This is the first year for the Seize the Moment 5K in Evans, Georgia. The event benefits the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia. The turnout was light and very few hardcore runners were there. Overall, the event was well organized but there wasn’t an official race clock. The clock was the head organizer calling out the time from his smartphone as you crossed the finish line. Not complaining about that–just reporting the fact.
The packet pickup/registration started at 8 a.m. I had pre-registered so the process went very quickly. I got there early because I wasn’t sure about traffic getting to the event and how many others would be there to pickup their race packet. The check-in was so quick this gave me some time to go out on a short warmup run so that was good.
By the 9 a.m. start time it was hot out! The sun was shining brightly and the temperature had to be close to 75 degrees with little to no breeze. The start was fairly informal. There wasn’t an exact start line that I could tell anyway. Just an approximate one. As we got started I was surprised about how many were still behind me. Hey, I’m not a fast runner but I don’t think there were more than 20-25 people ahead of me on the whole race.
The first mile was finished at a 9:55 mile pace. Right where I wanted to be but then it came time to deal with the hills. The first one wasn’t too long, maybe a quarter to one-third of a mile but it was pretty steep. Then came a much longer hill of at least a half a mile. Not quite as steep as the shorter one but close. The second mile took me 11:06 to finish. I knew then, I wasn’t going to get this race in under 30 minutes. By then I was starting to feel the heat as well. Luckily, the same hill I just ran up I now got to run down. That helped but then we were directed back to the same loop with the steeper hill.
After tackling that hill again I resolved myself to just keep a steady pace and get it finished. Just kept my breathing steady and kept moving forward. I used nose breathing more than I ever have on this race. Not sure if it was a good thing or not but I tried anyway.
The GPS on my Fitbit Surge told me I hit the 5K mark at approximately 33:35. One problem though. I ran every tangent I could along the way but I wasn’t close to the finish line yet. The GPS on my Fitbit isn’t exact but pretty close anyway. I took me another four tenths of a mile before I hit the finish line. My finish time was 38:01. Not the finish time I was hoping for to say the least. But, that’s the way it is sometimes. With the hills and heat of the day it was a good finish.
For hardcore runners this event probably won’t thrill you. But for me, it was close to my house and the proceeds go to a good cause so it was worth it. My only real criticism is the start time. On Memorial Day weekend in Georgia it can get pretty warm and starting the race at 8 a.m. would make a difference in dealing with the heat. A 7:30 start time would be even better but I can live with an 8 a.m. start.
Now that this race is in the books it’s time to get ready for the Peachtree Road Race on July the 4th. Running a 10K in the July heat of Georgia; I’ve gotta be crazy!
I never have a specific pace or distance goal set when I run. Instead, I run with a particular duration in mind. I just get dressed, put on my running shoes and hit the pavement and let my body and mind set the pace. The pace is never the same but once I get started I try to maintain my pace.
Here’s a look at my pace during my long run this past Saturday:
At first glance it might not look like the pace of this run was all that consistent. I’ll admit, I’ve done better but this still isn’t too bad. The first mile was a little fast compared to the other mile splits. It was chilly that morning so I usually start out a little fast to get my body warmed up and after the first mile I’m warmed up and settled in. Miles two through four are slower but what you can’t tell from this graphic is those miles included quite a few hills. All three splits are very consistent time wise though. Miles three and four are exactly the same. Miles five and six are fairly consistent but faster than the previous three miles. I like to finish strong so my pace will frequently pick up slightly on the last mile. It didn’t on this day for some reason but still the pace was consistent with the previous mile.
After every long run I study my mile split times to check my consistency of pace. I say study but in reality the process usually only takes ten or fifteen seconds. No need to over analyze. Just look at the times, think about the course and then quickly decide where and how you could have done better. After that, move on to the rest of your day.
Time to wrap up this introduction now. Since that 10K race in 2013 I’ve finished four 5K races and six 10K’s. I’ve got one more 10K race scheduled for the end of February and that will be it until the half marathon at the end of April.
I’ve made slow but steady progress since 2013. I ran the Broad Street Ramble 10K at the end of October 2015 and finished the race with a time of 01:04:44. That’s over 11 minutes faster than 2013! My last 5K was almost a year ago and I finished it with a time of 31:10. I feel like I can get that under 30 minutes now.
The upcoming 10K is an event I’ve never ran before. Since my focus is on training for the upcoming half marathon I don’t expect to hit a new personal record (PR) at this one.
I’ll probably never get back to my 10K finish times in the 44-55 minute range from twenty years ago. I’m Ok with that. I do hope to break the 60 minute mark sometime during the Fall 2016 running season though. That’s my goal anyway and time will tell if I can do it.
I had long ago made up my mind my running days were over. After several months of daily walking I started thinking maybe that wasn’t really true. I was comfortably walking for over an hour and started thinking if I can walk six or seven miles then surely I can run one mile.
I knew I needed to start slowly but I wasn’t exactly sure what that really meant. I did some online research and this brought back many memories of running a long time ago. I remember the feelings of calm and tranquility at the end of each daily run and I missed that. One the downside, I also remember the aches & pains that came with the sport. The aches and pains were something I wanted to avoid this time around. I also learned a few new things as well. One thing I learned was there are many mobile phone apps to help you get started. If you have an iPhone or Android mobile device, finding a training app for running is pretty easy. The hard part is trying to figure out which one to use. Some of the apps are free and some are not. There are minor differences in the training plans of each but they all seem similar enough. In the end I decided on Fitness22’s 5K Runner. I would say my second choice would have been the Couch to 5K app from Zen Labs. Both companies offer a free 5K training app for both the iPhone and Android mobile devices. Either app will make a good place to get started. I know there are still some people who don’t have smart phones, especially in my age group and older. That’s ok, but you will need a watch with a timer or stopwatch at the minimum.
So now it’s time to get started running right? Not quite. In the early stages my running still involved a lot of walking. I would start by walking–usually fifteen to twenty minutes before I would start up my new 5K Runner app on my iPhone. Day one of the training called for a 5 minute walk followed by running for one minute and then walking for a minute and a half. This is repeated six times and concludes with a 5 minute cool down walk. I usually continued to walk to complete at least an hour of activity. Of course, you could just follow the 5K Runner app and have your workout finished in 30 minutes if that is all the time you have available. The app continues through an eight week program of three running days per week. The great thing about using one of the smart phone apps for training is you don’t have to constantly monitor a stopwatch to track or remember how many times you’ve completed each interval. The app runs in the background and beeps and speaks to you so you know when to walk and when to run. If you listen to music while you run, you can listen to music and still get prompts for each interval. By week six the app works you up to ten minutes of running with a five minute walk, followed by another ten minute run. At the end of eight weeks you are running for 35 minutes without stopping.
Now here’s an important point I want to make–by the end of the program I wasn’t running 5K in thirty-five minutes. At my age and fitness level I just couldn’t run fast enough. One of my important rules about running for a lifetime is when you train: base your workout on duration only. Let’s face it, some days are better than others. Sleep, diet, temperature, humidity, running surface, and traffic congestion are a few variables that will affect your running performance each day. You can’t completely control those things so don’t try. Go out with a running duration goal in mind and let the rest take care of itself. Depending on the duration and the variables I just mentioned my per minute mile pace can vary by as much as 2-3 minutes per mile. Accept this and you will free yourself from the pressure of always trying to perform better. You will get better, you just have to give it time. We’re not training to be professional competitive runners–we want to run for the rest of our lives. Patience and long term goals are the key to success.