Category Archives: pr

Clarendon Day 5K

Start time: 9/26/09, 9:00am
Location: Wilson Boulevard
Distance: 3.1 miles
Average pace: 7:57min/mile
Total Miles For September: 43 miles
Total Miles For 2009: 612 miles

I swear, every time I go for a 5K, something happens beforehand. Sometimes it’s benign, like simply running a marathon eleven days earlier and getting injured in the process. Other times it’s a combination of getting bronchitis and a trip to the ER for gallbladder problems. So when I ended up with a calf strain two weeks earlier, well, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I felt good enough to give it a shot, even though I knew that I still wouldn’t do what I would have been capable of sans injury.

It was a nice, quick race. I started with Butch and Chris, but after about half a mile I remembered that it’s only a 5K and I was moving way too slow for a race that I wanted a PR in. (The GPS said around the 1/2 mile mark that my time was 4:30. A nice “going for a run with friends” pace, but not a racing-just-three-miles pace in the slightest. A 5K is just such a small distance that a too-slow first mile will never really get made up.) I picked it up at that point, and it paid off; a 24:27 finishing time, which finally replaced my old 25:40 from two years ago (the post-marathon-injury race). I like to think that had I not had a few weeks off I could’ve gotten even faster, but that just gives me a new goal for next time.

I still don’t think I’ve mastered running a 5K, but that’s something I’d like to work on next year once I’ve (at least temporarily) bid marathons adieu.

Up and Down Capitol Hill, Again

Capitol Hill Classic 10K
Start time: 5/18/08, 8:30am
Location: Washington DC
Distance: 6.2 miles
Finishing time: 52:30
Average pace: 8:28min/mile
Miles for May: 25.5

I missed the Capitol Hill Classic last year; I had an injury that had prevented me from running anything. So I had a lot to really prove for myself, because this was my first 10K since May 2006.

I made one small mistake this year; I ran into Emma early on and stuck with her until about mile 2.5. As Emma is normally faster than me, it meant I was starting to run out of gas. Fortunately I realized the error of my ways and slowed down a bit. It went well after that, aside from a misplaced Mile 4 marker that made me really wonder what the hell was going on, and running completely out of gas and walking for about 30 seconds up the long, steep, Capitol Hill. UGH. Not proud of that. But otherwise it went well, and I got to see a whole bunch of my old fellow AIDS Marathon staffers—Rick W, Rick C, Karen K, and Emma. Good times, good times, good times.

(8:19, 7:52, 8:14, 10:17, 7:11, 8:55, 1:33 for the .2. And yeah, that marker was definitely off for that fourth mile!)

And hey! Check out my age group placing!

2005: 315/386 (81st percentile) (30-39 group)
2006: 166/233 (71st percentile) (30-34 group)
2008: 98/192 (51st percentile) (35-39 group)

Outer Banks Marathon

Outer Banks Marathon

Start time: 11/11/07, 7:20am

Location: Outer Banks, North Carolina

Distance: 26.2 miles

Finishing time: 4:29:06

Average pace: 10:16min/mile

I’ve joked in the past that with every marathon I learn something new, and that I’m really sick of having to keep learning things! But true to form, I learned an important lesson in this year’s marathon, even as I think I approached my race the smartest yet. The idea was to use the “10/10/10” approach; miles 1-10 at a 10min/mile, miles 11-20 at a 9min/mile, and then (if I was feeling it) the last 10k (miles 21-26.2) at an 8:30min/mile. This would have been absolutely perfect on a completely flat course. What I didn’t take into account, though, was the elevation profile for the Outer Banks Marathon.

The first ten miles were fantastic. I ran the first mile with Butch and Chris, which was a real joy, and I felt a tiny bit bad when I left them towards the end of that mile but they had a different pace plan (and were also doing a run/walk, which I wasn’t) so when they stopped to stretch I took it as a sign to keep going. Running through woods, along the water, and then around the Wright Brothers Monument? Fantastic. I felt bad for anyone who ran the half marathon if only because they missed all of this amazing scenery, the best part of the course by far.

Miles 11-13 run through the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve; the first two miles on a packed dirt road, the third mile on a narrow off-road trail, and all three of these miles are extremely hilly. I should have shifted my planned paces around a bit to compensate for this; planning on not pushing here and expending the strength elsewhere. (As crazy as that section was, though, I must admit that I really liked it. It was gorgeous.) As it is, looking at my splits below, you can see a huge dip on speed for that off-road mile in particular. Additionally, miles 14-19 are at a slight uphill grade and along a highway, which is less than fun and also sapped my strength more than I’d have imagined.

Of course, some things you can’t compensate for. Around mile 14.5, a car tried to pull out onto the course and only stopped when I screamed at it—all of about a foot and a half from me. Shaken, I continued on, but a minute later my right calf seized up and never really let go. Now I’m not saying that me having tensed up from the near-miss from the car made the calf tense up, but I do think that it contributed. I stretched as best I could for a solid minute and then continued on. I must admit I was sad that my parents, Suzanne, and Charlie never saw me up until that point in the race because I was definitely not looking my best from that moment on!

I pushed on as best I could, stretching a tiny bit every mile or two, and starting at mile 20 taking little 30-second walk-breaks because my knees were starting to ache as well. When I started the 25th mile, I was aching so much that I just had to walk the vast majority of it. I couldn’t even face the “just 2.2 more miles!” that I kept telling myself, finally making a deal that when I finished mile 25, I would start running again and not stop until I was done. And sure enough, that’s what happened. I didn’t get the sub-4:22 finish I was hoping for (I’m fairly convinced if it hadn’t been for the calf problem I would’ve hit that), but I did the best I could, and this was the first marathon for which I didn’t enter it with a run/walk plan.

Next year? I’m going to tackle my race the same way, but will pay more attention to the course map when doing so; if necessary I’ll shift some of the planned paces around to better compensate for what’s ahead. Little by little, I’m getting there.

A mile-by-mile breakdown in terms of pace.

A week later…

Start time: 11/26/05, 9:00am
Location: Firenze Marathon
Distance: 26.2 miles
Finishing time: 4:46:48
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1 through mile 20, then… not so much
Average pace: 10:57min/mile

I unfortunately don’t have lots of mile splits like last year, thanks to the GPS having a minor fit somewhere along the way (apparently I ran a 25.5 mile marathon), which probably was in no small part thanks to narrow windy alleys and streets winding through parts of Florence. I do, however, have some splits available.

Distance Segment Time Segment Pace Overall Time Overall Pace
5K 30:39 9:53 30:39 9:53
10K 30:27 9:49 1:01:06 9:51
15K 30:57 9:59 1:32:03 9:53
13.1mi 37:28 9:52 2:09:31 9:53
25K 25:40 10:42 2:35:11 10:00
30K 35:22 11:25 3:10:33 10:13
35K 39:25 12:43 3:49:58 10:35
40K 39:38 12:47 4:29:36 10:51
26.2mi 17:12 12:44 4:46:48 10:57

Between 15K and 13.1mi is a 3.8 mile segment.
Between 13.1mi and 25K is a 2.4 mile segment
Between 40K and 26.2mi is a 1.35 mile segment

It should be a surprise to no one at all that it was around the 25K mark that Susan and I fell behind Tod and Dana. It is always interesting to see where some places where I felt I was still decreasing in speed was in fact consistent) if slow, essentially everything past the 30K mark (or 18.64 miles). Ah well, it’s always good to know where everything went wrong, as well as where one was pretty darn on the ball. There’s a lot I need to work on for next year. But hey, still a PR. So that’s definitely something. But it is frustrating to look at, say, my 20-miler from earlier this year and know that I did the entire thing at a solid 10min/mile pace that I could’ve done even faster towards the end of if necessary!

Return to Capitol Hill

Race: The Capitol Hill Classic 10K
Start time: 05/21/06, 8:30am
Location: Downtown Washington DC
Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1
Finishing time: 57:30
Average pace: 9:16min/mile

With my last race I was mentally composing a journal entry five seconds into the race about how I knew I wasn’t going to get a PR. Around mile 3 today, I was wondering why I hadn’t already done the same thing.

But let’s rewind a bit. Readers of my other journal will know that I’d been feeling like I was dragging and just generally not up to par all weekend, and this morning was unfortunately no exception. Cal told me that ten seconds into the race today he was thinking, “Why am I here?” and that’s actually what was going through my head before I’d even left my home. Ugh. I got to the start of the race, though, and found a pack of AIDS Marathoners to start with. We were all going to be runnign different speeds, though, so it was with a bit of regret that I realized I’d be running this one on my own again. I was hoping to have someone to pace off of; this year I’ve felt like several times I’ve headed out of the gate too fast (races or otherwise) and was afraid that we’d get a repeat performance of this bad running behavior. Sure enough the first two miles were just that (8:13, 8:30) and I just knew that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain this pace. (It was also around this time I was wishing that it was a 5K because I like to think I could’ve kicked it out on the final 1.1 miles.)

Sweltering in the sun (it was 52 degrees when I left, but the heat and sun seem to have shown up five minutes later), I hit the third mile marker at 9:50 and I could just feel my heart sink. My previous PR was a 9:22min/mile pace and I spent a lot of the rest of the race diong math in my head, trying to figure out how many extra seconds I had “banked” from the first two miles to see if I could beat that. Mile 4’s time looked the same (9:48) but it was also a two-walk-break mile so I felt like I was starting to rally a bit. Sure enough, mile 5 was at a 9:29 and I began to think that yeah, I could do this so long as I didn’t bomb out. “All right, Greg,” I told myself. “You just finished mile 5 and your time is a 45:53. To beat last year’s 58:06 you just need to finish the last 1.2 miles in 12 minutes. That’s a 10-minute pace. No problem.

What I really need to be thinking at this point of a race is really “don’t forget that you still have to climb Capitol Hill before you hit mile marker 6.” Ugh, ugh, ugh. I hate that stupid hill with a passion, to put it mildly. Struggling back up the hill, even though I’d taken my walk break just two minutes earlier I just couldn’t do it. I was out of gas. I finally told myself I could walk for an additional minute and that I’d make up the time once it leveled out a bit. Walking up even part of the hill felt like… well, defeat. At the same time, I kept scanning the side of the course for the mile marker. Where was it? Where was it?

And there it was. 9:53 for the mile. I could still do this, I’d get a PR, and it wouldn’t be the one I wanted as of yesterday but it would still be an improvement and a real victory. I pushed through the last .2 miles as best as I could, and while my old adrenaline burst never did hit (ah well) it was all over in just 1:44, for a new PR of 57:30.

Phew. Not my most glamorous race, and I didn’t feel strong the way I did after the race last year… but I did it, and it’s done. Now I just need to really start getting out there regularly again (and drop off these extra five pounds that have once more come back to haunt me) and all will be well. I hope!

2005: 315/386 (81st percentile) (30-39 group)
2006: 166/233 (71st percentile) (30-34 group)

A thoroughly pleasant Cherry Blossom 10-miler

Start time: 04/02/06, 8:00am
Location: Washington DC
Distance: 10 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1
Finishing time: 1:32:38
Average pace: 9:16min/mile

I must admit that I had my doubts going into this race. Were my muscles really up to speed? Had my lack of sleep the past couple of nights (coupled with the return of Daylight Saving Time) doomed me? What about the dehydration that had happened all through Saturday thanks to something I ate clearly not agreeing with me? And what about Naomi?

Regardless of my doubts, I of course still ran the race. I met up at the Foggy Bottom metro station with Julie, Ali, Alma, Craig, John, Katie, Mark, Marty, and Randy and we all headed down to the race. Despite half of our group needing to use the port-o-potties, we still made into the corrals (and fortunately Ali, John, and Katie were all able to start with us despite being in a different corral; we went towards the back and they went towards the front) and were off before we knew it. Alma and Marty took off and were going to run the whole thing straight through; knowing that I’d poop out partway through I was more than a bit jealous!

Before too long it was just me, Craig, John, Katie, and Randy hoofing it together. The weather was gorgeous, though, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. So rare considering the past two years the race has been sub-Arctic complete with icy cold winds, and the blossoms have long since departed. My watch said 59:01 as I went over the 10K marker, which I was less than thrilled about, since my 10K PR from last May was a minute faster and I figured I’d have a faster pace for this race. It didn’t dissuade me, though, and our run through Rock Creek Park was great since its out-and-back means we can see other people ahead and behind us. I passed my friend Cal right at the turn-around, and we began the trek back towards the finish line.

Somewhere around mile 8.5, Katie took off (and power to her!), even as I was losing speed and John was nowhere to be found. I focused on my final walk break with the knowledge that I had just 1.5 miles to go, and tried to keep up with Randy and Craig. The two of them began to slip away from me around mile 9.5, and it took every ounce of energy I had left to “rubber band” off of Craig even as Randy continued to pull ahead. I barely passed Craig about 100 feet before the finish line, but Randy had already crossed over. My finishing time was a 1:32:38 which gave me a 9:16min/mile, faster than the Half Marathon. That made me super happy. The splits were slightly more erratic this time (9:44, 9:20, 10:00, 9:08, 9:30, 9:23, 9:23, 8:52, 9:16, 7:56) and I have no idea what the heck happened at mile 3, but all in all, a very good race indeed, smashing last year’s time of 1:49:02.

Phew! I’m glad I’ve got no more short races in April, though. (Just two more in May—a 5K and a 10K—and that’s it for the spring season!)

Oh, and my statistics for the Cherry Blossom (and its ludicrous “20-39” age group):

2004: 2235/2242 (99th percentile)
2005: 2132/2290 (93rd percentile)
2006: 1955/2873 (68th percentile)

EDIT: Although bizarrely, there’s also a listing if I go to for a 30-34 grouping, but not if I go to the Cherry Blossom site. I guess Cherry Blossom doesn’t believe in those stats even though they were provided. For my amusement and records, though, it was 585/871 (67th percentile). Heh.