Posts Tagged '5K'

Alameda 4th July 5K 2012

Although this flat course presented an opportunity for a fast time, I was more focused on starting my marathon cycle for New York, so did not taper for it. I even did a track workout the previous evening, if not a very strenuous one. Four repeats of two minutes on, three off. I’ll have to remember that one, in light of what happened in the race.

I jogged the half mile to the start area and registered. Various familiar faces showed up – Suzette, Debra, Karen, and Larry, who is just coming back to racing after some time off with tendon problems. Welcome back.
After warming up I joined the throng in the start area. There seemed to be a good number of runners (463 according to the results), so it’s a pity that they currently have just three age groups: sub-18, 18-40 and Masters, which oddly start at 41. Oh well.

I was about three rows back from the line, which worked out pretty well. Across the line in a couple of seconds, I concentrated on not going too fast. Remember that you’re running 5K, This is not a 400 meter track interval. I glanced at the Garmin. Too fast, but not by much. adjust. This is surprisingly comfortable for a 5K, I’m usually gasping a bit at this point until I get adjusted. I ease past some school kids who had burned off their initial exuberance and were settling in for the long haul.

And so it went. I was easing past people for most of the way. I think I check the pace jus once more, in mile 2, to guard against slacking off. There was a gap in front as I got within sight of the line, and also a gap behind (I checked), but some young guy covered it and blew by me just before the line. I did not mind that. Hey, he’s decades younger than me and really should have paced his race better.

20:34 was the official time, beating my previous best by 6 seconds. Chipping away at it. I would like to get below 20 minutes one of these days, but it might take some work. Larry was well under 20, so he’s back. Suzette got 3rd in the womens Masters.

Update, and Some Races.

So what have I been up to since the Oakland marathon? Running somewhat reduced mileage, working on my speed, and trying my hand as some short road races with strong fields.

First up was the Sactown 10 miler, on a loop course in downtown Sacramento. This was the first time I have done this distance on the roads. It was a mostly flat course, in good conditions, just a week after Oakland. I decided to wing it on pace, but try to get in under 70 minutes. That turned out to be challenging, especially since I lined up near the front and went out somewhat fast.

The first three miles: 6:32,  6:53, 6:59. Yup getting carried away there, but I was surprised at how good I was feelng at this point.

Next three:  7:01, 7:13, 6:56. That’s more like it. There were some small rolling hills in that middle mile.

Then: 7:16, 7:10, 7:10,. The wind was coming out of my sails somewhat. a few people passed me.

Final mile: 7:04. I was shoulder to shoulder with a young guy for much of this, and passed the final turn ahead of him, but he outkicked me.  Official time 1:10:22, Not terrific, but not a]terrible either. I had to settle for a sub-75 shirt rather than a sub-70. Nice idea on the shirts.

Next up was the Zippy 5K in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. A mostly flat first mile, then a rolly middle mile around a lake, then backtrack to the start. I paced this one much better. after starting behind someone I know to be slightly slower. I ran it in 20:40 for a 3 second PR. A whole 24 seconds faster than I ran the same course last year. The splits:

6:31 (Yay, not ridiculously fast for once)
6:59 (Hills, and a sinking feeling. Not done any serious hillwork lately)
6:30 (Maybe I’m not so terrible after all)
0:41 (6:23 pace. Try not to puke on the volunteers…)

OK, that’s better. Another 5K came next, at Portola Valley, south of Stanford U. This was the inaugural race, and was reputed to be a flat course. Perhaps another PR in the offing? Haha no. It was an out-and-back on a rolling downhill. The turnaround was about 150 ft below the start/finish. So having disposed of any PR dreams, its was quite fun. These races are timed from the gun, so it gets a little packed on the start line. I was a little too far back, and got somewhat boxed on the initial corner. Then we headed downhill for a mile and a half. The splits are in kilometers, since you get more that way, Having the Garmin set to metric also gave me an easy reference: A 20 minute 5K is 4:00 per K.

3:52, 4:03 for the first two mostly downhill.

4:09. 4:23 going more slowly back uphill

3:28 A fast finish uphill. So I had something in the tank there and could possibly have gone out a little harder. It is hard to judge on a course like that. Official time was 20:5, so there are about 15 seconds missing from the Garmin record. Everytime I soften and take that thing racing it gives me a sharp reminder why I shouldn’t.

But it was fun, even uphill. Next up, The Bay to Breakers, which will be gracing this page shortly.

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.

Race: Alameda 4th of July Parade 5K

The island city of Alameda is proud of its 4th of July parade, billing it as the “longest in the country” at 3.2 miles. Of course, that length of closed roadway makes a fine course for a 5K race, and so they hold one just before the parade begins. Entries benefit a local high school.
The start line is about half a mile from my house, so I jogged down there to pick up my tag and…
“Can I pick up my tee shirt later? I’ve got nowhere to put it.” “Um, no.” So back home I went with that apparel item, plus a small U.S. flag on a stick which was also on offer. I held on to the flag as a miniature rehearsal for the pace sign I expect to be carrying in the San Francisco Marathon.
After this extended warmup enhanced by some strides in a nearby parking lot, I was feeling pretty good, and shmoozed with some friends from the club. “It’s interesting” observed Karen, “how all the halfway-experienced racers are standing here in the shade while everyone else is already standing out in the road.” Another Karen gem, addressed to a nervous racer: “In a 5K, enjoy the first mile.” I laughed. “Because you’re not going to enjoy the other two?”

I did enjoy that first mile, perhaps a little too much. This is the first time I have raced in flats, and it was good. It’s not just the lightness, but the road feel. Every nuance of gait and landing can be felt and I needed to get that stuff right. I had told Cathi earlier that I planned to run carefully to avoid a plantar fasciitis flareup. I also expected to be rather slow since my training has been somewhat impacted lately bt that same PF. After about a quarter of a mile I peeked at the Garmin. Yikes, 5:50 pace? In what universe is this being careful? I slowed a bit, but still completed the first mile in 6:11. OK, let’s see how well I can hang on for the rest of it.

There were plenty of specatators along the route thanks to the impending parade. Houses were hung with flags and bunting, and in one neighborhood they had painted bunting on the road surface. The runners were well spread out now, and we settled in for the slog that is the second half of a 5K. There was a smell headwind which was welcome since it was cool air fromthe bay. In need of a target, I gradually reeled in a young guy in a basketball uniform. His pacing varied a little bit, so we passed each other more than once for the remainder of the race.

And that’s pretty much it. Finsh time was 20:43 which equals my PR, and shreds my last 5K of a few weeks ago.
Mile 2: 6:51, Mile 3: 6:54, Last bit: 6:13 pace. This final kick was not enough to hold off baskeball guy who managed to go by me just before the line. I’m not sure how I did age group wise, since the results are not online. It’s a pity that my first race since my birthday should be in a race where my age group was simply “master”.

The finish. Note flag in left hand.

Update: I got the results by email. I was 24th overall out of 193, 7th master. If there had been a 55-59 age group I would have won it. The guy in the white cap would have been second.

Race: LMJS 4th Sunday 5K May 2010

This took place just a week after the Tilden Tough Ten, so I was curious to see if I had recovered in a week and could pace a 5K properly after a long absence from this distance. After a week of minimal mileage I joined about 130 other runners on the start line at Lake Merritt. This was the second of these races to use chip timing, and the experimental configuration this month added a chip-timed start as well as a finish. This meant we had to file through a somewhat narrow start line which limited is to a walk until were actually across. Fortunately we then had the full width of the road at our disposal and could immediately get up to speed.

I had eschewed the Garmin, wearing a regular stopwatch to time my splits. Was this pace too fast? Maybe not. Don’t forget this is only a 5K! I settled into about 20th place as the field spread out on its way to the top of the lake. This seemed good, without being super-fast. Plainly my legs were still feeling a touch of Tilden’s hill-fest.

As we hit the long straight down the south side of the lake a stiff headwind became apparent. I picked a largish guy to draft behind. Unfortunately he started to fade and I had to go on by. A pair of young men up ahead did not offer much shelter and soon I was past them also, facing the full force. Mile 1: 6:41. Decent. Wonder if I can maintain that? Not if this wind continues.

And it did continue, even after turning the corner at the West end of the lake. The local topography was doing it’s trick of curving the wind along the shoreline so that it continued to come from ahead. At this halfway point I was surprised to be passed by an older guy, but he was the last. I did not manage to stay in contact with him, but held my position for the second half of the race. Second mile: 7:03. Ugh. I applied myself a bit more on the slight uphill to the finish, missing the third mile split. Finish in 21:28. Quite a bit slower than my PR, but OK under the circumstances. Interestingly, I came a lowly 5th in my age group, despite coming 18th overall out of 136 finishers. The winner of my AG was 6th overall in 19:12. I have some work to do at this distance!


On Saturday I headed to Lake Merritt for my short easy run. Some of the LMJS members were entering a 5K/10K organized by the East Bay Front Runners, and it would be nice to shmooze for a bit before going for a run around the neighborhood. There are some nice hills there that are worthy of inspection. But I wasn’t going to race, oh no. This was an easy day, in between intervals on Friday and a 22-miler on Sunday.
Loraine’s suggestion that I pace her in her 5K was hard to resist, though. “What pace do you want to go? 7:45? OK” Oh well, it’s only 5K. That wont do much harm.
I didn’t join the crush at the start, but waited down the road a little way, running up and down to warm up. Loraine came by and I joined her. We ran around the end of the lake and started along the straight section of Lakeshore. Were we going a little fast? This felt like 7:30. I turned my attention to the Garmin. As I’ve mentioned before, Garmins don’t work reliably at Lake Merritt, and mine had been showing some weird paces. It had a period of lucidity and confirmed 7:30 or close to it. Hmm. Her breathing seems OK. There was another woman in front of us with a pacer of her own, so we tucked in behind them and picked off some runners who had gone out too fast. At mile 2, Loraine looked at her watch and said “I can’t think. What twice 7:45?” “15” I lied. Jeepers, she doesn’t know how fast we’re going. This had better work. I think it will. It’s a good sign that she can still talk. Just then the pair in front faltered and we passed them.
“OK, we’re into the final third. You’re doing good!” Loraine’s repartee was down to an occasional monosyllable, but she gave me to understand that this was not fun. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the third mile of a 5K race is not fun. She held pace, though. I slowed just a little for the uphill along Grand Avenue, and was gratified when she started to accelerate again when it flattened out. I waited until we were 100 yards from the finish and instructed “If you have anything left in the tank, start burning it now!”, but there wasn’t much left for a kick. I think the time was 23:33. Second woman and a PR. Plus I learned a few things about pacing. Things not to say include “This is about my marathon pace”. She later remarked “I thought about 26 miles and felt a wave of nausea”. Also not well received: “My Garmin says we just ran a 13-minute mile!”. I think she’s forgiven me though.

I had promised myself six miles so set off around the lake again, more slowly this time. I caught up with Jack C, my teammate at the Tahoe Relay. He had got injured at that event (achilles and calf), but six weeks of physio and cycling had put him to rights, and now here he was on his last long run before the NYC Marathon. He was on his seventh and final circuit of the lake, and was glad to have someone to run with to keep his pace up. Good luck on November 1st, Jack.

Race: 4th Sunday Lake Merritt 5K

Before yakking about this little race I should remark on something I saw on our Saturday run yesterday. We were on unfamiliar territory at the southern end of Tilden park, and there was some looking at maps, scratching of heads. I found the Garmin’s “breadcrumb” mode useful on the return leg. Yeah, using a GPS for actual navigation!

Anyway, at one point the trail went through a mass of flowers. They looked like poppies, but were purest white, and about seven feet tall. Brobdignagian poppies, I guess. It was quite a sight. Oohs and a were exclaimed.

Oh yes, the race. It was sunny and a little warm for comfort, although a cooling breeze helped. Like a dummy I forgot to bring my watch, so ran bare-wristed and had to wing it on pace. I set out fast, but felt reasonably comfortable for the first mile. I just had to avoid getting bothered by the youthfulness of the runners in front of me. There is construction gong on around the lake with some consequent temporary course changes. At one point we made two right-angle turns, while dodging other users on a narrow path. Tricky. By mile two I had passed a handful of people who were pacing more poorly than me, and also been passed by some others, including the lead woman. As usual in a 5K I was feeling quite uncomfortable by now. Ugh! I’ll take the last miles of a marathon over this any day. Oh well, I seem to be doing OK, press on. In the last half mile I reeled in a young guy and drew level with him, but then he kicked away from me. Never mind. 20:43 and an AG win. My prediction of “well under 21” for this race turned out pretty well.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
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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