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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

5k time trial: still pretending to race!

On Tuesday I was talking to my training partners at the track and one asked, "Are you doing the time trial?" And that's how I learned we had a 5k time trial on Saturday morning. 

Of course I wanted to do it: I am grasping at any chance to race, or pretend to race, or test my fitness. I didn't think I was in ideal 5k shape, after all the short repeats we had done for mile training over the summer (the Tuesday before the time trial we did a workout that included 800s, and I felt like they were so incredibly LONG for a repeat!). But with so few chances to "race", I was game anyway. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold (thanks, daycare!). I felt crummy enough that I almost skipped the time trial, but I knew I needed to take the opportunity to see where my fitness was at. So I dragged myself over anyway.*

A group of us - maybe 12 people total? - showed up at the park for the warmup. Rich and Will had just finished marking the course. There is a certified 5k course in Audubon park with precise measurements which made this easy. Many races run the course, so we all knew what to expect (I remember running a small race one time that mis-measured the course. It was long, and the turnaround cone was past where it should be, and I knew immediately the course would be long: I knew exactly where that cone should be!). We did a little under two miles to warm up, and I also found a convenient bush...bathrooms are still closed at Audubon (I have no idea why: even the playgrounds have reopened by now, and I think we would all appreciate a bathroom!). Coach Jimi came out to time us, and right as we lined up, he was about to call the start, it began to rain. This was entirely unexpected: the forecast said 0% chance of rain! 

Rainy conditions for a TT

I was in a funny position at the start: ahead of my normal workout group, and following Jeff, Pou, and Paul - but following pretty far behind. We were immediately spaced out, given the wide range of our abilities and the small size of the group. I wasn't looking at my watch, just trying to run by feel, and hopefully key off other runners in the group. I was hoping to be close to Jeff and Pou, but as we settled into position, I realized Jeff was a lot more fit than I was, and was definitely out of reach. Paul and Pou were close behind him, so I was alone. The first mile beeped at 6:03, and I realized I had let the faster group pull me to much; I would pay for that, now! 

It wasn't bad weather, but it was kind of warm, humid, and rainy, and footing was a bit slippery. We were, of course, dodging walkers and runners, but the rain actually kept the park a bit more empty than usual. So in a way, it helped us. As I approached the turn around cone, I saw Jimi was there calling out times. I missed mine because I was trying to navigate a sudden crowd of walkers, the turn-around, and my other teammates coming the opposite direction. Kir, local runner and marathon Olympic Trials qualifier, had come out to cheer and she was at the turnaround, too. I cheered on the teammates who were behind me, then re-grouped for the second half: the distance between Pou and I was shrinking. When my watch beeped for the second mile at 6:12, I realized I'd lost a lot of time at the turnaround point. Plus, I was letting those around me set my pace: they were slowing, and I was maintaining our relative positions instead of overtaking them. Bad racing! I'm out of practice! I picked it up and passed Pou, who didn't stay with me, and then worked on catching Paul, who was far ahead. At least I had Paul in my sights, because otherwise, this time trial was getting less and less like a race and more like a solo run in the park. I passed Paul before the three-mile mark, which I hit at 6:07, then leisurely jogged it in (well ok I picked it up a little, but not much). I definitely was out of gas, but I could see the cone up ahead and a glance at my watch showed that I was close to 19, and I definitely wanted to break 19. I sped up enough to hit my goal and crossed in 18:56. 

That would be a PR if it was a real race, but it's not - I don't ever seem to get a fast 5k in a race. I have run under 19 in a 10k, in a workout, and in a time trial, but never a 5k race! I was glad to get under 19, but I'd like to run closer to 18:30, which I think it totally doable. I only need 5 or 6 seconds per mile. Honestly, slightly better weather or an actual race would probably get me 5 seconds per mile! So next REAL 5k I run, I hope to be able to shoot for something even faster, depending on my fitness at the time. 

Next time I will also hopefully feel better. The cold I had got worse as the day progressed, and actually, I ended up taking a sick day the next week I felt so bad. Feeling crummy, plus being out of the racing habit, probably affected my strategy. I obviously made some mistakes pacing and following others. 

The rest of the group had mixed results - Tom, Paul, Pou, and Jonathon were disappointed; Will and Michelle killed it. Jeff ran 17:55, his first sub-18! 

Anyone else running any time trials during COVID times? Alone, or with others? How did you motivate yourself? 

* I felt totally crappy, but it wasn't COVID - I got tested (I have to for work!)


  1. Wow! That's a great time! It has been really hard for me to push myself lately because of the lack of real races! I've got to do better!

  2. Dang, that is an amazing time especially feeling under the weather! Well well well done!! Bummer about the daycare cold, though. Those first 12 months of daycare are tough. You really build up an immune system. I hope the baby has done ok. Paul got an ear infection the 2nd week he was in daycare and then had an infection or fluid in his ears for 3 months until he got tubes. :/ I'm hoping #2 has better anatomy and doesn't need tubes.

  3. Woohoo! You definitely can get that sub 19 in a real race, you just need for a real race opportunity and decent weather. And the fact that you did it in non-ideal weather speaks volumes. I think 18:30 is an attainable goal for you and I hope you crush it!