Sunday, March 25, 2007

New PR's for 15K, 10K, and 5K

I have a series of new PR's (personal records) to mention.

I ran the Sue Krenn 15K (9.3 miles) at Mission Bay in San Diego on Saturday, March 3, 2007. My previous PR for this distance was 62:24 on July 4th last summer in San Diego. I was hoping for my first sub-60 15K (especially since I've never run sub-40 for a 10K). I finished in 57:45 (6:13 pace) for a nice shiney new PR.

I felt very pleased with that performance, especially since I didn't taper my mileage down for this race. I had already run 78 miles that week in the previous 6 days (including 24 on Sunday; 8x1mile @6:07 each on Tuesday; 16 with 11 @6:49 pace on Thursday). I was training through this race towards the Boston Marathon in April.

A few of the mile-markers were off so I won't bore you with my inaccurate splits. Suffice it to say that I didn't hit the first mile in 4:42 and then the second mile in 7:01. All of us were like, "What the heck?" The course was accurate (it's been held 43 times), but a few of the opening mile markers were off because that part of the road had been repaved erasing the old mile markers.

The San Diego Track Club (who sponsored this race) is a tough crowd to compete against. They have some great, great runners. Let's just put it this way. Two weeks earlier at the Palm Springs Half, I finished 12th overall in a crowd of 650. Here at this 15K, I finished 27th overall in a crowd half that size. (And yet according to race calculators, I ran my stronger race at the 15K.)

I don't know what my 10K splits were at this 15K race, but I certainly bested my previous 10K PR on March 3. I just don't know by how much. No biggie though. I would be running a 10K race three weeks later.

On Saturday, March 31, 2007, I ran the Coyote Challenge 10K at Cal State - San Bernardino.

My previous 10K PR was 40:35 on a very windy day in Slidell, LA at the Camelia City Classic 10 years ago in 1997. I had always wanted to go sub-40 for 10K and had never managed to do it. (Of course, I haven't raced too many 10K's since that time either.) I did manage to go sub-60 at a 15K just 3 weeks earlier so I had high hopes of smashing my 10K PR big-time.

The course was a double-loop 5K course. The course went uphill at about 1-2% for the first 1.5 miles then downhill. Nothing terribly steep, but the uphills would wear on us, especially on that second loop.

Based on my 15K PR a few weeks ago, McMillan's race calculator estimated I could run 10K in 37:10. But my 15K was on a pancake flat course; this course was not. I figured if I could run 37:10, go ahead and try hard and dip into the 36's to make it a big PR. I would be content with 37's, but optimistically hoped for 36:59 (5:57 pace).

We had cool weather: overcast skies and 60s. It was a mass start for the 5K and 10K races at the same time. We all took off going slightly uphill. In the first quarter mile I was about in 12th place overall. After a half mile, I passed a group of 5K runners that had started too fast. I was now in 7th overall.

Near the top of the uphill, I moved into 6th ahead of a HS runner. On the downhill stretch towards the end of the first loop, he passed me back. He was surging towards his 5K finish.

There were no mile markers on the course so I had no idea what pace I was running. I knew I was pushing the pace pretty hard.

Finished the first loop in... 17:37. Holy cow. That's a bit fast. I hope I can hang on and run at least 19:22 for the second loop and still get in the 36's. That first loop is a new 5K PR for me (I don't race 5K's often either).

Now I know I'm in 3rd place for the 10K race. The 2 guys way ahead of me are uncatchable. Eventually, they'll finish in the low 33's. I'm in no-man's land again... out there by myself with a couple minutes of separation between any runners ahead or behind.

I keep pushing the pace uphill. I surge on the last 1.5 mile downhill. I come around the final grassy loop and hit the finish... 35:53.

Wow, did I surprise myself with that effort. I honestly didn't expect to get into the 36's due to the uphill drag on the course. But wow. I'm very, very pleased to nail down a big new PR.

EDIT: Well, two days later, I just found out, I'm not quite as fast as I thought I was. I was so surprised by my race that I emailed the race director to double-check to make sure the course was accurate. Come to find out, it was 2/10ths short. So evidently I ran 35:53 for 6 miles (5:59 pace) which would be the equivalent of a 37:10 10K.

Oh well. It's still a big PR that I'm happy to have. I really appreciate the RD being honest with me. When I plug those times into race calculators, that's a difference between a 2:48 marathon and a 2:55 marathon... and that's a huge difference. I easily could have gone out too fast in Boston based on this inaccurate 10K time and paid for it by crashing and burning at the end. Now I know what I can more reasonably expect to attempt in Boston.

My first 5K split would still be a PR... 17:37 for 3 miles (each loop was 1/10th short) is roughly the equivalent of an 18:10 5K (3.1 miles).

I'm still pleased with my effort on Saturday, even though I now know I can't leap tall buildings with a single bound without getting my cape caught! I continued my bad habit of not tapering for this race since I was training through this one towards Boston. Leading up to this 10K, I had already run 79.1 miles in 6 days since Sunday (including 24 on Sunday; 8x1mile @6:03 each on Tuesday; 16 miles with 14.1 @ 6:52 pace on Thursday).

It still was fun jumping from the 40's to the 37's at the 10K distance. PR-smashing is a lot of fun. The month of March has been very kind to me. New PR's for 5K (18:10), 10K (37:10), and 15K (57:45). But in a heartbeat, I'd trade all of these for a big PR at the Boston Marathon on April 16th. I ran 3 miles cool down after the race and another 12 easy recovery miles that night to give me 21.5 miles for the day. I sure am looking forward to Boston!