Thursday, July 22, 2010

Master Nats: the 5000

Today was day one of the Masters' National Track and Field Championships here in Sacramento, and one of my dogs is already wearing a silver medal. While I placed well in the 5000m race, it was not one that I will spend too much time reflecting on.

First off, I spent way too much time worrying about the weather, which was just as nasty hot as all of the weather apps on my iPad predicted. My original goal was to run 17:30, and I believe that I am in 17:30 shape. However, I thought the race would be run at 8 a.m., when the temperatures would be cooler. We ran at 11:12 today. I think the temperatures were in the high 70s, but the weather channels showed a "feels like" of 86F. Not 5k friendly.

I was advised by Coach Nicole and our Impalas Track Coach to abandon my time goal based on the weather forecast and just race the race. What was very clear, was their advice to definitely not go out too fast. I was advised to shoot for 86-88 seconds per lap for the first 1600 and see how that felt.

Given this strategy, I was not interested in keeping track of my time. I decided I would not look at my splits except to ensure I wasn't going out too fast for the first lap. I wore my Garmin, but never looked at it. Our race was scheduled for 10:50, but we were delayed by 20+ minutes. So, we stood around baking in the sun on the track for 20 minutes while another 5k race finished up.
Draft Master J in the Master Nats 5k (thanks for the photo, Maria and Jim!).

From the gun, I was in the lead pack and went through the first 200 with this group in about 42 seconds.  That was a little fast, but not awful.  The eventual winner (who is in the 35-39 age group), took off after that first 200 and led the rest of the race.  I was with two other 40-44 year old runners at this point.  We got to the 400m mark and we had slowed some.  I think our split was 87, though I can't be sure.  T-meat's coach called out to her that she was going too slow, so she immediately picked it up.  I had another competitor to draft off of, so I stayed put and decided to go with my plan of staying slow through 1600.  My pacer at this point was slowing faster than I realized, and I think we had a couple of 89-90s in that first mile.  So, I passed her just before the 1600m split and saw 5:52-5:53 on the clock.  By this time, my main competition, t-meat, had a good 50m lead on me.
And then, I was all alone.  For the rest of the race...
At this point, I was by myself, 10-15 seconds behind my age group competition, 10-15 seconds ahead of the next competitor.  There was no point in doing anything but staying strong and sticking to my plan.  So, I ran the second 1600 in about 5:49, the last in 5:54 and a 40 second last 200m.  While slow, this may have been one of the most even 5k races I've ever run.  It was a negative split for sure.

My final time was 18:17, which isn't horrible given the conditions.  As I reflect, oh so briefly, on this race, I realize that I ran the smartest possible race I could have.  While I would have loved to have let it all hang out today (which, based on the pictures I've seen surface may have happened with the shorts I was wearing--yikes!) that wasn't an option for me.  I simply have too much at stake.  The chances of overheating and being laid up from training for many days or even a week were too high for me to chance.  I am fine with my decision to be tactical, which doesn't always mean running fast.  I ran as fast as I needed to to place where I wanted, and I know I will have no problem jumping into an 82-mile week next week in prep for my marathon.

The bottom line is that I have been working on my speed for a couple of months now, and it has improved.  That training, not this race, was the goal.  I have no doubt that all of this work will pay off for me in my upcoming marathons and other races.

That being said, I do have a 1500m race coming up on Sunday.  I am really looking forward to this one because the heat will not be a factor, and I feel like the race is short enough that I can run hard and not compromise my future training.  I also feel like I have a better sense of how to pace that race given the mile race I ran a couple of weeks ago.  And, there are plenty of clocks on this track!  Look for more on Sunday after the race!

Good job to everyone who raced out there today, especially my little Genius who apparently is an alien, unaffected by heat.  He ran a 10 second PR in a perfectly-paced race, 20 minutes AFTER my race was over.


  1. Great job, Marty! Really sucks that they waited till near noon to start the festivities, but it sounds like you handled it beautifully despite the temps. I like your common sense attitude about it and making the next few weeks the priority (as it should be). Keep on truckin' speedster!

  2. Lol, I don't know why I called you Marty, I'm not a last-name-caller kind of gal. A moment of dyslexia or something. :-)

  3. GIM--You are funny. I respond to Marty and actually think it is a super cool girl's first name:) Thanks for your supportive words.

    Not ideal conditions to be sure, but a fun experience now that I've put it all into perspective.

  4. I'll go with Draft Master J ;)

    You did well - silver medal in awful conditions. Good to negative split such a race too. I saw Pete Magill was 30+ seconds slower than I would have expected. Don't know how his race went, but maybe they ran to the conditions.

    All the best Sunday - can't wait to read all about it!

  5. My only track 5000 was on a hot day and I tried to run it hard for time but my competition sat on me and took off with a 400 to go and beat me easily. Afterward he made the same observation as Coach Nicole: hot day, run the race, not for a time. Live and learn. Nice job.

  6. just curious... when your genius cuts himself, does blood come out or a weird white liquid?

  7. that was a reference to the droids in the movie "aliens" by the way!

  8. Thanks, Ewen. Everyone seemed to be about 30-60 seconds slow out there, except, as I said, The Genius. Clearly some people thrive in the hotter conditions, and I am not one of them.

    Joe-Thanks. I'm grateful for having taken Nicole's advice and learned the lesson without doing damage. My legs feel fresh now due in large part to having taken it easier in the race. I have another 5k road race coming up in 2 weeks where I can shoot for that PR. Should be a lot cooler that day, though I won't have the advantage of a taper.

    Got it, t-meat. He bleeds purple like the rest of the aliens.