Thursday, September 20, 2007

JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (3.5M)

I wasn't planning on running this race, as I haven't raced anything under a 1/2 marathon in about 7 years and haven't done anything under a 10k in about 16 years, but my firm, more specifically, my office, appealed to my ego and asked that I represent my firm/office, as they knew that I could easily beat the fastest time from all of the other offices (24:50). So I decided to do it.

6:30pm last night at Crissy Field right next to the Golden Gate bridge. Very flat, simple 3.5 mile loop. I arrived and as soon as I got out of my car, I knew that I'd made a mistake in not bringing warmups. It was about 20 degrees colder than where I live and there was 20mph wind coming in from the ocean. Nice. Fortunately, we started and finished with a tailwind. However, the middle 1.75 miles were a little onerous.

Before I get to those miles, let me back up. This was not a chipped race. The only clock was the race clock, which meant that I was fighting 5000 other people to start up front. Lots of elbows. I was about 3 rows back, which was fine because there were some serious runners out. Like sub-5 minute mile runners. The last thing I wanted to do was get in their way.

The gun went off and off we went. First mile was at 5:58. I wanted it to be faster, but congestion and some tight turns slowed me down a little. Then we turned into the wind. I tried drafting, but the wind was whipping too much and each person I tried drafting off of was either too fast or too slow, so I ended up running the next 1.75 miles straight into the wind. Not too fun. I don't have my exact splits, but looking at my finish time, I'd say they were in the 6:25 - 6:33 range.

As I was approacing the turnaround, I saw the leaders headed back and they were seriously flying. I heard afterwards about the tactics employed and was pretty impressed. Apparently about a 1/4 mile before the turnaround, a breakaway into the wind occured. Then once at the turnaround, the 3 leaders really took off since they now had the wind at their back while everyone else was still headed into it. Smart tactics.

At the turnaround, I finally got the wind out of my face and picked it back up. At mile 3, I really picked it up because I wanted to beat 22 minutes. With about a 1/4 mile to go, I wanted to vomit and remembered why I don't really enjoy these shorter races. I finished in 21:48 for a 6:14 average.

I didn't push as hard as I could have, particularly during the headwind portion of the course and raced it more like a 10k, but was still ok with the time. I probably finished in the top 150, but won't know for sure for a couple of days.

EDIT: I finished 101st out of 5200


lisapow said...

Congrats ---I love running 5K - especially this run - how do you train to run faster??? I was in 5th place (but only out of 100) on my last race. How do I speed up??? I want to win one :)

PTC said...

Nice job on 5th place. Now you want to win. Well, to run fast, you've got to run fast, but not too often. How you run fast depends on what you're training for.

All speed work revolves around interval training. For a 5K, you'll need to do 400m and 800m repeats pretty much as fast as you can go (100% of MaxHR) once a week for the 6 to 8 weeks leading up to your race. If your regular training run pace is 9:00/mile, then I suspect you could do 400m in about 100 seconds.

Start off by doing just four of these and work your way up to 12 - 16. You should only give yourself about 30 seconds of rest between each one and two minutes of rest every fourth one. If you can't keep up the pace, then do less, but don't slow down. Only do this type of workout once a week.

On top of your interval training, you should have a day a week where you do your normal daily 4 - 6 mile run at or near race pace, but don't do this back to back with a speed workout. You need at least one, hopefully two recovery days (rest, slow run, cross train).

In addition, pick-ups (100m sprints) and heel kick and high knee drills will help with your form and your speed. Do these once or twice a week after a recovery day.

One other note. Focus on leg turnover rather than stride length. Your stride is your stride. Don't mess with it. Just stride faster.

Now this all changes with a marathon.