Downhill "track" workout & MATC Turkey Trot 5K

The Middleton HS track is a one mile run from work - perfect for my warm up - but students are using it sometimes.  Rather than run there hoping to get on the track, I decided to do a "track" workout on the bike path close to work Thursday.  Instead of 400s, I chose to run 10 x 90 seconds, then jog back to the start for recovery.  Most people run toward Pheasant Branch so I headed the other way toward the baseball field figuring I'd find a good flat stretch of trail that I'd basically have all to myself.  I was close...I did have it all to myself but it wasn't flat.  It was a gradual downhill.

It felt a little like cheating running a slight downhill for my intervals, but I liked it.  My heart rate was a little lower, which allowed me to relax a little and focus more on leg turnover and speed.  I wouldn't want to do all my track workouts downhill, but it was a fun change of pace and something I might work in from time to time.  

Turkey Trot

Sunday  was a beautiful day - sunny with a high of 70.  I decided to do the MATC Turkey Trot 5K.  This is a cross country race at Warner Park, so it's all off-road.  It's mostly flat running around the park with one steep, tough hill and another longer, gradual climb.  My goal was to pace this race better than the Haunted Hustle 5K last weekend and see if I could beat that time.  That was until my warm up. I guess we got more rain earlier in the week than I realized.  The ground was really soft and wet and it was instantly clear that this wasn't going to be a fast day.  A few years ago I did some cross country races for fun and decided to buy a pair of spikes. I felt like they weren't really necessary in most races I wore them in so I debated on wearing them, but Courtney suggested I wear them because...well, I own them so why not?  Good call.  


About 3/4 of a mile into the race.

I went out easier than last week and the first mile felt tough, but not brutal.  It was flat and there were only a few spots that were mushy, so I was thinking the race might be a bit faster than I was originally thinking.  I hit the first mile marker at 5:50..again...except my Garmin didn't register a mile until 6:07.  This had me wondering...did I start another 5K at a 5:50 pace or are their mile markers off?

The second mile starts with a short but very steep climb.  It's tough, and I was glad I had spikes on because some people were slipping.  The hill is followed by a short, flat section and then a downhill and I managed to work past a few people who probably hit that hill too hard.  Then we had a longer, gradual hill.  I've run this race before and I like this hill.  I like powering up this hill trying to pass people.  Again, I was glad I had my spikes on because this is a dirt trail and it was a little muddy and slick. Then we had a downhill and a flat section where we run through a playground and then we hit the second mile marker.  It said 11:XX.  Umm....what?

At this point I knew their mile markers were off.  No way was I running a sub-6 pace with the mushy ground and those two hills on mile 2.  My watch registered mile two at a 6:32 pace.  That felt about right. 

The rest of the course was flat, but the ground was pretty soft so it was hard work.  I crossed the finish line at 17:49, but had 2.8 miles on my Garmin (6:20 average pace).  I worked my way into 7th overall, 2nd in my age group. Even though my first mile was my fastest, I feel like I paced this race a lot better than last week.  My slowest mile was mile 2, and conditions were the best on mile 1 so it's no surprise it was the fastest.  I felt like I held steady and even though I was tired the final mile I didn't feel like I was falling apart like last week.  

I like cross country races so I had fun and actually enjoyed the tough conditions, but I'm frustrated the course was so short. The only thing I really want in a 5K is an accurate course.  Chip timing is great, but an accurate course comes first...especially when you're in a park where you can literally run the course anywhere you want.  I don't need t-shirts, goodie bags, finish line food, finisher's medals, awards, etc.  Just give me an accurate course.