Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Ravenswood Run 5k Race Recap

My 5k PR was getting dusty. In fact it was due to turn five years old this morning, since I last PR'd at the Ravenswood Run in 2010 (18:15). As I woke up this morning to prepare for this year's version of the race, I had made a deal with myself - if my first mile was sub-6:00/mile then I would go for a PR. If I was slower than that, I would still run fast, but not kill myself, since I would have had to magically change into Usain Bolt to hit some ultra fast paces over the last two miles to get an 18:14. Because I wouldn't run the tangents perfectly, I also had to factor in the plan that the eleven turns on the course would add at least an extra 10 seconds to my time. So, my plan was to run the mile splits something like this:

 5:55, 5:45, 5:40, 5:40

The numbers looked daunting, but I decided to just relax in the initial stages, then make my "break for it" over the final 2.15.

I woke up at 6am for a two and a half mile shakeout run around Welles Park.  When I returned home, I had my standard pre-race fare: a cup of coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. I packed my backpack, slung it over my shoulders and ran a little over a mile to the start area.

Dreaming of the finish line before the race!
I checked my bag and jumped into the corral where I spotted Eric. We chatted a bit about our PR goals, then I ran a couple of pickups to loosen my legs. Upon returning to the corral, I spotted John and Annabelle. The national anthem happened and we were off!
Me (in orange) at the 2011 Ravenswood Run (just to show what the start looks like)
The Race:
Mile 1:  Despite starting at least seven rows back, I was immediately passed by about 50 runners. I could hardly imagine that the 100+ runners that were in front of me (at that point) could hold the 5:30/mile pace we all shot out of the gate at. Once I realized how fast we were going, I slowed down to a 6:00/mile pace. That speed seemed comfortable at the time, so I stayed there. About a half a mile in, I saw Lynton and his dog who cheered me on. Last year, they were cheering next to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. Unfortunately, Mr. Mayor did not make an appearance. Determined to get below 6:00/mile, I sped up slightly before I hit the Mile 1 marker. 5:52/mile.

Mile 2: Since I successfully hit the first mile within goal pace, my PR attempt was officially on! We made our way through the lovely Ravenswood/North Center neighborhood. Suddenly, I found myself just a few steps behind a fast runner in my age group, who finished first last year, so I figured if I simply stayed behind him a few steps, I would have a good shot at age group award. 5:49/mile.

Mile 3: This is the "showcase" mile of the race, because the course winds through the ultra-quaint Lincoln Square shopping area right in front of the Chicago Brauhaus and Gene's Sausage Shop. My lungs were starting to red line, so I dialed back just slightly as we headed into the wind on Lawrence. I heard some running coaches yelling at their runners to keep their heads up and pump their arms, so I tried to focus on that and it actually helped to divert my attention from the suffering that was creeping in. The fast runner that I had been following took off ahead of me, but I was still in contact with him. 5:46/mile.

Tera Moody at the 2013 Ravenswood 5k (in front of the
 Chicago Brauhaus)
Mile 3.15: My lungs and legs were completely red-lining, but a quick glance at the finish line clock told me that I was a few seconds ahead of PR pace - so that was all the motivation I needed to keep hauling booty and run super-duper fast!  4:51/mile.

Official Finish Time: 18:10
Official Pace: 5:51/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:46/mile

Place Overall: 59th out of 3,176
Place Age Group: 3rd out of 162

PR Baby!! It was by five seconds, and I can throw my five-year-old PR in the dustbin! My splits were pretty close to what my "goal" scenario was. I ran a negative split, but still pretty even like a 5k should be run. By not cutting the tangents properly - I ran 3.15 miles - I added about 15 seconds to my time. If I had only run 3.10 miles I would have gone sub-18. So I simply need to find a straighter course to check the sub-18 goal off of my bucket list.

I have a half marathon in 6 days, so to determine my half pace, I plugged an 18:10 5k into the McMillan Calculator. This yields just about a 1:24:00 half marathon time, which is only a few seconds slower than my half PR. So if I run a smart race next weekend, and I get some favorable weather, I could flirt with a PR there as well.

Post Race:
I grabbed some water and walked back through the finishing chute in order to watch other bloggers/friends to finish, I high-fived Annabelle after she crossed. She had a super speedy time, which is awesome since she had run the Boston Marathon seven days ago! I then spotted Eric, who also had a PR! We walked together to bag check and then we met up with John, Annabelle and Lynton.
Eric, John, me and Annabelle post race (src)
We all walked over to breakfast at Glenn's Diner. Eric looked up my race results at Glenn's and told me I had finished third. So, after ordering my blueberry waffle (and sausage, of course), I ran back to the awards ceremony, just in time to get my medal and my first ever podium trip for a CARA race!
Top 3 Age Group!
Posing with Ravenswood medal at Glenn's
I made it back in plenty of time before my breakfast arrived. After breakfast we all went over to Fountainhead for beer and Annabelle made a toast to Eric and my PRs!
Cheers! (src)
What a great morning. Here's to not having to wait another five years for my next PR!

Next Up:
The Indy Mini Marathon in six days!

Friday, April 24, 2015

PR Dreams and Chilling Out

With running, I may or may not have a habit of over-analyzing things. One downside to all of this analysis is that sometimes it assigns a small, scary, definite number to the pace that I need to hit in order to achieve a PR. When my current training pace is around an 8:00/mile it seems rather daunting to have to run 3.1 miles in a row at exactly 5:47/mile on Sunday. So, over the last few days this analysis has resulted in a bit of pre-race anxiety. I was worried how uncomfortable running those paces will make me.

On a related note, Kim had a post today which included a quote from Desi Linden about getting "comfortable with being uncomfortable". While I agree with Des that at certain (mostly later) stages of races you should be comfortable with being uncomfortable - for most of my PRs - I was not uncomfortable at all. As I commented on Kim's post, I finished my half marathon PR with the feeling like I could have run another 5 miles. I've heard it before more than a few times, but it bears repeating that I need to let the race come to me. That's how I run the best - by not forcing things. If I try to force things the race will be "uncomfortably uncomfortable" and the results will reflect that - and probably not in a positive way.

So, I don't know if I will PR this Sunday (or next Saturday), but I do know is I need to chill out and wear a smile! That's the only way for something magical to happen.

Finishing the 2014 RnR Half  (credit)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

As the Course Turns: The Ravenswood Run 5k 2010 vs 2015

I'm running the Ravenswood 5k on Sunday. Since I'm in fairly decent shape right now, I have been toying with the idea of gunning for a PR. My PR is 18:15, which coincidentally was set at the Ravenswood Run way back in 2010.

Unfortunately, the course that I set my PR on is no more and the new Ravenswood Run course has four extra turns. This might seem insignificant, but looking at my Garmin mileage from 2010 to that of 2014, those four turns added an extra 0.03 miles. At a 5:51 pace:

 0.03 miles = 10 extra seconds

So even if I run exactly as fast as I did in 2010, those four turns will cost me 10 seconds. In fact, I need to run a 5:47 pace just to tie my PR!
2010 Ravenswood Run Course = 7 turns
2014 and 2015 Ravenswood Run Course = 11 turns
Currently, I feel like I could be in 18:20 to 18:30 shape, so I need every advantage I can get to have any shot at a PR. At this stage a 5k PR of  two seconds is big. Just to show how much seconds count, my three best 5ks are separated by only 8 seconds. 18:23, 18:17, 18:15.

I really like this race as it goes through the quaint Lincoln Square area and it is only a few blocks from my house. However, if they keep making the course more difficult, I will have to look at this race as simply a tune-up for another, faster (i.e. less turn happy) 5k this summer. Who knows, I might be in better shape than I realize and pull out a magical run. However, I'll need to conjure up a lot more magic in my legs and lungs on Sunday than ever before.

In orange shirt at the 2011 Ravenswood Run

Monday, April 13, 2015

Exactly how many runners did I pass?

In my last post where I recapped my 2015 Shamrock Shuffle race, I mentioned that I passed "tons of runners" over the last couple of miles of the race. I thought it would be cool if I could actually quantify how many runners I passed (and how many passed me) from the 5k mark to the finish line (8k mark) of the race. Luckily, the individual results show each runner's time at the 5k mark and their finish time. So, after painstakingly looking at over 300 runners who finished around my time, I have the results of my analysis:
Shamrock Shuffle 2015:

Number of runners I passed after 5k mark:

Number of runners who passed me after the 5k mark:

My place at 5k mark:

My place at the finish line (8k):


So my "tons of runners" translates to 106 runners passed in just over over 11 minutes - about 10 per minute. I went way down the list to see if anyone had passed me over the same stretch and could not find a single person. This info shows just how big a negative split I ran. However in the long run, the only time that matters is the one that displayed as I crossed the finish line. Lots of other runners who went out a lot faster than me then slowed down more than me, still beat me. Bottom line: While it's fun to pass other runners, you can still get beat by lots of faster "positive splitters" and "even pacers".

Anyway, I also saw that someone on reddit had downloaded the stats of every finisher of the 2014 Chicago Marathon into an Excel spreadsheet. So, using that data, I did the same analysis as above, except this time I calculated the number of runners I passed and was passed by after the halfway (13.1 mile) mark:
Chicago Marathon 2014:

Number of runners I passed after 13.1 mile mark:

Number of runners who passed me after the 13.1 mark:

My place at 13.1 mile mark:

My place at the finish line (26.2 miles):


The interesting thing with this is that I was down on myself for my "big" positive split during the Chicago Marathon, but I needn't really be. Of the runners who passed the half way mark at 1:32:52 or faster, I finished with a faster time than 481 of them. Only 117 runners who ran slower than me for the first half, had a faster time than me. That means that my positive split actually was decent when compared to how big other runners' positive splits were. I shouldn't get down on myself too much - I ran faster than most for the second half! Anyway, next year I hope to be one of those 117, which means starting even slower and finishing even faster!

2014 Chicago Marathon Finish
Next up: Ravenswood Run in 11 days!