Saturday, February 11, 2012

Race report: Have a Heart for Hoffman Boston Elementary School 5K, February 11, 2012

I ran the “Have a Heart for Hoffman Boston Elementary School 5K” (Whew…that’s a mouthful) today, finishing in 19:43 (by my watch – gun time was slower, since I started back in the pack and there was no chip timing).  Not the time I had hoped to run when I originally signed up, but I’m still happy with it.

To set the stage:  I hate 5Ks.

No really, I do.

But I get why one should run them, even if you hate them and are better at longer races.   5Ks give you a chance to practice racing, which is an important SKILL, and one that you are not practicing during workouts (at least, you shouldn’t be racing your workouts).  And, for those of us who are best at the races that last an hour or so (i.e. me), a 5K makes you race a bit out of your comfort zone, and also makes the pace for your goal races feel easy.  And, you can race a 5K hard, and still recover very quickly. 

Thus, when my coach told me after a week of very good workouts to find a 5K to run the next weekend, I found a 5K to run.  In this case, a fast certified course and close to home.   And I was excited.  My workouts indicated that I was ready for a great race.  So yay.

And then (of course) I got sick this week.  On Tuesday, I had to bail on a workout (and worse yet, quit in the MIDDLE of an interval) when I got dizzy.  Standing on the infield of the track, I belatedly figured out that my headache, congestion, and achy stiff upper body were all related, and went straight from the track to bed.  24 hours later the worst of the darn bug was over (16 of those 24 having been spent in bed), but I still felt a bit run down, achy, and with a nice scratchy throat to boot – feelings that persisted for the week despite sleeping 9+ hours each night.


I debated for a bit whether to run the 5K after all.  But, the truth was, I needed to race a 5K even if I was off, for all the forestated reasons (practicing RACING, getting comfortable with running uncomfortably fast).   I checked my resting heart rate, and it was still elevated, but only about 5 bpm – enough that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be risking a relapse by racing.  So, it was on.


And thus, I showed up on Saturday morning an hour before race start.  Grabbed my number and did my standard 25 minute progressive warm-up, followed by some strides and drills.  Met up with some teammates to chat, and then we lined up.    

Despite the fact that this was a 200 runner race with no prize money and no chip timing, the women’s field was pretty tough, with at least 5 women with 5K PRs 90+ seconds faster than mine.  I would have normally seeded myself in the front of such a small race, but such was pretty clearly inappropriate here, so I put myself a few rows back, crossing the line a few seconds after the gun.

A teammate who normally runs the same paces as me was also in the race.  We discussed briefly racing strategy, but agreed that it didn’t make sense to run together – she likes to run a very even paced race, while I do much better with a slow first mile and a strong negative split.  So we split off, with her lining up ahead of me.  And as the race started, I focused on my own level of effort while watching her flow off into the distance.  I’d either catch her in the second half, or not.

As it turned out, I didn’t.  She ran a phenomenal race (yay).  And I was glad I was running my own race.  My legs simply never had their normal spark and strength, and I think had I tried to go out with her, I would have crashed and burned.   But since I relaxed on my own effort and gave what _I_ had to give that day, I ended up still making the best of it.

The course was slightly uphill on the way out; slightly downhill on the way back.  Per my norm, I kept my Garmin face set to clock time, and only took the splits for posterity.  They ended up being 6:33, 6:24, 6:07, and 39.  So, if nothing else, pretty clear proof that (as always) I pace myself best when I ignore splits entirely. 

I was a bit frustrated, in that I emotionally wanted to run much faster, and was eager to, but my legs would NOT respond.  I got the best out of them that I could the second half, but they were dead by the time I hit the 3 mile mark, and I fought hard for what little kick I had, tying up in the process.  

The time is a bit meh, and not at all what I had hoped to run when I originally signed up.  It’s actually pretty far from what I think I’m capable of for a 5K right now.  That being said, I still feel pretty good about this one.  I ran a well-executed race, and despite being off, I still ran a time that I would have been pretty darn happy with 6 months ago.  And that indicates how far I’ve come, and gives me confidence in my fitness. 

Additionally, any time you have to bail in the middle of a workout, even if you know intellectually it was the right decision, it emotionally screws your confidence a bit.  Running a solid mentally tough race as my next hard run after that workout was a nice antidote.

So onwards to the next race (a 10K next weekend).  

Other notes:

Two puffs of inhaler 30 minutes before the race; needed another one after the race, when I had a ridiculously hard time catching my breath.

Weather was perfect.  Overcast, ~37 degrees.  I heard others talking about the wind, but I honestly didn’t notice.

I was 9th woman overall and 3rd in age group 30-39 (would have won women 35-39, but they only did 10 year age groups).


  1. I love this! Racing for the sake of practicing the race mentality. You had great negative splits and did awesome considerinf how sick you had been. Congrats!

  2. Ugh, I agree, 5Ks are the WORST. but you're smart to go after the thing that you hate, it'll make you a stronger runner.

  3. That seems like a great split progression, even if each one was off where you wanted to be. But that seems pretty understandable given that you were sick earlier in the week.

    I need to do more 5ks for the very reasons that you cited. They're painful but they teach you to race.

  4. 5k's are the worst. It's all out, no room for error, 20-ish minutes of pain. Either that, or its not raced correctly. Nice job on getting it done. That's an impressive time, and a good indication that you have a great season ahead of you!