Sunday, October 28, 2012

An exceptional 5000

The track season is now under way, so there are many opportunities from now until March to improve my 5000 metre times. I raced my first 5k on 18 October, four days after the Melbourne Half — don't try this at home! Energy levels were fine but my calves were less so — having a mild case of DOMS. In respect to their tenderness I decided while doing a short warm-up to run 'steady', not flat out (as if I could!) and be happy with a hard tempo effort.

I lined up with 14 others next to Roger A on the outside of the curved line at the 200m start. Only four would run the 5k (the rest doing the 3k option), so for me it was a rather sparse race. I can recall chasing 3k runner Carinna in the early laps and after this a couple of others in the 3k who were slowing following fast starts. I ran by feel and a little flat-footed as pushing off the toes was hurting the calves. I clicked my Casio at the km splits. What's amazing about my race is that I ran the most even kilometre splits I ever have in a track 5000 — 4:40, 4:37, 4:38, 4:38 and 4:38 for a final time of 23:11.20. I must have run over 100 track 5ks in the last 30 years, so to see numbers like that is amazing. I'm glad I wasn't able to sprint the last 200 metres! Average HR was 147, so pretty high for me for a race in which the legs were doing it fairly easy. I'd put that down to not being fully recovered from the Melbourne Half.

The lesson: even pacing in distance races works and is an efficient way of running a fast time. We know this as in the many world record attempts since the first sub-4-minute mile the pace-makers have always been asked to run even splits in distances from 1500 metres to the marathon. The only real-world problem is that very few average runners race this way. They always tend to start fast, drop off the pace in the middle and have a fast finish. Still, I'm going to try and use the elite marathoner's pacing method in my 5000 metre races this season — run relaxed and evenly for the first 20 miles (3-plus k) and race the last 6 miles.

Enjoying a recovery jog at the Vets' handicap this morning. Look at that green grass! We've had a wet winter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Loose wheel nuts at the Melbourne Half

I share a phrase with my mate Bruce to describe what happens when a runner dramatically slows at some point during a race: "their wheels have fallen off". That phrase could have been used to describe me at the 14k mark of the 2012 Melbourne Half Marathon. More accurately my race was sabotaged by loose wheel nuts. Running on the slight downhill of St Kilda Road my right leg suddenly buckled. It was the 'pinched nerve thing' that I've experienced before (not for quite some time and rarely in races).

It disappeared after a couple of strides but I realised I'd have to ease the pressure that PB pace demands. I felt it on three more occasions during the next 3 kilometres (I was quite worried that I'd have to stop running) but eventually my reduced speed soothed the affliction and I made it to the finish line inside the 'G. My time was 1:44:31, well away from the 1:40 was hoping for. I was very happy to 'make it' and still able to smile at the typically perfect and spectacular running weather that Melbourne produced for our enjoyment.

My race started well — I ran with Liz for the first 4k and we weren't too inconvenienced by 'slower traffic' running up the hill just after the start. Again I 'ran by feel' and didn't look at the Garmin for the entire race (its beeping function is broken so thankfully no awareness of splits). One distracting thing was the erratic running of the pacing balloons (the ones that I saw). The 1:40 group for the first half were about 400 metres ahead, but I'm guessing were running at 1:38-9 pace. The first 1:45 balloon (I thought it was the only one) ran past me at 16k and disappeared ahead. Consequently I guessed I'd end up running about 1:47-8. Then just before the 20k mark on the William Barrack Bridge a second 1:45 balloon overtook me! It turned out he was running closer to the mark — about 1:44 pace. I'm not a big fan of pacing balloons.

Summing up, it was a great weekend and a pleasure to share with Speedygeese friends from Canberra. Coach Geoff (unable to race) was out on the course cheering us on. Most ran incredibly well. A special mention for Andy who ran 3:25 (at age 52) in his first marathon! Next up for me will be some track racing and perhaps another attempt at a half marathon in April. I'd like to run a good one!

Garmin splits: 4:52, 4:39, 4:37, 4:38, 4:44 (23:30), 4:50, 4:44, 4:48, 4:55, 4:52 (24:09), 4:50, 4:55, 4:57, 5:04, 4:59 (24:45), 5:06, 5:07, 5:08, 5:12, 5:18 (25:51), 5:14 + 1:01 (197m)

Carbo-loading at La Camera: Susan, New Balance, Andy, Suzi and Liz

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The 15k tempo run

I mentioned in my last post the idea of completing a 15k tempo run a week out from the Melbourne Half. This happened yesterday morning — a cool and cloudy day with some light rain falling late during the run. I had the company of running mates: Andy, Jen, Kelley, Mick and Tori. We ran one of my favourite 'long run' loops which starts on the Mount Ainslie trail (we hike the 600 metres or so up to the start from behind the War Memorial — Kelley jogged there as she doesn't like walking).

The first 3k took us along the main trail, down a narrow bush track to Campbell Park then towards the Duntroon golf course. This turned out to be the 'warm-up' as I chatted to Mick about his marathons, injuries and plans to return to track racing. 5:38, 5:41 and 5:30 for those kilometres. I wound up the pace as we ran down to and around the perimeter of the golf course. We re-grouped at Molonglo Reach before running the rest of the course which follows the bike path through the Wetlands, beside the lake to Commonwealth Bridge then back to a finish point at the bottom of Anzac Parade. This part of the loop is flat apart from the bridge, and easy running.

After the Wetlands, Andy and Jen took up the pacing duties. Easy running for both, as it was a little slower than Andy's expected marathon pace and slower than Jen's usual long-run pace. I was hanging on, not in total comfort. Mick, Tori and Kelley (chatting all the way) were about 50 metres behind. My kilometres from 4 to 15 went: 5:07, 4:49, 5:10, 5:02, 5:01, 4:59, 5:04, 5:15, 5:11, 5:26 (the bridge), 5:08 and 5:17. I was quite happy to stop at 15k with the others. Kelley though, insisted on jogging the 1k back up to the War Memorial (there's something strange about marathon runners). The 15k took 1:18:19 to run (5:13 per k or 8:24 per mile), so not quite the 15k at 5:04s I was thinking about last week. It was still a good run though and a confidence-booster for Melbourne. If I don't break 1:40 I'll be hoping for a result near the 1:41:50 that Canute ran last weekend — and also hoping for similarly pained and dramatic finish photos!