WTF pretty much sums up what I was thinking as I ran a mile to warm up for a training race/run this morning. The air was pretty gross. The upside was that it wasn’t unbearably hot. My fog-resistant sunglasses, which normally do great, were no match for the humidity. How is it not raining when it’s 94% humidity?
I’ve done this 5k race before, but they changed the course this year. It now included 15(!!!) turns, with 6 of them being in the last .6 mile. Turns tend to slow you down, so my goal this race was to practice surging after the turns to get me back on pace. I ran 16 miles last Sunday, did a couple speed workouts Tuesday and Thursday and ran easy 2 days, taking yesterday off with a sports massage (which you shouldn’t do the day before a goal race). So, not setting myself up for a PR (spoiler alert: no PR).
This is a decent sized local race, over 1,000 runners. A lot of the high school kids come run it and, for the most part, kick everyone else’s collective asses. It’s also opening weekend for the track, and the race is right next to it, which means the whole area is a traffic mess. I think that’s why they changed the course this year, to keep runners off the main road to the Saratoga Racetrack.
They don’t have a timing mat at the start, which means it’s kind of a clusterfuck at the beginning. The last two years they had folks with pace signs to get people to loosely seed themselves, but they didn’t do it this year. I wish they had. An announcer tried to get people to line up basically with sub-19 in the front then sub-24 then everyone else. As you can imagine, this wasn’t exactly precise or followed.
My plan was to hit start on my Garmin at the gun, then hit lap when I crossed the start line, just so I could see what my time/pace was if there had been a net time.
Which is where I first screwed up.
Apparently I hit pause instead of lap. So I recorded about 10 seconds of about a 14 minute mile while I tried to navigate the crowd leading to the start line. Because I’ve been running Garmin-blind, I didn’t realize the watch was stopped until it buzzed on my wrist about .6 of a mile into the race. I uncovered it to see what was happening and saw it was counting down to automatic shutoff. Dumbass.
I turned the watch back on, and hit lap when I passed the one mile marker.
Above is my Garmin recording where it looks like I ran from the start right through the middle of the horse warm up track. I don’t think the horses would’ve liked that very much. Or the jockeys and horse owners.
Luckily, we only did one turn in the race during that missed data period. And I wasn’t able to surge much that time because of people in the way.
I only surged for about 3 seconds or so each time, just enough to knock me back to my pre-turn pace. A few people seemed a little weirded out by me doing it, mostly if I passed them. I tried to ignore any attempts at “racing” me when this happened because I wanted to maintain my pace, not borrow someone else’s. However, my pace still degraded during those last six turns, which you can see by the map came in fairly quick succession. One thing I learned from the pace data is that I probably slow down too much while in the turn. You can see in the graph of my paces that I drop off a lot in the turns. Wherever you see a peak corresponds to a turn. Even with surging afterward, I don’t think I should be slowing down that much around every corner.
The second time I was an idiot this morning was at the finish line when I yet again hit the wrong damn button on my watch. This time I hit lap instead of stop, and it took me 10 seconds to figure out I’d done that dumb thing. I win for ineptness today.
Because I am missing data from the first .6 mile and I’ve got additional time/distance due to my watch not being stopped at the finish, I kind of backed into my first mile pace for my own educational purposes. My official time was 24:48, so to estimate my first mile I took off the 10 seconds to get to the start line and used the .4 mile of data I do have to get these splits:
1 – 7:52-7:55 (estimate)
2 – 7:55
3 – 8:05 (lots of turns)
.11 – 7:05
Note: I’m not pretending I actually ran faster than I did by cutting off those first 10 seconds — I just did it to figure out how I did for the turn exercise. My official time of 24:48 is what it took me from gun to finish on a certified course and that’s that. :)
It was an interesting exercise, but I wish I’d done better. The pace wasn’t terrible, but it did feel harder than I’d have liked for not being a 5k (or even 10k) race effort. And I almost got dusted by a race walker (wow was it cool to see her move!). I would’ve liked to have seen a better execution of surging the turns in that final mile. I’ve got plenty of work to do here.