Thursday, April 9, 2009

Carlsbad 5000 Recap, Fam, 11 Days to Boston

A New 5k PR

My experience at the Carlsbad 5000 turned out to be very positive, but it didn't get off to a great start. I made the 7 hour drive from Mammoth to North San Diego County early Saturday morning and checked into my Motel 6. The weather was beautiful and I made my way to the course to do an easy shakeout run and course preview.

When I stepped out of my car I noticed an intense pain in my right knee. Something had developed while making the drive. I was able to do my run and check out the beach, but after I wrapped things up the pain increased greatly. When I got back to my hotel I couldn't climb the stairs and I experienced the pain all night while sleeping. I knew it couldn't be too serious since nothing had happened to cause it (so I hoped) but when I got up the next morning I could barely walk.

Carlsbad is different than a lot of 5ks in the fact that it splits its age groups into separate heats. The elites even have their own race at the end of the event. This makes for a festive atmosphere as there are races all morning. The energy seems to build as the morning moves on. My race did not start until 11:30 AM which is much later than normal. This worked to my advantage as it gave me plenty of time to try and get rid of the pain.

I began my warm up much earlier than normal, but I couldn't run for 15 seconds without experiencing too much pain. I took some medicine and hoped the pain would go away. After an hour it was still bad, but I noticed a difference so I doubled the dosage. I was able to warm up just in time. I moved into the corral at 11:28 and moved near to the start line. I didn't want to stand still long and have my knee tighten up again.

However, this didn't work out for me. Just before the gun went off it was announced that my race was being delayed for 8 minutes because an Amtrak train would be crossing the course. I did my best to dance around and stay loose. My mind was a nervous wreck as I had to wait. I knew I was about race on a fast course, and in a 5k there's hardly any time to work into a groove.

Finally the race did get underway and I immediately felt badly. The start is downhill for 400m and then works its way back up before taking a 90 degree left hand turn. Several people passes me including young boys who had to be 13 or younger. I couldn't seem to find a rhythm and felt slow. I finally approached the first mile marker and had some idea of how I was doing. To my surprise it was still in the 4 minute range when I could make out the time that it showed. I passed the first mile in 5:12 pace. I had been aiming for 5:20.

At this point I totally relaxed and found a rhythm. This pace felt very easy, and I knew I could hold it and push a bit at the end. Shortly after the 1 mile mark the course does a 180 hairpin turn and runs along the Pacific Ocean. At this point a lot of people who had started too fast were moving backwards and I began picking them off one by one. I passed the 2nd mile marker in 5:26 and knew I had a lot left for the final 1.1 miles.

During an uphill chunk of the third mile I picked off an entire pack of runners (maybe 7) and was grateful for all of the hill work I'd done in Mammoth. While the hill was certainly small, it did slow many people at that point in the race. Coming around the last corner to see the finish line I had two tenths of a mile remaining. A few people sprinted to get by my side. In the final 100 meters I turned on what I had left and kept them behind while managing to get two more runners (one at the very last step, you can see me just ahead of him in the pictures, and the other a few meters out, pictured looking to his left as I come by).

I finished in 16:42 and 40th place. While this is certainly nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of elite running, its a really good time compared to what I ran last year at this time. This was a PR by 31 seconds. If nothing else, this was a great confidence booster going into Boston to know that I'm in good shape and to know that I can run at a pace much faster than my marathon goal pace and feel comfortable. I know I shouldn't feel comfortable while racing a 5k, but my training hasn't been geared towards that short of a distance. I wrapped up the day by laying on the beach for a few hours before driving home. Its a lot easier to relax after a PR.

An Elite Perspective

Watching the men's and women's elite race was a lot of fun. Anthony Famiglietti came within four seconds of the American record and looked really strong. He wrote an interesting recap on falling short of his goal to break the record here.

I also shot some video of the race and set it to Richard Buckner. However, the audio was taken off by YouTube because of copywrite laws. The video quality is pretty comprimised as well.

The last hard workouts before Boston, and I got laid off!

Yesterday I got to work at 7:45 am and then took a break at 2:30pm. Mammoth has been graced with a nasty winter storm the last few days. High winds... snow... etc. I headed out in the conditions to repeat the brutal hill run I posted about a few weeks ago. I managed to run it a few minutes faster this time around and then headed back to work until 8pm. This was the final intense workout before I begin to pull back and rest for the race. I do still have a some mile repeats and tempo runs to complete, but the total mileage is beginning to drop.

The challenge has been getting the workouts in around my work schedule. I'm working 8 10 hour days in a row. I won't complain though. I need the work and the money as I was informed today that I will be laid off at the end of April. Does anyone know of a job openning?

In one final note about Boston, there was a GREAT interview with Ryan Hall on today. He mentions several runs in the Mammoth area that I'm familiar with. He also had this quote about the winter we've had in Mammoth this year.

All of my preparation has been done at Mammoth Lakes. We were totally blessed, although the snowboard crowd might have a different word for it, to have a super mellow winter this year. It was really tame compared to years past. Last year, I was only up here for a couple weeks and I felt like I was constantly thinking to myself "we can train anywhere in the world this winter, why are we training in this winter tundra?." Don't get me wrong, Mammoth is the most beautiful place in the world, but the winter is not usually so kind. This winter was beautiful though. I only had to run on a treadmill a couple of times and I didn't miss any workouts. In years past, we would have to drive down to 5,000 ft for most of our workouts and some of our easy days which made training seem really long. This year we stayed high for almost everything. I just kept waiting for the winter to show its wrath but it really never did. If there is any winter that I should be able to run fast off of, it is the winter of '09. Big Bear is usually much more mellow in the winter compared to Mammoth but there are also only a couple of spots to run on the dirt and even less then that that are flat compared to Mammoth, where we have more dirt roads with flat options if we want it. We haven't been able to get as high as 9,000 feet up here in Mammoth because to do so you have to be cross country skiing but we do most of our long runs and tempos above 7,000 feet. I can't wait to get into Boston. The first week at sea level after being at altitude for an extended amount of time is euphoric.


Nettie said...

A 31 second 5K PR in the middle of intense marathon training sounds great to me! Congrats!

Silly Cymberlin said...

Thanks! What's new?

Nettie said...

Um, I'm pretending to be a sports reporter for my school paper. :) I'm covering track club and hopefully, cross country in the fall.