Zippy 5K 2011

You would have thought that a race in San Francisco named after a cartoon character would be something like a mini Bay to Breakers, with a large party contingent and people in fancy dress. In fact it’s a runners race, with a small number of contestants and quite a talented field due to it being a USATF series event. But first a small sidebar on what I have been up to lately.

I felt that I was seriously off my game in my run-up to Napa, and ran that race some minutes slower than I felt I should. The symptom were consistent with over-training, although there may have been a dietary deficiency or infection involved. How should not-very-specific problem be approached? I took a cue from Flo of Girl In Motion who saw good results after taking a two week break from running, and did that. On coming back, I endeavoured to introduce more hill running and form drills into the mix, but did not follow a strict plan for the time being. I was running a somewhat lower mileage than I normally do during marathon cycles, and generally took care.
I also took a trip with Cathi to London, where she did some musical work (teaching and a couple of gigs) and we caught up with some of my family. I also watched the London marathon from the kerbside, about 900 meters from the finish. It was interesting to compare the elites with the also-rans. They seem to float along with little expenditure of effort compared to the rest of us ground-pounders. They don’t even seem to be going that fast, thanks to the apparent ease of motion. This does not come across well in photographs but is very apparent when you see it. Here’s Emmanuel Mutai on his way to a course record after he had demolished the opposition with a string of 4:3x miles. He looked pretty relaxed.

And so after a few weeks of lowish mileage, here I was on a start line in Golden Gate Park with a pretty fast bunch of runners, aware that this training reboot would now be tested, even though I had not done any race-specific workouts beyond some 5K-pace pickups during the week. I had put my Garmin into metric mode with kilometer splits, figuring that I would get a useful number that way, and a 20-minute 5K is 4:00 pace, which is a nice refernce point. I would like to run a sub-20 but that could not realistically be expected today. If I looked down and saw 3:xx I should slow down. There were no chips in this race, but I managed to cross the start line within 2-3 seconds of the gun.

The tactic for moderating the initial pace was only partly successful, since I ran the first Km in 3:49. Still, not as outrageously fast as I sometimes commence these things. That was on flat ground along JFK avenue Sometime during the next split we swing toward Stowe lake and went uphill. 4:21 (7:01 pace). Oof! I need to work on my uphill speed! Same story on the rolling track around the lake: 4:20, then we swung back towards the finish: 4:06, 4:07 which was encouraging. I had been running in a cluster of runners all the way (mostly 20-something women from the Impala team for some reason) so had not been able to run the tangents properly. That would account for some of the 80 extra meters that the Garmin measured at 3:55 pace. It was necessary to put on the brakes just short of the line as the finish chute was backed up. Official time 21:04. That is 21 seconds away from my PR which is not too terrible given the course and my shortage of recent miles. On track I think.

Shortly after this I came down with the ‘flu, spending some groggy days around the house. and in bed. I was cheered by a timely arrival from Napa. So now “Get marathon plaque” can be crossed off the to-do list.

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3 Responses to “Zippy 5K 2011”


  1. 1 Flo May 5, 2011 at 6:07 am

    How aggravating that the finish chute was backed up! That was a stellar time being so close to your PR because it’s true, you have not been working the 5K angle at all.

    It astonishes me too, how easy Elites seem to run, like they never break a sweat. Something to aspire to, if not in speed, the ease of motion.

    And what a pretty plaque! Really nice one as far as those things go.

  2. 2 Ewen May 8, 2011 at 3:59 am

    That’s quick Jim! From running through Golden Gate Park I can’t recall anywhere flat, so 21:04 is a great time. Love the km splits too. Wish more upover folk would do that.

  3. 3 Loraine May 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Jim! Been a while since I checked in here. Congrats on the Napa plaque, great result. And yes, I got a nasty shock doing that 5k last year – I wasn’t thinking it would be as hilly. Good result on that for you too!

    I agree about the elites making it look easy and have seen that at the finish line. It’s astonishing to think of those crazy paces and know that they’ve been doing that for 26 miles. Even when Magdalena blew by us on that training run she joined us on, I just could not figure out how she was zipping along so fast with apparent ease and that was just a totally easy day. I did pay attention to her turnover (from way behind!) and it was not until I tried to match it did I realize it was like me doing double-time.


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Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
10K43:44
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)

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