After nearly four months off of racing, I finally returned to the land of flats, singlets, and fast times. I hadn’t been planning on running the Cupid’s Cup 5k, but I did want to do the so-called “Cupid’s Revenge” workout and it seemed like a waste of time to only do half the workout. So, I was in for the race, despite having done only marathon workouts and training the past 4 months.
Fellow Charlotte Running Club member, Aaron Linz, coaches several of the girls I train with and one of the girls I am running the Tobacco Road Marathon with. He created this workout last year and it worked so well, he decided to put it on the schedule again. It involves running the Cupid’s Cup 5k all out, then taking a short break for fuel and shoe changes, then jogging 0.75 miles to the start of a rolling 7.35 mile course. The goal was a marathon pace temp (6:45 for me). Chad wasn’t ready to do a 5k, but he nicely offered to pace the tempo portion; an offer which I readily took him up on. Interestingly, this would be my longest run to date at marathon pace. I knew I could handle the pace in general; it was just the pace after a race that concerned me.
With almost no speed work to speak of and a tough tempo afterwards, I decided to just run comfortably hard and not fret about my time. Anything under 20 minutes would have been fine by me.
Race morning dawned nice and cool but with none of the terrible wind that would descend later in the day. After a short warm up, I was on the starting line then off. The pace felt a bit quick at first, but the race starts uphill. Once I hit the flat the pace felt much easier and I was pleased to see my garmin said I was running right at 6 minute pace. Finished the first mile right at 6:00. The second mile starts with a long uphill, flattens out, and has one more uphill, before flattening out again to the 2 mile marker. I cruised through the 2nd mile in 6:12, still feeling good. The third mile is entirely downhill and I knew it would be possible to run my final mile around 6:00 minute pace again. I was very surprised when I hit the 3 mile in 5:43. Mo was charging hard behind me, so that helped me to pick up the pace the last half mile, but I did not expect a 5:43, even downhill. The course is known to be short and measured short again this year (3.07), but that was fine by me. I crossed the finish line in 18:21. That converts to 18:34 for 5k. Even adding in some additional time to account for the terrible tangent running I normally do, this time was unquestionably faster than anytime I ran in the past 18 months. I was happy and surprised.
Before I knew it, we were all resetting our garmins and starting the tempo portion down Providence Road. Our destination was the Arboretum shopping center where Aaron, Billy, and Rich would be waiting to kindly drive us back to the race site. Chad immediately took to the front and worked to bring us down to the proper pace without exerting too much effort too soon. The first two miles were a touch slow, but then we picked it up and put in a solid effort for the next 5.35 miles. Right after the 3 mile marker, the group split off, with the faster runners settling into their marathon pace for the remainder of the run. I was left with Chad and Mo, which was perfect. We stayed right under our goal pace and crushed the remainder of our run.
6:50, 6:49, 6:31, 6:42, 6:42, 6:40, 6:39, 2:21 (6:30 pace).
I was really happy with this run, even moreso in the context of the entire workout. Next week starts my three highest weeks of mileage. I’ll be looking to hit 70 each week, before tapering. I had one other week at 70, right before Thunder Road in 2010, but I have never done a sustained block of mileage in this range. Hopefully the result will be a PR in the marathon at Tobacco Road!