Today I ticked a big box on my running wish list: I ran the Scotia 5k in 15:56. Here’s how it all went down.
Resetting my paces
Last month, I ran the greatest race of my life (and had one of the best experiences of my life) when I won my age group at the 5th Avenue Mile. My time, a 4:27, was also by far my best running performance ever.
One of my favourite things about setting a new “overall PB” is seeing how it affects all your training paces and equivalent race times. Since 4:27 was almost ten seconds faster than I was supposed to be able to run a mile, it radically changed all my paces and times. Here’s what the McMillan Running Calculator currently thinks I can do (and the insane things I’ll need to do to be able to run a 4-minute 1500):
After lots of careful season-planning, base-building, VO2 Max-increasing, and speed-tuning, now we’re into the important races. This weekend, I race the 1500 at the Athletics Ontario Open Championship, where I’m hoping to run my fastest time of the year. The next weekend, I run the NCCWMA championships, where I hope to take home a medal or two.
Over the past week, I’ve raced another 1500 (and set another PB) and started what Coach Paul is calling “Special Endurance Workouts,” designed to provide that last bit of fitness before the big goal races. Each gets a section below.
On May 31st 2019, having just turned 38, I did my first ever outdoor track race. It was a mile at the UBC track in Vancouver, and I ran it in 4:40.11. A little over a week later, at the York University Twilight Series Meet #1, I ran a 1500 in 4:18.50. Five days after that, last night, I ran another 1500 at the London 1500 night, in 4:17.95.
What follows is the story of those two 1500s — how I raced them, how they felt, and what I learned.
My partner’s parents live near the Dixie Outlet Mall in Mississauga, and we stop there fairly often. Much of my wardrobe consists of weird castoffs that Tommy Hilfiger couldn’t sell in his normal stores, Levi’s 501 jeans purchased at 50% off markup, and weird odds and ends from Winner’s.
But for some reason I’d never thought to investigate the Nike Outlet Store. Until one fateful day in February, that is.
I went in expecting to find a bunch of “lifestyle” sneakers and basketball shoes. I definitely wasn’t expecting to find running-nerd shoes like track spikes. But the first thing my eyes landed on when I entered the store was a pair of Nike Zoom Victory Elite 2s. I’d just read a review of these a few days before — I was thinking about buying my first pair of spikes for my indoor track training, and I was curious to see what the equivalent of the Vaporfly was (you know, something ridiculously fast and ridiculously overpriced). What I came up with was the Victory Elite 2s, which have a carbon fibre plate and cost in excess of $250 CDN.
Well, the ones in the Outlet Store didn’t cost $250. They were a totally reasonably-sounding $79. I texted my club mate Jay to make sure these were good spikes and this was a good price. He replied that they were, and it was, and asked me to pick him up a pair as well.
This morning, I ran my first serious race of the 2019 outdoor season: the Bum Run 5k.
I’d first heard about the Bum Run from Alex Hutchinson, who won the race for three straight years in 2015–2017. Apparently the race had big cash prizes but was somewhat under the radar, so these prizes were within reach for runners like me. I was curious, but also a little leery of stepping on toes. But a few weeks ago Alex told me he didn’t plan on running it this year. Then Jay, Simon, and Phil from my club expressed interest in forming a team and running it together. I was in.
The prizes weren’t so great this year — in fact, it wasn’t really clear what they would be, beyond possibly involving Saucony shoes — but there was plenty to get excited about nonetheless. The route was appealing to me: starting in Queen’s Park, then heading around the U of T campus before looping back along Bay Street and St. Michael’s College, it was close to home and passed many of my favourite spots in the city. My friends would be there. And the race, which is run in support of colorectal cancer research, has a very good sense of humour. For instance, there was was a gigantic inflatable rectum at the start/finish today, big enough to walk through. Truly “a 5k to get behind,” as their tagline goes.
After a great (fun and fast) Spring Run-Off last Saturday, I was feeling pretty great. I felt really tired the next morning, but not sore. Then I went for an easy run — it was warmish out, but I definitely under-dressed — and I came home and felt horrible. My partner had been sick all weekend with what we thought was food poisoning. But maybe it was a virus, because when my immune system dipped after the race and that chilly easy run, I picked something up. For two days, I had chills, I was nauseous, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Of course, running addiction being what it is, I still really wanted to run. Thankfully, I pretty much literally couldn’t. I sat out a UTTC Masters workout on Monday, then took a day off easy running. By Wednesday, I was feeling somewhat decent, and decided to try out a treadmill run. It was mildly unpleasant, but I made it through. I ran a somewhat sluggish track workout Thursday night (followed by a very fun pub night), by which time my flu-like symptoms were morphing into a chest cold. This never got particularly severe, but my usual Mount Pleasant tempo on Saturday felt harder than usual. It was still kicking around for the track workout tonight — there was still plenty of phlegm to jettison — but I’m mostly over it.
When I started running, I got directly into marathons, which made season-planning easy.
Marathons are hard on your body, so you can only run one or two per year. Pick a book (I mostly used Hansons Marathon Method) and follow the five-month schedule. The rest of the year, run a few 5Ks or find some other way to occupy your time.