Race Report: NYRR Join the Voices 5M

This race, a 5 miler (this is known as stating the bleeding obvious), was NYRR’s final race in its 2011 club points series. They swapped it with the Joe Kleinerman 10K, which was moved to January. Good thing, too, because I’m a 5K runner now. I can barely race for 3 miles as it is. Racing for 5 miles taxed all of my systems today.

But. I PRed by 47 seconds (my 5 mile best being admittedly soft, an excuse I figure I can milk for at least another year). My previous 5M PR was also set on a hilly course, although not Central Park’s.

I learned some things today. One of the biggest things I learned is that I don’t necessarily need to do a “proper” warmup to race well, at least not for this distance. I was rushed after picking up my bib and checking my bag. I did a grand total of 90 seconds warmup jogging before heading over to the start corrals. No race pace running, no strides, no dynamic stretching. Just a stupid, barely-qualifies-as-a-warmup warmup. It didn’t matter.

This may have been partly the case because, as is the case with many NYRR races, the course was crowded and I was hemmed in and running slower than I wanted to for the first three-quarters of a mile. But this means that I got to have a nice chat with Hilary, who sidled up to me in the first minute of the race with a hale and hearty, “Excuse me, sir!” This, a reference to a thread we had on Facebook last night about the gender misidentification that having an extremely short haircut can cause, made me laugh. We chatted for a bit, but I said I’d stop being able to talk in about 30 seconds and she politely sent me on my wheezing way earlier than that.

Along the way I saw some Harriers, both on and off the course, and met a few new (to me) ones at the finish line, and reconnected with others whom I know already. But I probably missed others. I had a strange kind of tunnel vision this morning. It took a lot of mental and physical effort to race 5 miles hard. Now, after several months of mile/5K training, 5 miles seems like a very long way. I wore my no frills Timex and didn’t bother hitting the lap splits or even looking at it. I could tell from the course clocks that I was doing okay.

It was a good day. Temperature was 44 degrees (still a little warm for me), it was overcast and there was virtually no wind. I took advantage of the good conditions since I had no excuse for doing badly.

My chip time was 34:39, or about 6:56 per mile. That’s almost down to my best 4 mile pace on this course (6:53). I believe it was also a slightly stronger performance (relatively speaking) than was my 5K in Flushing Meadows a week ago. I took a day off on Friday and ran just 3 miles yesterday, after a week that featured just one hard workout. I’m becoming convinced that doing a mini taper (and no warmup?) is the way to go.

Aside from the warmup and mini tapering lessons, I also learned that I should ignore weird phantom injuries that crop up a day before the race. Yesterday, there was a weakness in my left leg. The quad felt like it was going to fail a few times, just while walking around. This morning, as I made my way down the stairs at 5:45 am, the left knee felt shaky. I was relying on the handrail to get downstairs. WTF. Well, you know what? Nothing TF. It’s just weirdness. It means nothing. Usually. Sometimes it means you’re about to get a catastrophic stress fracture. But most of the time, it doesn’t mean anything.

I remain grateful to have remained uninjured since July. Knock wood. It has been such a shit few years in this regard. I think that remaining uninjured, more than anything I’ve been doing training-wise, has been the key to my “sudden” improvement. If you can’t run, then you can’t train consistently, and you can’t get faster. But I also think doing a lot of different kinds of speed work (and a weekly tempo run) has been a crucial element in this training cycle. Jack Daniels’ training comprises about 80% of what I’m doing, but I’m substituting other workouts, like 1K repeats, that I have felt would help me more, given my training history. These are turning out to have been good instincts, I think.

Next up: a 5K in Bethpage on Long Island in two weeks. I hope that one doesn’t have hills or 23 right-angle turns. But if it does, I’ll be ready.

9 Responses

  1. Nice job on the PR!
    Creepy part: I was next to you for a good 200m or so between miles 1 and 2, and was totally planning on doing a HIJULIEIREADYOURBLOG, but realized I probably didn’t have the oxygen to spare, and then you pulled ahead anyways.
    Good luck in your next 5k!

  2. Congrats! I always marvel at your dedication to training for a specific distance, it’s impressive. I’m more of a dabbler in everything.

  3. warmups(and their lack) are a very mysterious thing. All these years in the running game and i can’t really figure it out. Sometimes i have workouts where i go strong right from the go. But with races i’ve almost never had that experience. Perhaps you didn’t need a warmup because you were highly caffeinated? This seems to blast me off in workouts. Anyway, super race!

  4. Congrats on the race. Good points re tapering, warm-ups and injuries. On the latter, the variety, better recovery and improved strength (from the speed) are all positives for ’5k training’. On tapering, I’m in favour of the ‘mini-taper’. From his log, Bill Rodgers had a 2-week taper for the Olympic Trials in ’76… 157, 138 and 88 miles the week of the race!

  5. Congratulations on the super speedy pr! So the improvement is due to the non-injury streak – to what do you attribute said streak? Or is that a stupid question. Just wondering if you think youve found the ideal mileage/speedwork combo for you, after marathon training seemed to be the wrong fit.

    • It’s not a stupid question. I attribute injury avoidance to:
      - Cutting workouts down from three to two a week
      - Doing proper warmups before any faster running (yesterday excluded)
      - Low (for me) mileage
      - Getting fairly regular deep tissue massage (2x a month)

      If I don’t feel ready to do a workout, I put it off. I don’t work hard on tired legs. I was very influenced by a recent article in Running Times by Pete Magill that laid out recovery times for masters runners. They are in line with my recent experience.

      Hope that helps.

      • Well, you know, sometimes I think it’s best not to ask that sort of question lest you jinx it :) That all makes sense. I’m a low-mileage/high-intensity person myself, never gotten injured on that type of program but ALWAYS (!!!!) manage to hurt myself when I try to rack up the miles. Anyway, glad this is working for you!

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