Monday, September 23, 2013

Preparing for my first 15k

I finally had a chance to register for a 15k and I picked a popular one: The Lungstrong 15k in Cornelius, NC, this coming Sunday.

Lungstrong is a pretty big race, with over 500 participants last year and a stacked field due to its being part of the Charlotte Grand Prix series. I won't even be close to the winning time and probably won't compete for a master's award, though based on last year's results I might have a shot at an age group award.

I'll be joined by my running buddy Chas, and our shared goal for the race is simply to finish in under 60 minutes, the equivalent pace to a sub-40 10k or a sub-20 5k. But this race is quite hilly. We ran a preview yesterday and though none of the hills was especially big, they never seemed to stop.

Here's the elevation profile recorded by my GPS:

(Note: the mileages are off because I started running from Davidson -- the Lungstrong portion is from Mile 3.1 to 12.4)

Other than the flat-ish section from Mile 8-10 (actually mile 5-7) it's pretty much rolling hills throughout.

Typically I try to plot out my paces for each mile in a race like this where I'm shooting for a specific time, but in this race I'm going to try something different. To finish in 60 minutes we need to average 6:26 per mile, but ideally we should be slowing a bit for the uphills and speeding up on the downs. We'll be shooting for a 6:20 average to allow for GPS error, so my idea for this race is just run 15 seconds slower on the ups, and 15 seconds faster on the downs: 6:35 on the uphill sections and 6:05 on the downhills.

So instead of capturing splits every mile, I'm going to get a split at the top and bottom of each hill. Logically, if nearly the entire course is hilly, we're either running up or down at any moment, so the two should balance out (it's not perfect since we cover less ground per minute when going slower, but I think it's probably close enough).

Meanwhile, Chas will set his watch to capture kilometer splits (we'll need to average just under 4:00 per k), and we'll both have access to average pace for the entire run, which should be 6:20. In addition, since we're shooting for 6:20 per mile, we can just check the elapsed time at each mile marker. Every 3 miles should take 19 minutes, so we'll be working with nice round numbers.

It's a little crazy, but I think it will be an interesting way to run a race -- and hopefully it will help both me and Chas attain our goals.

Details of yesterday's workout are below.

The plan was to run 16 miles including the 9.3-mile Lungstrong loop. I was hoping to do a couple of pickups to marathon pace (7:10 per mile), a mile or two each. The first pickup was Mile 10 and 11 and went well, 7:04 and 6:49. The second pickup turned out a little strange because we were running with a group and everyone's pace just picked up towards the end. I was planning on just picking it up for Mile 15, but ended up running the last half of 13 at about a 7:20 pace, then 7:23 for 14 and 7:05 for 15. I felt all right for this tougher-than expected workout.

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