Monday, May 6, 2013

Pacing is critical: A clear lesson from the Le Chocolat 5k

So apparently I should listen to my watch, even when I think it is lying to me.

Yesterday I ran the Le Chocolat 5k in Windsor. I went down to do the run/walk with my mom for Mother's Day, rather than going home next weekend. My mom, Angie, and Colleen (two of my brothers' significant others) decided to walk the 5k together, while I ran it. The weather was gorgeous: sunny and warm with no humidity. Perfect for running.

Maybe too perfect, actually.

When the horn went off, I ran forward with a small group of other people. I wove around a few folks (who I thought were moving slowly, but in hindsight were probably going at a smarter pace than I was.) and ended up only a few steps behind the really fast people.

I glanced at my Garmin and thought it was acting weird. It was spitting out ridiculously fast pace times: 6:10-6:20 per mile. I figured there was no way my watch was right. So I just kept running, thinking my watch would figure itself out. I hit the waterfront trail and my pace did 6:30. It was about there that I realized that maybe my watch was correct...and if it was, I was running too fast.

My growing realization was proven when I passed the first kilometer marker at 3:43 - which was a crazy number to me. In hindsight, the KM marker had to have been miss-marked. According to my Garmin, I hit 1k around 4:10.

Of course, I figured out I was running too fast too late to do much. Between 1k and 1 mile (600 meters or so), I slowed down a bit. I finished the mile in 7 minutes.

And then I slowed down a lot. During mile 2: I dropped 90 seconds. Yes, I went from a 7 minute mile to an 8:30 mile. I picked up my pace again toward the end, but by that point, I'd already learned my lesson from the race: pacing is critical.

Let me repeat that: Pacing is critical.

I finished in 22:30...but the course was only 2.9 miles according to my Garmin. So if I extrapolate time-wise, I would've finished an actual 5k around 24:05. This would've been a good time for me - 30 seconds faster than I ran in April after I got hurt, although not as fast as my 5k back in December (23:16).

But I do wonder if I'd paced myself better for the first kilometer if I'd have actually finished faster. According to my Garmin, I ran the first 400 meters at a 6:17 a mile pace...a full minute per mile faster than the pace I'd been aiming for (7:15-7:20) - and faster than I've ever recorded on my Garmin.

So - lesson learned. Glad it happened in this little almost-5k race and not in the marathon I am running this fall!

And now for the fun side of the race...which was still awesome, despite the fact I didn't pace myself well.
  • I was running in a race with my mom. How wonderful is that? Really, that was the best part of the day. 16 months ago, I'd never have bet we'd do something like this together.
  • I came in 14th out of 532 finishers! Seriously. I was 12th out of all the women (It was for Mother's Day, so the race participants were mostly women). I was also 6/173 in my age group (30-39).
  • Running along the waterfront is fantastic. I need to do it more when I am in Windsor.
  • It was kind of awesome to see my mom, Colleen and Angie going the other way as I was heading back. They were cheering me on - and I did the same. I think that's when I picked my pace back up a bit!
  • The finish line medals looked like a half-eaten chocolate bar. Kind of awesome.
  • There was a lot of chocolate at the finish-line - and every participant got a Coach purse (another reason mostly women were running)!

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