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Chasing 20 (February 3, 2013)

February 3, 2013

Regardless of what level runner people are, they always seem to have some sort of goal time for a given distance race.  I’m no different.  My latest quest has been to run a 5k in under 20 minutes.  Chasing a personal best in a short distance race at 43 years old is not ideal, but I was pretty sure I had it in me.  And most importantly, I’ve been able to put together a few months of consistent, injury-free running, so that can make up for at least a few years of age.  I’d come up short in my quest a couple of times recently, missing the mark by 15 or 20 seconds despite solid 176 to 180 bpm average heart rate efforts.  I thought I had achieved my goal on New Years Day, but then realized that the course was short by two tenths of a mile, so that one doesn’t count.

That brings me to today’s race, the Runners Den Double Down.  For this sub 20 attempt, I made sure to pick a USATF certified course.  If I’m going to put all this effort in, I might as well make it as official as possible.  I’ve had a great past month or two of running, sprinkling in a few interval workouts as well as longer distances of up to 9 miles at a time, so I felt today was the day.  And I’ve spent a lot of time in the pool.  Although swimming isn’t directly related to running, it seems to really improve my endurance, and I love walking around smelling like a chlorine tablet.  Speaking of endurance, I also put that to a test today.  The Double Down part of the race meant that I was going to race a 10k right after I finished my 5k, which all adds up to longer than I’ve ever raced before.

A sub 20 5k means I need to run faster than a 6:26 min/mile pace.  My plan was to keep track of this using card counting style counting.  Say I run my first mile in 6:16, which I did, then the count would be minus ten.  I didn’t want to do complicated math while I was in oxygen debt, so this seemed like the best way to keep track.  I covered mile two in 6:20, so the count became minus sixteen, putting me in good status.  Mile three is when the pain really started, but I knew I had enough of a cushion to survive.  I managed a 6:29 split, so the count went up to minus thirteen, still good enough for my sub 20. My Garmin recorded it at 19:47, but the race clock said 19:50.  Either way, it was sub 20, and I had achieved my goal.

Oh, but then there was the 10k next.  I was pretty beat after my 5k effort, but I figured I’d just see if I could survive the distance.  I hit the first mile split in 6:58 and felt pretty good.  The second split was exactly the same at 6:58, so I decided that was my goal for the 10k, sub 7 splits.  That goal was surprisingly easy to achieve, but I could tell I was on the edge when I hit mile 6 and everybody around me picked up the pace for the finish.  My muscles politely warned me that any extra effort would result in severe cramping, so I just cruised in to a 43:15 time, or 6:58/mile splits, achieving my goal.  My next goal will be to avoid climbing stairs in the next day or two.

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From → Sports

One Comment
  1. Congratulations on your sub-20. So what’s next — a half-marathon in sub-6:30 splits? Even more challenging might be doing a 10k without ever once checking your watch. Except at the end, of course.

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