My first race of the year got off to a rough start. I had no desire to even write about it but I decided years ago to share all race experiences- good or bad so I guess it’s time to get around to this one!
Last year I loved the One Hour Track Run. I had a great race and stayed focused and in the zone the entire race. I ended up running 38 laps and averaged a 6:14 pace. For whatever reason I went into the race this year assuming I could do better. Why not up the ante a little? It was the classic case of going out too fast and fading in the final miles. It felt terrible and I hated watching my time get worse with each passing minute. The end of the race could not come soon enough. I finished 37.5 laps and was done. The worst part was knowing that I had a better race in me but I blew it by not pacing it right.
My coach gave me some good insight on what happened. I never thought about the science behind it all but after he explained it it made much more sense. Basically lactate threshold is the pace your body can hold for an hour at all out effort. It’s the highest point your blood lactate can hold elevated steady state amount (approx 4 mml). My LT pace is around 6:14-6:15. He said that when I went out 4-7 sec too fast per mile on the first 3 miles that my blood lactate probably slowed to 5 mml. At 5 mml my lactate threshold slowed to 6:20-6:30 pace. “The tough thing about races 15k-half marathon distance is that if you spike the lactate too early, you can never recover because you are at or near LT the whole way. Running a whole hour with blood lactate over 5 mml most of the way is rough.” (Mark Hadley)
After talking with my coach I was determined to run smarter in my next race which would be the perfect comparison. The River Trail 15k is almost identical in distance. (Both races actually measured 9.4 miles on my watch.) The River Trail has some rolling elevation but I know the course well. This was actually my 6th year in a row to run it. Last year I set my personal course PR with a 58:31. (6:14 average) Going into the race this year I knew I wouldn’t try to compete with last year. Sure, it could happen but I needed to stay focused and run a smart race. Bottom line: I could not go out too fast again! Mission accomplished! Official Finish time of 2017- 58:35 (6:14 avg.)
Do you see the difference in my first 5k pacing? It really paved the way for a strong middle and last 5k section. I ended up running better splits than last year. My last mile was the fastest I have ever run on that course. I felt SO MUCH better at the finish of this one (mentally and physically) than I did just 7 days earlier at the one hour track run.
“Banking time” for later is a painful way to finish a race and in my experience it usually backfires! My mission this year is to race smart. II’ve learned that I feel so much better (physically and mentally) when I negative split and finish strong.
John wasn’t at either of these races so I don’t have any (running) race pictures. I do have a few from afterwards with the kids. My middle two children ran in the One Hour Track Run and did great. It was a distance PR for them both. Afterwards we stopped by our favorite hamburger joint in Russellville.
My son (who decided to go for Iron Runner this year) ran in the River Trail 15k with me. It was the longest distance he’d ever run by more than 2 miles! After I finished my race I jogged back in my cool-down to find him. We ran his last mile and a half together. So proud of him for setting a goal and working towards it this year.