Expectations: Day 4

I’m not feeling very verbose today. Today’s run left a lot to be desired. I said yesterday that today would be another interval day. I forgot that I was going to try and find my race pace for the 5k distance. One of the books I’m currently reading requires a base line in order to track improvement. So instead of intervals, today was a “race”. Meaning, flat-out, 100% effort. I titled this post “Expectations” because I had a few going into today’s run. First off, I was expecting to PR the 5k distance. Secondly, I was hoping average about 7:00/mile for the duration of the run. Unfortunately, neither of these things occurred.

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I could make excuses all day as to why today’s run was worse than previous workouts. It was warm today. Unusually warm for February. It was windy. It was my sixth run this week. However you slice it, I just didn’t make it happen today. For any other runners out there, I’m sure you’ve experienced runs similar to this. Despite all your efforts and good intentions, things just don’t come together.

In the graph below you can see that I started out at about 6:45/mile. I made the mistake a lot of novice runners do and went out too fast at a pace I couldn’t maintain. The stats speak for themselves. I was only able to maintain that pace for a little over a mile before falling behind. From that point forward, I was disappointed to find how dependent my pace was on the elevation. Typically, I try not to let hills change my pace too much.

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On a brighter note, I did run my fastest mile ever today at 6:43/mile. My second mile split was a full 30 seconds per mile slower, and the third was another 10 seconds slower. Success was short lived.

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Lastly, here’s the breakdown of how long I spent in each speed “zone”.

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My final time was 3.1 miles in exactly 22:00. Only three seconds slower than my interval run on Day 2, but when feel like you’ve exerted 100% effort, it’s a bit discouraging. The outcome did get me thinking about various running styles, though. I spoke with a professor here in Stillwater who said by using the Galloway Method he ran his best marathon, finishing in 2:51. For those who haven’t heard, the Galloway method involves running a certain amount of time, followed by a short walking stint. I never seriously considered this method because once I start running, I like to keep it that way.

I like to run away from traffic and other distractions. I feel most connected with myself and my surroundings when I’m out in the country. There’s not a much better town than Stillwater for that, but if you’re looking for running trails, you’re in the wrong town partner. Last year on a 17 mile run I found myself about 4 miles outside of town when I saw lightning fairly close by. Not one to flirt with danger or 1 billion volts of electricity, I turned around and headed for shelter. I made it to good ol’ Boomer Lake just as the severe thunderstorm moved in. I have no qualms about running in the rain, but hail and lightning pose a threat that I’m not willing to chance. Drenched and about 8 miles into my 17 mile run the brunt of the storm was arriving. Either the winds picked up or I was running my fastest mile ever, in either case , it was difficult to see due to the rain. I was in an all out sprint towards the bathroom and made it just in time. Luckily, storms in Oklahoma are typically only a few minutes to a half hour in duration. I stood in the doorway of the bathroom, drenched, waiting for the storm to pass. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, it did. I wrestled my Camelbak back onto my shoulders and threaded the various cords that either provide nourishment (Cambelbak tube) or entertainment (earbuds) into their various locations. I emerged from the bathroom a new man. Or so I thought. I walked back to the trail ready to tackle the next 9 miles. I extended my leg and took the first stride. Welcomed by a dull pain in my knees that soon engulfed both of my legs, I finished all 17 miles. I have no problems admitting that I finished that run nearly in tears, averaging about 14:00/mile for the last mile. It was absolutely the worst run I’ve ever had.

Since then I’ve shied away from any workouts that involve a rest period. Once this train starts a rollin’, it isn’t stopping. That’s a very long-winded way of saying: I don’t like to stop. I first heard about the Galloway Method not long after this occurrence, which probably accounts for my hesitancy. After starting these interval workouts though, I’ve noted that as long as the legs keep moving, things will typically be okay. I’m not going to run out (sorry, unavoidable pun) and try this method for any of my marathons this year, but I think it would be interesting to compare results between a marathon run at a slightly slower consistent pace vs. a slightly faster pace with periods of walking. After all, my fastest 5k time occurred using a method in which periods of “rest” were interspersed. Either way, happy or unhappy, I’ve established my base-line for the 5k distance. 21:57 it is.

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