Tuesday, August 24

VTS Race #8: 5,000m (Fugly)

I’ve participated in enough races to fully appreciate and understand a few of the finer points concerning: pacing, attitude, fitness and desire. My summary, “you can’t run fast unless you run fast”. This all too obvious statement usually requires a certain amount of attitude (belief in oneself), fitness and race smarts. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.

After returning from our first camping trip (with children) and only moments prior to toeing the line I had enough wherewithal to draft out a rough race plan. Based on my recent mile, the McMillan Calculator predicted a 5,000m time of 17:17. I was hoping to run something faster, ideally closer to 17:00 but settled on sub 17:10... for no reason other than an unfounded belief that I was entitled to run faster. My pace/km was 3:26.

I chatted with the eventual winner (and perpetual superstar) Lucy Smith just before the start and knew that she was aiming to hold 3:25s with the thought being able to slip under 17:00 if the conditions were right. Sure, why not I thought. I was completely surprised then when instead of a moderate 81”-82” opening 400m, we cruised through in 78”. At that moment I knew I had to either, a) run with it and accept the result that fate would deliver or b) slow down. I choose poorly.

We spilt the opening kilometre in 3:23 the whole time alternating 400s as there was a wickedly strong wind on the backstretch. We continued this pattern through 2,400m, after which all I could do was squeak out a weak apology between gasps and wait for the inevitable.

The train wreck was excruciating. Despite trying to hold my form (the usual smooth stride and relaxed shoulders) it felt as if I was running uphill, into the wind with wet sneakers. In the end I crossed the line in the predicted 17:17 but couldn’t help but think of the possibility that existed had I run a smart race. Still, the result was far better than my first 5,000m in May (17:40) and a further improvement over the 17:24 run in June.

The carnage: 3:23, 3:24, 3:28, 3:35 & 3:27

Enough of this, back to vacation for a couple more weeks...

Training: VTS #8: 5,000m, 17:17.0, 3:27/km, 5:34/mi, 2nd OA

Thursday, August 12

The Dog Days of Summer

Following the birth of our second child, together with a busy work schedule and preparing for (and hosting) my mom’s 65th birthday celebration it seems that my running has been negligently pushed to the back-burner. That said, given a 3,000m race on Saturday followed by the final race of the Victoria track Series the following week (5,000m)... perhaps a little downtime isn’t a bad idea.

I’ve still been able to maintain some consistency (if nothing but the 20’+ run to work) but the first three days of this week have been rather underwhelming with respect to the volume. Preparation for an autumn half-marathon should change that in short order.

Yesterday I was scheduled to run a series of 800s and 200s but was once again forced to improvise as stepping on a track seems more difficult than in prior years. After warming up for 20’ I opted for an additional 20’ of easy running, as the sleepless nights appear to be taking their toll. Corbin has been, and continues to be a calm and quiet child (in stark contrast to his sister), but the cumulative fatigue that accompanies all new parents continues to build.

However, once in the midst of the workout I was surprised at just how comfortable I felt. Sadly, running a 30” effort along the tranquil trail behind my house is a tad less subjective than the track.

Aug 09: easy 23:02
Aug 10: day off (unscheduled)
Aug 11: 1:10:57 w/ 3x(2.5’ (30”), 1’ (30”) 1’)(2.5’)
Aug 12: easy 24:21

Tuesday, August 3

VTS Race #6: the Mile (again)

There are certain events in life where familiarity or experience can help bread a sense of calm. Competing in the mile isn’t one of them. And so it was that on a warm Saturday evening in late July, I found myself again pacing nervously, almost painfully as I waited to be called to the line.


Unlike last time there was no hesitation upon hearing the sound of the gun, rather the sharp noise brought almost instantaneous relief. Bolting clear from the line I immediately found myself out front and for the duration of the event was unaware of the other competitors. As I rounded the first corner and despite strangely heavy legs, I repeatedly told myself to slow down knowing that the initial rush that accompanies the burning off of the excitement and fear would soon be over.

Much like last time, the first 200m went by dizzily fast. I glanced at my watch, 37.5... and again much like last time, I had difficulty finding meaning in the split. The additional 9m at the beginning made the opening leg meaningless.

I heard the crowd as I passed the start, alone, the announcer educating the spectators that if I were to continue this pace I ‘may’ sneak under 5:00. I also heard for the first and last time a single high-pitched voice, “go daddy, go”.

“… 1:15 …”

I rounded the corner again and began my journey down the backstretch for the second time. It was about after 500m that it started... the all too familiar acid strain, my systems beginning to panic, organs shutting down for the duration. My legs started to get the first wave of lactic numbness. I don’t recall much else but a numbed sense of hurting.

“… 2:30 …”

Starting the third lap, I was really feeling it now, a sense of fear and dread knowing that I still had a long way to go. Just before the 1,000m mark I started my kick. Probably nothing noticeable but I didn’t want to slip off the pace. My shoulders now ached.

As I sped down the homestraight, the lactic acid was boiling. I remember the announcer, Paul telling the crowd that I was still on pace for a sub-5:00 mile, an important and hard fought barrier for the mile. Then the bell rang out.

“… 3:45 ...”

I rounded the corner and ran onto the backstretch for the last time. With about 200m remaining I was finally tying up. I was fighting fiercely to maintain form, trying valiantly to lift my ears off my shoulders. I recalled something Ron had yelled during the final lap of my last race and with great effort and determination pumped my arms fiercely. I pumped harder still, trying to concentrate as my headed rocked.

I could see the clock in the distance. Paul had the crowd cheering, as I tried to make sense of the number. I knew it would be close. I was completely numb, a world of pain. I would find out later that I crossed the line with a time of 5:00.5, half a second off my goal. It looks like I’m going to have to wait for until next season to have a crack at this again. Bugger. That said, I didn’t walk away empty handed as I won an adidas watch. Oh, and next time, I’m running in the elite race... although I would’ve come last I can only hope I that by chasing someone’s coattail I might have found the time I needed.

Training: VTS #6: mile, 5:00.5, 3:06/km, 5:00/mi, 1st OA