2020 – 5k PB Week 15 – Six Days to Race Day

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fifteen weeks ago I started a journey this long and crazy journey to strive towards a 5k PB in 2020.

This coming Saturday it will all be over.

With six days to race day, I’m not sure what to expect.  

Guided by 80/20 running, my training has been super polarized, with long slow efforts leading to my first of two 200km months, balanced by some of the most gut-wrenching, throat burning, intense intervals I can ever remember.

As great as that’s been, I fear the stamina for a 5k PB pace just isn’t there.  

The craziest part about that, and I’m not sure if this is good or not, I don’t know that I care.  What I do know is 15 weeks ago I struggled to get out the door, even briefly contemplating hanging up the shoes in favour of the bike, and now I’m running more, running harder, and save for the cold dark nights, loving almost every moment of it.

What I do know, is that no matter what happens, Saturday won’t be the end of it, that instead, it will be the launching pad to set me up for my best running year ever in 2021, with new PBs targeted across the board, from the 5k to Marathon, and maybe even my first Ultra.

If you continue reading below I talk about finding positives, in the failed sets that were my first 3k time trial, and a 4×1 mile set at 5k pace.

The full diary of my attempt to 5k PB in 2020 can be found here, Diary of My Attempt to 5km PB In 2020, where I talk about building a base, finding a plan, and the highs and lows of working towards a lofty goal.

December 8, 2020 – No Limits 10 – 3k Time Trial

Eleven days to my 5k record attempt.

Today, my first true test, a 3k all-out time trial.

If you’ve been following along you know that after a gruelling fourteen weeks of training, combined with cold, dark nights, I’ve had some motivational struggles of late.

With eleven days to go and the end clearly in sight, there was none of that today.  I’ve eaten well, slept well, and from the moment I woke, I was motivated and ready to crush the day.

I came in knowing that it’ll be hard, ideally, the hardest thing I’ve done in years. But it doesn’t matter because in twelve minutes or less it’ll all be over. 

The goal, a target pace of 3:51/km.

Here’s how it went:

  • Kilometre 1 – 3:44 (All-Time PB) – I came out flying with a blistering pace of under 3:40/km for the first 400m.  For a brief moment, visions of an early PB were flying through my head, by 600m reality set in, the new goal, just hold on and break 3:50 on the day.  
  • Kilometre 2 – 4:04 – Reality has a way of knocking you down sometimes, what felt fast and effortless for the first km, quickly turned, my legs were dying, my lungs screaming, and my pace slowing.
  • Kilometre 3 – 4:10 – As I ran this final km I watched my average pace fall from 3:54 to 3:57 to 3:59, before finally touching 4:00. It was then I got mad, dug down deep, kicked hard for the final 100m.

The result 11:58 or 3:59/km.

Final thoughts on the day:

  • Not what I wanted, but understanding that after the recovery week two weeks ago, last week was bad, and so although not perfect, today was a great improvement
  • Perhaps not as bad as it seemed, that this will come down to seconds, and according to Strava my grade adjusted pace came in at 3:56.
  • Don’t come out too strong, focus on 3:50 and nothing faster.
  • 19:45 is going to be tough, but if I keep pushing hard, eat well, rest well, and find the way to hold on, very possible.

December 9, 2020 – 5k Recovery Run

Not much to say here, other then a nice slow run, to hopefully loosen those muscles, build up the endurance, and creep up the monthly running odometer.

December 11, 2020 – No Limits 12 – 4×1 Mile

No Limts 12 – 4×1 Mile at Goal Pace – Those Last Two Sucked

These last fourteen weeks have been a grind, from the early day highs of having a new goal in place, to the recent lows of transitioning to winter running, and renewed highs of knowing that next weekend it’ll all be over, it’s safe to say that like the weather we’ve both been a little manic lately.  

With a planned effort of 4 x 1.6k at my 5k goal pace with a 2 min rest in-between, today wasn’t going to be easy, with a high of 9, shorts, and my first lunchtime run in forever, it wasn’t hard to get out the door either.

After Tuesday’s fast start, and slow finish, on the 3k time trial, the goal today was pacing, targeting 3:57 per interval, and holding on all the way through.

If you’re curious, here’s a brief look into my mind as I made my way through:

  • Mile 1 – 3:58 – It feels like I’m barely running, this pacing thing is really working.
  • Mile 2 – 3:59 – This is getting kind of hard, but that’s okay, I’m 3.2km in, and although it hurts, I think I can hold it.
  • Mile 3 – 4:09 – My training sucks, this plan sucks, I have no top end stamina, if I can’t hold on for three intervals with rest, how will I ever hold on come race day.
  • Mile 4 – 4:08 – Don’t suck, don’t throw in the towel, push hard, and make it count.

It’s safe to say these last two weeks have not gone to plan, perhaps it’s the plan, perhaps it’s my mindset, perhaps it’s running too much, who knows.  

That said, all is not lost, I’m close, I know I am.  When I broke 20 minutes in 2016, I didn’t feel ready either, but race day has a way of working its own magic.  Although I won’t have a crowd or the distraction of other runners, perhaps with the support of family, I’ll still manage to find a way to capture some of that magic once more.

December 13, 2020 – TTC Challenge Bathurst to Victoria Park

TTC Subway Challenge – December 13 – Bathurst Station to Victoria Park Station

The quest to run the TTC continued today with a run from Bathurst Station to Victoria Park Station and back.  

Like last week, it was cold, it was windy, and running the TTC was the best part of my week, so much so, that with my 5k PB attempt only six days away, I was afraid it may even be to my detriment.  

Last week, halfway in some left calf pain started, I pushed through and needed the week to fully recover.  This leads me to the big question for the week, do I risk injury and do the run, or take it easy, saving up for the big day?  With my last recovery week being a disaster I decided to throw caution to the wind, train hard this week, and hope to come into Saturday at peak form, and I’m glad I did.

Where last week I finished sore, today I finished strong, perhaps the best I’ve felt on any long run this year, even posting negative splits for the final 5k of the 23k day.

With Bathurst to Victoria Park officially in the books, I’m down to my final 13 stops, of the 75 stop TTC subway network.  Next week Victoria Park to McCowan and back before the final chapter, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

13 Stops To Go in the TTC Subway Challenge

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