Thursday, August 16, 2012

Race Report: On the steep part of the curve

Quick report for those not interested in wading through my verbiage to get the scoop:
18:09! (18 second improvement over last race). 5th woman.

So people say that 5 months post partum is a key time for feeling back to normal, losing weight, improving running performance and all of this has been true for me. My weight is down to 58 kg which I attribute to Squeaker's intense nutritional demands. We are probably at the peak right now of her caloric demands from me bc soon she will be starting on solids and then it won't be all on me. Training wise, everything is just clicking. I am making improvements in my interval times that cannot be attributed to just getting fitter. I feel that my body is re-shaping itself and "remembering" how things used to be. That combined with some core work and some speed work allowed me to step it up on race day.

Watching youtube videos of some of M.o Fa.rah's distance track races was the other crucial aspect to yesterday's success. I found excellent youtube videos of his 2011 world championship races over 10,000 and 5,000 m. So first off, watching these videos allowed me to figure out where SteveQ's briefly lived blog header photo came from (such a great picture that was, I was sorry to see it go). It was M.o Far.ah crossing the finish line of the 5,000 in Deagu and now I understand the expression on his face... he wasn't saying "Oh, no, I didn't!"... he was raising his hands to his lips to blow a kiss. Anyhow the real benefit of watching these videos was it got me to thinking about how hard a runner can kick at the end of a 5 or 10,000 m race.
[Aside:, the other youtube video I found yesterday was of Rod.rig.uez winning 200.9 Wo.rld Champio.nships 1500 m and then being rightly disqualified for the most egregious display of interference I have ever seen, she basically shoves Bu.rka to the track as she tries to get by on the inside when there is clearly not enough room and then has the nerve to go up and kiss her afterwards... WTF?]

So anyway there I was having gone through the first 4 km in 3:36, 3:43, 3:37, 3:40. I had one km left to go, was feeling pretty sorry for myself, thinking about jogging it in. There were 3 women visible in front of me. I knew I should care bc passing them would make a huge difference in my series standing but I was feeling the effects of having gone through 3 km in 10:57, 4 km in 14:38 and thinking 'even if I jog this in in 4 minutes, I will still run 18:38 and that's a solid time'. Then I thought about how 4 people had really been put out so that I could have the chance to run this race and I better finish it in good faith putting my best effort forward.

I got to 400 m to go and thought of those M.o Fa.rah videos and thought: it IS possible to run a really fast quarter after after running 4.6 km at 5 km pace because sprinting taxes a different physiologic system. My aerobic system might be completely taxed but I can run the last 400 m anaerobically so my aerobic fatigue is COMPLETELY IRRLEVANT bc I am not going to use the part of me that is tired. So I squeezed out a 78 second last quarter at the end of a 5 km and passed 2 out of the 3 women. Now somehow I think my logic is somewhat flawed, the pace at which one has run the first 4..6 km must have some bearing on one's ability to kick at the end of a 5 km but as long as the runner has kept things aerobic up to that point, they should be relatively independent (true or false steve?). Certainly as I kicked in that 400 m I felt like I was taxing myself in a completely different way. (btw M.o Fa.rah ran his later quarter of the 5000 m at World Champs in 53 seconds).


  1. There's two different anaerobic systems, which is easiest to think of in terms of two different types of fast twitch muscle fibers. One type is "slightly aerobic" and is the type used for 400-800 meters; the ability to use this for a final kick depends upon how depleted they are from the rest of the race and that in turn depends upon how one trained. The other system is "completely anaerobic" and is good for 50-100 meters; though it might feel like you're going to die doing it, you can always sprint the last 50 meters.

  2. Adding periods in the middle of words to keep people from finding you is getting trickier. For example, there are people who have Google Alerts for "" and every other permutation of that. [Don't worry; Google Alerts don't seem to scan comments]

    And as for kicks, my "best" mile had 400m splits of 59, 81, 75, 56 with the last 100m in 11.2 (though that was hand-timed from an odd angle). I believe that's still the WORLD(!) record for the fastest last 100.

  3. thanks for your comments SteveQ (though I didn't give you much of a choice). Your mile splits support something I have always suspected, that even splits with a kick at the end may not be the most efficient way to run fast. I have always found it easier to run a 5:45 mile by alternating 38 and 48 second 200 m than by running even.
    11.2 is a ridiculously fast "kick" though, almost a race in and of itself.

  4. Blogger ate my first comment, so here we go again.
    Amazing job. That prebaby PR is going DOWN. Interesting thoughts here and lots of good lessons for me. What's up for you next? 5k/10Ks or moving up in distance?

  5. thanks AM. going to continue to focus on 5 km / 10 km. less training investment required than longer stuff and all i can handle for right now.

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