Sunday, 13 March 2016

Saint Patrick's 5k Surprise

An annual tradition, and usually a time trial on my way to the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon weekend. The build-up had a few twists, some of them literally. 

The colour of the wedges is just a coincidence. Far more deliberate have been my efforts at doing exactly as I'm told by my physio, whom I'd been going to for a month before race day.
The aim has been to fix an imbalance. I've been working on rolling my right foot in more, activating my inner right hip, boosting my core strength and improving gait efficiency. Running less like a crab in other words. Some exercises seem to be trying to address everything on the list all at once. While looking like a fraudulent guru. 
I've still been permitted to run, making sure I ask what limits to impose. With all the snow and ice gone, all a runner wants to do is go long, go fast, and go often. 

So, no speed work since early February, only recently up to 3 runs per week and none longer than 11k. I would've been pessimistic about speed endurance in a 5k but for one thing: I had noticed that I was getting much quicker uphill, almost effortlessly so. I believed that to be my imagination until Strava started telling me otherwise. 

All that added up to the usual pre-race conclusion: no real clue how well I would do. A PB was of course not going to happen, but I might just get under 20 minutes. There are 2 inclines of note, so I should handle those better than prior years. 

Start at Tickover
Late to line up and some questionable self-seeding had me starting a bit further back than I wanted. 
The start was more of a jog than a run.
Spotting an opening, I steamed up the left. "Almost there!" yelled my good buddy Rich, who came armed with a Super Mario sign. 

The Mental-list
First k done in 3:50, quicker than I had thought. Into the second turn, a quick evaluation: big-ish downhill should get me to the halfway point in under 10:00. 
Before the descent, with the exception of the start, my only 2 position changes of the race: a couple of guys who had oversped at the beginning. 
"A go-pro!" yelled a marshal. Km2 was a gravity-assisted 3:46. The turnaround breaks up momentum, and I assumed I would struggle to regain the same pace. 
Just as I saw a giant plush toy come past the other way, my watch said 3:58 for the third kilometre.  

Gump and Dump
Forrest Gump and posse joined from the 10k race, which had started 20 minutes earlier. They left me trailing. 
Back up the same hill again, and I assumed that here I'd be giving away enough time to push me over 20:00 for the race. I did the 4th k in 4:20, though I don't remember looking at my watch at the time. 

Finishing Girl Power 
Rounding the last corner, then the final descent, I could hear quick feet and quick breathing. Turning around, it was a couple more 10k runners. I recognized the lady for winning a 5 Peaks race I did last year. I tried to follow as she overtook, but couldn't quite live with her pace. 

I had assumed it was all academic anyway - my pace up the hill and decision to run comfortably hard after it led me to believe I was going to get a nice 20:20. Then with the finish line clock reading about 19:45, I found myself 30 or so metres from the finish:
Hold this pace just 10 seconds more, and Mount Improbable is yours. That takes more than 10 seconds to actually say, I believe the thought that came into my head was, "er...yes". Listening to the video (link below), I let out a sigh at the line. 
19:56 gun time. I would've been happy with over 20 minutes, but was thrilled to beat it for the third St Patrick's time. 
Before being thrilled, I melodramatically flopped over the side fencing to correct an oxygen deficit. 
I had signed up for the result text message, so as soon as I got hold of my phone it said:
AG second? A bit random (given I placed 17th overall), but I'll take it as a reward for my rebalancing efforts and for obeying the physio. 

Unraveling the Mystery 
I took advantage of a different physio at the after party. Wow, that sounds terrible. No, not like that. 
Moving on. I'm just wondering, is the above the face of success, or the below?

Stop and Smell the Four Leaf Clovers Along the Way
I can only conclude that the loss of raw speed was partially offset by slightly improved efficiency and uphill performance resulting from my rebalancing efforts. 
Those efforts are only just beginning really, this race being a nice bonus along the way. My third St Patrick's AG placing and prize beer glass too. Still, running and racing is always its own reward. ☘

Link to race video, without music:

1 comment:

  1. Well done. Looks like you are dancing in that one balancing photo. Stay light on your feet :)