A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I Hate 5Ks

Sitting on the couch watching the traditional Detroit Lions game, I am questioning my decision to run the 8th annual Turkey Rock Trot 5K. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurts and even my brain hurts. During the race I kept trying to tell myself the pain was only temporary but the fact is I am still hurting and probably will be for the rest of the day.

Me (at left), my brother Jon (right)
and nephew Alex (center)
looking pretty confident before the race.
The thing that hurts the most though is I didn't even run a particularly fast race (my unofficial time was 24:50 according to my Garmin Forerunner 410). My 8:00/mile pace was almost half-a-minute per mile slower my last race that covered twice the distance (10K) and only slightly faster than my last half marathon (13.1 miles).

I could blame the altitude (Castle Rock sits at about 6,400 ft.) but that last half marathon was in Denver (the Mile High City at 5,280 ft.). I could blame the weather but it was a fairly pleasant morning in the 40s with very little wind, similar to that 10K in North Dakota. I could blame it on a tough course but it's actually pretty flat and not particularly challenging. It just doesn't add up.

Maybe I'm just sore that I didn't reach my goal to break 24:00 and set a new 5K PR. I was battling a lot of mental "can't" during the race. My splits tell the story. I ran the first mile in 7:34, right on the pace I wanted to run today, and it's the toughest mile on the course. But for some reason I couldn't hold that pace and slowed to 8:06 in mile two.

I was just telling my brother and nephew that I got discouraged when I saw the 2K sign. "Only 1.2 miles?" I thought, "Not even halfway. I can't run this fast for another 2 miles." Then I got irritated. "Why do they have K markers instead of mile markers? We aren't in Europe!"

My brother just told me he got discouraged when a guy in an elf costume passed him. Funny how we let silly things discourage us. Thinking back I should have just set my sights on reaching the 3K marker and celebrating being over halfway. Instead I slowed down.

Here we are post-race, trying to mask the pain with a smile :)
By the time we made the turn towards home with about one mile to go I knew I would have to run a 7:30 mile to break 24:00. Instead, I slowed to 8:24 in the third mile before sprinting the final one-tenth of a mile to the finish line. To be honest, for much of that last mile I was thinking about walking, but I never did. 

I hate finishing a race feeling like I didn't give it my all. Seems like that happens to me every time I run a 5K. That's why I hate 5Ks. Short races require you to run all out for the entire race. To do that you have to push through the pain and negative thoughts that come with it. The devil on my shoulder got the best of me today.

While I didn't reach my goal I didn't quit either. I crossed the finish line ahead of everyone who didn't run the race :)

Ride on!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey (and BEEF, of course!)

With Thanksgiving fast approaching (why is it so early this year?) many people's thoughts turn to turkey. According to the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving and approximately 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2011. Frankly, Thanksgiving is one of the few days out of the year that even I will consume fowl :)

But more and more every year, most runners' thoughts about Thanksgiving include beginning the day with a 5K, commonly known as a "turkey trot." I found 458 activities matching "turkey trot" on Active.com, including these 10 Turkey Trots to be Thankful For. And why not? It's a great way to start a day when the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to the Caloric Control Council. That's twice the number of calories (2,000) recommended daily for most Americans!

I'll be trimming up a beef rib roast for Christmas!
Speaking of calories, did you know there are more calories in 6 ounces of white and dark meat turkey (340) than the same amount of BEEF prime rib (330)? I've blogged before about how turkey (and bison) are not leaner than beef but even I found this calorie comparison surprising! Check out this Thanksgiving Calorie Calculator to total your Thanksgiving feast calories and see how far you must walk in steps, miles and kilometers to walk it off.

I'll be running in my Team BEEF jersey
on Turkey Day 2012!
Running a Turkey Day race has been a holiday tradition for me since my first Turkey Rock Trot shortly after moving to Castle Rock, Colorado, in 2006. This year I will be running it with my brother, Jon, and other family members visiting for Thanksgiving. My goal is to break 24 minutes for the first time and set a new PR around 23:30 (according to Athlinks my official 5K record is 24:09). This would be about the same pace (7:35/mile) that I ran the Beefin' It Up; Fuel for the Finish 10K in North Dakota earlier this year (at a much lower altitude!).

I have been running fairly consistently since that race, averaging around 8 minute miles on training runs in mostly flat, lower altitude places like Lubbock, Texas (on the campus of Texas Tech University), Kansas City (through Westport) and Manhattan, Kansas (through Aggieville and the campus of Kansas State University).

To get back in race form I plan to follow a similar pattern to my Two-Week 10K Training Program, working in at least one speed workout per week on the local high school track. But right now I'm heading out for an LSD trail run with my black lab, Casey. Goal for today is just to enjoy the bright Colorado sunshine and burn some calories!

Ride on...