2014 St. Patrick’s Day 5k

While it’s hard to write a lengthy race report on a 5k, there’s always something to learn be reminded of from any event and this was no exception. As I’ve been training more consistently and staying healthy, apparently I have to re-learn an old racing lesson.

I’ve had some decent training recently, and based on how my tempo runs and interval workouts had been going, I expected to do this race in under 20 minutes – not ‘fast’ yet, based on where my training is, but I should have been able to hold a sub-4:00/km pace for the duration. It wasn’t that I finished about half a minute over that goal that was troubling, rather it was the way I ended up there.

Officially, I was fifth in my M45-49 age category in a gun time of 20:48 and a chip time of 20:31. Garmin says I was 20:28.

The deets

On race day, it was looking very much like it was going to be a wet affair. However, the skies behaved and by the time I got to Stanley Park, it was cloudy but no rain in sight. Thankfully, it stayed this way and the run ended up being a slightly cool, cloudy affair. It was pretty much perfect early season running weather.

It’s been a few years since I did this race and, if you can believe it, they had the nerve to change the course! The last time I did it, it was mostly run right on the seawall and then it cut across the park near the end. The new (to me anyway) course now stays up on the road and uses Pipeline to traverse the park.

Beginning on Pipeline with an early few hundred meters downhill, the course then follows Stanley Park Drive for roughly the next three km or so before connecting back with Pipeline for a gnarly little bit of climbing in the last km, then funnelling runners down to the finish line at the Pavilion. While most of the course parallels the seawall, the road undulates more. I’m not suggesting it was a hilly course, but it was a little tougher than I expected (and I know I’m not the only one who was surprised by the little climbs).

What I learned

Going out too fast was probably the biggest problem, and not a new one for me. I got sucked into a 3:44 first km split. When I saw it I knew I wouldn’t hold it, but I didn’t think I’d slow as much (and consistently from km to km, as it turned out) as I did. After going out too fast, I thought if I could hold the rest of the splits to 3:50-4:00 I’d still come in well under 20:00 for the race.

Unfortunately, after 3:44 each successive split got bigger and bigger. I could even have lived with the 3rd split of 4:06, as holding the rest of the way at this pace or a little faster would have been fine, and I recall being at approximately a 3:56 pace overall. However, my two final splits somewhat inexplicably went the other way and continued to grow. As such, my final pace of 4:05 was a little slower than what I was hoping for.

I’m pretty sure if I’d have gone out a little closer to a 4:00 pace I could have picked things up a bit and held it until, at least, until the little climb in the final 1-1.5km. I ran into Steve and finally met Jan at the finish, but like Steve, couldn’t stick around for the green beer.