I’ve been trying to avoid turning this blog to a training log. Even though it’s useful for me, I know it can get boring for others. But I find that when I’m deep into a training cycle, and also busy with work, it’s hard for me to be creative and write about something *other* than training. So, too bad for you – here’s what’s been happening the last 2 weeks:
Week of April 11: My new Garmin has too many buttons and apparently, I don’t know how to use them. I accidentally skipped the warm-up by pressing the lap button during a 20 x 200 m workout. Oops! Most of my splits were slower than my target pace, but I was just happy to graduate up to 20 intervals. It was a lot!
Two days later, I managed to use my Garmin correctly to execute a 25-minute tempo run. Average pace during the tempo segment was ~8:30/mile, which I was happy with.
Saturday was an easy 6-mile run; I kept it below my aerobic threshold and felt pretty good. On Sunday, I joined Layla, Kristen, and two of Layla’s friends for a trail run at Pleasanton Ridge. I knew it would not be an easy run, especially since I’m out of trail shape and also because my one previous outing at Pleasanton Ridge was a tough one. On the plus side, it was gorgeous and green, and the company was great! We ended up covering over 12 miles and 2200+ feet of elevation gain. Woof!
Week of April 18: After Sunday’s trail run, my legs were toast. My left hamstring, which had been whining off and on throughout 5K training, was pretty angry. I decided to keep my runs easy until my hamstring felt better. This resulted in 3 easy runs on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I had signed up for the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders 4th Sunday 10K as a practice race, so I figured that I’d save my race pace workout for Sunday.
Today (Sunday) was race day! I wasn’t as mentally prepared for this race as I usually am. It’s been almost 3 years since I ran a road 10K, so the idea of stringing together 6.2 fast miles was a bit daunting. I felt like I could PR (52:51), but I also knew that the course would present challenges. For one thing, the course isn’t closed and very narrow at parts, so there’s always some pedestrian dodging. Second, the 10K requires 2 laps around Lake Merritt, which is mentally tough. Most runners do the 5K so it gets pretty lonely during the 2nd lap. Finally, there are tiny hills that feel like mountains when you’re trying to run your fastest. But I figured that regardless of the outcome, I’d get a practice race in before the Danville 10K. Plus, the Gypsy Runner and I are heading to Maui soon, and a hard race effort would also lessen the guilt I’ll feel for taking 5 days off from training.
I did a short warm-up (0.8 miles) before the race. There were a lot of runners – including a group of vision-impaired participants, as well as a large contingent from She Runs, a women’s running group. I lined up near the front and took off too fast, close to 7:30/mile pace. This is the danger of a mixed 5K/10K/15K start with a slight downhill. Eventually, I settled down and tried to keep pace with some of the more relaxed-looking runners around me. I noticed that I kept losing focus and my pace subsequently slipped. I finished the first lap in 26 minutes flat. I figured if I could keep up an 8:30 pace for the second lap, I could PR, but just barely.
As I predicted, the second lap was challenging. I tried to stay with a steady older guy who was maintaining ~8:25/mile pace. To keep myself engaged, I started using pedestrians to leap frog. I would run up to them at a steady pace, then sprint past. These pick-ups helped to break up the monotony and made the miles go by faster. By the last mile, I was really struggling. I looked down at my watch and saw 9:xx/mile. I knew I was slowing down, but I didn’t think I was going that slowly. Then, the course dropped down to the narrow path by the Lake, where I had to dodge a lot of people. I had to come to a complete stop at one point, which was frustrating. Oh, and did I mention the headwind?
I was coming up to the final stretch and saw that I had 2 minutes left to PR. It was going to be close. I pushed hard, but I cursed out loud as I approached the finish line with 52:5x showing on the race clock. My official time was 52:56, 5 seconds off my PR. D’OH!
My Garmin data: 52:56 for 6.3 miles (8:24/mile).
Splits: 8:08, 8:20, 8:27, 8:26, 8:28, 8:45, 7:57 (for 0.3 miles)
It was a bummer to come so close to beating my PR and miss it by 5 seconds. I don’t know what happened during that 5th mile (8:45 split) – most likely, it was a combination of fatigue and pedestrian traffic. I didn’t feel like I let my foot off the gas, but apparently that’s what happened. Regardless, it was a good practice race for Danville. Now I know I’m in good enough shape to PR, so it will be a matter of improving my pacing strategy (not going out too fast, for one), and working on long intervals. I’m going to skip the short, fast stuff in favor of tempos and 2-mile repeats. Also, I had to remind myself that today’s goal wasn’t to PR, but to use it as a practice race and help me determine what I need to work on in the next 5 weeks. So, as far as that goes, I accomplished my goal.