Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Arbor Day 5K - Brookings, SD

I was curious about running a 5K after training for 9 months for the marathon/ultramarathon distances. I've run a 5K before in college and a few during high school cross country season. Unfortunately, I am not able to dig up any of those race times, as it would be fun to compare those results to the one from today.

During the last week I emailed with my high school track coach and came to the conclusion that for a short distance of 3.1miles, I should try to start out fast and hang on for dear life towards the end. In High School, I remember too often arriving at the finish line of a 1 or 2 Mile race with something left in the tank. Therefore, I don't know if I truly ran my best times. I want to make sure to be close to empty when I cross the finish line.

The only reference I have to a 5K running time is a time trial I did during the winter on the treadmill. I ran a 20:19min with a 2% constant incline. Now, running on a treadmill this fast is more like a controlled falling forward and is not as difficult as running outside, where you have to push off yourself, which requires more exertion. Also, on a treadmill you don't have to keep track of your pace as you just go with the set speed.

There must've been around 150 people, I think, to start the race, ranging from former SDSU cross country runners, families with strollers and about 25 ROTC members. This depsite it being very cold for a 5K and a 6.30am start time on a Friday morning probably limited the otherwise greater number of participants.

I noticed a runner seperating himself from the bulk of people after only 30 seconds and was soon out of sight. "Starting out fast" for me translated to a 6:31min 1st mile. I took advantage of the slight long gradual downhill on the north side of McCrory Gardens down to Frost Arena. Rounding the HPER and making the way up and past the SDSU track oval I noticed an unfamiliar burning in my quads: I was running beyond my comfortable training pace. I knew this would hurt more the next day even, but I was glad I was putting out near max effort. For the 2nd mile I slowed down to a 7:07min/mile, as I started noticing my left achilles acting up. I had taped it prior to the race, but didn't consider it worth to push harder. Also I had lost connection to the group of runners in front of me and nobody behind me for about 50 yards. Circling the SDSU campus always makes me a little nostalgic, but today I wasn't enjoying it as usual, since I was struggling with the cold morning air. I had mistakenly taken off my neck warmer right before the start as I felt too warm. This ended up making breathing through my mouth hurt more than usual.
The final mile was spent in solitude, as the next person behind me and in front of me were too far to challenge for positioning and I kept steady at 7:05min for the 3rd mile and "sprinting" the last .1mile. I hit my target for the day of breaking 22min by finishing in 21:35 (official time; even though my watch showed 21:18), which was good for 21st overall (out of 205 starters).
The best part was receiving a free tree as a reward for finishing the race. Much cooler than a standard medal-type reward. After a snack and brief conversation with some other runners, I quickly made my way home and got ready to start my regular work day.

I will try to run a few more 5Ks this year as they are an excellent speed training for the longer races and I think once the weather is above 40 degrees and there isn't snow on the ground, I will try to break the 20min mark.

Overall, it was a beautiful morning at McCrory Gardens and the SDSU campus and I liked the low-key atmosphere of the event.

3/50 Minnesota

About 3 weeks ago, I decided to add a 3rd State to my Marathon collection. I drove the 20ish miles (very runable this summer) over to Lake Benton, MN in order to run around the lake to add up the miles to just above 26.2 so that i can count it to my 50 states/50 marathons goal. The day was very beautiful and very sunny for the first couple of hours.

Beautiful look at Lake Benton

I listened to a few popcast and went with a very easy pace (about 10min/mile). Compared to the runs around Brookings, this seemed a little "hilly", even though it was only a few hundred feet of gain overall, but i did notice it taken a toll on my untrained muscle groups in my legs. I think this will be good to repeat more often to make sure I don't only run with my calves, but also with my thighs. Somewhere between miles 10-12 I was joined by two "pacers" as two farm dogs accompanied me for about a half mile. I noticed that they would go the entire way with me, so i turned around and tried to find their house. I think the one was maybe 1 year old and the other probably 12. So the little one snuck out and the old one stuck around to take care of the little one.

My four-legged running partners

I did find their home and was off again to the close-by Tyler, MN, where I stopped at the gas station for a coke, sandwich, candybar and gatorade, as I had just finished the one bottle I brought along. I think drinking coke towards the latter stages of a 4+hour run can give me a nice little energy kick without getting jittery.

From here it was a straight shot back to Lake Benton, MN and I decided to pick up the pace on the last mile and came in with a 7:51min/mile. It had started getting dark out and I was glad that I wasn't outside for much longer as it was only an hour later that the area was hit by sleet and ice with heavy winds.
Overall, I think I could've run this a little faster, but I think the drive to run close to peak performance is hard to come by outside of an actual race. I am happy though. Now I am 3/50 on US states. Miles year-to-date: 398.

Running on Empty

A few months ago I read an interesting article about performing training runs on "E" (empty). The conclusion was that certain benefits can be achieve by completing training runs without fuel intake. This wouldn't be unusual for your regular mid-week runs of 5-6 miles. I think your body starts burning off whatever energy levels you currently have in your system and will then start working off your energy reserve tanks (mainly fat). The goal is not to trim down and lose a bunch of fat. My understanding of the article was that you teach your body and yourself mentally on the times that you have no fuel intake for an extended period of time and still want to perform at a high level. This could happen if you get lost running on a trail or miss an aid station during a race and cannot load up on fluids and calories.

As these types of runs have a high potential of bonking, I choose to run within town and not venture out into the countryside. Also making sure that I still have my regular $5-$10 on me in case I need to drop into a gas station is a nice safety net.

It was the first "warm" day of spring in Brookings (32 Degrees Fahrenheit) and I ran in shorts for the first time this year (other than on a treadmill). Running my usual routes around town allowed my mind to wander and I didn't think about slowly getting de-hydrated. As a matter of fact the only times I consciously thought about drinking water, was when I picked up the tempo and elevated my heart rate, but still was able to calm myself knowing that I could have something to drink at any point, so I didn't overreact to the thirsty feeling I had around mile 10. I knew that I was only a 5K away from home and was convinced that I could make it without cramping.

Finally when I arrived at home after 1:48h (8:15min/mile) I rewarded myself with a nice cold beer. I came up with a rule, that while training for a specific race, I need to run at least 10 consecutive miles before drinking beer.
The beer may not be the #1 choice for re-hydrating after an "E" run, but it does taste exceptionally well at that point. Also drinking water and tea helped re-fueling.

I didn't feel specifically fatigued and was surpised that I had no onsets of cramping. I think it helps that I was hydrating well to begin the day and the days prior so that my hydration levels were at maximum. Also, running in colder temperatures usually doesn't require as much fluids. The Brookings area is completely flat and I ran a relatively easy pace compared to my goal of a 7:30min/mile marathon. Still, this type of training-run is more orientated for the ultra-marathon distance and not a Marathon, where you have an aid station every 2-3 miles. Still, it is good to know that if I get close to a PR time, I might be able to shave some seconds on the last couple aid stations by going straight through.

In order to let my body recover from this run, I won't have another "E" run for maybe 2-3 weeks, but do think I can push it to maybe an 18-20miler next time.