Following Wednesday's fantastic workout, I mentioned I felt like going for my 5k PR real soon. I looked around and found 2 races with certified courses: the Good Friday 5k race in Burlington and the Jordan 5k (in ... Jordan) on Saturday. I picked the Burlington race because it was closer both in time and distance.
I wanted a certified course because in a previous race, I got some flack from Yumke about the course being short, even though I mentioned it in my post. On his blog he then goes on about "unearned PRs".
Anyway, I signed up on site this morning. There was a 5k and a 10 miler. I don't know why, but I wanted to run HARD so I went for the 5k. When you run longer distances, it's easy to dismiss shorter races. I don't. Each distance offers its own challenge and a 5k race BURNS!
I had pretty much decided I was going for under 20 minutes. The 20 minute 5k has been my personal "4 minutes mile" for a while. I was thinking that maybe at 45, I was just too old or that I didn't have the "genetics" to do it. But after Wednesday, I felt like I could do it.
On my way to the school where the race was held, I noticed a fairly noticeable downhill, which means there was an equivalent uphill somewhere. I was a bit distressed because I had hoped for a flat course. The Jordan 5k advertises a "flat, fast course". Damn. Too late.
My right Achilles has been bothering me lately and although it felt ok, I decided not to take any chance and popped 2 Excedrins an hour before the start. Not Canadian Excedrins. US Excedrins from my personal stash. Canadian Excedrin only has Acetaminophen and Caffeine. US Excedrin also has Aspirin so you have anti-inflammatory, pain killer AND a dose of caffeine. What's not to like? I have no idea why there's no Aspirin in the Canadian version.
I lined up at the front, behind the elite, with the "sub 20" people. Felt weird. I won't bore you with the race, but suffice it to say that I ran hard on the downhills and tried to keep a decent pace uphill. I almost blew my race when I saw what I swear was a 4k marker and accelerated, only to see another 4k marker later. Was it 3k? Was it for the 10 miler? All I know is that I thought I was screwed.
As I got closer to the finish, I saw that the clock said 19:something. Then I saw 19:40-something and I just went as hard as I could. Gun time finish: 19:55, chip time: 19:52. That puts me 5th in the MEN 40-49 age group. I would have had to break 19 minutes to get 3rd place.
My official VDOT is now 50. This is amazing. Only about 18 months ago, I raced my first 10k and my 54:15 finish was good enough for a VDOT of 36. Training does work!
According to the tables, a VDOT of 50 gives me a shot at a 3:10 marathon time. My experience with the Jack Daniel tables has been really good, so I might give it a shot this Fall. My last hard race, in December, gave me a VDOT of 47-48, so I'm still improving. This is encouraging, because Tim Noakes, in "Lore of Running" mentions that our VO2Max usually only improves by 15% and that this improvement occurs fairly quickly. This is why I like the VDOT, which is based on your running ability. That ability includes our VO2Max, but also our running economy and willingness to endure pain.
So this is it. I'm now a sub-20 5k runner. My next big mental barrier is the sub-40 10k barrier (VDOT 52) but for now, I will concentrate on my distance races. Next weekend I'm running the Seaton Trail Race where I'm signed up for the 52km. After that I'm going on Vacation in Arizona, where I will be training at altitude for 2 weeks. Then on May 23rd is the big race, the Sulphur Springs 50 miler. Damn. I still can't wrap my head around this one.