2014 Victory for Victims 5k Recap

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!

Cats Vitory

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!

Pre Race Blues

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.

V4V 5k Start Line
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!

V4V 5k Finish
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!

Results 2 Results 1

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!

Age Division Winners Men

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 Group

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!

Happy Running!

New Basin Blues CATS Team

 

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Leveling Up as a Runner

“It never gets easier, you just go faster” – Greg Lemond

The above quote was made by a cyclist, but it definitely applies to running as well.  Is it true?

I do believe there is truth to this statement, increased speed is a byproduct of hard work and training.  Where running is concerned I believe this statement is a little limited.  Obviously speed is not the only factor to consider, there’s strength, endurance, experience, mental toughness, etc.

You can even draw some parallels to the video game concept of leveling up.

LevelUp4

 

In some cases the “Leveling Up” is very literal.  Nike+ has a system that assigns a specific color as your total miles increase.  The color system is definitely a great way to encourage motivate runners.  Some runners take it further and participate in challenges as well.

LevelUp2

Then you have the  ‘Level Up’ training system developed by Adam and Kara Goucher and provided by Run The Edge.  The program structures the runner’s training as an actual game in which you accumulate points by completing a mix of different workout options, all assigned a certain number of points.  Accumulating a specific number of points will allow you to Level Up and move on to the next level!

LevelUp3

 

For those who grew up playing video games, all of this Leveling Up can appeal to our gamer sensibilities and to a degree, our competitive nature.  One common theme I’ve noticed is that after a certain level is achieved, there are more requirements to achieve the next level.

For me, the concept of Leveling Up in running relates to fitness, and other gains that I mentioned early in this post, (speed, endurance, strength, experience and mental toughness).  Initially these gains can make running feel easier.  The key is recognizing when we achieve these gains and stepping up our running and training accordingly.

Post LA Marathon I discovered that I had leveled up, in different areas of my running.  My tempo run pace felt much easier to maintain, previously challenging hills were no longer kicking my butt, etc.  I couldn’t help but test my new fitness during some workouts, resulting in some personal bests.  Since, I’ve decided to make some adjustments to my running and my goals.  I signed up for a 5k ready to run a new PR.

Here are 4 points if you have recently “Leveled Up”

  1. Challenge yourself – If workouts that were once considered challenging are much easier it may be time to step it up.  Feeling stronger?  It may be time to add more hills or more challenging workouts to your training.  Increased endurance? It may be time to start training for a longer race!  Faster?  You may benefit from a new pace group or training with some of your faster friends.
  2. Increase your mileage – To continue to see fitness gains it’s often necessary to increase weekly mileage as well.  Think about going from a Novice level training program to Intermediate.  Though there are different mileage options on training plans to accommodate those with busier schedules, generally more advanced training programs will include increased mileage.
  3. Recover – While stepping up your training efforts as a result of fitness gains its also important to consider recovery.  Being able to perform more quality workouts also means that it will take a toll on your body.  And while increased fitness may lead to taking less rest days during the week, recovery should not be neglected.  Whether its in the form of a complete rest day, an easy run, or cross training, its important to give your body a chance to recover to avoid over usage injuries, especially while you’re pushing yourself to new limits!
  4. Adjust your goals – I’ve touched on goals in a previous post and they will be different for everyone.  For many runners this means attempting to run a PR in a race.  For others it may mean racing a new distance be it a 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon, or Ultra.

LevelUp1

If you are struggling with leveling up and achieving fitness gains there may be different things to consider.

  1. Nutrition – Fueling your body is just as important as your training.  If your nutrition is suffering your performance will also suffer, at the very least, you will not be performing to your full potential.  For those struggling in this area it can be as simple as making healthier choices, for others it may not be so simple and I’d recommend consulting with a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist that’s familiar with the needs of endurance athletes.  I, personally saw great improvements after I incorporated using my NutriBullet and made other changes to my diet.
  2. Mix up your training – If the majority of your runs are the same distance, pace, terrain, etc. mixing it up is a great way to see improvement.  Longer runs should be slower, while shorter runs, faster.  Incorporating hills, trail running, and intervals can activate different muscle groups and lead to improvements.  Running on different surfaces is also a good idea.  A good running coach can identify areas on improvement and recommend different types of training, workouts, runs, to help get you to the next level.
  3. Rest / Recovery – Once again I must harp on rest and recovery.  If you are not seeing fitness gains one possibility is that you are not giving your body enough time to recover from hard workouts.  In addition to rest days, post run recovery is key.  Getting proper nutrients, proteins and carbs following a tough workout can help speed up recovery and maximize your fitness gains.

Best of luck to everyone, whatever your goals are, no matter what level you are at.  I believe that running should always be enjoyed, but its always nice to see progress!

Happy Running

– Eddie D