Final Thoughts from the Spirit of White Bear Lake 5 Mile

>> Thursday, April 11, 2024

I ran a last minute 5 miler this past weekend and ended up PRing big time. Here are a few final thoughts:

• It was a nice flat course! My normal 5 mile loop by the river has an elevation change of around 200-250 feet. This race had an elevation change of 107 feet over 5 miles. Nice.

• My easier start was perfect - a lot better/less painful than the 3rd place finisher. I started in 3rd and moved up to 2nd after the first mile. The guy I passed was breathing HARD at that point, and I figured he might be in the 5K and turn around shortly. But he didn't. We both ran the first 1 mile in 5:57, and then I ran the last 4 miles in 22:43 (5:40.8/mile pace). He ran the last 4 miles in 24:55 (6:14/mile). Ouch.

• The last 4 miles of this 5 mile race were close to my 4 mile PR! My last 4 mile race was in 2019 where I ran a 22:49. The last 4 miles of this race were 22:43 for me, so I was faster than my 4 mile 5 years ago! And my 4 mile PR was pre-kids back in 2010, and that was only 1 second faster than the last 4 miles of this race at 22:42! I'm REAL happy with my run fitness right now, but this was also an easy course (see the 1st bullet point) and I ran it about perfectly for me (second bullet point).

• One more reason it possibly went well is that my family was gone and I ate better. (I noted this in yesterday's post about a week of training without family around!) This might make perfect sense or it might seem odd, but I don't snack as much when I'm home alone. When I can prepare a meal RIGHT when I want to and make EXACTLY what I want, I eat better. I lost a few pounds over the week because I'd just eat a meal whenever I needed to. So maybe better eating helped me get through the race.

• This cheap race made it good for a last-minute sign-up. It was $35 in-person or $35 online before the race (with an extra $6 processing fee). So I saved the fee by waiting to pay in-person with cash. (And then I could wait to make sure the weather was good too!) But then I was told that if I didn't want a t-shirt, it'd only be $20. SOLD. Cheap AND a PR?!? Sign me up.

• Finally, WHY did I PR and WHY was it such a good race for me? It wasn't 1 thing but a combo of many. Three things listed above helped: the flat course, the good start for me (which means starting a little easier and then building), and not over-eating leading up to it.

I started working to "get in my steps" over a year ago, and I swear that's helped with injury prevention. In the last few months, I've been working even more to get in my steps with more official walks as well. January was a lifetime monthly PR of steps. That could be helping - along with biking more as commuting. These "extra little workouts" might be good for me.

But I think the biggest factor is how often I'm running hard, and just HOW hard I'm running. I've been doing a lot more regular interval work in the last 2 years. This past winter was great for it as the track was clear for MANY winter interval workouts! And these track workouts have been shorter bursts of speed: years ago I'd often do 3x1600 on the track, but lately I've been doing things more like 12x400 or 4x800 then 4x400, or 8x600, etc. SHORTER and FASTER.

And I've been slowly working to run harder during my "pace" miles in the middle of my long runs. A few years ago, I was just "running harder" in the middle of my long runs, but now I'm pushing the effort even more. I'm still not "sprinting to the finish" of those pace miles, but I'm working harder than I have in the past. And I'm staying injury-free (maybe due to more time on my feet walking) and then going out and running hard a few days later in track workouts. UPDATE: I had a recent "best ever" long run with fast miles in the middle.

Well, some pictures just showed up from the race, so I'll share those shortly! Back with some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow.


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