So how does one follow up a Marathon PR and Boston Qualifier? How about by running a 5k!? Doesn’t sound very logical, but that’s exactly what I did and it worked out pretty well for me!
Following the LA Marathon, I recovered quicker than I have after any of the previous 6 marathons I’ve run. Chalk it up to improved fitness, chalk it up to improved nutrition, you can even chalk it up to running a smart race. Whatever it is I felt pretty darn good a week out from the race. I decided to take advantage of that and move forward with doing more running and focusing on speed. I noticed some unexpected fitness gains. It was weird to me to feel so strong at shorter distances so soon after the Marathon, though the feedback I received from other experienced runners is, this is not abnormal at all! In fact, it happens often.
I decided to take advantage of this and shoot for a new 5k PR! What race would I run? I decided to return to the “scene of the crime” of the only official 5k I’ve done. The Victory For Victims race which I ran in 2009 (and won my age group). At that race I set my official PR of 19:37, though that wasn’t my primary target!
Going into this race I had an A goal, B goal and C goal. My A goal was a sub 18 min 5k. My B goal was sub 18:30 (to beat my boot camp 3 mile time), My C goal was simply to PR in the distance (beat 19:37). The sub 18:00 time had some significance. First, has to due with my Marine Corps background. Runners under a certain age who complete the 3 mile run portion of their physical fitness test (PFT) in under 18 minutes are awarded the max allotted points. Even though, at the age of 34 I would not be held to that same standard, and a 5k is technically .1 miles longer than the 3 mile distance. The other significance was something I read on the website of The Los Angeles New Years Race. Male runners who run sub 18 minutes are eligible for “Sub Elite” status. Though I don’t consider myself “Sub Elite” it would be pretty cool to get that treatment at least for a day!
Anyway, I made it to Lake Balboa / Woodley Park bright and early at 6:30 am to pick up my my bib and t-shirt, and to meet up with some familiar faces (and some new ones). I met up with Jeff from Runnergy Sherman Oaks who was meeting up with The New Basin Blues Running Club. I had run with this group a lot in the past, especially on trails! I caught up with some “long lost” friends and made friends with those I didn’t know so well. Its definitely a nice way to start a race day morning with some great company!
For a local 5k it was a well organized event and we had plenty to do at the start. It was an expo set up with vendors, food (Panera Bread supplied pre run Bagel Bites) and swag giveaways (I got a Brooks Mustache Keychain). The Laker Girls were on hand to motivate the runners before the start, though I don’t remember them leading a full warmup as they did in previous years, but I may have been pre-occupied. Olympian Raefer Johnson was on hand as an annual staple to this event. He spoke before the race kicked off and stuck around for the award ceremony post race.
At the start of the race everyone was jockeying for position, I told a much older woman to be careful standing right at the start line as some faster runners may try to push her out of the way. When the horn went off I fought a little to get my space and I was off like a bat out of hell. With all of the adrenaline (and a little bit of caffeine) I was flying! When I looked at my watch I realized it was not a pace I could maintain for the entire 5k and came to my senses a bit to avoid blowing up completely. I gradually settled down and followed up the 5:35 first mile with a 5:53 second mile. All the while I was competing with a runner named Rene Canizales. Rene is a New Basin Blues Team Member whom I met before the race. Very nice guy, but who says nice guys ain’t competitive?! We took turns passing each-other at different parts of the race but neither of us was ever too far behind from the other. The final mile plus was tough! I felt like I was just hanging on at this point, but I was still giving my all! This is where my one gripe with the race comes in. The course, at some critical parts was not very clearly marked, and in the final mile it really made a difference! I nearly missed a vital turn but quickly recovered. Thankfully there were some volunteers to show the way… at the last second! I also had to dodge some on-coming runners from the back of the pack. They were coming while I was going. The final obstacle was a pedestrian tunnel which dipped down and then back up ending back at the park for a final right turn on the grass to the finish line. Though I was slightly ahead when we got out of the tunnel, Rene out kicked me from there, and I had no answer!
My final time was 18:07 with Rene ahead of me at 18:03. After the race we congratulated each other, I then found out Rene was not even in my age group! He’s 37 and I’m 34, nonetheless, it was motivation that pushed us both and we were both appreciative of each other for that purpose! I finished 9th overall and 1st in my Age Group. Rene was 8th overall and 2nd in his age group. It felt great to know that I gave it all I had out there! No doubt the friendly competition helped! I am thrilled with my new PR and still have a sub 18 minute 5k goal within reach!
Post race festivities were great with hot food from El Torro and Ice Cream cones from Ben and Jerry’s. There were free massages available for runners as well! The awards ceremony was great as every age group winner were called up by name to receive a medal presented by Raefer Johnson. For this race there are no finishers medals for all participants, so if you want to leave with “bling”, you have to place in your age group!
Finally a nice bonus is the race pics which were made available online for free! No, not the type with the big bold PROOF stamped on it, but a high quality race pic that can even be personalized with your name and finishing time!
Post Race Thoughts: I guess with the 5k, there isn’t as much to pick apart with such a short race. I definitely think I could tweak my strategy a bit and run more even splits, but that’s pretty much all I would change. I wore my New Balance Minimus 20v2 for this race and they performed wonderfully. I didn’t feel them, or at any point did I think abut them which is great! This also shows that I was running with good form, since in these shoes you you feel it when your form is not right! I’m not sure what’s next for me. I’m eyeing a Fall Marathon but will likely run a 10k, Half Marathon, or both before then! I hope to keep the PR streak going!