Preamble: I feel I need to preface this race report with a brief update on my running thus far in 2008. I’ve been trying to build my aerobic fitness by doing all my running in my aerobic heart rate zone (roughly 149 – 164 bpm). In order to do this I’ve had to increase my usual easy/long run pace by about 2 minutes per mile. This has been extremely frustrating. While I truly want to believe that this will increase my fitness and help me drop my half marathon PB it’s hard not to think that running so slowly is just detraining. Matt (who has had to bear the brunt of my frustration about the slow pace) suggested that I run a 5K as a test of my fitness. I figured that under my “usual” training routine I would have been able to pull off a 24-25 minute 5K. So that was the benchmark I was going to use to compare today’s race result.
Pre-race: I ran the inaugural Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em 5k in 2006 and had a great time. Last year the race didn’t fit into my marathon training but I was happy to be back in 2008. The course is a clockwise loop of Green Lake (very similar to the Iron Girl where I PB’d) starting from the south end of the lake. Due to high registration the organizers added a t-shirt/bib pick-up on Saturday which was great for me because it meant I was able to just run to the start and go. It was 8C, windy but dry this morning so I wore shorts, a long sleeved thermal top and no gloves! The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am so I left my apartment at about 9:05 am and did a slow 1 mile warm-up run to the start.
The race: I wore my Garmin for the race but I vowed not to look at it. I wanted to just run by feel and not be influenced by the numbers. It was an experiment. I lined up just behind the 8:00 min/mile pace sign. I know I should be more zen about this but if there’s one thing that really bugs me it’s people who don’t self seed themselves correctly. The first half mile of the race was a mess. The Green Lake path isn’t really wide enough for 1,500 runners unless people are seeded correctly. That being said I don’t think there’s anything the race organization could of done except possibly set up the sound system so we could actually hear the pre-race instructions.
About half way through the first mile I was able to settle into a steady pace. I know the Green Lake path very well so I had a home court advantage andwas able to anticipate all the turns and (very small) hills. The second mile was a bit tougher but I focused on running smoothly. By the third mile I was ready for this to be over but I tried to push the pace as hard as I could. I hit my watch as I crossed the finish line and was very pleased to 24:30. I was even more pleased when I checked my splits: 8:02 / 8:01 / 7:52 / 0:35. Nice consistency in the first 2 miles and then a pick up to the finish.
Post-race: The finish line area wasn’t too packed when I finished but it was a zoo a few minutes later. I managed to get through the food line quite quickly and pick up a banana, some water and a Starbucks “Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte” sample. I gave myself a few minutes to let the banana settle and then I did a slow 2 mile jog home.
At the end of the day my finish time of 24:30 was right in the middle of my expected range. So all this slow running probably hasn’t been doing me any harm. Tomorrow I start training for the Vancouver half marathon. I am going to start doing one speedwork/tempo run session per week but I’m going to stick with my ridiculously slow aerobic pace. I’ll re-evaluate after the half marathon.