Saturday, March 6, 2010

Five Confidence-Boosting Miles

This morning I ran the Van Metre 5-Mile Run for Children's Hospital in Ashburn, VA. I had run this race back in 2007, but the course was mis-measured that year and was actually 5.2 miles so I didn't get an accurate time. My pace for the first 4 miles had been a 7:48, so I had some idea of how I performed. The purpose of the race today was to be a "tune-up" for the Shamrock marathon in two weeks. Pfitzinger recommends an 8K-10K tune-up two weeks out and that has usually worked well for me in the past.

I had no idea what to shoot for this morning. Based on my half marathon time from early December, I should have been able to run a 7:30 pace. However, I am in much better shape now, but I also can't run the shorter races as fast as McMillan predicts. I figured I would be happy with anything in the 7:35-7:45 range. My fiance, Greg, wanted to run a 7:30 pace so we started together.

The weather was sunny, windy, and about 35 degrees. The wind was a factor in certain parts of the race, but I have run in much worse. The course was rolling hills, except for there was a significant hill at the end of the first mile.

Mile 1: 7:39
This was the slowest mile of the race. Mainly because I wasn't sure what I was capable of and also because there was a big hill at the end of the mile. I think I had been averaging about 7:25 until that hill showed up. Greg was behind me until we got to the hill and he was able to take it faster than me.

Mile 2: 7:29
At the top of the hill, it took me awhile to recover. I think I was going at a pace of 8:30 for at least the first quarter mile. I caught up with Greg, who was also recovering, but then he sped ahead.

Mile 3: 7:29
Gently rolling hills.

Mile 4: 7:31
More rolling hills, trying to hang in there! I knew at this point that I would meet my approximate goal, so I just wanted to hang on.

Mile 5: 7:15
I was shocked at my ability to pull this off. The mile started off downhill and I just hammered on it. I was averaging a 7:05 pace for the first half mile and feeling awesome. Then there was a slight uphill to the finish. I tried to catch Greg, but he stayed about 10 seconds ahead of me for the entire race.

Time: 37:10
Average pace: 7:26

This race was HUGE for me in many respects.

1. I have never run a race at this pace. Ever. Not another 5-miler, not an 8K, not a 4-miler, not even a 5K! In fact, if I look at the last three miles, I beat my 5K PR. Part of me wishes this was a 5K or a 10K so I could have set a major PR in a more standard distance. So, my 5K PR will remain at a pace of 7:31, but I know I am capable of faster.

2. The running equivalent calculators, like McMillan and others, indicate that an "equivalent" marathon performance would fall below 3:40. For most people, this wouldn't necessarily mean much. But because I am stronger at longer distances, I believe I can run even faster than what these calculators predict. The reason why is because of reason 3. . . .

3. My heart rate stayed in my Lactate Threshold (LT) zone. This is tempo pace. I have a very hard time pushing past that threshold in shorter races. Greg's heart rate was far above his LT zone-- as it should be for a race of this distance. But I couldn't push any harder. It's very difficult for me to push beyond my LT zone, but I can stay it in for a long time. I definitely felt like I could have gone a few more miles at this pace. But I didn't feel like I could speed up. When it comes to a marathon, I will be running just under my LT zone. Now that I now that my true LT zone equates to about a 7:26 pace, running a marathon at the BQ pace of 8:23 should definitely be doable.

No age group awards today-- there were quite a few strong runners out there. But now my confidence has been sufficiently boosted for the marathon in two weeks. I just need to make sure that I don't get sick between now and then and hope for decent weather (not wanting to have rainy hypothermia again)!

Shamrock, here I come!!!!!!


  1. Congrats!!!!!! Way to set a great goal and meet it! Enjoy your taper and get read to ShamROCK! haha.

  2. Congrats - sounds like an awesome performance!

  3. Great Race Report and glad it went well and you rocked it!

  4. As I go thru these old posts this is a breakthrough in your young years and the best part of things like this is the confidence it gives you that you are improving. I'm sure today when you plan hard workouts and see that same thing it's got to thrill you!! I think you still got great race times in front of you. Roberta Groner is an example example of proof it can be done!! You should follow what she's done! Truly amazing. She's on a bunch of podcasts too I can share with you. The most current stuff Matt Chittim is doing as she's one of the 4 women (and 4 men) he's tracking for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Podcast is called "Road to the Olympic Trials" She's already been on twice. 3rd fastest women's Master's marathon time in US history and PR'd in Rotterdam, and a year older than you with a lot on her plate!!