When I ran the CIGNA 5k race last year, I speculated that with two hours of running per week, I could possibly finish sub-18 minute. Running hasn't quite gone to plan this season. I was somewhat serious about it earlier this summer in preparation for the Mt Washington foot race, but then I developed an injury that put the kibosh on that. I had to lay low for several weeks and never ramped back up to the 2-3hrs running per week I was doing leading into Mt Washington. In fact, I've only run 49.5hrs so far this year, or exactly 1.5hrs per week average.
Most of the running has been at a recreational pace of 7:30-8:00min/mi. Only over the last three weeks did I do some focused interval work with my triathlete friend Dan M. Following a Daniel's protocol, we ran a block of four 1200m intervals with three minutes recovery in between each 1200m. That's not much recovery, and 1200m is run at VOmax. But if you can run this at a consistent pace for all four intervals, you can very accurately predict time in various race distances.
Last week Wednesday, I had a superb 4x1200m workout, averaging about 4:14.5 minutes per interval with only a few seconds variation between them. Daniel's book said this was good four a 17:57 minute 5k. My goal was to break 18 minutes, so theoretically, I should be able to do it.
Leaving work for the race, it was torrentially pouring out. It did not look like this would hit Manchester, so I would have to suffer through hot, muggy conditions, unlike last year when it was pleasant. That was sure to cost some seconds. CIGNA is a "corporate" race, where area companies field large teams. I had to ditch my company singlet and scare everybody with my pasty torso. Thermal implosion was nearly certain, so the BAE logo had to go. Like last year, I warmed up by running down the finishing hill and back up. One mile total at easyish pace.
Still got screwed lining up. A couple hundred runners fill in the last seconds before the start, pushing me back to about row eight. Still much better than 30 rows or so back like last year. We had a one minute warning, but no 3,2,1 go! Just the mayor firing the gun and catching everybody by surprise.
I stayed with Dan the first mile, who ran this nearly a minute faster than me last year. Either a) I was going out way too hard, b) Dan was having a bad day, or c) I was having a very good day. Turns out it was mostly a & and a little b. My first mile was 5:34.
The second mile is mostly down hill and should be at least 10sec faster than the first, but I was at least 10sec slower. This was very bad, as that meant I was probably going to implode on the last mile, which climbs.
One thing I notice in my running is that I seem to go downhill very well, which totally surprises me. I would never be able to descend well off-road, but I can really let it rip on pavement and surge past a lot of people hanging with me. Then when it kicks up, I get passed again. This is not the Hill Junkie way. What gives?
The third mile lasted for infinity. My core body temp reach critical, and I didn't think the finish was going to come soon enough. It started to spit rain, which did nothing but drive the humidity to 100%. There's a punchy one-block climb about 400m from the finish. Several kids running with me immediately dropped me. I caught nobody. I crossed the mat at exactly 18:00 minutes. Assuming I was a couple seconds back to cross the starting mat, I should have met my sub-18 goal.
I punched it so hard to beat that 18:00 mark, that I had to pause hanging over the finishing chute rails for a moment. A couple volunteers rushed over to see if I was ok. I was breathing too hard to explain to them that I do this to myself all the time for fun.
Results were posted shortly after I got home. Imagine that, 5200 finishers and results up just like that! I was pleased to see my mat time was 17:58. This was within one second of Daniel's prediction! I like it when things work out like that. This put me at 5th in the 45-49 age group. I turn 50 next week, and this finish would have won the 50-54 age group this year. Something to shoot for next year. Maybe I'll even run more than 1.5hrs per week.
This run did some damage. When I got home, I was debilitated. The stairs were almost impossible to negotiate. My calves were completely locked up, and my quads refused to perform eccentric contraction. I screamed sitting down at the dinner table. How can 18 minutes going hard do this? With D2R2 and a Colorado trip coming up soon, it's time to shift the focus back to the bike for a while. After that, I may entertain doing a couple 10k races this fall.