Monday, December 12, 2011

Santa's Back 5K Race Report

After a couple of weeks of more or less stable training, I decided that I needed to set a baseline for my training. Being an unconditional Jack Daniel's follower, I needed to know my current VDOT so I can determine my various training paces. JD says that the only way to know is to race, so when I got an email last week about the "Santa is back" 5K race in Whitby, I knew I was in. A quick email to Chris and he (and Kim) was in as well.

I hadn't raced a 5k since April 10, 2009, which will forever be remembered as the day I broke the 20 minutes barrier. Compared to the logistics of preparing for an ultra, getting ready for a 5k felt like going out to the corner store to grab a can of Pepsi. After dropping off my wife to the airport, I stopped at Kim & Chris' place and got changed there while they were getting ready. For the first time ever, I made the mistake of bringing two right foot Injinji toe-socks. This is a puzzle I've long solved, ever since I saw a guy do the very same mistake before Haliburton. I had nearly 29 hours to think about it then, so I immediately inside-out'ed one sock and voila!, one right and one left.

Two issues were conspiring against me. One is my lack of training at the faster paces. I did a few strides this week, just for for shits and giggles, and I noticed that I completely forgot my various paces. I used to know exactly what my 10k or 5k paces felt like but now I have no idea. My other problem is my weight. Running a lot of distance allows you to eat pretty much whatever you want, but I've run a lot less since July and I've kept eating. The scale was packed up in a box somewhere while we were renovating the upstairs bathroom and a few weeks ago I finally stepped on it and nearly had a coronary when I saw the readout: 177 lbs, about 10 lbs over my target range of 160-165.

We got to the race site, signed up, warmed-up. It was a nice but blustery day. I knew that the course was pretty exposed and we would be running a long stretch going on a slight uphill with the wind blowing right in our face. I figured that would even out the fact that the course was 100 meter short. It was an out and back course. Why they didn't just place the turn-around cone 50 meters further is one of those mysteries that I will haunt me forever. It was on a bike path, there was no ice or other barrier, they knew the course was short (they had announced it). Why, why, why?

Anyway, about 100 people were lined up for the 5k. Chris and I were close to the front and Kim seeded herself a bit further back. When the horn sounded, we rushed forward to get through the 3 feet wide gate that funneled people onto the first section of the walk path before the crowd. After 1km I thought I was done for. The wind was horrible. After 2km, I was still hanging in. The gap between me and the guy ahead of me was pretty stable. I turned around at 2.45km (WHY? WHY?) huffin' and puffin'. The return trip was an exercise in pain management, trying to fend off a side stitch that was threatening to stop me in my tracks and broken expectations when the distance between every single landmarks turned out to be 3 times further than I remembered them on the way out.

I finally saw the clock ticking up from 21:10 and went as hard as I could, finishing in 21:32. Not too bad. Then of course they expect you to stay still while they remove the chip and give you a medal, while you are basically trying not to pass out. Everyone was pretty happy with their results. Kim beat her PB. Chris finished about 20 seconds ahead of me, which I expected because he's been training a lot more seriously than I have.

So this gives me a VDOT of 46, down 4 points from my all time high of 50. I was 160 lbs at the time, so if I adjust for my current unfortunate weight using Daniel's weight correction, I get something that's pretty close to 50. By that I mean that if you had a VDOT of 50 and suddenly went from 160 to 175 lbs, you could expect your race results to reflect a VDOT of 46. Losing the weight is going to be a priority.

Here we go. Back to training.