More about that later, in this Race Report on the Cypress Run 5K.
I'm an old dude, so this bloop is not going to help anybody learn to run faster. However, it might serve as a data point in the endless flow of data we sift through, in trying to answer the question, "What the hell is going on!?!?"
I was out with serious illness, and invasive treatment for the last half of 2017. Before that, I was able to run a 10K in 52:35, for a pace of 8:27. The Age-Performance grade is 63.94%. I also ran a 5K earlier in the year in 25:35. That's an Age-Performance grade of 62.07%. I was happy with my progress as a runner, but I didn't really feel like I deserved an attaboy until I reached 70%. My longest training run was 10 miles.
In mid-January of this year, I started running again. I had hoped that my legs and lungs would still hold some of that strength from the first half of 2017, but I wasn't quite feeling it. So, I went back to the beginning, and started with Week 1 of the Couch 2 5K program. I would try to ramp up the miles and speed as quickly as possible. I would use the Galloway approach, and walk for 60 seconds every half mile, to protect myself from injury. Maybe, I could leapfrog over the weeks, or jump to an Intermediate program, if the training went well.
I was shocked and dismayed to find that starting back at the beginning seemed to suit me. Can you really lose that much in just 6 months of illness?
In April, the Donate Life 5K came up, and I decided to run it with my daughter (the subject of a previous bloop). I hadn't quite finished the Couch 2 5K program yet, and I didn't seem to be getting up to any speed with it. So, I wasn't ready yet for the 5K race, but we both believe in the cause of this race, so we did it. I ran it in 34:37.
Yikes! My first 5K ever was in 2016 (Donate Life), and I ran it in 30:08. Had my body actually regressed more than two years....back to 2015? Or worse?
That was a shock. Then, I experienced more frustration in training runs. I think my legs were happy to get out there again. And my lungs seemed fine. But I just felt tired. I didn't feel the lactic acid effect in my legs. My lungs never burned. I just seemed to get tired. And my training times were terrible. I couldn't break 10 minutes per mile, and rarely came close. I remember the woman on the Loop who knew what everyone's race pace should be, and her advice to new runners, "Slow the !#?%!@#! down!" I was at peace with that. But, one of the wonderful moments in training comes when you accidentally peel off a great time. Nope. Wasn't happening.
I had moved on to the Intermediate 5K training program. It felt burdensome. Then, I failed on a 5-mile fartlek. No lactic acid, really. No burning lungs. Just tired. And I stopped, and walked two miles back to my home. It sure felt like defeat.
So, I decided I'd switch over to the Beginners 10K training program. 5 days of running, not 6.
In the meantime, I wanted to run another 5K to verify that I was truly at pre-2016 levels. I chose the Cypress Run 5K.
In seeking another way to answer my question, I ran a fast mile a week before the race. I did break 10 minutes. But the calculator predicted a 5K time of 34 minutes. Jeez!
I arrived at the Cypress race hoping to at least get into 31 minutes. It was a fun event. Well-organized. I ran it with both my son and daughter, and had a great time.
I decided at the last minute to run it without stopping. My legs actually seemed grateful to just keep pumping away. I felt good and strong through the first two miles. In the third mile, there was at least one episode of 'bouncing,' which looks like you're running, sorta-kinda, but you're sure not moving forward much. I needed to catch my breath with bouncing for about 60 seconds.
My son took off at the two-mile mark, and disappeared. My daughter and I kicked it a bit in the last .1 mile, and passed two people on the way to the finish line. A nice surprise to have some energy left.
My time? 29:47. Yes, I was at least back to 2016!
I had not trusted my training. I forgot the magic power of a taper week. And there's the weird, fun energy you get from running with a bunch of people.
I feel like I'm back in the ballgame now. I'll just have to be patient in getting back to 2017. I'm not good at patience, but maybe I'm supposed to learn.
Running is mental.