Interested in running? Not sure how to get started? How about putting your feet to the flames? But seriously, hyperbolic statements aside (a friend of mine did four races in four weeks), I don’t know how I’ve managed to squeeze in all these races with all my schoolwork. Here’s what I’ve been up to!
Week 1: Montour Trails 5k
This was the week before the half marathon we’d been training for, so we saw this as a tune-up opportunity, and a chance to simply have some fun.
This trail was very interesting (as you can see from my garmin route): the first 3/4 mi was a hefty downhill, prompting an exceptionally quick first mile. The goal, then, was to maintain some semblance of speed across the remaining flat two miles. While I’m eventually planning for a sub-20 5k time, a new PR of 22:06 was just fine with me.
One of our friends, who ran the half marathon, also set an incredible PR of 1 hour, 30 minutes, a phenomenal half marathon time.
Week 2: Air Force Half Marathon
The race we’d been training for. And then this:
How does that not get you fired up?
There is literally nothing about this experience I can complain about. We stayed in a lovely Hampton Inn with another couple we’re friends with, the events surrounding the race itself were planned and executed with precision only the military could conjure, and the following day we spent five hours touring the Air Force Museum, having to leave only because of time even though we still hadn’t seen everything we wanted to. All in all, a remarkable weekend.
As for the race itself: my goal was under 1 hour 50 minutes, which equated to about 8:24-min miles. Within the first two miles I’d found and stuck to the 1:50 time group, with whom I kept up until I hit mile 11. As you can see from my garmin route, the track itself was pretty flat, but the reason for hitting a wall is that I simply haven’t been training at these speeds. We aim for easy paces of 9:30-9:45 min/mile, tempo paces of 8:15-8:30 min/mile, and speed paces of 7:15-7:30 min/mile. I still beat my previous half marathon PR by over 16 minutes, but fell 3 minutes short (or long, I suppose) of my 1:50 goal. This need for training speed increases across the board become even more apparent in the final week’s race.
Watch this video, and if you pause at exactly 15 seconds in, you’ll see the 1:50 time group crossing the mile 5 timing strip. I’m right on top of the timing strip way over on the left hand side of the frame.
Also, for a much more in-depth discussion of the weekend at Wright-Patterson AFB and how The Lady did in her race, check out the race report she wrote. I assure you it’s far more interesting than mine 🙂
Week 3: Pittsburgh Great Race
The 10k has always been one of my favorite distances: long enough to require endurance training, short enough to demand speed training. This race in particular we did last year, and it was a blast, so even though we’re supposed to be recovering from the previous weekend’s festivities, I was looking forward to the possibility of a third PR in as many weeks.
It’s a point-to-point and a net downhill, so it’s an excellent course for setting a PR. Unfortunately, I came up 11 seconds short according to my garmin route (13 according to the official time). This is, in no uncertain terms, due to the lack of training at the speeds required.
Like the previous week, I was shooting for a spectacular PR–in this case, under 45 minutes–in the hopes that if I missed I’d still PR. However, this required 6.2 miles at an average pace of around 7:25 min/mile, a pace which hovers very close to our speed work pace, and therefore certainly not one I’d ever run for sustained periods of time.
The first mile was perfect, and the second mile was beyond perfect–6:47, which is also obviously way too fast. My fate was sealed when a slow mile 4 ended at the base of a constant incline which constituted the entirety of mile 5. I consider 13 seconds to be within the margin of error: more favorable winds, a momentary and random burst of speed, or even fewer runners to weave through could have easily eliminated those 13 seconds. But the overarching point remained: I need to train at faster speeds if I want to beat 45 minutes on the 10k. Or 20 minutes on the 5k. Or 1:50 on the half marathon.
Rob, the guy who set 4 PRs in the last four weeks, ran yesterday’s 10k in 38 minutes. He offered to start doing his speed work with me, and I graciously accepted. That will be exceedingly helpful in boosting my sustained speeds.
I’m not particularly interested in marathon distances (don’t ask me why, I don’t really have a good answer), but 5k’s, 10k’s, and half marathons, as well as some less-canonical distances like 5mi, 8.1mi, and 22.5k, could all benefit from training with faster times across the board. For example: easy runs should be moved to low 9’s, possibly high 8’s; tempo runs should be high 7’s, low 8’s; speed work, in all its painful glory, should come in at just under 7. For starters.
You know, in all my copious free time.