Tag Archives: 5k

Jingle Bell 5k

This past Saturday I ran the first race that I’ve ever not ‘raced’. I wasn’t worried about my time at all. Instead, I was fundraising for Arthritis Foundation, and enjoying a great Saturday morning with my friend Sheryl.

I picked her up at 8:00am at her place, and we had what is almost a stereotypical experience. I asked where the venue was, she told me, but said “It’s weird, the front page said 8:30am, not 9:00am for race start…” So we headed out, not knowing if we’d end up rushing in to the start line and catching up from the back.

Luckily when we arrived at 8:20, there was no evidence of the race being imminent, so we were able to get our timing tags on, and I was able to pin on my wearable xmas lights. Yes, that’s right, since I raised $325 for Arthritis Foundation, I bought some battery powered xmas lights and ran the whole race decked out like a sparsely decorated tree.

The photograph doesn’t do the lights justice, but it was pretty amazing.

We lined up near the back, because Sheryl & Diana are still working their way up to a full-running 5k with that very popular couch-to-5k plan. Unfortunately, Diana’s bluetooth headset chirped its last before we got to mile 2, so our breaks became a little bit more random, as the ladies were alternating between that sweet race day adrenaline that makes you want to run extra, and the pain of pushing themselves. That pain is what running is all about! Great job, Diana & Sheryl!

We got near the end, and Diana tragically started lying to poor Sheryl about how much distance we had left. See, we hadn’t crossed the 3 mile line yet, and Diana started saying things like “It’s just a few hundred feet from this corner!” and “the finish is right up there”!

Then when I started reporting the real distance from my Garmin, and getting nasty looks! I’m sorry, Sheryl! But you finished, and with 5 more weeks of C25k, you’ll be running strong the whole way in no time.

The race was well organized with a great, enthusiastic finishing line crowd, and a fun raffle/awards ceremony in the movie theater afterward. My favorite form of comedy was the raffle announcements where we all had tickets from the same spool, so the first 3 of 6 numbers were always the same. Still, people got really excited every time he called out those three numbers, with an audible noise of anticipation through the room. Then you’d hear 200, then 99, then 9 people groan in outrage and agony as they were eliminated as the called the next 3 digits in slow progression. Somehow, this reaction never got old to the MC, and he started drawing out the calls longer and longer.

I had a great time going out and doing a run for the purpose of sharing the day with my friends and helping out a good cause, and can easily see myself doing some more things like this in the future.


Let Freedom Run 5k Race Report

I haven’t mentioned the Let Freedom Run 5k on the blog, or put it in the upcoming races, not because I wasn’t excited about it but because I didn’t know just what I was going to be doing with it. Would I run a hot race, looking for a nice solid PR, or would I meander the hills of Fairfax, Virginia with my friends, chatting about birthday fun? Would the large crowd that a holiday race draws cramp my start? Or would those aforementioned hills cramp my quads?

So I didn’t know what I’d get, but here is what I got:

  • A kickass morning with my friends Emily and Fred.
  • Cheering squad x2, Steph + Styger!
  • A 29:37 PR, meeting my 30min goal, setting a new, respectable, PR by a landslide.

Steph and I arrived about 45 min before race start, and parked out in the corner of the lot. Runners were all around, and as you often see on holiday races so were a ton of supportive onlookers. Sadly, they were out of tee-shirts, so I had to walk away from the sign-in table with just assurances that it would be mailed. An explosion of patriotic costumes punctuated the crowd of stock-standard race folks wandering about.

My friends Emily and Fred were running the race, and Emily’s friend Janna. My friend Stiger and of course the ever-present supportive wife would be cheering from the sidelines. Thankfully, as a 5k, they wouldn’t be waiting long. Fred, Emily, Janna and I chatted in the starting chute. Janna and Emily are training together for the Marine Corp Marathon in September, so this little run was just a hop, skip and jump for them. I know they’ll both do great!

For Fred, this was the first road run in a while, so he was mostly there to stretch his legs and keep us all company, which was much appreciated and great fun. I hope he had half the fun I did, cheering him as he came across the finish!

At the starting horn, the crowd lurched across the starting line mile 1 was the typical gristmill of people who all start out in a big crowd, and the ‘exit’ from the shopping center had two turns off the bat. I hadn’t discussed whether I’d be running alongside any of my friends, and I took off running pretty early. I hope my burst of enthusiasm wasn’t misinterpreted or hurtful. I decided as I started that I could, and wanted to, get an official 30min 5k on the books!

We came around the corner and out of the shopping center, and broke into a long, downhill, straightaway. By the end of that straightaway, I had settled into my pace, passed just about all the people I was going to pass. I started to slow down, not dramatically, but noticeably, as we kept winding up hill after hill. The run was a big rectangle around the shopping center, but it felt like a mobius strip! All up, and no down. The course was, in it’s way, refreshingly challenging, but one bit I didn’t enjoy is that several of the roads weren’t actually closed; just one lane in the direction of traffic was closed, so occasionally a car would zip by from behind. A disconcerting feeling! Plus at a couple of points the intersections were open, so a car would be perched, not directed by a traffic officer, waiting to cross the road. I finished up and didn’t even look at my watch because I wanted to start by seeing my chip time.

Coming in to the finish. Eyes either on the prize, or rolled back in my head. Thanks, sunglasses!

I stayed by the finish in the crowd that had gathered there to cheer on the finishing runners, including my friends. It was a great feeling to cheer for random people and see them surge to hit the finish line.

Then, it was off to the well deserved post run noshing! As usual, the race had bagels, bananas, and water arrayed around a table, but it was suffering from poor organization. Or rather, too much voluntary organization, as mild mannered runners naturally lined up, and none of the old folks manning the food booth would venture out to tell those waiting that it was not set up for a line and people should just mob the table. When I walked around the far side of the table and saw two boxes of bananas and bagels untouched, I grabbed one of each, and then started shouting to the runners in line. Either they didn’t believe me or they didn’t want to be the guy jumping out of line, so even as I left, there was a massive line snaking away from the table.

So, for low points, worrisome traffic control, not enough shirts (c’mon, that’s like race organizing 101, isn’t it?) and a bit of a failure to communicate at the food table.  The highpoints were a good challenging rolling hilled course (as advertised) a fun run with friends, a 30 minute PR and a beautiful (overcast, not blistering hot) day for a run.

Big thanks to my friends for running with me.

Fred is grinning inexplicably, I am pouting inexplicably and Emily is counting the number of dorks appearing in this picture.


6 day streak

Today is a rest day.

I planned two a week into my training plan, but last week, on Thursday, it was just too beautiful out to skip a run, so I did a quick, easy 3 (and almost got rewarded with a pelting from a water balloon).  As a result, I ran every day for the last 6 days, covering 26 miles total. Continuing the streak is tempting, but I am going to break it, more out of superstition than fitness needs. 

I think that based on my running pace hovering around 10:30 on long runs (my EZ & LSD runs are at about that pace) I should be well able to hit my Goal #2 on the 25th when I strap up and head out for my 10k Solstice Run.

I had some running adventures during this six day stretch, starting with the water balloon incident. Friday was the wettest run I’ve been on, even including the puddle-tastic ‘dry run’ for my half marathon. It was pouring from the minute I stepped away from my car, but honestly once I was soaked through, it didn’t really bug me at all. What did bug me is running a 30:05 5k! C’mon! 5 seconds faster and it’s awesome bragworthy stuff, 2s faster is a satisfyingly nerdy palindrome, but 30:05 is just laaaame.

On my 10 mile run this Sunday, I completely forgot that the 10 mile route I planned during my half marathon training was a 12 mile route with a warmup and cooldown that were way too long. Still, with 4.5 miles through a metro park, and familiar terrain the whole way, it was a good run. At mile 8 I tried out some Hammer Gel in place of one of my normal Gu packets. The Hammer Gel was different, more fruity and less sugary. The ‘raspberry puree’ listed on the ingredients (as opposed to the completely chemical approach on the Gu ingredient list) was actually really noticeable. Stupid problem to have though; I couldn’t figure out where to tear the package at first, because of the cutesy ‘hammer-shaped’ top. With Gu it feels very utilarian; tear at the thin part, squeeze in mouth. Hammer was a bit harder to stuff into my mouth, and made a bigger mess on my hands.

Since I was a mile over distance, and we had friends coming over, Steph picked me up at mile 11. My camelbak was nearly empty, which means I drank ~70oz in two hours. Given that this wasn’t the hottest day I’m likely to run on, this has inspired me to start considering what the *right* rate of fluid intake is.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 6 day streak, and it feels good to be back to running all the time, with a plan, versus the more free form runs I had in my recovery from Pittsgburgh and my vacation. We’re heading on vacation again in a couple weeks (for the 4th of July holiday week) but I think I’ll have my Speedwork Summer plan more fully formed, and hopefully be training for a 5k by that time.

A weekend of running

I have two runs to talk about, each of them really great, with high highs and not very bad lows. But they are completely different, two vastly different endpoints of the same long road.

Friday, I ran 5 miles. I’m still a bit unbelieving that my ‘twice a week’ run is now a distance I once called a long training run, and wanted to emphasize that by running one of my old routes. I would start out at the RAC after work, and run home, just about exactly 5 miles door-to-door. 

Or I would have, if I hadn’t gotten the following text message at 3:45pm

Weather for Fri, 04/15:Partly Cloudy  and  Windy, and 53 &deg; F. Start run @4:30. Text time to <e-mail redacted> CU@Falls.

Oh, son of crap I forgot my weekly 5k! It starts in 45 minutes! I frantically texted my (beautiful, wonderful, supportive) wife, and she offered to leave work early (knowing she’d have to make up the time working at home) and drop off my running gear.

She pulled up at 4:20 or so, and I *hurled* myself into my clothes in a restroom, and dumped my bag in her trunk, and took off running right from the front door of my building. She had an MMA class starting at 6pm, so I have 1 hour, meaning that I had to be economical with my time (5 miles in an hour is about my ‘slow run’ pace.) so I resolved to run the 5 miles as a warmup run to Fallsports, the FAC 5k, and then tack on whatever I needed to get to 5miles.

The warmup was definitely a brisk warmup, somewhere in the 10:30 pace for the less-than-a-mile out to Fallsports. It was a cold, somewhat blustery day (though nowhere near as windy as my 10 miles, Sunday!). The extra motivation of trying to keep Steph on schedule, along with the naturally motivating feel of this little weekly ‘race’, was enough that I pounded out each successive mile faster and faster. Each lap of Shemansky Park was burned though in what felt, previously, like an unachieveble time. My 5k time was 30:43, a pace of 9:53.

I was elated.  I stopped to breathe, thinking I would run out my remaining ~1.25 miles at a nice slow pace along the neighborhood streets, and just  bask in that great 5k time, maybe mentally plan out a 5k race to run to get that PR ‘officially’ on the books. But as I stopped to breathe, my coworker Mahmoud came up behind me, on his last lap, on pace to do a 25 min 5k! I ran alongside him, rather than taking my planned breather, and ran that lap faster than the ones before it. And then, instead of wandering off at the end of that lap, he hung in another lap to motivate me, and that resulted in my last mile being just as fast as the previous 4. When I ran up to the car in the CVS parking lot, drenched in sweat and breathing hard, I saw that the overall pace for the 5 miles had been 9:54.  I had just run 5 miles in < 50 minutes.

I knew immediately that I probably shouldn’t have done it. My legs didn’t hurt, and my body felt fine, but there’s some kind of fail-safe deep in the system somewhere that was throwing switches and declaring maintenance operations to begin. I sat in the gym during Stephanie’s MMA class, relaxing at one of the tables, and I thought about my 10 mile run, about what I’d heard about the importance of recovery time, and all the things I had learned second hand. I wondered if I was going to learn some of it first hand when I woke up on Sunday and tried to repeat my double digit run from last week.

Saturday flew by, and my legs seemed to recover.

I was excited for my 10 mile run, and got outside with fewer psychological games than in the 9 mile weeks. It was a very windy day here in the Midwest, with constant winds out of the west of 20mph and gusts up to 30mph, so I did the sensible thing and ran as much as I could in the shelter of the trees of the Lower Huron Metropark. Dressed more like I had for a winter run, I felt a little pang of ‘backsliding’ as I set out the door, but I never felt the urge to swap out my pullover for the pair of armwarmers I packed into the bag.

Last week when I ran 10, it was 5 out, and 5 back, with no real warm up and cooldown. The garmin measured a 10.77 course, some of which was building interference error, and some of it was correcting for lost time under multi-level streets. But I certainly didn’t tack on my customary 1-1.5 miles of warmup/cooldown. Sunday, I did more than that. Half mile to the front of my neighborhood, and that planned route through the metro park would end at least ~1.25 miles from home. The warmup felt right as rain, though I think I’m starting to feel the age of my shoes (they’re past the 250mile and up at the 300mile mark!).  The wind pushed me out and up along my course, on the busy streets to the Metropark. During the 4 mile stretch through the park that wind was basically was mitigated by the trees and the riverside setting of the Lower Huron course. As I exited the park down at the bottom, I felt a sense of exhiliration; I had never run this far through this park. I had run 7 miles once inside the park, but I had been dropped off right at the entrance. Running the whole length of the park after making it to the entrance, I was eager to run the road outside and head back home. That 10 mile route was something I once plotted on a map looking for something longer than 3 miles, and laughed breezily at, thinking I would never do.

The run up Haggerty was north and slightly west, and the wind was pushing hard against me. A few times I jumped off the road long enough to let a car pass rather than risk being blown into their path. I had my third and final gu at mile 8, and put my head into that wind for another double digit finish. I maintained an 11:00 pace for the whole run, struggling against the wind, but never stopping or taking a break during the 10 mile route.

When that 10 miles was over, on the other hand, my tired legs and fighting against the wind conspired to make it a very long trip back to the house. Where previously I have run most of the cooldown, Sunday I estimate I ran half of it. The headwind heading west was actually enough to stop me dead in my tracks once or twice. I flopped in the door and had some solid food and a glass of milk.

I’m amazed how different these two runs are, how my body reacted to them, and how it feels to have them behind me. I’m proud of both of these runs, and both of them were successful. The speed of the Friday run is not something I intend to repeat until after my half marathon, but it was elating to feel myself move that fast. And the 10 mile run, even with the hard finish, was a big confidence booster; I only have 2 more long runs, and if the worst result I have is that it gets hard after I stop my course, I’ll take it! 

In just a few weeks I expect myself to run 13.1 miles, and with the training of the next two weeks, and a nice responsible taper for the two weeks after that, I think I will have all the energy and motivation I need to do it.

26 days to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

My WWWP5k!

Don all done with the WWWP5kMy half marathon plan called for a 40 min cross train last night, but I jumped on a train to Chicago at noon Friday, which meant I’d have missed my 4.5 mile run. And there was no way I was going to give up miles on the road for minutes on the stationary bike, while I have healthy, happy legs and a desire to run. My Friday run is with a bunch of coworkers who call themselves the Fallsports Athletic Club (Fallsports is a bar near my office) and run a 5k every Friday, and, like any bunch of engineers would, have a website that responds to text messages and tells us if there’s a cancellation, allows us to record our targets, and our times.
So, since I couldn’t run with my coworkers, I decided to run with the office crew from Automattic. That’s right, instead of the Fallsports Athletic Club 5k, I did the WorldWide WordPress 5k.
With my coworkers, I do the first part of my Friday training run as a 5k, and report the time. I figured the folks at Automattic wouldn’t mind me keeping up with my training regimen while I joined in on the fun, so I resolved to do the same thing, with the additional logistical restrictions of having to provide some photos, rather than just text messaging my time to WordPress and calling it a day!
Of course after planning the whole thing out, I left my camera in my car with my gear, so I only got photos at the end of 4.5 miles. But through the miracle of Google, I give you, the AUGMENTED REALITY WWW5PK/FAC 5k/4.5mile training run!

I set off from the start line (that empty Angelo’s Pizza is now a tasty hot dog/reuben place that I would eat at if I weren’t running 5k’s to pay penance for all the hot dogs and reubens I’d eaten in the first place.) and I was all alone, running along the road on a cool Thursday evening. Dearborn, like most of Michigan, isn’t particularly pedestrian friendly, that’s no surprise that I didn’t pass any other walkers or runners on my way to Shemansky Park.

Shemansky Park is just a small neighborhood park, a triangular patch of grass right near Ford’s Development Center. (I swear, the little brick sign that’s there is nicer than my rendition of it, but apparently hasn’t been there long enough for Google Street View to catch a shot.) It’s a ~0.46mi loop, and the run to get to it is just a bit more than that, so 5.5 laps of the park finishes off our weekly 5k, and for me that day, finished off the WWWP5k!
WWWP5k Finish Time ShotI didn’t have a camera with me on the run, so I kept a second watch with me to take the obligatory finish time photograph! 34:30 is a slow 5k compared to my recent runs, but ITotally Cliche Garmin Photo was nursing a hamstring that wasn’t perfect after Sunday’s 9 miles. Once I finished the 5k I tacked on an extra lap and then ran the route back to my car, which got me to my training goal. The whole thing was done in 49:30, making for a very respectable 10:55 pace on this Thursday.

And even though it didn’t have any of the company of my fellow runners, I’m looking forward to opening up the WWWP5k tag once I get this posted, and reading about the ‘race’ we all ran together. Congrats to all the finishers, fast, slow, and in between.