After the Shamrock Shuffle I took 21 days straight off from running and lifting. About my only physical fitness was twice daily dog walks and twice weekly yoga. A lot went down in the last month and I suddenly found myself with unlimited free time (hint), however instead of ramping up the mileage and doing more intense training, I decided to use this extra time to sleep more and focus on my diet. I am now able to take daytime naps, which has helped tremendously, and I'm starting to feel normal again. As for my diet, I completely eliminated post-dinner desserts which basically was the only time of the day I would eat sugary things. I did lose a few pounds pretty rapidly - probably just water weight, but the carbs/sugars were making me waterlogged just so I could enjoy a few savory cookies a day. I finally feel rested, healthy, and I got to my racing weight without even running!
Not lugging around excess pounds, more rested and a race looming on the horizon, I decided that it was time to ease back into training last weekend. So, I did three four milers Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, which were rough, but I felt that I had retained at least some of my post-Shuffle fitness. I lifted three times and quickly felt stronger.
By the end of my comeback week it was already time for my annual neighborhood race, the Ravenswood Run 5k. How would I fare? I only had a slight hunch. In any case, I decided just to run by feel (no pace goals, no GPS) and see what happened. I ran it in 18:16 last year, but this year I guessed I was in 19:50 to 20:10 shape since I had hardly run in April.
I woke up at 6:15 a.m. for a one mile shakeout run around Welles Park. It was about 38 degrees, but I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt just to test out how I would fare in the chilly temps. I felt like I could handle the things if I only wore shorts and singlet since the wind was minimal, so once I got back home I changed into my race gear, pinned my bib on, walked the doggies and then left for the race with my dad and brother at 7:35 for the 8:00 start. All three of us ran/walked over to the start line. By the time we got there there was about 10 minutes remaining until race start. My brother was spectating and my dad and I made our way over to the corrals. The "A" corral entrance was blocked by runners just standing there so I went around to in front of the start line ducked under the fence, then made my way back to the middle of the corral.
Anyway, the national anthem was sung, a prayer was said, and we were off!
Mile 1: Since this was a CARA Circuit race, and there were tons of speedier runners present, I started about 10 rows back. Once the gun sounded, just past the start line, I saw a kid had tripped and fallen on his face and I swerved to avoid him, I yelled back at the crowd to watch out and a woman behind me stopped and swooped him up. Maybe the corrals should be more strictly enforced for the safety of the kids. Every kid wants to start the race right up in front, but it's a recipe for disaster if they fall. Anyway, I was running by feel, and I felt astonishingly good, but I was not sure how much residual endurance I had left, so I held back a little. I still passed about 30 runners in this mile. 6:08/mile.
Mile 2: It was odd not to be periodically glancing at my watch to better modulate my pace, but I guess having run a few dozen 5ks in my lifetime must have ingrained the feeling in my lungs and legs of my maximum 5k pace. At the start of mile two I felt like I could finish at the same pace I was at even though I had approximately over two miles to go. I spotted a guy with grey hair who was about 10 yards ahead and running strong. So, I made it my goal to stick with him and then pass him near the finish. We were mostly running into the wind the second mile, which is why I had the three second slowdown from mile 1. 6:11/mile.
Mile 3: Right after passing the two mile marker, we ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and I said my goodbye to the now shuttered Chicago Brauhaus. I kept my head down, just focusing on the guy-I-was-gonna-leap-frog's legs turnover. We made the turn onto Damen and ran under the Damen Brown Line stop. 6:07/mile.
Mile 3.13: I kept thinking about making my move to pass the guy I had been trailing, when suddenly a young guy sped by both of us. I noticed the guy in front of me didn't make a move, so sensing he was redlining, I floored it. In fact, I ran so fast I even sped by the young guy and ran solo to the finish line.
|Finish line (src)|
I came in with hands held high and I was finished!. 5:24/mile.
Official Finish Time: 19:06
Official Pace: 6:09/mile
Garmin Pace: 6:07/mile
Place Overall: 63rd out of 2,306
Place Age Group: 8th out of 155
AG was tough since this was a CARA circuit run, combined with the fact I was probably the oldest guy in my AG, so 8th isn't that bad. This was my first 5k over 19 minutes in a long time, but I ran to my fitness - so that's the best I could hope for. Since I actually would have been happy with a 19:59, I was smiling pretty large at the end. My splits were 6:08, 6:11 and 6:07, so basically completely even despite the fact that I was running without looking at a device for feedback!
So, taking the three week run/strength break didn't really hurt me too much running-wise. Maybe the weight loss made up for some of the fitness loss?
I ran backwards through the course (using the sidewalk) and tried to find my dad, but missed him in the masses, so I ran back to meet up with him and my brother at the finish area. We then walked home.
I'm not going to race for another month, but in the interim, I hope to continue to ramp up the mileage and continue workouts. I will be at the very least tied for the youngest person in my new age group next month at the Run For the Animals. The Ravenswood Run was probably my last race in my old AG.
Run For the Animals in June! New AG!!
Run For the Animals in June! New AG!!