Sunday, April 28, 2013

5k and 10k Recaps

I'm realizing that I've alluded to my 10k race, but haven't really gone into any detail about how the race went.

I started training for the 10k about one month after I first started going to the gym seriously. One of Joey's friends started talking to him doing a half marathon together. The one they were looking at was on May 19th, and offered a 10k as well. Joey suggested that I should try to train for a 10k, so I could run in that while they ran in the half marathon. At the time, I was running ~2 miles on the treadmill, 2-3 times per week. I had run a couple of 5k's before, but pretty darn slowly. I thought this could be a good idea, and started looking for some potential training plans. I found a 13 week plan by Jeff Galloway that worked out perfectly timing wise - I would be ready for my race on May 18th.

The plan basically had me running for a certain number of minutes for two of the days each week, then slowly increasing the mileage one day a week for my "long day." He recommended that alternating walking and running was actually helpful in terms of recovery. I started out with running 4-5 minutes and then walking 1 minute, and repeating until I reached the number of minutes I was supposed to go for that week. Then for the long runs, I would run straight with no breaks. I gradually increased to running ~10-11 minutes straight for every 1 minute walk break. Towards the end of my training, I just did whatever felt good that day for my 2 timed runs.

After I had been training for about a month, Joey and his friend decided against the race on May 19th, and decided to run a race on April 27th instead. This was fine, but that half marathon didn't have an accompanying 10k race. We found that it was surprisingly difficult to find a 10k race this time of year. There is a 10k in Batesville on May 18th, but it is widely known as a legendary race that is one of the most difficult 10k's around. Not the best course to do my first 10k on! We heard from some friends that there was a 10k in Richmond in mid April, but I was afraid that would be too early in my training. At that point, I just decided to continue with the training, and we would just keep looking.

In mid March, once I had successfully done two 4 miles runs (both on the treadmill), I started to plan out a 5 mile run outside. The registration fee for the 10k in Richmond would increase after March 31st, so we decided that as long as I could run 5 miles by the end of March, we would sign up. According to my training schedule, I was supposed to run 6 miles on the actual day of the race, so it wasn't a huge stretch to sign up and do it. Joey promised to do it with me, and give me whatever encouragement I needed. He told me that just finishing would be my goal.

Of course once it started getting closer to race day, and I had completed two 5 mile runs, I started having ideas about goals for the time I wanted to take to finish. The race was HUGE, so we had to sign up for individual wave times. I didn't have a qualifying time fast enough to put me in one of the seeded waves, so we signed up for the first non-seeded wave with an estimated finish time of 63:00-65:59. I kept trying to figure out what time I thought I could get. I eventually decided that I wanted to finish in under 62 minutes, and I would be thrilled if I finished in under 60 minutes.

We drove to Richmond Friday evening to pick up our packets at the expo. We were staying with some friends in Richmond, and joined them for dinner and ice cream after the expo. We tried to get to bed as early as we could, since it would be a very early day! Joey was supposed to be running 12 miles for his half marathon training - this was actually his longest run before the race, so it was pretty important that he got all of his miles in. We woke up before 7 so we could drive to stadium and catch the shuttle to the race start. Joey planned out a 5-6 mile run right around the race start. The race officially started at 8:30, and our wave was scheduled to start at 9:08, so we planned on meeting back up ~8:50. I tried to find a sunny spot to hang out in while he was running, and mentally prepare for the race. The time went by pretty quickly, and before I knew it we were already starting to line up!

I felt great for the first two miles. I did notice that my running app wasn't lining up with the mile markers, but hoped that would work itself out. The first water stop was just past 2 miles, and I stopped to get a cup of water. It felt so strange throwing the cup on the ground after! I think it actually hit another runner's leg - whoops. Right after I drank the water, I started getting cramps. I felt pretty crappy for about a mile. I started to feel okay again until around 4 or 5, and that was the point where I just started to run out of energy. Joey and I both had our head phones in for the race, with the promise that once I needed him for motivation, he would take his out and talk me through the rest. And the rest wasn't pretty. By this point, I realized that the mile markers were significantly further out than my running app was recognizing them, so my pace was slower than I thought it was. My goals for both 60 and 62 minutes started to go out the window. Once we hit the 6 mile marker, I just pushed as hard as I could through to the end, and finished in 62:14. It took me a while to realize how amazing it was that I even finished, and that it was still a pretty good time. We calculated and the race was probably closer to 6.3 miles, and all of the weaving around made it 6.45 miles according to runkeeper.

Here's a breakdown of my pace throughout: (according to runkeeper)

1/2 mile: 4:46 - 9:32 min/mile
1 mile: 9:33 - 9:33 min/mile; 9:34 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
1 1/2 miles: 14:17 - 9:31 min/mile; 9:28 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
2 miles: 19:11 - 9:35 min/mile; 9:48 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
2 1/2 miles: 24:17 - 9:43 min/mile; 10:12 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
3 miles: 29:22 - 9:43 min/mile; 9:50 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
3 1/2 miles: 34:18 - 9:48 min/mile; 9:52 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
4 miles: 39:03 - 9:46 min/mile; 9:30 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
4 1/2 miles: 43:58 - 9:46 min/mile; 9:50 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
5 miles: 48:47 - 9:45 min/mile; 9:38 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
5 1/2 miles: 53:42 - 9:46 min/mile; 9:50 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
6 miles: 58:33 - 9:45 min/mile; 9:48 min/mile in last 1/2 mile
Total: 6.42 miles in 1:02:14 - 9:42 min/mile

Just to get an idea, they said I did 3.1 miles in 31:39 (10:13 min/mile pace) and 6.2 miles in 62:14 (10:02 min/mile pace). Not bad, even with that!

Here we are after the race!

Now about the 5k! Like I said, the half marathon Joey decided on did not have a 10k affiliated with it. However, it did have a 5k. I think this worked out a lot better for me in the end, since I had Joey to run with for the 10k, and only ended up doing the 5k by myself. Joey's friend didn't end up being able to do the race with him, so he ran by himself. I think he was a little nervous about it since not only was he getting sick (a cold or something like that), but he had hurt his ankle the previous week. I had no idea what to expect with the 5k. Usually before a race, I check the previous results to make sure I won't be last! This was the first time this venue was holding a 5k though, so there were no results to check! I knew Joey would be fine, but I was seriously hoping that a lot of novice runners would be doing the 5k. The last 5k I did was in Wilmington over Thanksgiving, back before I started training. I was pretty proud of that one, since it was the first 5k I had done without walking at all. I finished in 31.5 minutes, and Joey ran the whole thing with me (after doing the 10k first!). My first goal was to get a better time than that. I then wanted to finish in under 30 minutes, and thought it would be pretty fantastic if I finished in under 28!

The race was in Waynesboro, about a half hour away, so we decided to drive in the morning of. I was a little worried about timing and of course made us leave a lot earlier than necessary. We left the house around 5:40 am (so early!), then drove to the start of Joey's race, where he could pick up his packet/bib and get ready. I dropped him off, then drove the 13 miles to the end of the race to park. Both of our races ended at the same place (the 5k was actually almost exactly the last 3 miles of the half marathon), which was convenient. They were having the 5k runners park at the end of the race, pick up their packets, then get on a shuttle to the start. The last shuttle would leave at 7:15, so I was really nervous. But timing went just fine - I got Joey to his start ~6:10, parked ~6:30, and just made the first bus over to my start. It was pretty cold just standing around! Oh and imagine my surprise when I find out that there were only ~30 of us running! I got really nervous that I would indeed finish last. Plus I didn't bring any water with me, and got really thirsty at the start.

At just about 7:30, they started lining us up (I didn't even have to fight to be at the front of the line), and then we started! It honestly felt pretty strange running the race. I felt like I was just running on my own in Charlottesville, with a few runners out near me who happened to be running the same route as me. It was hard to get an idea of the pace I was going. Normally I set runkeeper to notify me every 1/2 mile, but since this was such a short race, I changed it to every 1/4 mile. After the first 1/4 mile I was afraid that runkeeper was spazzing out again, since it was I was going at under an 8:30 pace! I tried to slow it down a bit after that, but was still nervous that I was going slower than it registered. I slowed down a bit more between 1 and 1.5 miles, due to the two steepest hills of the course. I tried to pick it up in the downhill stretch after that, since I knew that the last mile was basically all uphill. I must have gotten into a groove by then, since I kept a nice pace still, and it didn't feel as bad as I thought it would. Yet again, runkeeper was giving me mile updates slightly before I actually saw the mile markers on the course, so I thought I was going a bit faster than I actually was. When I turned the last corner, I could see the 3 mile marker and the finish, and really started to speed up. I could see the digital display of the time, and saw that it was already over 28 minutes. It was starting to get close to 29 minutes, and I tried SO hard to get there in under 29, but just missed it at 29:01. But I achieved two of my goals!

This was around 8:00 when I finished, and I knew that Joey wouldn't finish until ~9:00 (his race started at 7:00), so I had a lot of time to sit around. They started an awards ceremony for the 5k race at 8:30, and I was half listening when I heard them say "3rd place, with a time of 29:01..." realized that was my time "...goes to Jennifer Kaplan from Charlottesville, Virginia" and realized I won a medal for my division! Of course this is not very impressive when there are only 7 people in the 20-29 women's division, but I was still pretty excited! I couldn't really tell how many people were in front of or behind me. When the race started, there were several people who shot off right away, and I couldn't see them the entire rest of the race. There were two women who I passed in the beginning, who eventually passed me in the end. One of the guys passed me towards the end as well. And then there was a woman who kept on trading places with me, but I passed her in the last mile. Besides that, I had no idea where I was in the pack, but just hoped I was towards the front. Once they posted the results, I saw that I finished 10/31 - not bad! There were apparently a few people right behind me - I had no idea they were there the whole time.

After I got my medal, I went back to the finish to wait for Joey. His goal was to finish in under 2 hours, thinking that it would be great to finish in 1:55, and fantastic to finish in 1:50. Once the time started ticking past 1:50, I started getting nervous for him! Every time I saw someone in a red shirt turning the last corner, I squinted my eyes to see if it was him. I wanted so badly for him to get the time he wanted. Suddenly I realized I could see him, and I started jumping up and down and yelling his name! I was so excited I didn't even look at the clock, and just ran over to see him. I grabbed him some water while he came to a shaky stop, and let him recover a bit before congratulating him. He ended up finishing in 1:54:15!! I am so unbelievably proud of him! I really wish I remembered to take a picture of him at the actual race, but here are some pictures in front of my house, once we got back:

Here is a breakdown of my pace throughout (according to runkeeper, who says that the course was 3.21 miles):

1/2 mile: 4:12 - 8:24 pace
1 mile: 8:47 - 8:47 pace (9:10 last 1/2 mile)
1 1/2 mile: 13:35 - 9:03 pace (9:36 last 1/2 mile)
2 mile: 18:03 - 9:01 pace (8:56 last 1/2 mile)
2 1/2 mile: 22:37 - 9:03 pace (9:08 last 1/2 mile)
3 mile: 27:08 - 9:03 pace (9:02 last 1/2 mile)
total: 3.21 miles in 29:01 - 9:02 pace

Official race results: 3.1 miles in 29:01 - 9:22 pace

This is the fastest race I've ever done, and I'm so excited about my time! Now that I've done these two races, I'm hooked. I can't wait to do another race and try to improve my time. I can see how running can be an addiction. It's perfect for me, because the only person I'm competitive with is myself. 

I'm going to a conference in Orlando this week (and a cruise following that!) and the last morning of the conference actually has a 5k race scheduled. Prior to this weekend, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it, especially since it's at 6am. But now I'm definitely doing it! I'm pretty sure it'll be mostly flat, so maybe this will be the course where I break 28 minutes! The Charlottesville Women's 4 Miler is a really popular race, and it's at the end of August. I would love to get a sub 9:00/mile time for that. I definitely want to do a 10k race again, and get a better time, definitely under 60 minutes. And who knows - maybe a half marathon is even in my future! Joey said that once I can comfortably run 5-6 miles, 3 times per week, I should give a half marathon training program a try. 

One thing I will say - I'm proof that it's possible to become a runner in just a few short months, and hopefully this will be a lifelong habit.

Miles for Boston: 
15.2/26.2 miles completed!