I guess you could say my training took an interesting twist this Spring.
With all of my races either getting canceled, or assuming virtual status, nothing was looking normal. COVID-19 may have wreaked havoc on my races, but I wasn’t going to let it dictate my (running) livelihood.
Thanks to the UN-Canceled Project, (promoted by Run The Edge), I fostered a new game plan.
While maintaining most of my spring race training (on the slight chance all things racing would resume), I took on the challenge of weekly 5K time trials (most were run on Mondays, after work). The 5K has been a bit of a nemesis for me, especially in recent years, so why not give it some attention?
My finish times haven't been terrible, but my pacing and "race" experience has been less than desirable on many occasion. I'm more of an endurance junkie, so speed does not come natural for me. I have often struggled with mastering that first mile. If I go too fast, I'll crash and burn long before the final mile. If I start out too conservatively, it's difficult to make up for that lost time before the finish line. After all, we're talking 3.1 miles here...there isn't a lot of fluff time to mess around with.
My goal with these 5K time trials wasn't to set a new PR each week (spoiler: there weren't any LOL). Instead, I was hoping to find that sweet tempo-ish pace....a pace that would be comfortably hard but wouldn't leave me totally tapped out when finished. A pace that my body would (hopefully) know how to assume without my having to rely on the Garmin. Yeah, I had my work cut out for me.
So, how did that work for me?
Here's a brief synopsis of the first six 5K's. More details can be found on the post, 6 Weeks of 5K Time Trials...a Few Reflections (HERE).
March 30 - Crushing Covid virtual 5K (26:38). Sunny day. Ran it with my friend, Barb. Things felt good.
April 6 - UN-Canceled Hope 5K (27:07). Cold day, with plenty of wind. The legs felt sluggish. Overall, a tough run.
April 13 - UN-Canceled Humor 5K (27:27). Cold day with crazy wind (18mph, with gusts of 25-30). It was all I could do to stay vertical, even the cross-wind and tailwind were ominous.
April 20 - UN-Canceled Inspiration 5K (27:16). Another windy run (only 14mph this week, though).
April 27 - UN-Canceled Courage 5K (27:10). My first really warm run! The heat came as a surprise, but at least the balmy breeze wasn't as tough to run against. I should have brought water...
May 4 - UN-Canceled Commitment 5K (26:57). Chilly temps (39F) and more wind. With rain in the forecast for later, I opted to run this over my lunch hour.
...and here's how the last six went:
May 11 - UN-Canceled Dreams 5K (26:29). Temps were comfortably cool (and windy...again), but this wound up being my best run yet! Everything clicked and my splits were oh-so-nice (8:48/8:38/8:15). If only that could happen every time, right?
May 18 - UN-Canceled Kindness 5K (27:35). If there ever was a race (or run) doomed before I even started, it would be this one. Frustrating last-minute crisis at work caused me to get home later than expected, the weather was damp and chilly, and my left hip was having some attitude. Everything felt awkward and off. All things considered, my finish time wasn't bad, but it took much more effort than it should have. I was ever-so-glad to have this run over and done.
May 29 - UN-Canceled Joy 5K (26:53). I wound up switching this to Friday, due to another 5K I ran in tribute on Memorial Day. Also, my body needed a few days of recovery time (there also had been a Murph workout on that Monday as well). This run felt absolutely fan-tabulous. The temps were mild (and the wind was almost MIA!), and this was my first 5K time trial in the early-morning hours. What's not to love?
June 2 - UN-Canceled Community 5K (27:24). After a busy weekend, with a long run and several hours of garden squats, my hammies were not feeling a Monday 5K. Instead, I laced up and ran it on Tuesday morning. Anyways, this run felt good, from the get-go. My finish time was a bit of a surprise...maybe it was the early hour (5:30) or the sudden warm temps (70F with 76% humidity)? Honestly, it didn't matter. This run echoed everything I love about summer running, so the finish time is irrelevant.
June 8 - UN-Canceled Perseverance 5K (27:54). This run felt much like the previous week's. Similar temps (warm and balmy), but everything felt great as I ran. Again, the finish time was a good minute "slower" than what it felt like, but oh well. Perseverance was spot-on for this week's theme...it totally reflected all the grit and determination I've had to summon, in recent weeks, to finish out these 12 weeks of 5K virtuals.
June 15 - UN-Canceled Life 5K (27:00). Finally, the day arrived for the grand finale, and everything felt quite grand indeed. The temps were moderate (upper 60F's) with a slight wind (of course LOL). Halfway into the first mile, I realized I'd forgotten my music, and I had to alter my usual route slightly due to some road repair. But, this run truly felt great and (dare I say) almost effortless. Ironically, the 27:00 finish time couldn't have been more appropriate for the occasion, since that's my "usual" 5K benchmark if I'm not all-out racing. Coincidence?
Can I just runfess that I'm so grateful to have this training cycle finished? As mentioned, the 5K has been a tough dragon to slay (at least for me). Taking on 12 weeks of this routine has left me tired, but quite satisfied as well. I believe in full disclosure (accountability LOL), so sharing my finish times kept things real...everyone could see my triumphs as well as my struggles and frustrations. That wasn't easy, either.
It was fun having the different weekly themes. In case you didn't catch it, I made it my job to match my outfit to the various colors of the themes each week (a party-pooper I am not).
Although I ran these all on the same route (with the exception of the last one, which had a couple of single city block detours), the weather was probably my biggest challenge. Thankfully, I didn't have any rain to battle, but there was wind-LOTS of wind- pretty much every week.
These 12 weeks, in many ways, felt like a marathon training cycle. The irony? This UN-Canceled Project series is ending just as my Air Force Marathon training was due to begin. Only, the marathon has been canceled (whomp whomp). Things could be worse, right? After all, I gained a lot of discipline these past 12 weeks, and (maybe?) a little speed. All is well.
So, what's next? I am looking forward to running sans Garmin for awhile. I love that little device, but it's not my gig to have it with me so often. And, I'm looking forward to doing some different speed work...bring on the Fartleks, intervals and hill repeats!
How do you feel about the 5K distance? Would you ever consider taking on several weeks of time trials? Have you come up with any clever training routines, in light of all the cancellations?