Monday, December 12, 2011

Whitby Santas Back in Town 5k Race Report

Thats right you read that title right. No I did not forget the zero after the 5. Thats right I actually hit the road for a short, painful and hopefully semi fast 5k race. Okay so not really semi fast as I have not been training for races that require speed in a very long time. Lets call it hope to run fast enough to not feel embarrassed at the finish line.

Last week I got an email from JD saying he was going to go run a 5k race on Sunday Dec. 11th in Whitby and did I want to come. That email scared me. I am not in racing shape and I haven't run a race shorter then 30km in 11 months. That was an 8k at Robbie Burns last January that was a complete disaster for me. I finished with a massive side stitch and my running form was reduced to a bad impression of quasi moto. Good Times!

I had just started to do some hill sprints and intervals the week before and so I figured I better get on the race course and see just where my speed and fitness are at. I always use race results to set up my paces for the next training cycle so I was going to have to run something short soon anyway, you really cant use Ultra races to figure out pacing. Who knew?

Thing is short races when done right are really freaking painful and even worse when you haven't been embracing that type of hurting by running track or really fast intervals.

Sunday morning JD picked up Kim and I and we headed to Whitby. Its a fairly small race of just over 100 people but that is fine with me. Race conditions were going to be a little challenging as it was sunny but there was a nasty 30km wind coming off of the lake. Did a very short warm up and then lined up near the front with JD and we were off.

Right away it was straight into the wind and would stay like that for the first half of the out and back course. I ran faster then pace for a minute or 2 in order to get clear of any slower runners and then tried to settle in to something resembling an even pace but that was easier said then done. The wind made it hard going very early on.

At around the one K mark I could see that there was 5 or 6 runners ahead of me. My lungs were already on fire and I was working way to hard into the wind for the pace I was moving at. Unfortunately I was gaped with the next runner a fair distance ahead of me. Crap, I had forgotten how important race strategy is in the shorter races which was made even clearer by the guy that was right behind me and using me to do all the work. Not smart on my part. I considered trying to let him get ahead of me and using him but that is so counter intuitive and has its own dangers. Soon we were approaching the 2k mark. My lungs where screaming at me to stop the abuse. The guy behind me passed me and soon had gotten away but in my attempt to keep up with him I managed to pass 2 more people.

We hit the turn around and bang just like that there was no more wind in the face. I saw that JD was about 15 seconds behind me and looked like he was running well. Now with no wind resistance I was able to get back to a steady pace. I saw Kim going towards the turn around and she said I was in third place although I was pretty sure I was in fourth. I could see the next runner about 80 meters ahead of me so I tried to run a little harder to close the gap.

I remember being at 4k, my legs feeling great but my lungs not so much. Who the heck stole all the oxygen, I now remember in a very acute sensory way just how hard 5k races are but I am also remembering why I like them. Weird or what? With less then a k left I can see that the runner ahead of me has maybe padded his lead by another 2o meters or so. I will not catch him so now the game becomes run as hard as you can to get a good time and dont let anyone catch you.

A few minutes later I am across the finish line in a time of 21:10 good for 4th place overall. JD comes in 20 seconds later and Kim finishes soon after with a PB. A good day for all of us.

A few other things:
The course was not certified and appears to have been 4.9k.
I was about 12 - 14 seconds per k faster in the second half of the race when not fighting the wind.
I made some strategic mistakes which I will chalk up to not having raced short in a long time. I let myself become a wind breaker for another runner (he finished second well ahead of me). I also didn't focus on running the tangents in the first half of the race, yikes.

All in all a good day of running now its back to some regular hard quality runs with Longboat to start getting ready for the spring.
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