I had an exciting race weekend lined up for Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles and the plan of attack was an aggressive one. Show up at the start line at 7am and run the 5K as fast as possible… then run the couple blocks BACK to the start line and run the half marathon that ALSO started at 7am. I was running all weekend as a part of the Got Chocolate Milk Team and we had a social media meet up and tweet up planned for the expo on Saturday. Of course, this gives me the perfect chance to encourage OTHERS to join me on this crazy double-race day and an excellent opportunity to take all the pictures.
How do you race a 5K?
Seriously. It’s a real question. I think I’ve raced one 5K before and although I work in some speed work during my training, holding on to a several sub-7 minute miles is not my strong suit. My inexperienced plan was to try to nail between 6:30-7 minutes for all 3 miles. That pace IS NOT comfortable for me and I’m also extremely unfamiliar with it, but the goal was to finish the 5K somewhere between 19-21 minutes. That would give me enough time to switch my shoes, change my shirt and make it back to the start where they were “hopefully” still releasing corrals. I was guessing that I had a 20-25 minute window to make it back to the start (more details on the plan here).
I made my way to the very front of corral 1… well, as close as I felt comfortable. I was on the far right side, maybe 1-2 ppl back from the start line. I almost felt “elite.” But let’s see how it goes.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO.
Mile 1: 6:05
Wow. That was unexpected. I clearly was going way to fast. I checked in at the half mile marker and I was at 3 mins. I made a mental note that I was going too fast and needed to try to pull it back 10 or so seconds… but clearly that didn’t register to my legs.
Mile 2: 6:45
There was a turnaround near the 1.5 mile marker. Some guy told me “you guys are going the wrong way, come run the half.” I of course replied, “let me finish this race first, then I’ll come run yours.” I didn’t keep too close of an eye on my watch the rest of the way. Maybe subconsciously I didn’t want to know. I knew I was slowing down, but I just kept thinking only another mile. I think I saw it blink at 6:45 and thought ok, that averages out, so I’m good.
I saw a lot of familiar faces on the loop back as it was pretty wide open. I was guessing that there were less than 10 people in front of me. I appreciated all the shout outs on the way back… it definitely made the mile more enjoyable and kind of surreal.
Mile 3: 7:15
I had clearly burned out after running so hard the first 2 miles. I was barely holding on. This mile was made up of very short thoughts that went something like this: where is that finish line, where is the finish line? You have to keep running, you have to make it back to the start. 20 minutes, you can still make 20 minutes. There was no one in front of close enough to catch and the person behind me was not close enough to pass me, but I definitely used the “don’t get passed” thought. As I approached the finish line, I saw people coming towards me with a ribbon and after I crossed the line they raised it. The runner that was behind me ended up being the first female.
20:53 (PR), 6:43 avg.
3/77 Age Group
Note: although the first female finished 10 seconds behind me (my 20:55 clock time vs. her 21:05 clock time) she finished in front of me in chip time (20:47) which pushed me to 9th overall rather than the 8th person to cross the line. I want to do a blog post about this at another time, as this sometimes comes up on social: chip vs. gun time.
I was exhausted. Am I still supposed to run the half? I grabbed my medal and made my way over to the Chocolate Milk tent where my second pair of racing shoes and a new shirt were waiting for me. I could still hear them releasing corrals and caught them saying corral 16 or 17, so I knew I had a few extra seconds since there were 20-ish corrals. Michael (@pointonemiles) was doing the challenge with me and so were a couple other #SA2LV runners. We met up after the finish and walked over to the start line to jump in with corral 18. Plenty of time.
I would have loved to have run a more consistent 5K. Straight 6:45’s the whole way probably would have felt better, but I’m glad I did not start with 7:15 and end with 6:05 which would have left me thinking I had too much left in the tank. I went ALL OUT from mile 1 and I could not have run a faster 5K on that particular morning. If I had the energy to run sub 6:30’s I was going to let my body do it with no regard for the half I still had to run. Mission accomplished.
The first couple miles were tough. I was glad to be running with Michael as we sort of just grooved into each other’s pace and held on. We joked the first couple miles that THIS was a terrible idea… only being half serious. We ranged somewhere between 9-10 minute miles for the first 5 then I think we hit a smoother rhythm as our legs relaxed from sprinting the 5K — I believe we both set PRs with Michael finishing 11 among males and both took 3rd in our respective age groups.
I was able to see wifey and the First Lady around mile 7… stopping to give them hugs and kisses and I even got a blue cow bell from someone at mile 6 which I gave to the First Lady. Michael continued on and I played catch up for the next mile or so. Again, if it wasn’t for him, I would have been going at a much slower pace. I started to wonder if sub-2 was a possibility. I ran the course last year, so I knew exactly what to expect and if I kept running strong and took advantage of the last mile being downhill, it was a possibility.
Michael had clearly taken off in front of me after mile 9 and I could no longer see him. I did my best to use him as a “rabbit” and try to catch up, but it was looking less and less likely as I was losing sight. I was able to pull off a 7:39 mile for 11 and a 7:47 for mile 13, but my sub-2 hopes were lost with a 8:50 mile 12 that included a couple walk breaks. I sprinted the heck out of the last 100 yards in hopes to regain sub-2 stature, but I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 12 seconds (9:10 avg) — so close, yet so far away.
How do I feel about it now?
I’m stoked about the 5K. It’s definitely an experience that I will not forget — and kind of want to experience again. A Top 10 Finish and being out there in the front with the lead runners was exhilarating. And just to be clear, the overall winner finished in 17:26 so I have no grand illusions of where I rank among the 5K elites… but it was something to experience. You know how when you see the lead runners coming back and you get that feeling of “wow, how are they already at mile 7 and I’m at mile 4?” It was surreal to be on “that” side of the cones — even though I was running a 5K that had a 1 mile out and back.
The half turned out to be fun once my legs relaxed from the speed-work of the 5K. After the first couple miles, they finally relaxed and came to terms with “we’re running a half marathon now” and miles 5-10 felt pretty normal. The last 3 miles kind of felt like I had been racing the half for a PR and was crashing. That feeling of wanting to walk and mental fatigue started to settle in, but knowing there are only a few miles left.
I enjoyed the experience and I would definitely be up to do it again. Post race, I was all about recovery mode. I had a 5-hour drive back in the car, so I made a point to make sure I was taking the proper recovery steps: refueling with chocolate milk (think I had 3), followed by an ice bath at the hotel and Pro Compression socks the rest of the day. It was definitely something that can only happen if the circumstances are lined up: start times, start/finish line proximity, but I’m definitely keeping an eye on future RnR courses and race schedules to see if we can make it happen again.
Would you ever try something like this?
Two races in one day?