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Trial Run

May 10, 2008

I’ve got that 5K race coming up a week from tomorrow, so I decided today would be a good time to try doing that distance in order to set reasonable expectations for myself, since the last time I did a workout longer than 3 miles was last June. I’ve been doing two and a half miles pretty consistently, so being able to finish wasn’t a question; I could walk that last bit, no problem. The question was what sort of pace I could expect to maintain over that distance–was 40 minutes a reasonable goal? I’d been under that in the three 5Ks I did before I backed off to let my iliotibial band (ITB) heal up, but my average pace in recent workouts has been slower than what I was doing back then. I could just go race and see, but when one is racing against oneself (because one has no hope of actually winning one’s age group) like I am, I think it’s important to have some sort of sensible target.

I made a 40-minute long playlist with intervals that seemed appropriate based on how I’ve felt in the races I’ve done–longer running stretches in the beginning when I’m fresh and buoyed by the excitement surrounding the start and shorter ones later when I’m probably going to do them whether they’re in the program or not. For the running bits, I chose some of the more stirring selections from NFL Films, and since those are all instrumentals, I went with vocals for the walking parts, picking things that lift my spirits, like Shonen Knife, Disney, and Jonathan Coulton. Music in place, I headed out this morning to do a route that mimicked the race course as much as possible–some concrete, some blacktop, a tiny bit of unpaved surface, a couple gentle uphills. I poked the nano to start my Nike+ session after a warmup walk, and 37:26 later it told me I’d gone 3.11 miles. Cool. I checked the distance on Gmaps Pedometer later and the distance was pretty close, so I don’t think the Nike+ was too far off even though I’ve never calibrated it.

Based on that, I think under 40 minutes is a perfectly reasonable goal for the race. Anywhere around 38 minutes will make me quite happy. I do need to swap out one of the songs in my playlist before then; the one in there now has a slow section in the middle that I’d forgotten about and I don’t need that. I checked the race website and it doesn’t say anything about iPods being banned this year, so think I’m good to go.

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