Archive for the ‘Sub-17’ Category

IMG_2601

It didn’t last long…and it wasn’t easy.

Confidence was not the word of the day. Adaptation maybe a better choice. I read some running article the day before the race that said runners who were prepared for difficulty would handle the challenges of the race a lot better. My challenge was getting in a mindset where I was prepared to hurt (a little) to get what I wanted.

In any case, I always try to race on my brother’s birthday, or at least that weekend. It’s good luck. Last Saturday, was dead on (Apr. 25). Even better. After setting my PR in March, I’d identified the 5000m race as the next opportunity to do something special – at least for me – break 17 in the 5K.

Since the training leading up to the March workout was successful in getting me to 17:22. I did the same sort of training leading up to the April race as well. Only just a little bit faster for every workout.

March v. April Difference (some examples)
“Easy Runs”: 6:42 v. 6:35 pace.
Steady State: 6:11 v. 6:03 pace.
Mile Repeats: 5:26 v. 5:17 pace.

For three weeks in April, training went to plan. I performed better than I had leading up to the March race, and I knew that I had a realistic shot at going under 17:00 on race day. The last week, the taper week, didn’t go as well though. I’d stopped eating as much as before, stopped doing strength workouts at night, and the weather was getting warmer throughout. Not sure why. Boredom? Fatigue? Silly, really. Even though I had cut my mileage in half for the week, the Wednesday (3×800) speed session didn’t go so well. I’d done a similar session, twice as long (6×800) the week before. How could I be struggling so much on a down week? I was having a hard time sleeping as well, getting around 6 hours per night for the week. Even worse, an ill-conceived experiment with long striding left me with throbbing shins and a sore left buttcheek.

Going into Friday, my recovery plans amounted to taking Friday off from running, drinking as much sugar as possible and getting to bed early. Check. Check. Check. Nearly 10 hours of sleep Friday night had me feeling OK by Saturday morning. Packed the workout drinks and drove off to the race.

I’d gone over my strategy well in advance this time. A 5000m race is really 25×200 meters. About the longest period I can focus at one time. As early as the night of the March race, I knew what my splits would be for the April race. Every 200m: 40, 41, 41, 41. 40, 41, 41, 41. Cross 1600m in 5:26. 3200 in 10:52. 4800 in 16:18. Sprint to the finish in 16:58.

I was happy to see at the check-in that three runners from one of the local universities would be in the race. While “The Kid” wasn’t returning, I was sure that local university runners would push (or pull) me to a great finish. Business as usual from this point. After drinking my usual pre-workout drink and warming up, I was informed that there would be two heats of the 5000m instead of one. The women would run first and then the men. This is the first time this year, that I’ve warmed up and then sat afterwards for 30 minutes while waiting on my race. Rather than re-warm up, I decided to keep my windbreaker pants on, sit down and continue to drink fluids.

Actually had a good time talking to the other runners as we began our final check-in at the starting line. People always have the same question: “How fast are you going to run?” Nervous types, I guess. For once, I genuinely didn’t care to hear how fast they were going to run, I assumed it would be good enough to help me. Fortunately, their coach (or friend) asked me what splits I needed to run to get my goal of 17:00 and agreed to call out my times as I passed by. This would be crucial later.

Gun goes off. College kids take off towards their planned pace of 77 seconds per lap. I need to go a little slower at nearly 82. In fact, I should come through 100m in 20 seconds or so. I looked down to check my watch for early confirmation and quickly discover that I didn’t press start hard enough at the gun. I start the clock at 100m but my splits are off entirely now. Memorized splits won’t help me now, and I don’t feel like doing a bunch of math during the race. Good thing the coach agreed to read my times out.

With the coach’s help, I figured the first 1200m left me slightly behind pace, but I made it up to get to 5:27 at the 1600m mark. Good, only a second behind at this point. The trick then, was to keep my cadence up around 180 spm and not overstride as I tired. While striding quickly helped, the benefits were easily countered by warmer weather (75 degrees), high humidity (83%), moderate winds (10 mph against on the backstretch), and an increasingly nosy sun that chose to peep from behind the clouds. Ran a couple of the laps squinting until I got enough courage to slow down and wipe the sweat from my face with my shirt. Much better. At the 3200m mark, I was 5 seconds behind pace at 10:57, but not too disheartened. A very nice lady was yelling that I had the freshest legs left in the race. Good to hear. While 40, 41, 41, 41 was out of the picture, I felt that if I just ran hard enough, I could give myself a chance in the last 600-800m of the race.

And so, I looked away from my watch and looked up. The lady was right. The three runners from the university were all having a tough time of it. They’d planned to run under 16:00 that day, but it was clear that they weren’t going to make it. All were within 150m of me. The last in the group was only 50m to 75m ahead. I decided to close on him. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the last mile. I just kept the last kid in my sight and tried to get within striking distance. With 200m go, the coach yelled out, “16:24…16:25…”. I was 6-7 seconds behind pace.

The math came to me quickly. I needed 34-35 seconds to break 17. A whole month of training for this. I worked too hard to go home unhappy. Time to cut loose. Catch this guy in front of me. As the others were finishing, I caught the 3rd kid with 75m to go. To his credit, he didn’t give up and just edged me at the tape. Great response on his part as we sprinted to the finish line. I stopped my watch in 16:39, but I knew I’d started it late. What was my official time?

I asked around but no one was clocking me. Then I walked into the timing booth. The team manager already knew what I wanted.

16:58.91.

Bam! 34 seconds to close the run. Great surprise on a very tough day. I called my dad to tell him about the news. I’m still having trouble associating myself with the 17:22 5K time – let alone a sub-17. Dad’s response was don’t get used to it because it’s going down again.

We’ll see. May 23. Road race. Fort Worth, TX.

Advertisements

Finally!

Posted: March 16, 2015 in Sub-17
Tags: , , , , ,

IMG_2560

 

 

Had a lot of confidence going into Saturday morning, to be honest. Lately during runs, I have been telling myself to focus on any run (easy, long, speedwork) by thinking about it 200m at a time. So, on Friday night before the run, I went over my splits mentally. What would it take to run a 17:30? Every 200m…

42, 42, 42, 42, 42…

And what would that look like on the watch?

40+2 (42) + 40+2 (1:24) + 40+2 (2:06)….

I knew I had done some faster stuff in training, so 42 sec/200m wouldn’t be hard to achieve initially during the race. Plus, I’d have the advantage of wearing spikes on the track. I never train in anything other than regular…”trainers” (heavier shoes). Just get some rest Friday and be ready to go on Saturday morning at 8:30.

Drove to the track to register for the race about an hour early and snapped the photo above. Not a mystic but, some days just feel better than others. Registered and walked away from the track to get my gear together for the warmup and race. Confidence still high at this point.

See a young man (The KID) warming up for the race soon after. He had the build. Taller, skinner, effortless motion…even while warming up in pants. To top it off, kid’s got a shirt on that says, “—- — University” on it. OK… running for second place now. Back in high school, during the time where my PR was set, such a specter was cause for alarm. Seeing a kid like that meant I wasn’t going to win the race. But I’m a little older now. Hair’s falling out in the front. About 5 pounds heavier. Not all of it muscle. My race is to beat the younger man in me. And this kid is going to help.

Skip forward. Step up to the starting line, but the starter gives us a lesson on running before it begins. Something to the effect of “the best runners always know where they are at all times.” Another shot of confidence. I had the track and the watch and my splits in my head. Ready for this.

Gun goes off. It feels as easy as I had hoped through the first 20 steps or so. Kid and I bolt to the front. Through 200m in 35 and 37, respectively. “Hey, Rich. Maybe we can take this kid?” Nope. 42. Do what we planned to do. Quick, decisive answer within. Grown (read, boring) man’s talking now. Backed down the intensity the entire first mile to get back on my splits. Kid (not me) takes off. He’s a quarter lap ahead in no time. Meanwhile, I cruise through the first mile in 5:36. Right on time. Race is going to be a breeze. Of course, it couldn’t be that easy. Sure enough, somewhere around lap 7 or 8, it begins to feel different. Just pushing off the calves isn’t taking me as far as before. I gotta put in work. Striding a little more and the cadence is falling. Hips and arms are called into action. Taking deep breaths now. Thanks team. 42. 42. 42. 42. Through 2 miles in 11:12. Good. Last mile is going to be tough though.

Going into the 3rd mile, and I’m starting to do too much math in my head. As if I could PR through visualization and arithmetic at this point.

43. 44.

There’s your math, son. You have 4 laps to go and you’re 3 seconds behind. Good luck.

42. 42.

Striding out and breathing hard at this point. Man, I’m not gonna make it. Breathing. Breathing. “I sure am loud…That’s not me….The KID!” He’s lapped me. And looking good doing it. Here’s my chance. Stay with him. I stride out. Backkick is on full. With him for 4 steps. And he’s gone again.

Bell rings. He’s on his last lap. It’s a Saturday jog for him. Not a sign of panic. Man, I wanna be like him. Take a peak at my watch and lookie here…back on pace now. Kid must have pulled me through a 41 and 40. Go, KID! 800m away from a PR. Now this is something I have felt in practice. During repeat 1600m workouts. During repeat 800m workouts. Training specificity is so important. I’m not losing a PR in the final 800m of a race. I don’t close on the kid at this point, but he doesn’t pull away either. He’s still 100m ahead as he finishes. He’s done, but I have a lap to go. Let’s do it! I give it all I have. Remembered that 16:48 at the 3-mile (4800m) mark means 17:30 (5000m). I’m there in 16:44. 200m to go, and I’ve got this. But by how much….

17:22!

 

R.I.P.

5K Personal Best (17:34)

October 28, 2000 – March 14, 2015

IMG_2554