March 13 was the Achilles 5k.  One of the nice things about this race is the start/finish is only 500m from my condo, which made pre-race logistics super simple.  This would only be my second 5k race.  I did the Ajax 5k back in 2014 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon.  During that time I was completely focused on running, and I ran 17:17 at that race.  I haven’t done much high end speed work this year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I pulled sub18:00 out of thin air as the time I wanted to run.

*One thing I wanted to note, I do not think a hard 5k is easy given that most of my races are much longer.  A 5k run well really hurts.  It starts hurting early on and doesn’t stop until after the finish line.

Pre Race

The race didn’t start until 10:30, so I went for a swim before the race.  I really didn’t think a 30 minute swim a couple hours before the race would hurt my run, and it might even be a good warmup to get my heart pumping.  I had an english muffin after my swim, and then waited until about 10:15 to head over to the start.  I never do too much of a proper warmup before a race.  As I made the short run over to the start I accelerated to max speed a couple times.  I figured that was good.

The Race

I lined up near the front, the gun went and we were off.  I usually check my watch a lot when I run.  I calculate my pace, what pace I need to hold to finish in X time, etc.  I didn’t do that this race.  I checked my watch when it went off for km splits, but otherwise I just ran.  As I mentioned, I haven’t done much hard running, but I have done a lot of really hard bike workouts.  Early on as I settled into a pace I told myself this is just an FTP test; it’ll be done in less than 20 minutes, it’s going to hurt, and it may even hurt early, but you will make it.

The 5k was out and back in the shape of a ‘C’ on streets I was familiar with.  After the first couple hundred meters the race really thinned out in front of me.  There was a gap that had opened up in front of me of about 25m to the next runner.  As we ran along Wellington, the longest section of the course, the gap was holding at about the same distance.  I made it to the turnaround in about 8:28.  On the way back I began closing in on 3 runners in front of me.  I focused on running tall and kicking at the back of my stride to take full advantage of the tail-wind.  The runners just up the road were the carrot for me all the way back on Wellington, and I made it past them before we turned back onto Spadina.  At that point the next runner was well up the road and the wind was no longer at my back, it was just a matter of toughing it out for about 4 minutes to the finish.  I was red-lining all the way to the finish, and one of the guys I had passed on Wellington came back around me within sight of the finish line.  I was already going all out and had no response for him.  I crossed the finish line in 16:53, a new PB.

Coming into the finish (thanks for the photo Maria)

Coming into the finish (thanks for the photo Maria)

Result: 16:53, 3:23/km pace, 11th overall

Post Race Thoughts

I learned a bunch of things at this race:

  • I always believed the best way to run faster is run.  I still believe this to be true, but I now believe there is more carry over fitness from the bike that translates to the run than I once thought.
  • I should look at my watch less and run more.  Often in races I’m checking my watch every couple minutes to ensure my pace is steady.  I didn’t do that this time, I just ran.  I think that relying too heavily on my watch could hold me back at times if I’m seeing numbers I’m not used to seeing (i.e. pace under 3:30/km), especially in such a short race.
  • This result means that when I do get back to regular track workouts and intervals (which I plan to this week) I need to raise my expectations for my paces.  I find the mental aspect plays a major role in tough workouts.  I need to wrap my head around expecting to run some faster times in my speed work.