First You Run a Slower 5k

Late in July, I picked a new three-month project: Run a Faster 5k. Reminder: the time to beat is 33:15; the goal is sub-30.

The day after I wrote that post, Liz, Jaclyn and I ran the Urban Raid 5k here in Boston. Admittedly, it’s very trendy in running right now: Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, etc. I know, I know – but we had so much fun! Trendy things are popular for a reason – people like it! Liz and I had been working with Clayton at Healthworks Fitness between May and July, training for the obstacle aspect of this race. (Ok, that was a really good excuse to work out with a friend and with a great trainer!) We had already seen an improvement in the gym, so we were excited to test out if we were actually stronger “in real life.”

This race was really just a playground for adults. There were various hurdles obstacles, monkey bars, a cargo net climb (overlooking the harbor), rope climb, and the finishers wall. I would get out there and do that every weekend – except for the $50 average price tag on these events. Yikes!

Liz, me, and Jaclyn after the Urban Raid 5k.
Liz, me, and Jaclyn after the Urban Raid 5k.

Doing this race with Liz and Jaclyn (who I actually first met the morning of the race) was so nice – what a great group we were. I am definitely the slowest of the three, and unsurprisingly that made me feel incredibly guilty at first. Sure, it’s fun to run a race like this with your friends, but who wants their time impacted by someone slower? It wasn’t like that at all though – they were great cheerleaders and teammates. I can’t wait to take up a notch with them next year! We definitely have designs on the Warrior Dash race.

It’s a month later now though, and I’ve went out for a few runs (just 4). I have not really committed to this “get faster” thing in the way I thought I would. I didn’t run at all for three weeks after that 5k!

August Runs

  • 8/17, Vermont. Distance – 2.99 mi, Time – 34:45.
  • 8/24, Esplanade (Boston). Distance – 4.06 mi, Time – 50:33.
  • 8/25, Seaport (Boston). Distance – 2.83 mi, Time – 31:48.
  • 8/28, Marathon Sports Run Club. Distance – 3.66 mi, Time – 43:04.

But it’s ok! I needed a bit of a break. No big deal. Liz and I went to Marathon Sports run club last week and ran a slow 3.5 together. While it was slow and we were not pushing ourselves really at all (we were able to chat the entire time), it was definitely the first run of many this fall. It just felt like the beginning again, you know?

I’m still looking for an official, chip-timed 5k to run in late October or early November. I have signed up for a December 5k, but that is basically just a holiday-themed party. It absolutely will not fit into this plan – we have a team name; there will be costumes; there will be beer.

But… I signed up for another 10k, in October! My running plan for the next six weeks is essentially focused on distance then. It would be nice if those 6 miles felt a little easier this time around. In addition to running, I’ll keep training with Jason, try to fit in 2 spin classes per week. And I’m going to add in one evening yoga class per week for September as well.

So, each week I go out for 3 runs – one long run, one tempo run, and one set of speed work (usually on the treadmill). In order to also prioritize getting faster, my long runs will incorporate that attention as well: running one mile at my best pace, resting, and repeating for the full distance. Tempo runs will be treated as race day runs – the full distance at race pace. Speed work will continue to be the drudgery of training for a race, the type of running you need a playlist to get through and quickly uses up your entire day’s supply of grit and perseverance (which is why I do speed work on Fridays).

I know reading and talking about running is, at best, tedious for non-runners, so here’s a reward for making it to the end. My running playlist for the last two weeks is one of the more perfect (for me) playlists I’ve put together. Highlights include:

Ellie Goulding — “Burn”

M.I.A. — “Bad Girls”

Jay-Z — “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”

Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West — “Run This Town”

I’m working on September’s running playlist – what music are you running to?

Run a Faster 5k

Last night, I ran my first 5k.

Ok, last night I ran in my first 5k raceI have run 3.1 miles in one outing before. But not that many times…

Previous 5k-ish runs:

  • 5/11, in Wisconsin. Distance – 3.16 mi. Time – 34:28
  • 5/19, Sunday morning run along the river. Distance – 3.38 mi. Time – 39:11
  • 5/22, my first Marathon Sports Run Group outing. Distance – 3.5 mi. Time 38: 12
  • 5/29, Marathon Sports Run Group. Distance – 3.45 mi. Time – 39:00
  • 6/5, Marathon Sports Run Group. Distance – 3.43 mi. Time – 38:15

My runs typically got longer in June because on June 30th, a great group of friends and I ran the City Sports Back in the Day 10k in Porter Square. (So I was training!) This was such an incredible experience for me. My Healthworks trainer, Jason, created this amazing running plan for me to follow in June and I pretty much stuck with it. I put in all this hard work and then at the end of the month was able to run 6.2 miles! That’s the longest distance I’ve ever run! And do you know how incredible it is to see your friends standing around the halfway mark with an encouraging sign, a bottle of water, and high fives all around? (Indescribably incredible!) This was definitely one of my top five highlights for the year, absolutely.

Some of us ran, some of us cheered, but we all conquered!
Some of us ran, some of us cheered, but we all conquered!

Oh, I ran those 6.2 miles in 1:12:35. I’ll take it.

So this tangent leads us back to last night. Now that I’ve run a 10k, I know I can run a 5k, no problem. So I signed up for the Camp Harbor View Harborthon 5k. (It’s another workout fundraiser!) The race was great – organized so well, great volunteers, beautiful location. There was an incredible group of sponsors for this race (lots of delicious post-race craft beer and food from b.good) and an awesome group of runners. The group was smaller this year due to the rain — maybe just two or three hundred people, but that just made us so much more awesome!

Camp Harbor View began in 2007 as a summer camp for Boston teens (ages 11-14). The founders began with an initial goal of raising $10 million over 25 years, and have already raised $46 million! I’m so glad I powered through the rain deterrent and went out there – here’s another organization I’m ready to really invest some time in to support. A handful of the campers were there volunteering, and every “thank you for running” I heard was a little pinch to the heart. Real people benefit from the fact that I ran a race yesterday – and that you supported that effort. In just a few days of fundraising, my friends and family contributed $265 to this wonderful cause (you can still donate here until 8/1). That feels better than any post-run endorphin-rush. Thank you all so much!

So, I can add another run to the list above.

  • July 25th, Camp Harbor View Harborthon 5k. Distance – 3.1 mi. Time – 33:15

Last night’s pace was 10:43, which is the best pace I’ve had since I started running again in May. This is just barely true though. I went on a 5.5 mi run on 6/19 that had a 10:45 pace – so I know I can do better with only 3.1 miles. This race serves as my baseline for my next three-month project: Run a Faster 5k. I’ll spend the next three months focusing on cutting time off my pace for this distance. Then, I’ll run another official 5k in late October or early November to compare. Lucky me – I have a trainer who runs who can help me really push through this.

My goal is to run that three-months-from-now 5k with a 9:30 pace. (I’ll have to sign up for something without too many hills!) I’ll write periodically about the training plan I’m using, how my runs are going, and any other interesting races I participate in (I do have a few coming up). I have been using RunKeeper to track my runs. It’s been great to see those comparisons, but it will be really great to actually write about those runs and be able to compare them on something besides a pace level.

Check back for updates!