Monday, April 06, 2009

Carlsbad 5000

This race bills itself as the fastest 5K... The course itself is fast but is not flat, and it does include TWO hairpin turns.

As stated before I wanted to run sub-20... and the way I was going to do it was to wear my garmin to avoid a fast start and a potentially season ending injury.

I wake up at 3:30 as I have to drive some 90 minutes to the start... NOT to mention that I had yet to pick up my bib number. I had paid $20 at an expo...

I ended up making it to the town center right around 6AM... plenty of time before my scheduled race, 7:05AM...

Picked up my bib and T-shirt (nice design, BTW)... warmed up for one mile easy...

30 minutes before the start I do another w/u mile... this one including four striders at perceived 5K effort... my piriformis gets massaged... and I am ready to roll.

I line up four rows back. And the gun goes off.

After a few steps walking we're off. It's crowded. But it's controlled. I look at my Garmin and I am running sub 6. Hmmm, relax. Adrenaline pumping, my legs want to turn over quickly. About 200 runners are ahead of me and even if I wanted, I could not go faster. My pace slowly drops. The effort feels more like a short tempo run. We turn left and Garmin says 6:16. Hmmm, I expected it to be slower. The course is full of mild inclines, and there is a mild wind that will be on my face for the second half of the race.

I cross the one-mile marker in 6:21. Damn. A bit fast. Will I implode? FI, if I do, I do. I maintain the effort. We are running by the ocean. Also, I am beginning to pass runners. I am feeling good. The first hairpin turn approaches. I turn wide as suggested by a RunnersWorld Forum member (13th OA, 52-years, 16:40). I keep on passing runners here and there. The pace begins to feel harder to sustain. I am still following Garmin. Mile 2, 6:20. How can I be running a 5K in such even pacing? Will the third mile drop off dramatically? I tell myself that I just have to endure the race for about seven more minutes.

We are now on another slight incline and the second hairpin turn appears. There are two other runners close to me. I decide to go a couple of meters ahead to avoid getting in their way. I also swing wide. I would end up passing these runners. I feel nauseous. The puke-meter is redlining now. I try to relax to see if the feeling will go away. It doesn't. My Garmin has been showing the pace is getting faster. I turn left and I see the finish line. Mile three, 6:15!!! I complete the last stretch in 39"... for a final time of 19:35(chip)... matching my gun time of my 19:34 (watch) PR.

To say the least I am extremely happy with the result. To think that I almost PR'd with no race specific training... Apparently my aerobic fitness has stay put. We'll see how my endurance is come April 20th.

If you are only going to race ONE 5K in your life, it has to be the Carlsbad 5000. Awesome race. The best $20 I have spent on ANY race.

Down and Out

Training was going well for B*ston. I had averaged 50 mpw for the first 10 weeks of the year. Then I read about the POSE form and decided to try it on my scheduled 18-miler. Damn me for doing it on a long run. By seven miles my right piriformis was in flames. I stopped and stretched; the pain in the @ss was lessened. I continued until the end but could tell my arse was in bad shape, figuratively and literally. Managed to run 50 miles for the 11th week.

I was scheduled to fly to Europe during the 12th week and knew that running would take a back seat. The day I was to fly I decided to do speedwork. Made up the workout as I went along. Decided on 5X1-mile at ~6:45 pace. I ran the first one in 6:29. I knew I was toast. Next one (after a 75-sec standing recovery) is done in 6:32. Still too fast; my heart rate was too high and needed 1:45 to recover. As I was doing the third repeat I knew I would have to cut it short as my form was falling apart. Decided to cut it at 1/2 mile, 3:16. Rested for two minutes and ran another half-mile in 3:12. Obviously my "fast" miles did me in. On the cool down, and just about .6 miles from my house I start getting a really bad stitch. So bad I must have looked like Quasimodo. Miles for the 13th week: 19.5.

On the beginning of the 14th week (Sunday) I happen to find myself in Rome, conveniently I might add as it is marathon day. I decide to bandit a portion of race (I did pay for a walk/run bib :-)) and I jog to the first K marker. There where about 25 locals waiting to do the same I was about to do. Damn bandits!!! The 3:15 pace groups approaches fast on the cobble-stone downhill and I try no to crash into the mass of runners. The first K seemed easy and I felt I would not have trouble holding this pace for 10 miles. Alas, I found myself struggling and dropped the pace a bit little by little. I then eye a guy with a Mexican flag and start talking to him. He was fading fast. His goal was to run 3:40 (and he had been running with the 3:15 group!!) and knew he was in-and-over his head. Then my hip flexor started to flare up and I started hobbling. Quit the course having ran 7:40s for 14Ks... I jogged back to the Colosseum. Then walked to the hotel I was staying to watch the end of the race.

Three days later finds my worn out shoes on the bridges of Venice where I attempt to keep up any fitness I had built up. I don't know if it was dodging locals and tourists but my hip felt a lot worse at the end of the 5-miler (8:20 pace). I knew that rest was not an option. No more running for a while. 16 miles for the week (14th).

It is Wednesday and six days have passed without running. I am back in Lala Land. I want to try an easy five. Not even a half mile into the run and my hip is quite painful. I stop at two miles and stretch. I turn around knowing that it is better not run the extra mile. Four miles at 9ish pace. I am walking lopsided; my body seems to try to balance the tightening of the hip flexor. I am now worried that Sunday's 5K should not be run at all. I am bummed because the Carlsbad 5000 has been one of those races I have been wanting to run for a while.

I rest on Thursday. But I have accu-pressure on the sore piriformis/hip flexor and sore hamstring.

The next day I feel energetic. I want to run an easy eight. I start the run and I notice my stride is fluid. First mile in 8:01. Faster than I have ran a first w/u mile in quite some time. Again, I change the easy run into a workout run, since I am feeling good. I am thinking 3-4 miles at previous MP (~7:25) would be fun. The second w/u mile is clocked at 7:15... wow, I have lost all sense of pacing. I don't stop to stretch but decide to continue the effort. Mile three in 7:04. Damn, this is very close to my long tempo pace. There is a slight headwind too. Mile four has me struggling a bit, 7:16. Back to life, back to reality. I make a hairpin turn. The headwind is now a tailwind. It helps. I run this mile in 6:54. I stop after this mile to get a full recovery and to stretch, paying particular attention to the injured muscles/tendons.

After I few minutes I take off thinking mile six would come in at MP... nope, the first quarter was 1:45 and it felt easy so I just held on, 6:54. Ran the last two at 7:26 and 7:22. Overall pace for the eight miles: 7:15. Not too shabby. It confirms what I have known for a while. I like to run fast (relatively speaking). I will step on the starting line on Sunday. Sub-20 will be my goal. Even when I have had very little speed w/os.

Saturday is a recovery run. Four miles at 8:50 pace. I threw in an extra quarter at 5K effort, 1:41. 6:45 pace??? Damn, sub-20 may be a bit lofty of a goal. I come up with a plan: 6:30, 6:30, 6:20 and hammer the last stretch for a sub-20. But I will be happy with beating last year sole 5K, 20:27. It is so easy to pen a plan; the issue is to execute on race day.

Mileage for the last three weeks before Sunday's race: 19.5, 16, 16. If I fail, I will not be able to blame it on fatigue :-)

Next: Carlsbad 5000 Race Report