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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rollercoaster weekend

This weekend I did two things:
1. Ran the worst 5k of my life
2. Ran the best 20 miler of my life

So, the 5k. It was the hot and humid Crescent City Fall Classic 5k, a corral qualifier for the CCC 10k in April. And...I didn't qualify for the B corral. I MISSED THE 20 MINUTE CUT OFF. What the heck!?
Still smiling pre-race, showing off my brand-new kit!
BTW the shorts SUCK.

I just had a terrible race. I was late, I couldn't find my bib (we had group pick up as part of a registration contest for local schools, and I was so late that my friend giving out the bibs had already started his warm up), and it was hot. Then, I picked the wrong shoes. I wore the same shoes as I had on for last week's half marathon, and they are too soft and mushy for a shorter distance. And I had no leg turnover. I never got my pace under 6:20, and ran 20:01. I couldn't believe it. Worst of all, I felt sick after it, like I'd run as hard as I ever have. It was so bizarre. I was coming off a week of high mileage, I'd raced the weekend before, and I had an extremely stressful work week: I think I was just exhausted. I might be teetering on overtraining, actually. I'll see how next week goes and assess then (we had 63 miles this week and 64 planned for next week. Can I push through, or will I be overwhelmed with fatigue? Time will tell!)

The very next morning, I had a 20 miler. And not just any old 20 miler: ten easy, seven aerobic, and 3 marathon pace, all with no fuel. The day promised to be another hot one, so we met earlier than usual: 5:30 am. I had to use David's GPS watch, an older Soleus that I am unfamiliar with, because mine was on the fritz again. It wouldn't take a charge! So once again, it was a mostly-by-feel run, since I couldn't figure out how to view any pace except instant pace. I ran with Dave and Kevin for the first ten miles, although they were a tad faster than my easy pace - we changed up the route a bit to add some miles, and I didn't want to get lost. Their aerobic pace, however, is significantly faster than mine, so I was on my own for the final ten. At 17 miles, I was almost to Audubon park. I took a salt tablet, chugged some water, and got ready to suffer through three marathon pace miles. But it was no big deal. I easily ran faster than marathon pace, hitting 6:50's even while heading home on St. Charles, which is a tad more challenging than the park. I ended up with 20 miles at 7:28 pace, which is the fastest I've ever run a 20-miler. But even more importantly, I felt strong at the finish.

So what gives? Am I so marathon-trained that I can't run 5ks anymore? Why such a huge discrepancy in my abilities? Have you ever run a marathon and found that your shorter races suffered drastically?


  1. It's all individual, but for me:
    1) I can't race my best at any distance shorter than a marathon when marathon training.
    2) It takes me about 10 days to recover from a half-marathon raced all out. No way I could run a fast 5K a week later.

  2. My 5K PR kind of sucks compared to longer distances and I can't decide if that's because I've never focused on the 5K or if constant marathon training has ruined me for it haha. That is actually one of my major goals for this winter, to get some speed back! I bet the high mileage week/overall training load impacted you more than you realized too - I feel like top end speed is the first thing to disappear when I'm fatigued!

  3. I'm with Darkwave on this one. Also, curious why you didn't have fuel for the 20 miler? I know some people believe in emptying the fuel stores, but I think you also don't recover as well if you don't fuel.

  4. Hmm, good question. I think it's for reasons of "learn to burn fat so you don't bonk", but I am just blindly following right now with little thought. I didn't notice a slow recovery Sunday, but maybe I just wasn't thinking about it!