Sunday, May 10, 2015

5K Extravaganza: Angel Kisses 5K

 Now that I'm done with my marathon and the weather is heating up, I'm focusing on racing shorter distances until the fall. The heat is a real challenge for me, and I've nearly passed out on several occasions after hot races.

April: Marathon recovery (easy running)
May: Lower mileage, high intensity speed work
June: More challenging speed work
July: Speed work, and begin to add mileage

Greg and I have a long European vacation in August, so that will represent a break in the hard
training, and once I return, I'll get serious about training for my two fall half marathons.

I ran the BEST Kids 5K three weekends ago, and I have a series of 5Ks coming up over the next two months.

Before the Race
I actually wasn't in a racing mood this morning. I didn't feel the typical excitement and adrenaline. I kind of just felt "blah." But once I got to the race site in Fairfax Corner, I started to get more excited. The whole race atmosphere with people in bibs, the big start/finish line, etc-- it all kind of put me into race mode.

I warmed up for nearly two miles and thought about my approach to this race. I think I've run this course before, but it had been a long time. At least 4 or 5 years ago.This race used to be only two miles from my house, but for some reason they moved it this year so I could no longer run there as my warm up.

I could tell from my warm up that the course would be hilly, and I knew that going into it. I just didn't know when the hills were and what portion of the course I was warming up on, as the route makes a large circle around the shopping plaza.

It was 68 degrees, overcast and 99% humidity. I am not yet acclimated to heat or humidity, and I don't think I've had a single training run over 60 degrees yet. They've all been in the 50's at their warmest. At the 5K three weeks prior, I ran a 22:31, and that was a pancake-flat course, low humidity, and about 5 degrees cooler. Although that race was sunny. I figured with added hills, humidity and a few extra degrees, I would probably tack on about 25-30 seconds to my time.

My main goals were to practice pacing the 5K distance (it's tough to master it) and to continue to push hard throughout. I also wanted to see what the past two weeks of more high intensity training had gotten me.

Mile 1: 6:54
The first mile was a long downhill. I was cautious about taking it too quickly because I didn't want to run out of gas too early. If this had been the last mile, I certainly would have gunned harder. When my watch beeped 6:54, I wasn't surprised, but a little worried about what was to come. I knew there would have to be an equivalent uphill somewhere,

Mile 2: 7:10
Photo by Greg Clor
This mile seemed to be a mix of up and downhill. The race started to get really hard at the beginning of mile 2, and I thought to myself "wow- I still have two miles to be feeling like this". I didn't feel good. The humidity was really taking it out of me. I know that 5Ks are supposed to hurt, but with this one I felt zapped. In the BEST Kids 5K three weeks prior, it was hard, but I felt strong and relatively "good" for the entirety. I was quite surprised to see a 7:10 on my watch because I was really struggling and that mile had a lot of hilliness.

Mile 3: 7:28
At this point, I was just hanging onto the effort level. I was struggling so much, and this mile was mostly uphill. At certain points, I felt like I was going at a snail's pace. I was soaking wet from the sweat/humidity combo and life wasn't fun.

Last 0.16: (6:57 pace)
Usually I can bring my 5Ks and 10Ks home at a pace of 6:10-6:30. Not today. It was a flat finish, but I was completely spent. I guess this means I left it all out there, which means I met my goal! \

As I passed through the finish line, I was immediately handed a carnation. I probably would have preferred to have waited at least 10 seconds post-finish to be holding something, but I appreciate the sentiment. (And I think they were giving them to all the adult females who could have been moms.) I found Greg, who came to cheer me on and take photos, and was very happy to be done running. He's still on crutches due to his broken ankle, and won't be running again until June.

Photo courtesy of =PRR= Races
I cooled down for a mile and then waited for the awards ceremony. As it turns out, I won 1st place in my age group with a time of 22:39. I got a $20 gift certificate to Potomac River Running. Yay!

I actually surprised myself with how well I did in this race relative to the one three weeks ago that was flat, cooler and less humid. Officially, I was only 8 seconds slower (not my predicted 25-30 seconds). And according to my Garmin, today's race was actually faster, because this course measured longer.

BEST Kids: 7:14 pace for 3.12 miles
Angel Kisses: 7:11 pace for 3.16 miles

So in reality, I can tell that in just three week's time, I've made a good deal of progress. Speed is gained and lost quickly, so I am optimistic I can beat this time at my next 5K in just two weeks.

Also, I spent 2 of the past 3 weeks traveling for work, which always makes training harder. I was in London the week of April 20, where I ran in Hyde Park. I was in San Diego this past week, where I ran along the bay. It's a lot of time zones and air planes and stuff, but I still managed to train through it all.

Photo by Greg Clor

Photo by Greg Clor

Photo courtesy of  =PRR= Races


  1. Congrats on your race! I also ran a 5K... and my time was 22:40 so it was one second off yours :). I think that's pretty fun, hehe. I didn't Garmin though so I don't know splits except that it was positive. That's so awesome that you got a $20 gift card and won your age group too, neat prize.

    I don't think pacing in a 5K is a huge deal. The races are so short that sometimes you have to work the course. I "banked time" on Saturday because I knew the first mile was downhill and there was a big hill at the end, and no matter what, I'd be mentally and physically fatigued at the end. Knowing the course is a big advantage in any race, though. I always positive split but typically my 2nd mile is the slowest and not the 3rd!

    Hooray for a pace improvement in such a short time too. I think it's good to have a lot of 5Ks back to back to see improvement even if the first few are more like tempo runs for a fast one.

  2. Hi there! Thanks for the comment. Congrats on your 5K! If you lived closer to me we could run our races together! You know, you actually make a good point about pacing not really being that important in the 5K. It's more about just going hard and being able to tough it out. I think there are a lot of different strategies, and I am still not sure what works best, which is why it's good to try them all!