Donnelly Dash 3.5M Race Recap

So, a friend of mine that is a local race director offered me a free spot in this 3.5 mile race a few weeks ago.  It’s a 3.5 mile race, a different mileage point from most races.  I was intrigued.  As the date grew closer I decided to take him up on it.

I’ve been faithfully working on my marathon training program, so I wondered if I would see a difference in today’s race vs. my last 5K on March 22.  Not so much in terms of time, as they really aren’t comparable unless you go pace per mile, but more in terms of energy and stamina.  My long run on Thursday was 7 miles; I’ve only ever run further than that one time.  So I wondered how today would feel.

And, since I’m doing these training runs, today called for four miles.  So I knew I’d have to add a warm up run of at least half a mile to get that mileage in.  OK then.

I got down to the race site about forty five minutes before the start, snagged a great parking spot, and went in to get my things.  Unfortunately my friend somehow didn’t get me into the race system.  I pondered trying to find him on the race site, but I know how crazy race day is for race directors.  I decided to just go ahead and pay to register and run anyway.  The shirt itself made this worth the price of admission.  It’s probably the nicest race shirt I’ve ever gotten:

I put all of my race stuff back in my car and wandered around a bit before deciding to start my warmup.  It was probably about 48 degrees, a bit chilly just to be outside in my short sleeves, but I knew once I started moving I’d be fine.  I set out for my short warmup run, starting my RunKeeper, and intending to pause it when I was done until the race started.

I put in eight easy minutes, just starting to work up a sweat.  I actually scared myself and got a little lost (the race was in a nice, downtownish area near the train station and it’s easy to get turned around) so I headed back.

Where I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

Apparently, there were several websites advertising the race.  One stated a 9am start, the other said 9:30.  Oops.  They split the difference and sent walkers out at about 9:10, and told us we’d go 10-15 minutes later (their course started the same, but then varied, so this would essentially get them out of our way).

Then, possibly to kill time although it worked out well regardless, they had a trainer come up and lead everyone in stretches.  I know there are varied opinions on stretching cold before a race, but since I’d already done a short half mile, I was ready to loosen up and get ready.  Finally, shortly after that, they lined us up.

This race was intended to raise money in the name of Tim and Kim Donnelly, who were killed 9 years ago in a burglary on their family owned business.  Tim was a big runner, and knew some of the people I know now that I’ve met running locally.  A family member thanked everyone for coming out to support the family, and then started the race for us.

The start of the course was a slight uphill, which was hard, and made me wonder how I would do on this race.  I did, after all, do back to back exercise classes yesterday and ran seven miles on Thursday.  Had I overtrained?   Should I have given myself a rest day?

But once we were over the hill, I was fine.  I felt good, even.  I tried to push myself a bit just to see how it felt.  And I was able to keep going.  I was actually feeling pretty strong.  There was a woman ahead of me who dropped to a walk.  I overtook her.  Then there was a guy, slowing down.  I overtook him.  As we passed the first mile mark, I looked down at my RunKeeper.  Somehow in pausing it between warmup and run I had stopped the voice that went off every five minutes.  Which was fine because my time and pace weren’t going to be right anyway with the warmup included.  But I knew that my warmup was a little over eight minutes, and when I looked down at the RK screen I saw 20 on the screen.  Awesome.  I was running a 12 minute mile.  I had hoped to stay at that pace the whole time, which would put me at a 42 minute finish for this race.  That was my goal.

As I kept running, I overtook a few more people.   I looked behind me and saw just a few people, so each person I overtook meant I was that much further from last place.  As I kept running, I would set my sights on people.  Orange shirt lady?  You’re gone.  Purple shirt girl?  Buh bye.

Just over the two mile mark there were some more serious uphills.  Nothing terrible, but also enough to slow me down.  I gratefully stopped at the water station and walked through it to catch my breath.  I hadn’t planned on it, but I had been pushing hard.  I knew it, because I had seen 31 on my RK when I looked at it for mile 2.  That meant I was about 23 minutes in on the race, which meant below 12 minute miles.  That’s pushing it for me, so yay.

Once we passed the hills, we were rewarded with some downhills.  I couldn’t believe how strong I felt once we were past the hills.  My energy was still there, I wasn’t getting that usual winded feeling I get a few miles in.  It has to be the base building runs I’m doing.  My stamina definitely has taken an uptick.  I couldn’t believe, honestly, how good I was feeling.  I pushed again on the downhills, trying to pick up some time.  And also, to pick off that college aged girl right in front of me.

I got her right around mile 3.  I started to do the mental math here, but I couldn’t figure out where I would end up at the end, what my time would be.  And maybe it was a good thing to not think about the pacing, not hear the RK in my ear all the time, and just really focus on the run.  I figured I hit mile 3 at about 34 minutes in.  I figured 42 was definitely a safe goal.  But then I realized, if I was running a 12 minute mile at that point, I could come in around 40.

When I thought about this race, I originally thought about 40 minutes, but when I did the math and looked at my recent runs, I figured it was impossible.  I’d have to be well below 12 minute miles the whole time and I just didn’t know if I could swing it.  Plus I’d stopped at the water station and had a few shorter walk breaks on some of the hills.  I figured what the hell, it was what it was, and kept going.

Finally I could see the finish line and the time clock.  It took me a few seconds to read it, but then I realized the first two numbers on it were 39.  And then I realized it was ticking 27, 28, 29…holy crap!  I was definitely going to make it below 40!  I picked up the pace and went for it.

I am not sure exactly what my final time will be, but when I handed over my tear off I think the clock must have read something like 39:43.   Even if it took them ten seconds to read the bar code, I still will clock in under 40.  And no matter what the official time says (I heard they were having trouble with the timing) I know what that clock said as I went through the chute.

When I got home, I couldn’t help but compare the splits with my last 5K (which is also my PR for 5k):

3/22 5K:

Mile 1:  11:18
Mile 2:  11:24
Mile 3:  11:34
Mile 4:  9:05 (last .14 including final push to finish)
Total Miles:  3.14
Pace per mile:  11:19

4/13 3.5:

Mile 1:  12:06 (includes slow warmup for about .7 of it)
Mile 2:  11:11
Mile 3:  11:44 (hills)
Mile 4:  10:53
Mile 5:  10:23 (only .23 of a mile but includes finish push)
Total  Miles: 4.23 miles
Pace per mile:  11:25

So essentially based on these times I was pretty darn close to my 5K PR pace.  If I took out the warmup run and just went apples to apples on the 3.1 I have a feeling I might have even beaten it.  Especially considering that 5K course was extremely flat and today’s course definitely had hills.

All in all?  Pretty happy with today’s race!  I think the next one is going to be a 10K since I’m already logging at least that on my long runs.  It’s definitely time.


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Somewhere on the journey to a better life, depending on the day...moving (mostly) forward.

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  1. April Progress Report | Mostly Forward - May 1, 2014
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