6 laps, 1.03 miles each. That pretty much sums up last Saturday’s 3-2-1 Loop Race. Well, that and the fact that I ran a huge PR!! The concept of the Loop Race was simple: runners could either compete as part of a 3-person relay (running 3, 2, and 1 laps) OR as individuals in the 5K (3 laps) or 10K (6 laps). I signed up for the 10K option two days before the race and I sure am glad that I did!!
6 laps, 1.03 miles each. For many runners, that actually sounds unbearably boring. The repetitive nature of this course was certainly daunting, but it allowed me to treat this 10K like a drill. I wanted to run a more consistent, even pace (my splits are usually all over the place) and also planned to be very strict with myself about not going out too fast in the first mile (an all-to-common occurrence for me in shorter races). I reminded myself of my mantra from last year’s Broad Street 10 Miler: You can’t win a race in the first mile, but you can definitely blow it by going out way too fast!!
At 9AM sharp I crossed the start line with a mixed field of relay runners, 5K-ers and 10K-ers. My goal for the first mile was a very conservative 7:58. (By comparison, in the previous week’s 5K I went out in 7:24!) I felt like I positively crawled through this lap and I had to check my watch multiple times to remind myself to slow down. Finally with the start line in sight my watch beeped 7:45 — not too far off my goal — and I continued into Loop #2.
Each 1.03 mile loop made a circuit around Downingtown West High School and Middle School. The middle school sits about 24 feet higher than the high school, so during the first half of each loop we’d gradually climb a slight incline, and then we’d get to descend back down to complete the lap. I liked that the downhill was in the latter part of the lap since it helped me get some momentum going into each mile split. Before I knew it my second mile was over in 7:37.
My third mile felt routine. Sure, I was running hard, but I was also making sure I didn’t push too much since I still had three more 1.03 mile loops to go. When my watch beeped a 7:39 split I didn’t think much of it, but then I turned the corner towards the start/finish line and saw the race clock. For 5K runners this was the finish line and I breezed through in 23:21… just FOUR SECONDS off my 5K PR!
Prior to this race I had only ever completed one road 10K: the hilly Double OyVey 10K last October. I believed that I was capable of bettering my OyVey time of 49:50 but the question was, by how much? After seeing my 5K split I realized that I definitely had the 10K PR locked up… at that point even a 26 minute 5K would get me across the finish in under 49:50! Now it was up to me to maintain my speed through three more laps.
During laps 4 and 5 I felt like I was stuck in an uncomfortable, never-ending holding pattern. I knew I was on track for an awesome finish, but it wasn’t time to get excited yet. I just had to hang on and let my legs do their job through these miles. Hang on I did, with two more sub-8 splits. During these laps I set a new unofficial 4 mile PR (30:42) and came within 2 seconds of my 5 mile PR from last December. I was on fire!!!
At long last the 6th lap began. I had been passing the same spectators for the last 38 minutes and was very thankful that this would be my final time seeing them. Amusingly, most spectators had obviously become confused by the crazy relay/5K/10K mixture that was going on and had resorted to helpfully yelling “You’re almost there!!!” every. single. time I looped by. Now that was finally true!!!
In the midst of the race I hadn’t figured out what time I was going to finish in. All I knew is that I was definitely going to PR and hopefully could finish in under 48 minutes. As I turned the last corner for the sixth and final time the clock came into view… it was ticking away in the 46:40s!! I ran as hard as I could crossed the line at 46:58, nearly 3 minutes faster than my previous 10K best!!!
If I learned one thing from this 10K, it’s that I absolutely MUST start races slower. It seems counter intuitive, but I know I can achieve faster overall times if I begin with a more conservative first mile. Heck, apparently I can run back-to-back 5Ks in 23:21 and 23:37…. BOTH faster than the previous week’s actual 5K race. Crazy!
The second takeaway is that the core strengthening that I’ve been doing as part of my new year’s resolution is definitely helping. I did not do any speed work leading up to this race, but still somehow managed to come extremely close to breaking my 5K and 5 mile PRs… both of which were set during my end-of-season peak last fall. I’m excited to see how fast I can run when I actually start “training” on the track! My first workout of the season was last Tuesday so time will tell.
This post has gotten way too long so I’ll end with this:
6 laps, 1.03 miles each… a huge new PR and a fantastic way to kick off the spring season!
Miles since last post: 19.4
Days since last post: 4
2016 MILES: 375.8
• March ’16: St. Agnes 5K (3/5)
• February ’16: Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16: Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15: Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15: BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15: Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15: Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR], Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1) [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)