Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marathon Monday (Tuesday edition)

After a fun but exhausting 4th of July weekend/beer, brat, and chicken wing binge it's time to get my (aching) head back into the game... less than 14 weeks to marathon time!!!


About a month ago the company that I work for announced an inter-office virtual race.  Anyone from the company who wanted to participate could run a 5k and then the top 3 times from each age group would score points for the office "team".    The winning office receives "bragging" rights and gets to hold onto the trophy for a year...

Since then, I've had it in the back of my mind that I was going to run a 5k.  I initially planned on running it 2 weekends ago at a race where several of the other participating members of my office were going to be running.  However, the time didn't work particularly well with my training schedule, plus the race was 45 minutes from my house so I said "screw em'"...

Instead, I settled on a local Peoria race called the Firecracker 5000 because it was only 4 miles from my house, the course was advertised as "Flat and Fast", there was 100 dollars of prize money offered to the winner (I didn't expect to win but I figured it would provide a stronger field for competition), and it fit much better into my training schedule.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning and ran four miles from my house to downtown Peoria where the race was being held.  Since the race was scheduled for 7:30 am I was hoping for some decent temperatures but as the start time approached the temperature was already creeping into the 80s...

I lined up near the front, the air horn sounded, and we were off... the local elites blazed ahead and I soon found myself in the midst of off-season undertrained high school kids and ex-high school cross-country running college kids.  I did my best to ignore the surging and faltering around me and focused on dictating my own pace.  I hit the first mile marker at 6:00 flat.

The course was essentially an out and back loop with one block separating the out from the back.  The first 1.5 miles we ran from West to East, right towards the hot and blinding sun, so I was relieved when I finally hit the turn around point.  I turned right, headed down a block, and then made another right onto a  walking path that follows along the Illinois river as I finished up my 2nd mile for a 6:10 split.

As I hit the 2 mile point the wheels started to come off.  I think that I can attribute my downfall to multiple factors:  lack of taper, my recent increases in mileage and intensity, the heat, my lack of actual speed work... Regardless of the cause, I was suddenly suffering and my pace slowed down considerably.  "keep going... almost there" I kept thinking to myself, but my legs wouldn't respond... and that's when I totally got chicked!!!  I'm at about the 2.25 mile point and the female winner blows past me...  I briefly consider trying to stick with her, but ultimately just wind up eating dust... leaving me to struggle on to a 6:30 3rd mile followed by the final .1 mile kick to the finish line at a 5:40 pace (where was that extra energy at when I was getting chicked?!?).

After the race I stuck around for the awards and lucky for me I'm only 31 years old so I wound up getting a medal 1st place in my age division! I say lucky for me because I would've came in 3rd if I was between 40-44, and I wouldn't have placed at all if I was between 45-49... I guess I'll need to get fast enough to place overall if I want to get away from the arbitrariness of the age divisions... of course, the top two runners both went sub-16:00 so I guess I have a ways to go.

Final Stats:
Distance: 5k
Time: 19:18 (11 second PR!)
Div. Place: 1/46
Tot. Place: 20/667

Ultimately I've got to call the race a bittersweet success.  On the one hand I PR'd by 11 seconds and took home some first place hardware... but on the other, I hit mile 2 averaging a 6:05 pace and then totally crashed... as the saying goes: in a 5k you run the first mile with your legs, the second with your mind, an the 3rd with your heart.  This time, the heart just wasn't there.  Next time, hopefully it will be, and I'll go sub-19.

Training update

For the third week in a row I got into the gym on Monday for some weight work... My running week began Tuesday with a 7 mile run which included 3 tempo miles @ 6:43 pace.  Wednesday I ran an easy 4 mile recovery run so that I'd be ready for Thursday's moderately hilly, 10 mile, medium long run which I ran at medium hard pace (7:34).  Friday was my usual two mile recovery run with the dogs (find that I actually feel better Satuday if I run 2 easy miles on Friday as opposed to taking the day off).  The four generally base pace miles on Satuday before wrapping up the week with a 12 mile Sunday which included running to the race, racing a 5k, cooling down, and finally running back home.

Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 4 stats (2010)                                     Week 4 stats (2009)
38.49 miles                                                29.17 miles
7:54 average pace                                      8:13 average pace
long run - 12 miles (plus a mid-week 10)      long run - 11 miles

uh oh... the weeks are starting to look comparable... then again, this week was a step-back week for me this year, and last year it was a step-up week... 

Look into my crystal ball

48 miles planned for this week with a mid-week hill workout and long run of 18.


  1. That's right you'd better get cracking if you wanna run with us big (old) dogs!
    Congrats on the PR!

  2. Congrats on the PR! Wow, you are blazin' fast! (PS, gotta admit I'm laughing at the being "chicked")

  3. Congrats on the PR! I love the stat comparison. What a great way to check on your progress!

  4. Hey pretty nice run well under 20 minutes!! Congrats on the age group win. I have long stopped worrying about getting chicked, it will be happening to elite runners soon in the marathon! Like any race, the 5K is most effectively run with even pacing so maybe you can go for 6:10 or so and hang on...

  5. I think I read this right.


    Dude, next time, drive to the race. Save going green for a training day.

    Great PR time, particularly during marathon training.

  6. I think 5K's are the worst distance ever invented...I do 'em, but man they just suck a lung right out of me at the last mile. Excellent job on the PR, congrats!!!! Does anyone actually "taper" for a 5K??

  7. Congrats on the PR and I'm not really feeling sorry for you getting chicked ;-)

    I don't see anything bad about your week comparison... 12mi step back vs 11mi push! You're doing awesome

  8. NICE race man. That is some serious speed. You've got 19 min in the bag