Monday, April 7, 2008

A HUGE Weekend

Last weekend was probably the most satisfying of my running "career" to date. After agonizing about whether it was the right decision to deviate from the training plan and throw in a 5K race, I took the near-unanimous advice of my RW forum-mates and I went for it. My fellow runners could not have been more right in their counsel.


I got up at around 7:00 after an emotionally tough Friday night (dealing with some personal stuff) and about 6 hours of restless sleep. I had my usual pre-race breakfast, got everything together and puttered around before leaving for the race at 9:00 (start time was 10). The weather report had called for high 30's and rain, but fortunately the rain tapered off before dawn and we were left with high 30's and clouds, which is fine by most any runner's standards. I chose to run in shorts and a short-sleeve tech shirt, with a light running cap and running gloves.

I got to the race site at about 9:15, registered and started warming-up in full sweats. I ran about 2 miles easy, saw that my HR was in a good place, and then did a couple of long, fast strides, just to loosen things up. I stretched, chatted with some running club mates and went to the starting line. I introduced myself to an older guy (60's) whom I'd seen at many races and we talked about our goal times. As usual, I lined up in the second "wave", behind the fastest men and women. For a small race, a number of accomplished area runners showed, so I wasn't too keen on garnering any awards, just posting the best time I could. I was slightly miffed when one guy rudely made his way past me, essentially elbowing me out of his way, and took a position right in front of me. Turned out he should not have been that far up, and he certainly should not have had such an attitude about it.

Having promised myself that I would NOT go out too fast, I did anyway, and realized less than a half-mile in that I was running about a 5:50/mile pace, way too fast to have any chance of running a decent time overall. I relaxed, let a couple of folks pass me, and settled into a more appropriate pace.

The first mile split time was 6:15, almost exactly where I wanted to be. The course is one of the least attractive around, where we had to run through a series of office park parking lots, curling and turning and overlapping to round out the full 5K. The second mile is the worst, and I found myself battling the wind without many folks around to help me cut the wind. I passed a guy who was clearly running out of gas, passed a couple of young kids who'd gone out too fast, passed the guy who'd cut me at the start. I did give in to a base impulse and take a lingering look at him as I went by. Not too proud of that, but he'd ticked me off.

I passed the second mile marker in a little under 12:50, just a tad slower than I had wanted, but certainly okay by me. During the race, I kept two fellow runners in my sights, a man and a woman from my running club who consistently finish 20-30 seconds ahead of me in local 5Ks. The smartest decision I made on Saturday was NOT to chase them when they pulled away from me slightly at the end of the first mile. I watched them the whole way, and closed the gap on them during the last mile.

During that last mile, I stopped looking at my watch, running on feel. I was definitely working hard, but never felt that I would blow up or otherwise falter. When I took the last tun, with about 0.2 mile to go, I gave it all I had. My watch said I ran that stretch in just under a 5:00 pace, and I passed about 5 people in that short distance. I came in 10 seconds behind my running club teammates.


  • Overall time: 19:52
  • Net time (by my watch): 19:49 - NEW PR (old one was 19:56)
  • Overall place: 34th out of almost 300
  • AG place: 4th
  • Winner's time: 15:59
  • Total run with warm-up and cool-down: 8 miles
    I was ecstatic not only with the time, but knowing that I had run that time without any sort of rest or taper. I had run a hard tempo run on Wednesday (12 miles total) and another 12-miler on Friday, and I still managed to post my best 5K time. I was very satisfied with the effort and the result.

    Once I came down to earth a bit, I realized I had to run a cool-down run to flush the lactic acid from my legs, since I had a 20-miler scheduled on Sunday. I did an easy 3-miles with some fellow runners, chatting about the race and other upcoming events, and simply enjoying the camaraderie of our sport.

    I lingered to see if there'd be an age-group award in the cards for me, but there wasn't, so I headed home to enjoy the rest of the day with my family.


    With the confidence of Saturday's results, I woke up at 6:45 on Sunday to get ready to run long with my friend "The Big Man". I ate and did my "business" and headed to his place, only to realize I'd forgotten my Garmin GPS watch; so I turned around and got there late for the start of our 20-miler. We got out the door at close to 8:30 and took off for a multi-town swing, mostly along roads I'd only driven, and some I'd never been on at all.

    The terrain had a lot of rolling hills, and I enjoyed the company, as the miles ticked off much more quickly than if I'd been alone with my music, podcasts or thoughts. I let him dictate the pace, as my legs would not let me deny the fatigue from the week's training and Saturday's race. I also had unusual stomach problems, which made me have to stop a few times (including once in the woods where I broke through some crusty snow and ended up in thigh-high snow, in shorts!). We ran a very consistent pace of around 9:05/mile, and ran a total of 21.1 miles. The last 5-6 miles were hard, but my HR stayed where it should, and the hills were manageable.

    The extra mile on that long run gave me my first-ever 60-mile week. The rest of the training program (3 weeks at 50-ish miles, then taper time) now seems much less intimidating than it did just a few weeks ago.

    I'll admit to feeling a bit beat up, but would not have done anything differently. I wish I could figure out how to get more sleep, but otherwise I'm feeling good and very confident that I'm getting closer to being in top shape on May 25th.

    Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your comments.



Billy said...

Congrats ESG!

Hell of a time and hell of a training week!

(ps- the guy who bumped you deserved it. I would've done the same thing)

Ron Abramson said...

Thanks, Burger. I tend to be pretty mellow until someone does something like that. He probably didn't even know why I gave him that glare.

Hope your training is going well.


Greg said...

Good job.... good luck in your upcoming races... I hope you crush that marathon in May.. BTW, what are you shooting for?

Ron Abramson said...


Struggling with the time goal question, as I know I should run a "mellow" marathon, shooting for a sub-3:30 finish, but the unreasonable, greedy, arrogant part of my pysche is clamoring for me to try to BQ (3:20). I just thinkI need to be smart, but that doesn't mean that I will.

Cheers, ESG