Saturday, May 18, 2013

3x5k With 24-Hour Recovery

Wednesday, May 15
AM: 8k easy + strides
PM: 5k of 1 min. on/1 min. off
Target: 3 miles in ~20 minutes
Actual: 19 mins. on/off, 5k in 18:30
Daily total: 12 miles

Thursday, May 16
AM: 11k easy
PM: No Rest For the Wicked "5k" in 17:45 (=17:55-18:00 for true 5k)
Daily total: 21k/13 miles

Saturday, May 18
AM: Journey For Sight 5k
Target: Win
Actual: 17:45, 1st place female (3rd overall), $100
PM: ~4mile w/u and c/d with Sarah at the NBB Twilight Meet (more on this later)
Daily total: 12-13 miles

Okay, so technically the rest between 5k #2 and 5k #3 was more like 36 hours, but that doesn't make for as catchy of a blog title. The point is, after doing nothing but shuffling/hobbling around for nearly three weeks, I decided it was time to put on my big girl pants and attempt a few workouts. I considered several options but ultimately settled on minuters, which essentially is as challenging as you make it, and set the ambitious goal of covering three miles in 20 minutes. After warming up with Jordan and our coworker Scott, I embarked on the same loop as the NRFTW Thursday night 5k (which, at the time, I didn't necessarily plan on running the following evening) and settled into a nice rhythm. Much to my pleasant surprise, I'd discovered on the morning strides that my lower leg/shin actually feels much better and looser when running hard than when running easy, a reality that was reinforced tonight. By the second half of this loop I was really rolling, and I was excited to pass through the "finish line" of the Thursday night run right around 18:20. I continued that hard minute and finished gasping for air but quite pleased with the end result.

Cut to 24 hours later, and Jordan and Scott and I were jogging over to the Common to join the Thursday night running group. It was the warmest day of the year thus far, easily in the upper 70s, but with a dry, 20+ mph wind that would push us through the first half of the run and smack us in the face during the second half. I actually planned on just jogging, and through the first minute or two was content to tuck into the group, but then for one reason or another I changed my mind and my gears and took off after the two guys in the lead. Jordan had also planned to run easy and was behind me at this point, but naturally he couldn't stand for me to be ahead and finally overtook me about a mile in. Understandably, this effort felt harder than last night given my tired legs and the ferocious headwind, but I still expected to finish around 17:30 or so. I ended up only 15 seconds off that target but still a bit frustrated. Just as I was excited about last night's effort, I was perplexed in equal measure tonight. How was it possible for me to run hard for more or less the entire loop, as opposed to taking a break every other minute, and yet somehow only finish 30 seconds faster?!

The third 5k in this series took place Saturday morning in the nearby town of Reading. I found this race online Friday evening as I was tucked into my second glass of vino and saw that they offered $100 for the winner--not normally enough to entice me considering the $30 entry fee offset, but Reading is only 15-20 minutes away and I thought it would be a good motivator to continue my streak of hard running. With Jordan otherwise engaged, I drove over to the Reading ice hockey arena by myself and warmed up solo before stepping up to the front of the starting line with the relatively small crowd. For a few glorious seconds I harbored the idea of winning the race outright, but after spotting a speedy-looking younger guy in a team singlet I acknowledged that dream would probably not come true. (I'm pretty sure this is how Allen Strickland feels at the start of every race--except, ironically, today!) From the gun (more like a barely audible "onyourmarkgetsetgo" from one of the race organizers), I could tell almost immediately that my legs were flat and tired. And why wouldn't they be? Nothing hard for almost three weeks and then this three-pronged assault?! A short, steep hill less than 600 meters into the race effectively zapped my energy, and with only two guys ahead of me and no women close behind I had little incentive to pick up the pace beyond tempo effort. My finish time was lackluster but I was pleased to find my leg holding up after three hard workouts in almost as many days. As I tweeted afterwards, even if you're out of shape, even if it's a small local's still really, really fun to beat (almost) all the boys! Even better, less than an hour later I was back in the car and on my way with a crisp hundo in hand. Not a bad start to the weekend!

So, taking this 5k trifecta as a whole, I'm actually somewhat encouraged. I've got five weeks to run these 5k times consecutively without the 24-hour break, and if I can just keep my body in one piece I know it's possible. I'm encouraged by the apparently minimal fitness loss I've sustained since Italy, so now it's time to keep the momentum going!