Saturday, January 1, 2011

Calgary Resolution Run - Race review

So yesterday was my second 5k and my first attempt at breaking the 30 minute mark. I know it's in all your minds, and the question is: did I do it? Well... kind of.

(Warning, this is a long post, so if you just want results, skip to the last couple paragraphs.)

I spent the day yesterday obsessing about my run. The race was at 6:00 pm and I've decided that I will need a very good reason to do another evening race. I get race day nerves and I do better when I can wake up early, eat a solid breakfast and then get ready to go. Instead I had to obsess about what I ate all day long and try to find ways to occupy myself. My husband will attest to the fact that I'm pretty useless when I get into stressed out, anxious mode.

Anyways, the day moved on despite me and before long we were packing the kids up and driving into the city. Spud was very excited about the race and Sweetpea was excited about the horn and tambourine she got to play with. The race took place downtown Calgary, at a location with an indoor playground, which was ideal for us. We arrived nice and early and let the kids play.

Before the race, I met up with Jen and some of the other people we've been running with on Sundays. We were also supposed to connect with Nicole and Jarrett, but they ran into traffic trouble and parking issues. I was lucky enough to see them after the race to say hello.

Before long, it was time to line up for the race. I headed out to the start line, a red blow up arch that is the same one running room used for the "run without borders" that I did. I knew I wanted to get a good start, so I tried to line up near the start while leaving room in front of me for the truly fast runners to get in.

Oops! Turns out that the start and finish line weren't the same for this race! I certainly wasn't the only one that didn't know this as everyone was directed around the corner to a different starting point. I managed to squeak forward a bit, but I was now one third to halfway back. My family was also no where to be seen. We had agreed that I would start off on one side so that my kids could see me running off, but there was no way to communicate the change to them in time.

Somebody said a bunch of incomprehensible stuff into a loud speaker and then blew the horn. This race wasn't officially timed, so I knew I'd be timing myself. Everyone shuffled forward and as I crossed the start line, I started my garmin and I tried to start running.

Try is the key word. The shuffle just continued and it seemed that most people had no intention of doing anything other then shuffle. Why were these people near the front?!

I was hoping to hold a pace of about 5:45/km, which would give me my sub-30 time, while maintaining a bit of a buffer.

At one point, a spot seemed to open in front of me, but just as I tried to pick up some speed, I found myself blocked by a three legged runner. Seriously. Remember those games on sports day in school where two of you tied a leg to each other? Okay. I can accept that you want to have fun, but if you're going to do that, stay at the back!

Then I almost tripped over a little dog as it darted off to the side of it's owner. Wrong place for your dog, lady. Seems like a good way to get a 1o pound dog trampled.

The first couple minutes was spent zig-zagging and trying to get around walkers that were walking 3 people wide and then there was someone that stopped randomly to stretch. It was completely blowing my time and I knew I was going to have to make it up somehow to meet my time goal.

Finally I ended up in a group of people that were at least running. I was kind of stuck in that group for a bit, and even though we were running, I knew I still wasn't going fast enough. Sure enough, when I checked my garmin, I was at a 6:30/km pace.

I had to make up time.

In doing so, I made a huge mistake. I tried to run fast. Much faster then I am capable of sustaining. In reviewing my pacing during that first km, it was totally erratic. The first minute I barely broke a 12:00/km pace. The second minute, my pace bounced up and down between about 8:00/km and 4:30/km. After that, I picked up the speed and still finished that first km in 6:08 - meaning I had run a lot of it at about a 5:00/km pace. Too fast for me.

I knew I had to pace myself better, but I was still hoping to make up time. A bit past the 1 km mark, the course looped around and passed near the start/end point where my family had come to see me. I continued to run at about a 5:30/km pace until I came forward to see my family. I tried to give Spud a high five, but he got excited to see me and came running forward for a hug. Of course Sweetpea needed one too. It cost me about 10 seconds, but that is a 10 seconds I'm willing to give up. I did get in the way of other people though, one of which I knew. Sorry Deon! I hope the rest of the race was good for you!

After that point, I was back on my own and I knew I had to get into a more sustainable pace. My heart rate was way higher then usual and I was suffering. I tried to moderate my pace a bit. I started thinking that if I could hold to a 6:00/km pace, I could make up a bit of time in the last km.

I finished the second km (still dodging people) in exactly 6 minutes. During the third km, I started feeling like I was going to puke. There were a couple spots on the pathway that I could see were icy, and I easily side stepped them. At least the route went along well lit areas. I considered walking, but I reminded myself of a quote I like: "pain is temporary, pride is forever". I finished the third km in 6:10. Too slow.

During the fourth km, I was having trouble breathing and was starting to feel like my body was going to give out on me. I simply couldn't keep going at the pace I had been going. I think I had partially burnt myself out when I tried to make up time at the beginning and then I just couldn't hold to a steady pace.

I started to walk.

The last time I did a 5k, I was completely adverse to walking. It was critically important to me that I didn't walk at all. Because of that, I didn't push myself hard at all for that race. This time, it was important to me that I pushed myself to my limit. It seems I did that, even if I reached my limit faster because of poor choices earlier on.

I walked for about 10 seconds, then started running again. It wasn't enough. My heart rate was still going haywire. It was around 180, when it is usually 150ish for an easy run and 160ish when I push myself. I decided to walk until my heart rate got down to 150.

It took almost a minute of walking and then I started running again. I let myself find my stride without looking at my garmin at first. I settled in at a pace of 6:30 for a little bit. I finished that km in 6:28.

I knew at this point that a sub-30 5k wasn't likely. Once I passed the 4km mark though, I decided to push myself again. Regardless of any time goals, my biggest desire for this race was to finish strong, feeling like I had pushed myself. With only a km left, I figured I could go all out because I didn't have to sustain it long.

The route took us up over a couple bridges through Prince's Island park. As I got closer I started to realize something: the course was short. It had to be. I was close, so close and my garmin was still ticking well under 30 minutes. I realized in that moment that I might still be able to make it past the finish line before it hit that mark.

I turned a corner and I saw the clock by the finishing line. 29:50 (my garmin was lower because I didn't actually start it until I crossed the start line.) I realized that I could cross the finish line before the blinking numbers said 30.

I sprinted full out. My garmin actually claims I hit a pace under 3:00/km in this section (I question whether I was actually quite that fast). I passed the finish line as those numbers said 29:58 and my Garmin said 29:37.

The course was only 4.83 km long. So, the question is:

Does it count?

We're talking about a personal best, so I'm the only one that gets to decide that. I've debated whether to count it or not, despite the short course. Ultimately, there are a couple factors that have made my decision for me: When I ran my 10k race, the course was almost a half a km long. I counted my time (and PB for the 10k distance) as the time I passed the finish line. Doing that in this race won't hurt me to the point that I can't beat it again somewhere else. Between the dodging at the beginning and my poor pacing, I feel certain that I have an even better time in me for a future race. I've decided to count the "gun" time.

So, I finished the race in 29:58, a personal best, and a sub-30 time.


  1. Congrats!!! Details aside, that is def a great time. lol. Seems like with all of the obstacles you had starting off that people were lining up way too near the front; I mean the three legged runner... PLEASE!! They need to be near the back. :-)

  2. Great race report and congrats on a great race and a sub 30 5k!

  3. It stuns me that the three-legged runners were in the middle/front of the pack at the start. If it weren't so silly, it would just be plain rude.

    Congrats on the PR!

  4. Great race and congrats on your PR!! It was lots of fun meeting you and chatting after the race.

  5. Oh I was the opposite of you for this race! I was glad it was in the evening because I worked all day so that kept my mind off the race. Plus I do most of my runs in the evening so it "felt" more like a training run than a race. And it's always a bonus when I don't have to wake up early for a race!!

  6. Great to read that you're still so committed to your sport. ATHLETE!!! You're amazing!

    Happy 2011!



  7. I too was in this race, and luckily managed to be at the front at the start.
    I was also surprised that the course fell short! I was very happy with my Garmin time of 27:03, but felt a bit cheated that it wasn't the full 5km. So in my head I just added 1:30 because (calculating my average pace), and figure I would have completed a 5KM at 28:33. Good enough, :)

    Curious, did you find any parts of your body that did not warm up? My legs were freezing through the entire race. This was the first time I ran in anything below zero.

    Thanks for the great read!

  8. WTG Deb! Fantastic time and I would totally count it. Think of it this way. If you didn't have the Garmin to tell you it was short a bit, would you have known?

  9. Congrats on a strong finish and yeah I'd count it. Every race is different and you'll learn a bit from each one, that will make you a better runner and a better racer.


  10. It totally counts! You paced yourself based on assuming it was a full 5k. When you gave'r at the end, you thought it would be 5. And HECK YEAH you did it in the amount of time you alloted for that course. Nice run!

  11. I've decided that it's not a good idea to set your hopes on a PR at a RR race... like we talked about, they're not quite organized enough! Between the start line mixup and the crowds, you can't expect too much.
    You did great though!
    And it was great to meet you (in person!)