Sea You At The Beach 5K
Testing My Fitness
This is my first race since North Coast 24 which was my first ultra marathon, and also my first 5K this year since racing 5Ks didn't fit with my earlier training. I had expected to run about 27:30-27:45 though I thought fitness-wise I might be capable of running as fast as 26:30. I also thought that I could be as slow as 28:30, since I hadn't had time to do much in the way of 5K type training.
I began the week leading up to this race with a hard 10.4 mile run over rolling hills, followed by some fartlek while cheering the local university cross country team that I sometimes run with. By the time I added it all up I had 13 hard miles for the day. The next day was a slow recovery run, one of the slowest I've had all year. With some small regret I took off the next day ending my 34 consecutive days running streak. When I ran the following day I was still tired and running as slowly as I had before my rest day. Between the streak and the long, hard run I had worn myself down. While it would mean my mileage totals would suffer, I shifted rest of my workouts for the week to ensure I'd be rested for today.
Today was one of the coldest so far this season, so I opted for lightweight tights and long sleeve tech shirt for the race along with ear warmer and gloves. It's a short drive to the race so I was there in plenty of time to register. I was a little surprised when all I was handed at registration was my race t-shirt, orange, and a timing chip, no safety pins and bib. Also one of the first people I saw there was a local rival, and since the oldest age group was 60 and over, we'd be competing head-to-head for AG awards. This wouldn't be a factor in how I ran, since I hadn't really challenged him in a race since my 50s, it only meant I would likely finish no better than second in our age group. Place really had no bearing on the race anyway, because this was a test of my fitness, and specifically where I stood with my speed for racing 5K and under.
Surprisingly the course was as flat and fast as advertised, no "gently rolling hills" added to make the course interesting. Another oddity was split markers at each kilometer instead of each mile. I liked this because it gave me more frequent pace checks and made the math easier in figuring a projected time. The race wasn't too crowded with only 280 runners and being in the middle I always had someone close to chase after. The one drawback was no starting mat, so chip time would be gun time. Normally I would line up farther back and start my watch when I crossed the line, but looking around there were a lot of runners, especially younger children with parents near the front, so I just moved way to the left to be out of the way and started in the second row. This combination helped me to run 26:50, my fastest time for 5K in over three years. Considering I'm supposed to be slowing down at my age I'm particularly pleased with the result. I also placed 2nd in the 60 and over age group and received not only a nice medal, but a gift certificate to a local running store. Now for the race description itself.
As I said, I lined up to the far left almost on the front row. We were given the standard two commands, set and go, and the leaders took off - fast. That shouldn't be surprising because the eventual winner is a sub-4:00 miler, but he and his brother were just cruising today with an easy win in 15:43. It was really great having clear running from the start and with most runners drifting to the right side of the road I wasn't in anyone's way. After the initial rush in the first 100m there weren't many runners passing me in any case. I settled into what felt comfortable, did a quick check of my Garmin, saw that I was around 8:30-8:45 pace, and turned on cruise control. The course was a double out-and-back heading east to a turn-around, the heading back past the start to another turn-around, and finally heading east again passing the start once more to the finish. I reached the 1K split shortly after the turn-around in 5:26, very close to a pace that would bring me in at just under the mid-point of my target range. There was still a little movement with runners moving up or dropping back, but by this point most were simply holding their position. There was also a 1 mile split, which I passed in 8:48.
The course had some mild undulations and curves, though essentially flat, which actually helped because I couldn't see the entire field of runners ahead of me and the slight undulations gave a little relief to my legs. With the way the course was laid out I could also check for landmarks to use on the return for when to begin pushing to the end. Even so it seemed to take much longer for that second kilometer than the first despite running it in 5:28 with an elapsed time of 10:54, still right on pace. Then the 3K split came up quickly, possibly because I was beginning to think about passing runners as some were slowing by this point. My time at 3K was 16:22, so another 5:28 kilometer. I liked this consistency, but I was thinking I had more in reserve than expected.
The turn-around was just passed the 3K split and I made a conscious decision to start pushing a little harder, just pick up the pace by a few seconds, not a final push to the finish. I was also noticeably catching and passing runners as I ran the next kilometer in 5:23 and was at 21:45 for 4K. Some quick math indicated I was on pace for about a 27:05-27:10 final time. Just a little harder and if I could maintain that along with a kick at the end and sub-27:00 was a real possibility. Now I started to push in earnest. As I passed landmarks I had noted on the way out, I increased my effort for the remaining distance. When I passed where we started I knew I had less than 400m remaining and took it up another notch. When I could see the crowds at the finish line I heard a spectator yell "pump your arms". I don't think that was directed at me because a 12 year old boy flew past right after that. I still took it to heart and started an all out sprint to the finish. As I looked up I could barely believe the time on the clock. I crossed the finish in 26:50 having run my last kilometer in 5:05!
After my cool down I looked around for the RD. I wanted to thank him for setting up one of the rare flat, fast courses in the area. He was appreciative because he had looked around trying to find just such a course for the runners. He also had results already posted - the reason for the chips even though with no starting mat there would be no separate chip time. There was plenty of standard fare to eat and drink, even after the awards ceremony, which was held fairly quickly after the last runners finished. This was a fitting end to my racing season. While it's tempting to find another race before the end of the year, I prefer ending it on a high note and concentrating on training for my first race of 2014, the Clearwater Half Marathon in January.
2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race
Barking Mad To Run
Nice racing, George, congrats on your fastest 5K time in 3 years! Enjoy the non-racing time and good luck with the upcoming half!
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt
Scotty, I was just commenting on your RR as you were posting.
I love a great RR on a Sunday morning. Huge congratulations, George, what a super finish time and well executed race! To top it all off, an AG award and a gift certificate, hooray! This is an excellent sign of your present fitness and I think you were smart to take it easy in the days prior to the race. Racing on tired legs would not have produced a very accurate result. I loved how you described using the landmarks of the course to decide when to start the final push and loved that you bravely responded to a spectator's encouragement (even though it may have been for a kid, but aren't you a kid at heart as well when you're racing?:-)). Great race! Thanks for sharing!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
4 years racing, 14 marathons, 14 BQs
That's a great race George. Congrats on running your fastest 5K in 3 years. I used to run just a few miles from that there. I don't remember that area being flat at all. I am surprised the RD was able to make a relatively flat course. The additional mileage you have run this year has clearly paid off. It is great to see you running so well.
2013 goals: 800m: 2:20 | mile: 4:59 | 5k: 18:59 | 10k: 39:59 | HM: 1:32 | Marathon: 3:20
I love sponge cake.
Thanks wc. Your RRs are always enlightening and good reads. Nice race, as well!
Santa Anita Derby Day 5k - 5 Apr
Mountains to Beach Marathon - 25 May
The race was run on G. O. Carlson Blvd paralleling U.S. 30 behind Caln Twnshp Park in Thorndale. It's about as flat as you can find in the area.
Thanks! This has to go down in my race log as one of my best run races in terms of strategy and execution. It was hard to not get out and run more this week to add to mileage totals, but that would have been at cross purposes to why I was racing. I've emphasized in my own posts to others how important it is to get to the starting line well rested. Once in a while I even take my own advice to heart.
Thanks, Jack. I hope my next RR turns out as well, but that won't be until next year. As much as I'm tempted to find another race soon, I'd rather finish my racing year on a high note like this. Hoping your marathon also finishes on a high note.
As I sit here on the couch after doing as many non-running things as I can do with the knee, I wonder if I'll get the same kind of running longevity out of my running career as you. Every time I see you toe the line in ANY event, I'm always interested. Sounds like you ran this race very well indeed & I love the thought of having such a spread of distances as you've done! (perhaps minus the "ultra")
Congrats on a great race. I hope I'm running as strong as you are a few years down the road.
Congratulations! So nice to see you racing again after the NC24. Very odd that there was no chip timing, but it seems that you did just fine anyway. Good race, and nice racing season for you!
Running- the real sport. The others just play with their balls.
Ending the year on a high note! Great job, George!
Well done, George. Congrats on turning in a speedy 5K. Do you think the extra training miles leading up to the ultra helped, or were you able to get in a lot of speedwork afterwards?
Smaller By The Day
It's awesome that after all of your years of running, you can still surprise yourself. Congratulations. I know you said you were possibly capable of a 26:30, but the exclamation point tells me that you were just a wee bit surprised at your last kilometer. Awesome!
Weight 100 pounds lost
5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)
10K 48:59 April 2013
HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013
MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013