haha.. Jackie called me a ‘freak of nature’ recently for running hard runs/races 2 weeks out from a marathon and maybe it fits. But I was thinking (during a run of course) that we all are freaks of nature. Like snowflakes no two runners are exactly alike due to genetics, environment, training, mental toughness and a slew of other factors. So we try to figure out what works for us and/or sometimes we are superstitious creatures of habit. 😉 whatever the reason I keep getting drawn back to run the Carlsbad 5000 a few weeks before the Boston Marathon. I have run this race 4 times starting in ’09 (16:40), ’10 (17:25), ’11 (16:49) ’13 (16:45).
My two fastest years, ’09 and ’13 were age group wins and then I went on to win at Boston.  Since I would love to make this year a hat trick I have been focusing some energy on this little Carlsbad race. Sure I’ve been in the thick of marathon training but I have still been doing a little bit of 5K speed work and taking a spin class every week for some additional VO2max training.

I’ve been taking spin for a long time but this class is unique with power meters and the results/rankings on a couple flat screens at the front of the studio. Bikes are numbered so you can compete against your buds and it turns into a great VO2max workout without the stresses of running VO2max workouts. I’ve hit some near max HR’s in there so I know I’m working hard and could see improvements in the total power output, max output etc over the course of a couple months.

Another workout that seemed to help at Carlsbad was a few downhill runs at 10K to 5K paces. We have a  5 mile route with close to 4 miles downhill and we shuttle back up to run it twice. I hit this really hard about 2 weeks ago and my quads were sore for 4 days. The upshot was once they healed my legs felt more bullet proof and I wasn’t sore after my Carlsbad race.

I’m near the end of marathon training for Boston (still have a 20 w/16MP to run this Saturday) but I did do a couple 5K workouts in March .. 8×800’s or 6×800 with 4×400 to work on turnover and getting used to the 5K discomfort. I averaged 2:40 for the 800’s and 75 sec 400’s. But otherwise just lots of tempo, long hills workouts, 20 to 24 milers, about 80 to 90 on my better weeks but not afraid to take a day off here and there.

The night before the race I played with numbers on my pace spreadsheet because I think it’s always important to have a target. The 27:54 Brea 8K I ran late Feb predicted a 16:57 5K. But that course had a pretty significant hill and I wasn’t in top shape. So based on the fastest 800’s I ran I picked 5:19 pace (16:33 time). It was a pretty aggressive goal but think you can be pretty aggressive in a 5K.

The race itself went close to plan. Through the first mile in 5:15 (taking advantage of the faster profile of the first mile) Then it was time to try to hold on and trust the marathon training endurance.  Shortly after the first 180 degree turn 3 local runners (who are faster than me at the shorter races) pulled alongside and moved ahead.  I wanted to hold onto them but also didn’t want to blow up and this was the part of course with a slight upgrade.

Mile 2 came through at 5:21 (about 10:35 on the clock) and a PR was possible if I kept the turnover high enough and stayed focused.  After the second 180 degree turn (mile 2.5) I started to close in on some of the guys that had passed me earlier and we started to get pretty close to the final turn which was my signal to add the rest of coals to the fire (not that there was much left). After the turn was the 3 mile clock and it still had a 15:5x something on it .. and I think I passed it just shortly after it turn to 16 minutes. Mile 3 was another 5:21 garmin split. The final downhill stretch was a close battle with another runner and until I see the pics I’m not sure who crossed first.  The final .13 on the garmin came out to 4:54 pace.  After getting my lungs back into my chest I checked my garmin .. it said 5:19 overall pace! But official time of 16:34 is 5:20 pace so just missed it. 😉

Bonus was getting to shake Bernard Lagat’s hand as he slowly went along the fence after his 13:19 American record race.

16:34 PR
1st place AG (out of 167)
20 out of 1269 (Masters race)
Age Graded Score 93.55% (Age grade PR)
HR ave 171, 178max