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 Olivia's Miles 5K Report
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Olivia's Miles 5K Report Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 12:17 pm 

I raced another 5K this morning. It's been a while since I've been in shape, well rested, and primed for a 5K, so my expectations for today's race were high. This was probably my best chance to date to crack the 5K nut. My goals were:

21:00 (6:46 pace) - not achieved since 2004
20:26 (6:35 pace) - my best-ever 5K
20:00 (6:26 pace) - the ever-elusive sub-20!

The course was through flat neighborhood streets, not far from the Stanford campus. Unfortunately, there were a lot of turns. For reasons unknown, the race attracted a pretty good contingent of collegiate and post-collegiate runners, so there would at least be plenty of people to push me to my best effort.

After a few races without it, I brought back my Nike speed and heart rate monitor. I've found that I really need the early pace feedback to help guide me through the first mile at the right speed. Lately I've been getting excellent accuracy with it too: better than 99% accuracy over my last few races.

I warmed up with 1.5 easy miles and a couple of strides. Just before the start, I was really nervous, and couldn't stop thinking about how this was going to hurt. The last couple of minutes before the gun passed agonizingly slowly.

Finally we were off! The first minute or two were chaos. Little kids were everywhere, everyone seemed to be in the wrong place, and jumping around to try to get where they wanted to be. Somebody collided with a jogging stroller and sent it flying. Luckily the baby inside was solidly strapped in, or it would have been a very bad scene. Using feedback from the Nike, I did my best to stick to 6:26 pace. It felt pretty fast, and less than a mile in, I was already feeling some distress. Uh oh. 1 mile split was 6:28, HR 179. Looking good, I thought, I just need to speed up a tiny bit.

The second mile seemed to twist and turn a lot, so I did my best to follow the tangents. My effort level felt very high, and I was dubious I could hold it to the end. I did my best to stick to a couple of nearby runners. It felt like I was pushing it too hard, though, and it seemed more like a final mile effort than mile 2. I also kept reminding myself to stay relaxed, keep good form, and make quick, light strides. It was a struggle. 2 mile split was 6:39, HR 183. I immediately thought uh oh, that's well off the pace, and I'm probably going to fade even more from here out. 20:00 looks out of the question now.

Not far past the 2 mile marker, the course turned back onto the main road for a long, long straightaway to the finish. I could see the finish dimly, like a speck on the horizon, but it wasn't getting much closer. On the plus side, however, it felt like I was now running very slightly downhill, and I picked up my pace a little. I even started to gain on the guy in front of me. I thought maybe I could still pull something out here. I struggled more to keep good form and stay on pace. I passed the guy in front of me, then he passed me back, then I passed him again. Finally the finish line drew near. 3 mile split was 6:31, HR 184. I pushed it as hard as I could through the last tenth, dropping to a 6:00/mile pace according to my Nike. I hit the finish in 20:17, with HR 185, and staggered through the chute.

I feel good about this race. Although I missed my sub-20 goal, I still came pretty close, set a new PR, and ran a much better 5K than I have in a long time. More importantly, I think I paced it well, and pushed myself nearly as hard as I could. I don't think there's anything I could have done differently, so I'm happy that I gave it my best effort today, since there's really nothing more you can ask of yourself.

After the race, while standing and talking with a friend, my watch suddenly fell off and hit the ground with a thunk. The tattered strap had finally given way. I'm just glad that didn't happen in the middle of the race! This is the watch where replacement bands cost close to $100, so now I need to decide if I should replace it, jury rug something with rubber bands, or get a new watch. Thank you, Nike.


Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Olivia's Miles 5K Report Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 10:52 am 

Great race, and DAMN, you are so freakin' close to 20! Your pacing was fantastic as well - I have a feeling that next time, 20 mns will be history.


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Olivia's Miles 5K Report Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:03 am 

Sorry you didn't hit your ultimate goal, but great job none the less. The season is still early so I'm sure you'll get your sub 20:00 5K shortly.

We've kind of mentioned this before but never discussed it much: Do you think the crowded start, which must have slowed your start, helped or hurt your performance? The turns definitely can have a negative effect if you have to slow a bit to negotiate them. I recall Deena Kastor stating that she finds courses with turns to be helpful because she's able to accelerates through the turns. That's easy for her to say 'cause she's always out front. But if you have people in front, or along side, of you it can be a little more dificult to navigate.

I feel that a "forced" slower start (getting stuck in the crowd for the first 1/2 mile or so) has helped me keep from going out "over my head" in the beginning of a race. But then, I don't know that I've ever done a really good warm-up before a race. I think if I did a good warm-up and was able to time it so that I didn't have too much idle time before the start of the race that I could go out at race pace and be okay. The key is to have your body and lungs ready to go at race pace from the start. Otherwise, I feel, if they aren't sufficiently warmed-up then you burn up more energy at race pace during the first 1/2 mile or so as your body gets into the "groove."

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Olivia's Miles 5K Report Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:17 pm 

In this case, I don't think the jostling at the start made any difference. It cleared up quickly enough that it wasn't a major impediment. If I'd been pacing myself by feel, then the crowds probably would have helped to keep me in check, but I specifically had my Nike SDM with me to prevent going out too fast.

Even when I concentrate hard on starting slowly, I almost always start too fast, especially in the shorter races. There's so much adrenaline pumping, and the legs are still fresh, so even a blistering pace feels easy for a few minutes. In Saturday's race, I initially set out at about a 6:00/mi pace, before I checked the pace readout and saw that I was going too hard. If I'd had to wait until the first mile marker to get that feedback, it would have been bad. In that case, a crowded start would probably be a help.

What kind of warmup do you normally do for a 5K? I'm always worried about doing too much and wearing myself out before the race even starts, but maybe I'm not doing enough.


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Olivia's Miles 5K Report Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:39 pm 

Your warm-up sounded pretty good. Sure, you can wear youself out before a 5K if you run really hard for a couple miles. But instead you should be running easy to get the blood flowing and then do some surges and/or strides to get the legs ready to go fast.

Having done a few triathlons and quite a few brick workouts I've found that even after a 10-20 mile bike ride (at a comfortably hard pace) I can get right into a 10K run at a good fast pace. The bike ride is like an extended warm-up.

I'm amazed how every time when I get off the bike, change my shoes, and head out on a 5-6 mile run I find my legs feel heavy and running feels awkward. But I look at my watch and see I'm doing a 7:30-7:45 pace (my best 10K ever was a 42:58). After about a 1/2 mile or so my legs start to feel normal. I attribute this to having spent an hour with my legs going at a high cadence (80-90 rpms) but without the type of stress that running would have. I get off the bike and my legs just want to keep going but now they have to pound the pavement. So though the legs feel a bit dead at first they still want to turn over quickly. I just have to hang in there for the first 1/2 mile or so and I know I'll start feeling better.

So, my ideal warm-up depends on the lengt of the race. The longer the race the less of a warm-up I'll do. So for a 5K I'd like to try to get a 1-2 mile warm-up in at a very easy pace with a half dozen surges of about 30 seconds. I do just a couple hundred yards as a warm-up before a marathon...just to get the blood flowing to my legs.

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