Monday, April 16, 2012

Update on Training, Crystal City Friday 5k

DC is great for many reasons, but one of my favorite things about DC is that it is such a phenomenal running city.  There are many races each weekend throughout the city, and in any given race, you have at least 1,000 runners, and some pretty fast one too.  Pacers Running Stores puts on an awesome racing series each year, with over 20 races a year, and I am proud to be a Pacers Ambassador for a third year.  This means I volunteer at some of their races (registration, packet pick up, handing out water, etc), wear their gear in races, and just get the word out about the stores and race series.  So, it is perfectly natural for me to have some of their races factored into my training.
This week, it was the Crystal City Friday 5k.  Every Friday night in April, there is a 5k in Crystal City, which is a lot of fun.  I have volunteered at this race about 10 times, but had never run it.  So, I was looking forward to seeing what the race itself was actually like.  But this race was a part of my larger 10k training, which I want to take a minute to talk about.
I was home last week for a week for Easter, which was really nice.  I hadn't been home since early January, so it was really nice to go home and see my parents.  I was able to relax a bit, enjoy the time away from commuting, and regroup for the last chunk of the semester.  I got some good training runs in, and even a bike ride too!  I hadn't been on a bike since Christmas, but got in an 18.8 mile bike ride in on Friday.  While the ride itself was fine, I was definitely sore on Saturday!  I had an 11 mile run on Saturday, with 6 miles at tempo (start at 7:15 pace and work down to 6:45).  When I trotted out for my warm up, I was moving really slow and wondering how successful the run was going to be.  Ultimately, I averaged 7:11 pace for 5.5 miles, and that was all I could do.  And you know, I will take it.  It was a bit unwise on my part to get on the bike the day before a hard workout and expect the run to exactly according to plan.  The plan is just that, a plan - it is nearly impossible to get every run and training session in perfectly.  I also got in a good 12 mile run on Sunday and averaged 8:25 pace.  I was pretty happy with that - I am starting to bring my easy run time down.  For the next month, my long runs are between 10-13 miles, and I really like that.  I love the marathon, I love marathon training, but it is nice to focus on these shorter distances and have that long run done in under 2 hours.  
But the big run of the week was my track workout on Tuesday.  It was 17mph winds, and man, when the wind hits every single lap, that is a hard workout. I think it is a challenging workout regardless of the wind: 
2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile tempo, 1 mile, 2 x800, 4x400; run the 2 mile
steady and do not cut it down at all; aim to run it at 6:50 pace; jog 2 laps; aim for 6:40 in the
mile; jog 500 meters; aim for 3:15 and 3:12 in the 800s (400 jog between each); aim for 90-92
for the 400s, with a 200 meter jog between each; 2.5 mile cool-down. Total=11.5 miles
This was hard.  I did the 2 mile tempo in 13:36 (6:38 pace).  I did the mile in 6:38, and at that point, halfway through the workout, I really had to motivate to keep going.  I did the 2 800s in 3:12 and 3:08. This wind was not going to stop me!  By the time the 400s rolled around, I just had to tell myself that each one was going to be over in 92 seconds, so just get through it.  92, 92, 91, 90!  This was a hard workout, and even with the wind, I got through it really well.  During my cooldown, it started to HAIL!  Are you kidding me?  It was definitely the icing on the cake of a crazy workout.  Very hard, but also really rewarding to get through too.
Anyways, I was pretty psyched how it went.  And I had this 5k on tap for Friday, which came with the following instructions from Sarah (which made me laugh):

This race doesn’t matter. I repeat, this race doesn’t matter. You are doing it to get a simulated race/workout and to get another race in before the goal 10K. The course stinks, and there are lots of twists, turns, speed bumps and parking lots. Do not worry about your time. Whatever your time is on this course does not matter at all. Just worry about going out there and feeling aggressive. Did I mention the course stinks? 2.5 warm-up; race; 2.5 cool-down. Total=8 miles
So yes, while the race is fun, and a lot of people do it, it is a challenging course and not one that sets up well for a PR.  So, that was the attitude I went in with - just go out and run - push hard, but don't expect anything.
So, I actually volunteered with registration before the race started and was having fun chatting it up with my fellow Ambassadors and meeting new people.  But I realized about an hour before the race why I had felt a little sluggish for a couple of days - I was getting a cold, yuck.  But, better then than before my goal 10k.  I toed the starting line, ready to go, and just hoping to put a decent time out there.  While I knew I couldn't run a PR (19:39), I was hoping to run a good time.  The gun went off and off we went.  And yes, Sarah was right, there were lots of hard to maneuver turns.   I came through the first mile in 6:26, and felt like I was really working hard.  Funny, how when I ran my big 5k PR at 6:20 pace, it felt much easier than what I was doing Friday night.  It also seemed like a lot of people, including a decent number of women went out in front of me.  Oh well, it doesn't really matter - not a lot is on the line with this race.  I came through the second mile in 6:32 and felt tired, but at least locked into a good rhythm.  That was about the same feeling at mile 3, and had 2 90 degree turns to make in the final .1 - a bit hard!  I finished in 20:10 - my second fastest 5k, so pretty good!
10th woman out of 773
69 overall out of 1426
I staggered after for a moment, just feeling very spent.  It was very hard to do an evening race for me.  Just a weird thing to mentally prepare for.  The morning races, you conserve energy overnight, but I had spent the whole day working, and then had to toe the line.  Definitely a different kind of mentality. I then switched into my training shoes and ran my cooldown on the course, as it was still open.
I love running in DC, and was pleased that the Capitol even made it into this shot!
I was reflecting on the whole thing, and I realized, that even though this was more of a workout than a race, I was pretty proud.  This means that on a given Friday, I can go out, run around 20 minutes, come in top 10 in a DC race, even with a cold.  That is pretty good.  So, even though it was a low key race, it still went well, and is a good sign that 10k training is going well.  I rehashed the race a bit with Sarah at lunch, and she said that people rarely run times comparable to their PRs on that course, so I was glad to get her seal of approval on the effort.  And, while this isn't a picture from the Crystal City 5k, they finally posted pictures form my Scope it out Race - and I look just as happy as I felt!

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