Sunday, February 7, 2016

Race report: First Down 5k, February 7, 2016

I ran the First Down 5K today, finishing in a time of 19:48.

It's funny - my whole point in running this race was to see what I'd do for a 5K if I ran one that wasn't hilly and in July or August.  So....I went for the flat and very fast course in February and..... ran pretty much the same time I ran last Labor Day weekend.  Heh.

The course was an out and back on the pancake flat Hains Point, which is always very fast unless there's wind.  And there was no wind today.

As you would expect for February, it was chilly at the start - 30 degrees.   I debated whether to go with shorts or singlet or tights and long sleeve.  For races I usually like to go with singlet and shorts if at all possible - it just puts me in a racing frame of mind, if that makes sense.  But since the distance was so short, I decided to go with the warmer outfit.  My reasoning was that I wanted to make sure I wasn't too cold on the start line, since I wouldn't have time to warm up during the race.  Additionally, a 5K is so short that being a bit overdressed wouldn't haunt me the way it might in a longer race.

Having picked up my bib the night before, I parked my car near the start around 7:05, and then jogged over, dropped my extra layer off at bag check, and started warming up.

The race was scheduled to start at 8:00, and by 7:45 I was warmed up, and ready to do my final strides before lining up.  So were my friends.  However, we were in the minority.  The majority of the runners apparently had shown up much later, and hadn't picked up their bibs.  Hence the line for race day bib pick-up stretched across a field, and then across the race course.

As you might guess, the race start was delayed.  I stood around, thinking that I'd wait until they gave us a 5 minute warning before doing some more strides.  However, it didn't take long for me to start shivering, so I decided to jog gently while I waited.  Then a few more strides before lining up, only to wait some more for the National Anthem and some other stuff.  Then finally we were off.


I felt cold and stiff, so I took the race out carefully, waiting a few minutes before starting to chase others down.  My plan was stay slightly conservative for the first half, and then give it what I had coming home. 

Even with a conservative first half, I was chasing down people, and by the time I hit the halfway point I was nearly solo - one person slightly ahead of me, with a large pack in front in the distance, and another behind me.  After the turn, I caught up to the guy just up ahead, who will hence be referred to as "tall guy."  Tall guy and I proceeded to run together, trading off very slight leads for the next mile and a half.  It was definitely helpful to have him to work with/battle against - I never felt "sharp" during this race, so it was nice to have someone else to focus on.

When the finish line approached, we both kicked, but tall guy's kick eclipsed mine - I just didn't have an extra gear.  Frustrating, but oh well.   I saw the clock counting down 19:4x as we came in, which was disappointing, but oh well.  Not horrible, but not what I had hoped to run on a very fast course in great weather.  But some days you have it, some days you don't.


Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:26
Mile 2: 6:24
Mile 3: 6:18
last bit 0:39.

So I clearly paced it just about perfectly.  I was just slower than I had hoped.


It was interesting to look at the data afterwards, and note that my average heart rate for this 5K was about the same as that for my half-marathon two weeks ago, while my peak HR was higher in the half than it was today.  And yet I just couldn't seem to run any faster today, and I was cooked at the end of the race.

That's not how it should theoretically work - the shorter the race, the higher the intensity, and the higher the heart rate.   And sometimes that holds true for me; other times it doesn't - and I just can't seem to run hard enough to elevate my heart rate in the shorter races.  I used to see this a lot when I did track mile races.   I could barely get my heart rate into tempo heart range, even as I was tying up in the home stretch while running a 5:30 mile.   It's just one of those things. 

One obvious explanation is that I'm just not pushing myself hard enough in the shorter races.  I can't rule that out as a possibility - however, if this is lack of toughness or motivation, then why can I hit higher heart rates in longer races or at the end of progression runs?

My hunch (after thinking way too much) is that it's partially because I haven't done any shorter speed work (i.e. 200-400m reps at mile pace) recently, and so I'm lacking some of my top running gears.  I think that I also ran my Tuesday workout too hard and did too many reps - I've seen again and again that what I do as early as Tuesday can affect my race on Sunday - no two day tapers for me if it's a goal race (which this wasn't).


Other notes:
  • One of my teammates won the race and set a PR, while the other also PRed and got second masters - it was awesome that they both had such great days (and really fun to see Matt leading at the turnaround).
  • Parked at Constitution, which worked perfectly - left my home at 6:48, and was parked by 7:05.
  • This race was Superbowl themed, and had a "combine" that you could do after the race - basically you cross the finish line, proceed immediately to another area where you do some sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, etc, and then you get a total time for running+combine.  And a second set of awards. 
    I have no idea how someone runs a 5K all out and then immediately starts doing push-ups and lunges.  I just don't.  But apparently a lot of people do.
  • One puff of Dulera in the morning.  Breathing was fantastic, not even a hint of asthma during or after the race.
  • Took a Caramel Machiatto GU in the morning for the caffeine boost.   As always, yummy.

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