Monday, November 4, 2013

Bass Pro 5K ... Good Run, Failed PR Attempt

Just me & a huge stuffed elk hangin' out the day before the race, no biggie
Bass Pro Shops
Marathon Weekend
News-Leader 5K
November 3, 2013
Springfield, Missouri
Runners: 878
Start Time: 7:30 am
Course: Mostly flat, only 36ft of elevation gain
Weather: 39 degrees, no wind, 93% humidity
SWAG: Long sleeve tech t-shirt
Age: 44
Weight: 172
Health: Great, no issues at all
Conditioning: Fatigued from marathon training
Finish Time: 18:36, missed PR by 7 seconds
Avg Pace: 6:00/mile
Place: 11th/878 Overall, 1st 40-44 AG
Summary: Really disappointing PR attempt

Really awesome plaque for Age Group winners ... 1st Place  in male 40-44

I hate 5K's.  Don't get me wrong, they're a great way for organizations to raise money, and a really cool family outing idea.  But if I never raced another one again, that'd be just fine with me.   Because if you're racing it, and not just out on a nice weekend jog, it seems like nothing more than a three mile controlled sprint that leaves me bent over grabbing my shorts gasping for air.  If my heart ever explodes from running ... it will most likely be at a 5K!

But about 10 days ago, Michael decided to run the Bass Pro Marathon in Springfield, MO.  I didn't want to run the half marathon, but reluctantly decided to give the 5K a try.  I'm in pretty good marathon shape right now, so I figured I'd take a shot at the ol' 5K PR.  Honestly, I thought I would smash my current personal best.  And while I ran a pretty good race, finishing just 7 seconds behind my fastest 5K ever, I was pretty disappointed with the outcome.  Simply put ... I thought I was A LOT faster than I am right now.

Beautiful changing leaves and fall colors everywhere in the Ozarks over the weekend, just stunning and vivid contrasts
Michael and I live in Kansas City, a little over two hours from Springfield, MO.  I grew up down in that neck of the woods and spent many of my college weekends in Springfield.  It's a place I love.  So when Michael decided last minute to run the Bass Pro Shops Marathon ... yes, I said marathon ... I thought it would be a fun weekend down around my old stompin' grounds.

The original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at the corner of Campbell & Sunshine in Springfield, MO

Amazing female bald eagle on display after the race
Bass Pro Shops have really expanded their retail outlets over the past 5-10 years.  But the original ... and by far the best is in Springfield.  It's an amazing place.  And it's not simply one building, it's literally a small campus.  But enter with caution ... if you have a problem with dead and mounted stuffed animals, more firearms than you've probably seen in one place, and heart of America salt of the earth country folk, you might not enjoy your visit there.  But you'd still be welcome.  I've spent hours in this store wandering around looking at all the exhibits.  I'm not much of an "outdoorsman" but it's literally like a wildlife museum.  And recently they've began the Outdoor Fitness Festival which includes an Expo, a marathon, and several smaller races.

Michael and I spent most of the afternoon before the race roaming around, taking pictures, and acting like idiots of course.  But we both really enjoyed all of the wildlife displays, dead and living.  Especially cool was a female bald eagle that was perched on a log directly adjacent to the finish line.  There are several bald eagle reserves & habitats around the Midwest, and I've seen them randomly in the air from time to time.  But I'm always impressed with their size when I see one up close.  They're so majestic.

Michael and me acting like complete idiots in Bass Pro, but always having a good time ... even though we both need to grow up

Michael and me before our races
The Race
Even though I just ran the Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago, I've been training pretty hard for the Richmond Marathon, two weeks from now.  As a result, I'm fairly speedy right now (for a 44 year old anyway).  And I really thought I could waltz down to Springfield and run 3.1 miles faster than I ever had before.  I was very confident.  The only question was by how much I would best my personal best.  But "marathon fast" is not "5K fast" ... or so I found out.

2013 has by far been my fastest running year yet.  Going into the race I'd already PR'd 6 different times, setting personal bests in the 10K, half marathon, and marathon.  So needless to say, I really wanted to PR in the 5K and make it a clean sweep of the four major race distances in 2013.  I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it because I didn't want the added pressure ... but I gotta tell ya, I focused on it a lot in the week before the race, and the night before the race, I actually had trouble sleeping because I was obsessing over it.

I've been able to handle most pre-race anxiety really well this year.  As a result, I've had a much better mental approach to racing.  But before this race, I was pretty nervous.  I really felt like I would run somewhere in the 17's, and I kept going through the race split scenarios in my mind over and over again. For some reason I really built this one up, even though I just decided to run it ten days prior.

Michael crossing the starting line at the 2013 Bass Pro Marathon
Even though I wanted to run a fast race, we were really at the event for Michael.  The Chicago Marathon had not gone the way she'd planned.  She didn't feel great on race day, and ran a slower time than she'd anticipated.  The Bass Pro Marathon was her "redemption race".  She also felt like she had a huge PR in her, and she was gonna give it a whirl.  Her race started thirty minutes before mine, so I spent some time with her before the marathon while she met the running group she would be spending the day with.  I was so excited for her, but also a little nervous.  Two marathons in four weeks was a pretty tall order ... but she's a superstar and I knew she could do it!  As I waited near the starting line to get a picture of her as she ran by it was a little surreal.  Michael was running a marathon, and I was getting ready to run a 5K ... what the heck Universe???

Bass Pro Shops News-Leader 5K course elevation.  Only 36 ft of rise, but it was all in the last 1.5  miles.

It was only about 37 degrees as I began my warm ups for the 5K.  I usually like to spend about 30 minutes before a 5K getting as "hot" as possible.  I've just found that the race is much more enjoyable if I'm focused on leg turnover and pace, not simply gasping for air.  But the marathon had started a little late and since I waited as Michael's personal photographer, I only had about 15 minutes of prep.  My prep for most 5K's is 3-4 miles of progressive running with stretching mixed in, followed by 5 minutes of sprints.  On Sunday, I only got in about 1.5 miles and 2 minutes of sprints.  That was problem #1.  It was obviously a little cool on Sunday, but standing at the starting line I hadn't even broken a sweat yet.  My heart rate felt way too low to ramp up to race pace at the sound of the gun.

Good splits, but no where near where I want to be
The other big issue, and probably the main reason I didn't run as well as I'd hoped, was fatigue.  During my brief warm up, my legs felt anything but bouncy.  And standing there waiting for the gun, I felt far less than energetic.  I didn't have any health issues at all, but my legs just seemed really shaky following my most intense week of Richmond training.  I'd hoped to manage about a 5:50 pace for the race, and if everything went well, drop it to 5:47 or so for a "17" in front of my new PR.  It didn't take long to figure out that that was definitely unrealistic.

When the gun sounded, I started a little faster than normal because the first half of the race was mostly down hill.  I glanced at my Garmin at about a half mile in and I was running a 5:30 pretty comfortably, but I backed off because I knew that was a little too fast at this point.  The first mile flew by and I really wasn't laboring at all.  When I hit Mile 1, my split read 5:53.  I was pretty happy with that and felt like I had a PR in the bag.  But something strange happened at Mile 2.

I think this is where the fatigue was most evident.  Since the first mile was deceptively easy, I began pressing it a little, but for some reason my legs just didn't respond.  At about 1.5, we began a slow gradual incline.  And even though I've been doing quite a bit of hill training, this small rise in elevation really elevated my heart rate.  There's no way this minimal of an increase should've had the effect it did ... but it ate my lunch.  I really began to fight the pace and I dropped to 6:03 on Mile 2.  I did a little quick math in my head and figured I could still make it happen if I could just recover a little.  But that recovery never came.

Mile 3 was tough, but it was also really fun.  For about the past half mile, I'd been jockeying for position with a tall college girl, but we were both about 25 meters behind a young blond headed boy who was running really well.  I finally passed the young lady at about 2.5, and was gaining on the kid ... but I looked at my pace and my Garmin displayed 6:19???  What the???  I had slowed way too much.  So with about a quarter mile in the race, I gave it everything I had left on the gradual downhill toward the finish.  I caught the kid and when I passed him with about .2 mile left in the race, I could see just how young he was.  He was a baby!  He looked about 10 or something.  I was getting smoked by a 5th grader!  But as I caught him, he glanced over his shoulder and couldn't hold the pace to the end.  I've always had a pretty strong kick and began to pick 'em up and put 'em down.  Mile 3 ended up being a 6:04, with a 5:21 average over the last tenth of a mile.

I knew I was close to a PR, but I was afraid to look at my watch.  When I did, I was crushed!  It read 18:36, which is a great 5K time for me ... but I'd missed my PR by 7 SECONDS!!!  I couldn't believe it.  I knew the second mile was slower than I'd planned, and I'd really fought it the last mile, but I'd hoped in some sort of miracle that I'd bested my old time, if only by a second.  But I was 7 SECONDS slow!  Pretty disappointing since I'd planned on my best 5K ever.

A treasured photo - Dick Beardsley, me, and Frank Shorter
After the race, I found my sweats and began trying to lower my heart rate.  I was still really disappointed.  When I looked at the posted final results, I saw that I came in 11th in a fairly fast race.  In an 878 person contest, many of which were young Girls On The Run, 5 people ran under 17 minutes, which is pretty quick.  And one of those people was another 40-44 year old runner who was the overall Masters Winner, which bumped me to the "Age Group Winner" ... even though I was really second in the division.  Most impressively, I read the name of the young boy I'd passed in last few hundred feet of the race ... he was TWELVE YEARS OLD and ran a 18:42!!!  I congratulated him at the Awards Ceremony and told him and his mother that he about killed me.

I was a little embarrassed to take the award for first place in my division since I really came in second.  But I got a really cool plaque and best of all was presented my award by Dick Beardsley, of "Duel In The Sun" fame, and freaking 1972 USA Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist ... Frank Shorter!  When they handed me the plaque, I told them the photo with them was way better than the award.  They both laughed humbly, and said ... "Oh, just get up here!"  I'd met Dick before, but they both were so kind and giving with their time.

With wobbly legs, I then went and tracked Michael for the remainder of her marathon.  I kept leap-frogging miles with her and snapping some photos each time I caught up with her again.  It was a lot of fun, and awesome to be able to cheer her on during the race.  I'll let you read her recap (here), but I couldn't have more proud of her.

Michael with a great run at the Bass Pro Marathon

Looking back at the race, it seems a little like a spoiled brat, or maybe even somewhat arrogant to be disappointed with an age group win, and my second fastest 5K ever.  But disappointment was the main emotion I felt on Sunday.  It was a little chilly.  I didn't get a good pre-race warm up.  I wasn't in "top 5K shape".  I hadn't done any speed drills in months. The high volume week of marathon training had fatigued me quite a bit.  And for whatever reason the slight rise in elevation during the second half of the race had adversely affected my run.  So all things considered I was probably being a little hard on myself.  For me, it was a great run ... just not what I'd hoped for.  But even if all those factors had been reversed, maybe I still wouldn't have topped my old time.  It was disappointing, because it'll probably be my last 5K in the 40-44 division.  I wanted to go out with a bang before I turn 45, and sweep all four race categories with PR's in 2013.  But who knows, if I don't kill myself at Richmond, maybe I'll spend the remainder of the year trying to make it happen.  There's still a lot of year left.
... be great today!


  1. dude you have met some cool people - Dick Beardsley and Frank Shorter? Wow.

  2. It's funny because I read your report thinking of my race. Yes, your result is awesome by anyone's standard but your own. Us runners sure are hard on ourselves. Congrats on the AG win. I got one like that one time because of a masters win by someone else. You still deserve it.

  3. That ended up being a good ending w/Dick and Frank. and ha. I just laughed like a 13 yr old boy at that line up.

    5k's are so fast esp after doing the longer distances. It's a blink and you are done moment of a race type.

    Anyways. We love Bass Pro Shop up here. We have one where we eat dinner at a lot and take the girls to see Santa every year.

  4. You're so fast, but missing a PR by seconds is always a little bittersweet. Congrats on the AG though. That was beautiful scenery, too! Looks like a very pretty race to run.

  5. I dream of being that fast!! Impressive Jim. No PR, but you'll do it soon enough. Congrats on the age group win!

  6. 5ks during marathon training :) ... That's a tough order! So hard to keep both kinds of muscle fibers ready to go at the same time. You did very well considering the miles you have in your legs right now.
    I like to be pretty warm for a 5k too, cold starts are hard!

    It would be hard to say no to an award from Dick Beardsley and Frank shorter! Congrats on a great race and placing well.

  7. Congrats with your run! 7s is so close! Looks like a great event. I have never run an official 5km race. My son and I play some fishing games on PC from The Bass Pro Shop.

  8. Congrats on your almost-PR. And I love this line: "But something strange happened at Mile 2." That's happened to me so many times, ha, ha. Also love that a 12-year-old ran so fast (and isn't it cool to pass young runners?).
    P.S. Where is the photo with Frank Shorter?

  9. Even though it wasn't a PR, you still kicked butt! And, like you said, there is still 2 months left in the year. A clean sweep is still possible!

    I'm so bummed that I didn't know about this race. I would have loved to do the half! I'm not terribly far, being in the STL.

  10. You're crazy! You can't expect a 5k PR just a couple of weeks after a marathon and while you're heavy into training for your next. You're a great runner but you're not super-human.
    Fantastic result regardless!

  11. Nice job on the age group win. That is a nice plaque.

  12. I'm jealous, this sounded like a good time. I know nothing about bass or pro shops but the plaque is cool and so is the medal.

  13. Thats a really great time Jim and just for the record that time predicts your marathon at sub-3.:) No pressure or anything....just sayin!


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