Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lesson Learned & Donuts Earned

I ran two good 5Ks this weekend, contrary to my plans. In my pursuit of a PR, I made a big strategic error in going for broke at the Preakness 5K, where the 1.5 miles on the dirt track probably made a PR unrealistic. Running on the racetrack was exhausting -- it was one of the hardest 5K courses I've ever run, and If I'd taken it easy, maybe I would have had a shot at a sub-23 at Bob Potts. On the other hand, it was also one of more unique 5Ks I'd ever heard of, so no regrets.

I'm not sure I'll run another 5K until the Tunnel Run in September, and that's definitely not a PR course, but I still have a good chance at the Harrisburg Jingle Bell Run, where I've run my two fastest 5Ks.

The big, obvious lesson that I'm not sure that I want to learn, though, is that while I gave maximum effort in both races and I might be able to gut out a 22:59 in December, my strategy of just trying to run my regular runs faster isn't the best strategy for actually getting faster. The recommended path I can take toward improving my 5K times, and probably even my long-run pace, would be to add some speedwork (track workouts, intervals, fartleks, etc.) I think I'm going to take a closer look at this in an upcoming post.

The back-to-back races were really fun, and I'm glad I did it. I know plenty of people that participate in a 5k or 8k the day before a half or full marathon, so I while I don't think racing two 5Ks back to back is amazing or super hardcore, it was something I hadn't done before. I'd do it again once or twice a year (maybe these two races again next year) but I won't race the 8k at Virginia Beach the day before the Shamrock Marathon -- that's just crazy!

Through the honor bus 5K in April and these two, I've rediscovered my love of the 5K. Running three miles isn't a challenge anymore -- but running three miles as fast as I freakin' can really is. It's exciting in a way that my regular runs just aren't.

The heat and humidity is finally starting to creep in, which makes running less enjoyable for me. Still, though, my running goal for this summer is try to get my base up to around 15 miles (or more) over the summer, since I'm running the Philly Marathon in November this year instead of the Half. Racing some 5Ks will be a fun distraction, but I probably won't race two on back-to-back days like this again this year.

For my next challenge, I've got three ideas:

The MCVET 5K & 10K
-- I've never run two races in one day before. This would be 9.3 miles total, which is in my comfort zone, but I've never done two races in the same day. If I run them both, then I probably treat this as my regular long run, and take them both at my usual pace. If I decide to only run one of them, then I'll try to break my PR in that distance.

The Dreaded Druid Hills 10K -- "A torturous race by runners for runners through Baltimore's famed Druid Hill Park, beginning and ending at the Moorish Tower and traversing the most wicked hills to be found in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area." Sounds fun, doesn't it?

I heard about this race in 2009, but didn't want it to be my first 10K. (I ran the MCVET 10K, which was the next day, instead). It sounds miserable, but I like the idea of a challenge, and if it lives up to its reputation, I would think it would rate a donut or two.

Catfish Duathlon -- A sprint duathlon in Harrisburg. That would mean I have to get on the bike again, wouldn't it? I'm not adverse to the idea -- I enjoyed my first bike ride in 10 years, but it's hard enough to find time to get my running in lately.

No physical challenges today, on the other hand. A torrential downpour ruined my plans for a run between storm, so I turned to my other hobby, competitive stress-eating, instead.


  1. I have multiple gold medals in competitive stress-eating. :-)

  2. There is no shame in failing - just in not going for it. You sign up for a race to test yourself, to see how strong you are. If you're going to race, then I say go all out and make the others work to beat you (see Steve Prefontaine).

    I'd rather go out too fast, injure my hamstring, and suffer through a marathon, rather than play it safe achieve a soft 10-15minute PR but not know exactly how fast I could have run.

    With that being said, you were an idiot for doing two 5Ks on one weekend. :)

  3. I think this why your blog is "Quest for Running Perfection" and mine is more like "Quest to Run Enough so I Can Snack More Without Feeling Guilty." :-)

    But...that's something I've been thinking about lately I'm going to talk about at greater length in an upcoming post. I know I can be faster. How hard do I want to work at it? It would enhance one of the things I like about running (challenging myself) and probably detract from another (relaxation). I've got the perfect event coming up in July to try out a different approach.