Monday, September 2, 2019

Great American Labor Day 5K Report

This morning I ran the Great American Labor Day 5K in Fairfax Corner, VA. This course is used for several races throughout the year, and I have run it about five times in the past. Last year, I ran this exact race as a tempo run in 22:25. I was just coming back from mono at that time, so I didn't want to push it too hard. It's not known for being a fast course with its constant hills, but since I've run it so much, I find it to be a good benchmark.

This year, I decided to run it because I wanted to get a few 5Ks under my belt right before marathon training started. My last 5K, Leesburg, was one of my slowest 5Ks in a long time (22:08). Partially due to the weather, and partially due to the fact that I hadn't regained all the fitness I lost from taking time off post bike accident. And I went out too fast. I came into today's race looking for some redemption. 

My goals for this race were as follows:
Photo by Cheryl Young
  • Run hard, get a good workout in on the hills
  • Test out the Nike Vaporfly
  • Set a course PR
Before the Race
I didn't sleep all that well last night. I attribute that partially to taking an hour-long nap yesterday. That wasn't really planned; I just fell asleep on the couch and didn't wake up for an hour. My sleep was restless, but I got a solid 6 hours, so I wasn't really worried.

Before leaving the house, I ate an English muffin with peanut butter and mixed up a serving of Generation UCAN with some water to take with me. Greg did not run this race-- he was playing the role of photographer and cheerleader. We arrived about an hour before the race started and picked up my bib. After pinning it on, I used the porta potty and then warmed up wearing my Brooks Ghost.

After about fifteen minutes of warming up in the Ghost, I switched to the Nike Vaporfly. I ran about half a mile in those, just to get a feel for them pre-race. They felt loose. I didn't want to tie them too tightly, though, because I did that on Saturday and my feet hurt afterwards. So I made sure they were secure but not too tight. My heel was slipping in them, but a lot of people said that was an issue with this shoe, so I accepted it as normal and didn't try to fix it.

After the second warm up, I returned to my car and had an Energice ice pop, and put a few ice cubes in my sports bra. I then headed for the start line with about five minutes to go.

It was 71 degrees with a dew point of 70. Thankfully it was overcast, unlike Leesburg. This weather wasn't abnormally warm for this time of year, but we had been treated to a full week of cooler weather leading up to the race. I had been spoiled. 

I thought that I could still get a course PR, beating my time of 21:31 from November 2016, when the weather was ideal. Since Leesburg two weeks ago, I had executed a number of really strong track workouts, all focused on speed. I even noticed my heart rate being lower in general, both during runs and my resting heart rate. I was in good shape, so it would all come down to execution and the impact of the humidity.

Mile 1: 6:39
Mile 1, photo by Greg Clor
The race started and swarms of runners shot out ahead of me. I remained patient, as I prefer to ease into a race instead of gunning it at the start. I wanted to keep my eye on how many women were ahead of me, and there seemed to be about 6 right from the beginning. I started to pass people at the bottom of the first hill, which was about 3/4 of the way into the first mile. 

I had planned for this mile to be around 6:40, if not slightly faster, so I was right on track. I didn't look at my watch too much, but this was naturally the pace I ran. I knew from past experience not to go out too fast on the first downhill. I also had fears of bonking like I did in Leesburg, so I was more cautious.

Mile 2: 6:46
The rolling hills continued throughout this mile, creating a net even elevation. I continued to pass the people who had taken that first down hill quicker than me. As I passed one man, who looked to be in his late 50's or early 60's, he said to me, "You are the one who was screaming. That's really annoying." I was shocked. I know I make loud noises when racing, but no one has ever complained to me about it. If anything, people ask me if I'm okay, or they encourage me along with "you got this" or other such phrases.

I let it sink in for a few seconds and then I looked at him and muttered, "that's really rude." And then I passed him. I took one last quick glance behind me to catch a glimpse of him, so I could make sure he didn't pass me later in the race. I was really surprised that someone would waste their energy in a 5K to tell someone else that they were annoying. It's pretty much impossible to talk when running 5K effort, so you really have to be obnoxious to expend the energy to make such a comment. 

Mile 3: 6:50
Mile 3, photo by Greg Clor
More rolling hills, with the final hill being super long. I was starting to get really tired, but I stayed strong. I did not want anyone passing me at this point, particularly not the guy who insulted me. The shoes were super bouncy. Even though I was low on energy and I felt like I was slowing down, my watch indicated otherwise. This final mile was all about staying strong mentally and continuing to push up the long hill.

Last 0.14: 6:00 pace
I gunned it to the finish and was elated when I saw the clock. That course PR was mine!

I finished in an official time of 21:09, which is a course PR by 22 seconds. It's 0:59 faster than my time at Leesburg two weeks ago! I was thrilled.

I re-united with Greg and changed back into my Brooks Ghost for a short cool down. During the cool down, I ran into my friends Hannah and Alex, who were run-walking the race. Hannah is 36 weeks pregnant, and Alex ran a marathon last weekend. Kudos to them for showing up and getting it done!

I ended up winning first place in my age group, and coming in 4th overall. I was very happy with this.

After the Race
Once I finished cooling down, I spotted the guy who had told me my noises were annoying. I had beaten him by 12 seconds.

Me: "Hello. Were you the person who told me I was annoying?"

Him: "Yes. It was so loud. It was like this:" screams right into Greg's face

Greg: "Don't scream in my face."

Him: "You were so loud the first half, but you were ok for the second half.  I was running with you during the second half and you weren't doing it then. It was so loud in the beginning that it affected my race. I actually pulled a hamstring."

Greg: "You're saying her screaming made you pull a hamstring?"

Him: "This conversation isn't going anywhere. Good luck in your future races."

Normally everyone I meet at races is so nice and exhibits good sportsmanship. This was certainly different.

I'll be the first to admit that I make loud noises when I race. They are like mini screams that kind of just come out when I am working hard. Particularly when I am going up hill. As I said above, nobody has ever insulted me for it, although they have sometimes expressed concern.

Vaporfly Thoughts
I had a really good race this morning. Was it because of the shoes? I don't think so. Even though the weather was crappy, I think I had built up a good amount of fitness post bike accident. I had been going to the track twice a week and really hammering it. I also executed the race well by not going out too fast and staying strong on the final hill.

Many runners were wearing the Vaporfly today. I looked down at the start line and probably one in every three runners had a pair. I liked the shoes but I didn't love them. I think I might love them for a 10K or longer. 

My biggest issue with them, aside from the loose fit, was that I didn't feel as engaged with the ground. When I'm running fast, I like to get feedback from the ground beneath me and derive power from that. In this race, I felt like I was getting power from the shoe and not from the road. I'm undecided if I will wear them in my next 5K. I will likely wear them in my next 10K. 

I'm glad I did this race. I think it's good to work on speed before entering marathon training and this race was a chance to do just that. Plus, it's also nice to have a top 5 overall finish and to win the age group.


  1. What the heck with the guy making comments?! So rude! I actually had a "loud breather" on my tail for much of a marathon once, and, like things do in a started to bug me. So I sped up so he wasn't two inches off my shoulder. I can't imagine saying something to someone! How uncouth!
    I definitely know what you mean about the prevalence of Vapor Flys: at most races now, the front of the line is totally dominated by them. We actually had several people use them for the Power Mile, and actually, they ran really well, even at that short of a distance! Definitely eager to try them out once I'm back in shape!

  2. OMG this makes me laugh my ass off. I've been in races where people breathe loudly and even you'll say it's annoying. I've never made that type of comment to anyone although if I was in a race and we we're close to another another (not that we would be) I'd probably bust your chops about it!!

    What really made me laugh was Greg's comment. PERFECT!!! This lunatic whines he pulled his hamstring and blames it on you screaming. I hope he's not playing tennis with all the grunting that goes on in that sport!! He's never be able to focus!! I'm not going to call him rude, who cares, he's an idiot looking for a lame excuse because HE GOT BEAT BY A LADY!!!

    And if he pulled his hamstring... no chance in hell he's only 12 second behind you... He's limping his way thru things. He's one hell of a liar for even making that claim!! Anyone with half a brain knows he's looking to blame someone else because he's a shit runner!! Yes I said it!!

    I know I'm harsh and mean sometimes.. He deserves it. Tell Greg he cracks me up that was THE PERFECT COMMENT!!!

    Also him keeping his cool when the scumbag screamed in his face.. Wow, I think I would have popped the man in the mouth. What the hell did Greg ever do to deserve that!! If there's anything he did that was truly rude it was that because it was after the race and DELIBERATE. Whereas I can unserstand in a race if someone is passionate and distracted they may say something dumb like he did, I can get past that part because he was just looking for an excuse because he's a shit runner.

    Greg had nothing to do with anything. I'm glad I wasn't there and hanging out with you guys I would have ripped him a new asshole but Greg handles it classy and was funny too with that wait her screaming caused your hamstring pull? He didn't pull his hamstring, he's a lying sack of garbage

    I'm glad you beat him but if he tired to pass you I would have stuck my foot out and been like oops sorry didn't know you were right there.. I probably wouldn't have done that but it's funny to say it because I'd be thinking it!! We all know this man is a lame ass and got beat by a lady.

    I know I get beat by some ladies too but they impress me I don't mock them.

    haha, you could have always said oh I didn't do it later.. maybe it's distraction tactic so I can weed off the weak minded runners like you!! hahaha

    I know I'm brutal.. I know this is a public forum but I don't care.. I'm full of harshness at times for some people who blame others for the fact they suck at what they do!! As for people slower than he or Elizabeth, no I'm not mocking you all. It's just their classless way of going about their business that means they suck at what they do. For all of y ou that read this comment and don't know me, if you did, you would know I passionately root for my fellow runners and love to see you all succeed. Not by comparing yourself to myself or Elizabeth, but getting the best out of yourselves and if you are that's beautiful!! Keep striving to be the best you can be!!

  3. Congrats on your PR and not letting that jerk rattle you. My take: Dude, it's a race! Seriously, what is wrong with people? I've heard all kinds of noises coming out of people at races--I ran a 5k earlier this summer where I thought a guy was going to collapse, he was wheezing like the little engine that could. I follow my boss's advice when I have to deal with rude people: don't engage. Not my issue.