a 5k last weekend. I've tried to go sub-20 in the 5k on numerous occasions, all of which have failed miserably.  At the very least, I was hoping to best my PR which was 20:21 set back in 2008. I haven't been doing much training since the marathon, just doing easy miles.  Two weeks ago, I did a 3 mile LT run around the track at around 6:50 min/pace and that seemed sustainable and then last week I did 5x1k at 4min/km pace to see how the speed might hold up and that went okay so I thought why not?  I was originally planning on doing the Downview 5k which I did last year.  This year they moved it into the airstrip field and the race takes place on the runway so perfectly flat, but that race ended up selling out a week early.  The only other option, so I thought was a 5k in Whitby, 30 minutes away, along their waterfront which is a bit hilly. Then on Friday, I heard on the news about the Santa Claus parade in Toronto which was taking place that Sunday and the Holly Jolly Fun Run. This race takes place along the route right before the parade and while it's advertised as a "Fun Run", it's actually a race that's chip timed on a certified 5k course. Doing a bit more searching around, the course is a definite PR course being net downhill, with the first half being completely flat and the second half having almost a 100 ft elevation drop, with no uphills.  Also since it takes place before the Santa Claus parade, you have lots of kids and their families lining the streets cheering you on providing a big city marathon type atmosphere, but you only have to run 5k!

Online registration had ended, so I headed downtown on Saturday to register.  I was expecting to pay $100 as a last minute entry since that was the last pay tier on the website.  Yikes!. It's not as bad as it sounds since you get a $50 tax receipt for a charitable donation and the race itself would be $50.  When I got down there, I found out it was only $70, still with the $50 tax receipt so the race was only $20. Apparently the $100 also gets you 4 VIP tickets to the parade.  The actual kit consisted of a red toque and red mittens.

 So race was actually at noon which means not having to wake up early. Got down to race site at about 10:45 which was a bit too early. Mulled around for a bit and checked bag at the last second at 11:30. Wore sleevelees T and shorts but it wasn't too cold, about 12C.

Warming up for this was a bit difficult.  While on the side streets where it would have been easy to do strides, I realized the sidewalks were filling up pretty quick with people and that I might have difficulty getting to the startline so I ended up getting onto the course fairly early. I couldn't really do strides on the race course, cause there were little kids crossing back and forth on the street so you really couldn't build up any speed without the risk of running them over, so I ended up just doing some light jogging for about 5-10 minutes and then got into the corrals.

One thing I've learned about 5k's is that I tend to go out too fast.  In fact, I would say most people who do 5k's go out too fast.  I decided I was not going to start anywhere near the front.  They were announcing that people near the startline should be capable of doing a 5k in less than 25 minutes. Okay that's me. Then they announced they had a separate corral for people who would go less than 20 minutes. Okay that could be me, but I wanted no part of that so I started a bit back. Ex-Raptor Dikembe Mutombo was there as part of some promotion and was taking selfies.

That's me in the back.
The way I figured it, if everyone went out too fast, then the people I started wtih would probably be going out at 4min/km pace but would quickly fade, so my plan was to rely on them to make sure I was at the proper pace. 

So the race starts with some confetti cannons and we're off.  I hold back for the first little bit and am slowly passing people so the plan worked. First stretch is a straightaway and I quickly try to settle into a good breathing pattern. Do a quick pace check and it's hovering at around 6:20pace which is exactly what I wanted. My HR monitor strap started to slip down and I had to hike it back up. Was worried that it might come undone. The km markers were marked with people wearing sandwhich boards which when you think about it makes sense since it would be hard to see signs on the sidewalk and having a person wearing it means it's mobile in the case that it needs to move around. 

1km: 3:56

First km is perfectly on pace, continue running a bit and my GPS watch hits the first mile at 6:22 and was feeling quite proud of myself. I kinda thought the crowds would be louder, but I guess the people aren't there to see me runs and that's okay.  I continue running trying to hold a steady pace, constantly checking my watch for lap pace. Pass by the 2km sandwich board person and time checks off at


So this was a bit slow, even though my watch had said I averaged 6:19 min/mile pace for this. I was still feeling pretty good and not fading as I typically do when I go out too fast. At this point, I had turned south and was running down University where the downhill starts. We go around University circle and then the straight stretch by hospital row with the large buildings. I didn't really rely on GPS pace after the 2nd mile clicked in at 6:14 since I knew the tall buildings were messing with the crappy GPS on my watch.  My goal at this point was to just to gradually catch people. I missed the 3 km marker, but ended up passing the 4km mark at:

4km: 7:56. (3:58 min/km pace)

So crossing the 4km marker, I was still breathing quite hard, but still wasn't experiencing the fade that I normally do. Also my HR hadn't spiked to this point though even if it had, I wouldn't have known since I hid the HR display on my watch.  With just about 4 minutes left of running, was feeling pretty good.  Continue on gradually catching up to and passing some people (and getting passed myself by a few) and head south under the Go train tracks and then turn left with about a 100m to finish in Maple Leaf Square. Could see as I turned the corner, that the clock was well under 20 minutes and knew that the sub-20 was going to be in the bag. Ended up doing the last km in

5km: 3:50

So final chip time of 19:49, gun time of 19:55. Finished 21st overall and 5th in my AG, though there were no prizes so placements don't really matter.  Polar stats and map. HR maxed out at 189 right at the end and there were no sustained HR spikes.  There does appear to have been one at the start, but it looks like it reset pretty quick. It could also just have been my HR strap slipping down and it not getting a good signal. I readjusted just before the 3 minute mark where the signal drops off. 

So yes, I did get my sub 20, but some of that was due to the net downhill course.  I'm still pretty sure, even if the course had been flat, I would have still PR'd. I haven't set a PR in any race distance in more than 6 years so this was a welcome end to the training season. Definitely a fun race and I would definitely do it again!

New Favorite Toque!


Robin said...

Holy cow, well done! Congrats on a great 5K. It's hard to get the pacing right on that distance for sure...nicely done!

mg said...

Congratulations on the new PR! You ran a great race.