This post is the first of three that detail my running of a 5k last weekend.
Saturday I ran my first competitive race of the year, the Texas Med Center 5k. Last year I PRed in this race with a time of 21:43, thus meeting my 2010 goal of running a 5k race under 22:00. This year my training runs had been coming in around 22:00 so I didn’t think this would be the race at which I would meet my 2011 goal of running a 5k race under 21:00. However, I did think I could PR again so I set the following goals for this race:
2. Chip time < 21:40
3. Run final km faster than any other kms
4. Run final 250m < 0:55
To accomplish these goals I planned to run my first four kms at a 4:22 pace. The fifth km would be at a 4:22 pace until the final 250m, at which point I would kick it. This kick should result in a 54-56 second final quarter km rather than the 66 second quarter km that would result from staying on the 4:22 pace.
As I didn’t think I could push the pace much lower than 4:22 for the rest of the race and keep it up, this last kick was going to be especially crucial – the 10-12 seconds it would shave off my time would be the difference between setting a new Personal Record and failing to do so. I knew from my training that I had the capability to execute such a kick so I turned to nutrition to ensure that my body would have all the resources it needed on race day.
I consulted with the experts at The SHOP about my race week nutrition program. They refreshed my memory about the different energy systems involved in such a race (aerobic, using oxygen and fat for most of the race, then anaerobic lactic acid using glycogen for the final kick). In a race as short as a 5k there clearly wasn’t a need to engage in carbo loading (the efficacy of which has been questioned anyway) but I would still want to ensure that my body came into the race with as much glycogen stored as possible to fuel me for that last kick. We also modified my daily breakfast a bit for more balance of carbs, protein, and fat, resulting in me feeling fuller and more energetic throughout the rest of my days.
The day before the race I rested, hydrated, and drove along the race course with my GPS on so I could visualize the km markers and get a feel for the changes in elevation (which were almost non-existent). We attended a Symphony performance that night (a whole evening of Ravel!), which kept me out a bit later than optimal but also ensured that I was relaxed when I went to bed.
When I woke up at 5 I really had to go to the bathroom, so I knew that I was well hydrated – but not so much so that it had woken me up in the night – resulting in good, uninterrupted rest. I usually get up at 6 but I like to start race day breakfast early just to ensure that digestion has plenty of time to complete – I never want to be blindsided by indigestion in the middle of a race and far away from the nearest bathroom!
Race start time was 8:30 and I arrived a little later than intended, about 8:10. It then took awhile to park, which stressed me out a bit. Note for next year: arrive by 8! The outside temperature was about 36 degrees F but rising quickly due to the clear, sunny skies. At this temperature (and based on memories of last year’s race, which was COOOOOOOOOLD and windy / wet), I arrived really bundled up: Under Armour Cold Gear leggings + long sleeve mock, shorts, gloves, wool cap, and – of course – my Vibram Five Fingers Bikila running “shoes.” As I got out of my parked car (T – 10 min until start, ahhh!), I could feel that, regardless of what the thermometer said, it was way too warm for all that insulation! I ditched the cap and gloves and jogged to the start line.
While waiting for the starting gun, I could tell that there were many walkers / slow runners far forward (In larger races they are staged to start later than the competitive runners.) so I made sure to line up pretty close to the starting line. After the gun went off, it was only two seconds or so until I crossed the starting line and my timing chip registered that I was “in play.” I hit the “start” button on my Garmin ForeRunner 405 CX (GPS / heart rate monitor watch) and I was off!