Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The sub 18:30 5k

It was a stressful morning. SR and I had planned on running a 5k relay in Ringsted this afternoon, but Natti, understandably, said she didn't want to babysit two kids at a race. I was tired, had a headache and my decision making capacity was limited. Probably no mom likes the idea of forcing their kids into coming to a race just to watch. Maybe we'd just hang out with the kids at the house and get some cleaning done???

I soon realized I was so mentally prepared to run a 5k that could not physically take sitting around and doing nothing. Especially after having tapered yesterday.

Then SR had an idea: "I'll pace you to a 5k PR on the track". At first I was hesitant because I didn't know if I had it in me to run a PR without competition. Then again, my PR was so weak (19:46) compared to my recent interval times, that I almost felt I could run a PR in my sleep. Natti was willing to babysit for the hour or so that it might take with the warmup and everything, so we set out: 1 mile through the woods to the track.

At the track, SR had me doing all sorts of weird stuff: strides, run fast, run slow, shuffle, jump up and down and squat, hand springs, etc.. I honestly have no idea what these moves are called nor what their purpose is ... and trust me I was questioning why he was making me look like an idiot with all of this. Even he couldn't help laughing at my clumsiness. But I do agree with him that a long warm up for an old woman like me is essential! I knew I needed to do at least two miles at close to race pace just to get up to my potential fast speed. The plan was for him to run the 12 ½ laps at exactly 19.30 speed and then I would attempt to pull out ahead of him at the end for a PR.

After the first two laps, we could both tell the pace was too slow, so he very gradually just kept speeding up in front of me and I simply followed him. He would shout out the splits after every lap. My mile splits ended up being 6:03, 5:55 and 5:47. Plus the 0.1 miles of course adds up to 18:28!

I fell over apparently very dramatically at the finish - so happy I had done it. I had no idea I had it in me. I figured maybe a sub 19 - but a sub 18:30??? SR had shouted to me with two laps to go: "this is the fastest you will ever run a 5k in your life - so GO FOR IT!!!" I had asked him for no positive or negative feedback the whole run - just "empirical evidence" as I had said. But a little encouragement did help.

The secrets of the fast time:
-the track is very shielded from wind
-the temperature was just around 50 F
- I "drafted" off of SR almost the whole way
- We didn't start out too fast
- I have been religiously doing interval training
- SR knows how to pace; he would speed up and slow down based simply on subtleties in my breathing pattern.

Thank you to my husband. I love you!

Ok. I'm glad I got that 5k out of my system. But does this explain why when I am lying in bed at night I feel like my heart stops - and I awake from a half sleep? Is it just a sign of being in good cardiovascular shape? Does this ever happen to you guys? My favorite chapter in "Once a Runner" is a sort of inner monologue with Quentin Cassidy where he is laying in bed and afraid of the way he heart is beating. "This is what it feels like to be in 4 minute mile shape" he thinks. Of course I'm far from that, but is this what is going on?

After an effort like that cleaning and playing soccer with the kids sure feels great! I love it that both Natti and Christian are so into soccer and both have teams the enjoy practicing with.

---- 2 marathons in 3 days----

Earlier this week, on Sunday and Tuesday, I ran a marathon with my friend Anette Fredskov Jensen and others. Anette lives right here in Næstved and has MS. She realized that running long distances seemed to make her symptoms disappear. She eventually decided to go for the world record in number of marathons run in a year: 366. She has now run 41 marathons in the last 41 days.

Fredskov Marathon - Sunday Aug 19th. This one I ran in 3:44 with the company of  Nicolas (light blue, upper left)

Fredskov Marathon - Tuesday Aug 21st. My time was 3:55. Annette is of course the one in red. 

The Fredskov Marathon is a nice route with a mixture of trails, roads, flats and hills. Here is Annette's website. What she is doing is incredible - and she says she has never felt better. Her times are getting faster, too. Yesterday she ran in 4:32. Thanks to her parents for opening up their house for these races! What a luxury to have a real toilet at the aid station!

---- "Clif" Bars ---

In other news, I getting closer to perfecting my imitation of the Clif Builder's Bar - chocolate flavor. We calculated that if I ordered them from, they would cost over $5 a bar. Wuhoow. (okay, I just like the thought of you all trying to pronounce that). The only hard part was drying out tofu since they don't sell soy powder here. Any thoughts?


Robyn said...

If you like Larabars, we have perfected our house version of the cherry pie flavor.

sea legs girl said...

Thanks Robyn - I don't know what Larabars are, but cherry pie flavor sounds good. Though if you share your recipe -which I would love to see - I would probably "ruin" it by adding chocolate.

sea legs girl said...

Over 400 page views - one comment. Gotta admit I lurk a lot on blogs these days, too. Facebook just has better format for commenting.

CP said...

When I was in my peak athletic shape in college during xc season, I remember my heart sounding unusual too. I took my heart rate EVERY morning and back then, my heart rate was in the 40s!

mmmonyka said...

PPC can finally stop to pester you to find a fast and flat course and go for a 5k PR!:)

Ok, I did not read the whole post. I read only the title, scrolled down, saw 18:28. So I hope it means you ran 18:28. I am going to read the post now.

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Great job! Now you need to find a certified course and make this official:)

PiccolaPineCone said...

The clouds parted and the heavenly choir of angels sang:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

Fabulouso! I was so, so, so happy to read this. Sounds like you & SR were the perfect team for this attempt. Ok, how much do I have to beg for the two of you to go repeat the exercise over 10 km in two weeks time??

Anyway wonderful, congratulations... (but I respectfully disagree with SR that this will be the fastest you ever run 5 km in your life... if you want to run faster and plan to run faster, you will!)

SteveQ said...

It's the "fastest you will ever run" comment that struck a chord with me too; I'm guessing SR will have a different recollection of what he said.

I can tell you that, at 28 beats per minute, you can actually feel your heart throw itself against the ribcage. Below that, you can feel the squeezing of individual parts of the heart... and you get very very scared that you're dying.

Fast Bastard said...

Pacing was a lot of fun. Like SLG wrote, I was supposed to aim for 19:30 but I hit the first couple of laps just a hair over 90 seconds (ie. 18:45). She was very out of breath but wanted to speed up. i told her I did not want to hit the first 1600 under 6 and that sje should just settle in. We slowed down a little to a 6:03 first 1600 and then we picked it up from there.

She collapsed at the end, the way guys do after their lasr interval. It was great.

Ana-Maria, I think a track is preferable to a road race, as they always seem to be a little off (even USATF certified courses can be a little off). Now, if it was an official record, you can't run with guys pacing you, of course.

PPC, it really was perfect. And we have already talked about doing a 10000 in a few weeks.

Steve, I yelled "this may be the fastest 5K you will ever run!", followed by some kind of "go for it". I mean, she is running 100 mile weeks, running a marathon or two a week, running intervals, doing an Ironman. She is in the shape of her life, but anything could happen. Maybe 18:29 will be her PR forever, so I wanted her to dig deep. She dug so deep that I don't think she can improve much, if at all, on it this season. Maybe with some more speed work nex year, but then she is risking injury etc.

I just didn't want her to slow down on the last lap, if that race is what she will tell the grandkids about 30 years from now.

We have a 6 hour race coming up. I am in real danger of being wifed.

Alicia said...


a. Congratulations!! (especially on those impressive splits)

b. Are you sure you're not a really good mid-distance runner in disguise as an ultrarunner? 18:28 sounds awfully fast for two weeks after an Ironman and with only one day of taper...

c. Can you please do another marathon?! You could probably do under 3 hours with that kind of 5k time!

d. I think Helen and I might be doomed for competing against you in the magic mile.

e. Good luck at the 6 hours...

Alicia said...

p.s. Time to update your PRs on the sidebar of your blog:)

Kate said...

congrats! you know I'm illiterate about running, but even I know that's smokin' fast!

Liz said...

I'll de-lurk and say that I am so impressed with that PR! That is amazingly fast and a real testament to the value of the speed work you've talked about (in addition to your overall commitment to running). Just curious - has revamping your diet made running fast feel at all/much different? I have followed your story for a long time now and have always wondered how you could physically run so much and so fast (I'll usually be STARVING later in the day after running and I am not speedy at all). Do you notice much of a difference in energy these days?

In the spirit of de-lurking, I will also say that I think your views on pregnant running are really valuable and well-researched. Some might find it controversial, but it's refreshing to hear the view that is actually backed up by the data. No one jumps all over women who choose to be sedentary in their pregnancies despite the evidence against their choice and it's been frustrating to see some of the comments criticizing you for maintaining your exercise regimen.

sea legs girl said...

Alicia and Liz. Thank you for those comments. I have been mulling them over and promise a blog post tomorrow where I will respond in some way! It has just been a busy week.

PPC - well, I responded in email, but I will respond to you also in the next post.