Monday, January 30, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Groundhog Run 5k

The goal of this race was to do the 3.1 mile run in under 20 minutes.  This necessitated running that distance around a 6:26 minute per mile pace.  My PR for this race is 20:02, which I did back in August.  It sure seems like an attainable goal.

Unfortunately, I came nowhere close to meeting that goal.  I completed the race in 22:13.  I knew even a month ago that it was going to be extremely difficult. Back in August I was in the midst of half-ironman training.  I was completing weeks of 110+ miles running/biking/swimming.  This last month and a half I was doing 20 mile weeks solely on running.  I managed to keep my weight throughout the holidays but I am still 10 pounds heavier than back in August.  While these may seem like excuses... well, they are.  I didn't train properly to achieve the goal.  While I was doing intervals at pace I never attempted a sub-20 5k during any of my training runs.

To be honest with myself, running a sub-20 5k doesn't meet my goal for this year: qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  To qualify for Boston, I have to run a 3:10 marathon, which is a 7:14 pace.  When you take that into consideration, I easily met my secondary goal of a 7:10 pace for the race!  I would love to get that sub-20 performance but right now I'm readjusting my expectations for this year to continue increasing my distance at the 7:14 or below pace.  So no sub-40 10k, but instead a sub-45 minute 10k. (that doesn't mean I won't gun for a sub-40!)

My running clothes mixed in with my packing clothes/supplies.

I love the Groundhog Run because the 5k starts at 9am and the 10k at 10am.  So no need to get up way early (or to bed way early!)  I can tell I didn't have my head/heart into this race because I almost left the house without my timing chip.  I did have everything set out the night before but that.  Breakfast was a bagel with PB and a banana.

We arrived a little after 8:00am.  This year the organizers had shuttles from Ameristar Casino.  I would recommend next year to take the spur through Randolph to avoid the traffic into the main casino entrance.  Well, that is if you don't have a VIP parking pass which parks you in front of the entrance to the cave.

Joe VI and I met at the entrance and we then walked over to the port-a-johns.  We finally took care of business there about 8:45, in which we jogged over to the start.  We wanted to start in the first 5 feet of the participants to make it easier for our goal by not having to weave through slower participants.  We got a warm-up run in to get the heart beating.  (NOTE: Next year, do the warm-up jog before hitting the port-a-johns.  There was one at the first aid station that would have saved some time).

It was a little weird starting so close but fun.  Once the race started, we took off.  I was working with my footpod for pace, but I knew wasn't properly calibrated but mostly accurate.  I hit around a 6:30 pace but soon I heard Joe say "run your pace", which I took as he was following my pace.  I later found out he was telling me I was going out too fast.  After about 1/2 of a mile, I could tell I was slowing down and couldn't do anything about it.

About this time I was having a problem with an extremely dry mouth.  I needed water but only to try to resolve that.  I hit the first mile marker and hit my lap button: 6:24.  Wow!  Right on target!  Granted, the first half of that mile was around 6:00 minute pace with the second half near 7:00 minute pace.

Mile 2 was a bit of a blur but the one thing I remember was Joe passing me.  I did grab a cup of water but only to get some water in the mouth, not for hydration reasonings.  I clicked off mile 2 at 7:35 pace.  Yeah, I was definitely going to fail at my sub-20.

Reality settled in and I just tried to do what I could.  I was breathing hard and my throat and lungs began to hurt and my stomach was beginning to give me the evil eye.  I was also getting that metallic/bloody taste in the back of my throat. At about the 18 minute mark I had a girl start chatting with me.  I can't exactly remember what she said.  Maybe she was asking for the time or maybe commenting on almost being done.  I just mumbled something about I've missed my goal and let's just get it over.  Mile 3 hit at 7:31.  I was speeding up!

I hit the boosters and started passing people again.  It felt good to get things moving faster.  I finished the last .1 miles in 43 seconds (or a pace of 7:10).

Finish 22:13
115th overall
11th in Age Group

I was somewhat disappointed with myself but I had been preparing myself for the reality during the previous week.  This has really been the first time I've setup a goal with racing events and failed.  I'm definitely learning from it. I knew my training wasn't good enough but I also need to make sure my short-term goals meeting my long-term goals.

After talking with co-workers who also participated this year, they had similar problems with dry mouth.  The caves are naturally warm (around mid-60s); however, they really is no ventilation system so the air is dry and stale.  This makes it difficult to breath in some moist air.  I don't remember having this issue last year but I wasn't running at the same level.

Joe VI, TKB, Lauren, Joe VII and I went to First Watch for breakfast and then we went home for a nap....  a nap that lasted 4 hours.  I couldn't believe it.  I was still having a hard time with my throat/lungs with some nasty coughing but managed to get some rest in.  A day later everything is back to normal but the whole event took a big toll on me.

Lessons Learned

  • Warm-up run before the race and use the port-a-john at the first aid station.
  • Calibrate the Footpod or use other means for pacing.  Joe listened to music that had an appropriate beats per minute.
  • Hydration is again key.  I'm not sure if having downed 2 gallons of water the few days before would have helped with the stale air, but maybe it would have done something.

Joe VI... aka  "The grey blur" crossing the finish line.

Joe VI getting some ITB treatment.

Maybe we should have taken this on the route instead of running.



  1. Looks like you had a good run that you learned from and that is good.

    I love the last pic!

  2. Lessons learned: read the directions. If they say put your wetsuit into the bag, put the wetsuit into the bag. If they say put the timing chip on your shoe because it has to be within 24" of the timing mat, don't put it on your belt. Maybe I need to modify my 2012 goal from BQ to "be able to prove BQ."