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Monday, September 10, 2007

Looking to Break 21:00 (And Here's How)

My next 5K is September 22, 2007. The Park Ridge Charity Classic.

Any reader of this blog knows I suffer from three things: an intense desire to run under 20:00 for the 5K, an obsession with understanding my odds in doing so in an given race, and a less-than-perfect ability to do the mathematics needed to figure this out. Not wanting to ruin this dubious reputation, here is more of the same.

About the race, according to them:
A flat, FAST, out and back course with only two right angle turns and one 180. Split times at 1 mile and 2 mile. "Illinois' fastest 5k course" as 32% of the all-time Illinois age group records were set on the Charity Classic course (source IL T & F).

About the race, according to me:Very fast course is my guess.

371 in the race in 2006 - top 20 under 17:25 (5.3%)

Top 50 18:30 or better (13.4%).

Compare to Viking 2006 - 43 runners in 18:30 or better out of 504 (8.4%).

In the Viking Run 2007, where I had a PR, there were 576 finishers, 134 of which were in under 21:00 (23.2%).

Park Ridge 2006 - 124/371 under 21:00 (33.4%).

Either really fast runners are showing up, or the course is lightening. I'm willing to believe the course is extraordinarily fast, and, with that, I should find myself with as good of a situation to run well as any I'll find this fall.

My goal September 22 is under 21:00. While I think the fastest runners will look for smart, fast races, perhaps where there are good prizes, I don't believe this holds true for the next tier or two down. The bulk of runners under 18:00 I can see based only on the prize factor, but the next group is less motivated by what they can't possibly get. A 20:00 runner isn't asking, "Which race gives me the best shot at winning it all?" A few may ask, "Where might I run quickly?" but it seems unlikely to me that this is true here -- many of the 18:00-21:00 runners were from the Park Ridge area.

Running under 21:00, after missing my goal on Labor Day, is a stretch, but I feel, today, good about it. I will need to drop :29 per mile, a big chunk by any account. It is two weeks away, and three weeks from Labor Day, allowing for both natural improvement and better racing weather.

The pace = 6:46.5/mile. I'm still unsure about my approach, but going out in 6:45 will do the job, followed by 2.1 miles in 6:47. Whether or not I can do that is a different question, especially having never actually run a recent mile under 6:48.

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