As we all know intervals are the home of speed.
Susan has run the Carlsbad 5,000 for 3 straight years. In 2012 she run it in 24.54 and in 2013 she ran it in 23.20
After running a personal best on the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January she had great fitness and was targeting a sub 22 minute pace in 2014!
Having trained for different events including the half marathon and long crazy bike rides I have to say that the 5k is awesome to train for. Once you have a fitness base from a longer event, you just need intervals to get and keep your speed up. Every few weeks you can do the full distance i.e. a 5k to test your engine. Michael Johnson (the gold medalist) wrote that he knew how he would do in his Olympic races because he did engine tests close to his target race and had a clear view of his expected time.
Susan did a couple 5ks to get ready for this race and her fastest was a week before the race where she ran around a 23 minute 5k (7.30 pace) so I knew she was on track to do a 7.15 pace or mid 22 min race. However she had a few mental lapses including on her last 5k engine test she gave up at mile 3.0 with 0.11 miles to go and on an interval run she just gave up mid interval.
On race day she was confident and I set her watch to a 7.15 pace and told her to go faster on the first mile (advice I’d received from a team-mate because it’s a net downhill) but not too fast. Target pace for that first mile was ~10 seconds faster than her race pace i.e. about a 7.05 pace.
She ran it in 7.00 minutes which was perfect. She ran the second and third miles at 7.25 and 7.26 and ended up averaging 7.16 for a total time of 22.40, an improvement of 40 seconds on 2013! She was 27th overall out of 274 runners.
While she didn’t break 22 minutes this year this puts her on target to break 22 minutes in 2015. We also learnt a bit about training and will do more 5k specific training runs next year. Finally although Susan had a couple mental lapses, they didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, which is reassuring for the future. We probably need to incorporate more rest into her schedule to allow her to have quality hard days!
Oh and I did a 5k today too but it was really an excuse to turn it into a family day which it was, and to have some fun. 17 minutes 30 was my time and I hope to break 17 next year!
About 1 and half years ago I met Andy on the group rides. He was coming back to riding after a hiatus of a few years. His riding style was interesting because he rode like he was fast even though he wasn’t (at the time).
He told me he had recently run a half marathon PR of 1 hour 22 minutes. That is fast – it is equivalent to a 6 minute 15 second pace over 13.1 miles. To give you some idea of relativity – my PR on a much shorter distances prior to 2013 was 19.53 5k or 3.1 miles equivalent to a 6 min 23. My PR for the Carlsbad half marathon 2013 was 1hour 28 minutes (6 minute 42 second pace). A 1 hour 22 pace would put a runner in about the top 50 of runners in the Carlsbad Half Marathon which features ~7,000 people.
My goal for the Carlsbad Half Marathon 2014 was 1 hour 22 minutes.
Susan is my BFF, my partner, my Baby Momma, my dietician, my stylist and my wife. Her half marathon PR was 2 hours 10 minutes which she did on Staten island circa 2006/2007. I remember that race because at the time I worked late on a Saturday (I was in NYC working in investment banking), hung out with my friends until 3am or so and then got up at 6am to go to the race with Susan. My attendance of the race was a testament to my love for Susan. After she was done, she was a little unhappy with her performance in the second half of the race where she faded principally due to having gone out too hard in the first half. At the time, I weighed about 50 lbs more than I do today, the longest run I did was ~3 miles in 25 minutes (8 minute 2 second pace), about 3 days a week and I worked about 80 hours+ a week.
Susan and I signed up for the Carlsbad Half Marathon 2014 and we developed a training program (checkout our Strava if interested) that we started together in August 2013. With her training she was on track to break 2 hours in the half which is a major goal for a lot of runners. In December, she strained her calf and her race was in jeopardy as for a week she could barely run. The biggest mistake we had made was not massaging and foam rolling Susan’s legs after every hard effort. Having Susan finish the race became the most important part of the race for me.
The race itself:
Was over at mile 1 (I thought). I met 2 guys and they told me they were going to run 1 hour 22. Perfect I said, I’ll run with you guys. They run with Prado Racing a.k.a PRT (a San Diego running club that I’ll probably join) and they ran at a smooth pace. On the first half of the run they backed off a little on the hills as I planned and then upped the pace a little on the downhills. We were able to converse as we ran. We continued to pick up runners who we were passing so that around Tamarack (saw Jackie at that point!) we were about 6 runners with PRT at the front. As we went on the slight ascent past the NRG power plant (great to see my work-mates!), we dropped the other runners one by one. As we approached the halfway point, a spectator shouted, “come on guys it’s not a jog-a-thon, there are 4 women ahead of you”. My response, they’re probably pros so I’m ok with that…
After cresting the NRG hill we passed a water stop and after sipping a little water I had to accelerate a bit to catch back onto the PRT crew. That acceleration was expensive and I waited for my body to recover as I was forced to breathe deep. I heard my neighbor Tim yell at this point which was awesome. We caught girl 4 just before the halfway point (thanks for yelling John D!) and then turned round and caught girl 3.
Just after the halfway point I felt a bit of cramp in my stomach which was a little disconcerting. I am fortunate to never get stomach cramps but today I guess my body was telling me we were going fast! I was a little worried as I thought it may get to debilitating pain. We approached the little hill up to the hotel (a.k.a. AM 101 hill for my fellow Swamis bike-riders) and I had intended to run this at a 6.45 pace. My PRT homies went up it at 5.55 slowing to 600 as we crested the hill. I was ok until I looked at my watch which made me panick a little bit as I thought we were going too fast. I think we may have had a little bit of a tail-wind or a lot of adrenalin as I felt ok after doing a check of my mental and physical internal computers (hamstrings ok, breathing ok, stomach cramp => forgotten…).
We passed my neighbor Tim again (thanks for yelling Tim!), came up to the Power Plant where my work-mate Jennifer had brought our kids (Jennifer = tres awesome!!!) and I looked out for them. As we had practiced they had their hands out and I moved close to them and high-fived them. That was an amazing feeling.
All of a sudden we were now on the last incline up to Carlsbad. I knew this was going to be rough and with my original plan I was going to have pushed on this segment. Thanks to Team PRT I was ahead of my pace time though AND one of the PRT guys, unbeknownst to me at the time was feeling good and he decided to “up the pace” which he did by holding a 6 minute mile as we went UP the INCLINE. I thought about dropping off and recovering but decided to stay with them. I used my jedi mind trick of focusing on PRT #2′s shoulders and just running. Unfortunately PRT runner #2 was feeling it too and he waved me forward to get behind PRT #1. I stayed behind PRT #1 for maybe 30 seconds then I let him go.
We had about 2.5 miles to go, I was completely finished and I slowed it down a little bit. I went down to about 6.45 and then was able to get my pace back to about 6.15 between Tamarack and Carlsbad town. PRT #2 stayed right behind me and I paced him for that distance. Around Carlsbad town he moved forward to take over the pacing. At this point, I was again in distress and I couldn’t stay with PRT #2 and let him go ahead. I looked at my watch. I had around 2 miles to go and I was in danger of missing my goal as my pace was now down to 6.40 to 6.45 and I was struggling to keep it there. I was beginning to do math in my head – how fast did I need to run the last couple miles to survive….
In another sign that I was in distress,girl #3 caught me, we told each other good job, and she went by me. I had nothing left to keep after her and I’m usually good at chasing girls :) AND I’m usually a negative split runner (passing people later in the race) I looked at my shadow and I looked like I was literally plodding along and looked at my watch and it said 6.40 pace. I thought wow surprised I’m running that fast because my shadow was running at about a 8.30 pace.
To make matters worse I felt a twinge in my left calf – that knowing feeling when your leg is about to cramp and I thought uh…oh! Again I’m fortunate in that I rarely cramp. Everyone who saw me at this point could see the pain in my face and they kept saying, almost there, just a mile to go, almost there!!! This was going to be the toughest 1.5 miles of my life. I came to the last water stop and considered drinking water (Pro: slow down rest, water always helps Con: loose 10 seconds, Decision: better to recover than to completely bonk which I was in danger of doing). The water guys yelled at me to keep going after I slowed almost to a walk. I know the last mile is mostly downhill and I was able to get my pace back up to ~6.15 for the mile. I pushed thru and finally got to the finish line.
1 hour 22 minutes 7 seconds.
Susan finished about 30 minutes later. She was crestfallen because she had fallen. It takes a lot to make Susan sad but she had tears in her eyes when I saw her from the pain. I took her to the first aid folks and we got some ice on her chin which was bloody. She had been running comfortably with the 1hr 50 group when the fall happened around mile 9 and she had been on track to hit 1 hr 50. I was glad a) she had finished and b) her time was definitely better than 2 hours despite the fall. She had also shown a lot of grit by taking a serious fall (bloody chin + bruised quads) and then gotten up and finished. Weren’t we pleased when we checked online later and her time was 1 hour 50 minutes 48 seconds!!!!
Shout out to all the people who encouraged us all, came to the race, sent us text messages and emails. A special thank you to my workmate Jennifer who, of her own accord, came to our house at 615am and brought our kids to an unforgettable race!!!
‘Twas the week of Thanksgiving 2013 and we made our way up to San Jose to visit our friends A and A (or Asquared).
Susan and I are in the midst of preparing for the Carlsbad Half Marathon which will take place in January 2014 and we scheduled an easy week for this week. We came into this week with very tired legs but fortnuatenly no injuries. We were glad to be taking it easy. We decided to do 2 runs when here, one on Thanksgiving and the other on Saturday. As I surfed the WWW, I found out there was a very popular 10km (6.21 mile) Turkey Trot in San Jose. Very popular = my number was 20131 i.e. participant 20131!!! A and A graciously agreed to babysit our kids on Thanksgiving while Susan & I would run the race.
Susan and my target paces for the Carlsbad Half Marathon are 8.30/mile and 6.15/miles respectively and we decided to use this race to test our race pace. Susan’s pace is based on what she’d need to run to break 2 hours and mine is based on the time (1hr22min) a good friend, Andy, run a half at a few years ago. For some reference, I ran the Carlsbad 2013 at a 6.45 pace (~1hr28min). I was 100th out of 7,000 people. Improving to 1hr22min feels pretty serious. Susan’s fastest half is 2.05 at the Staten Island half marathon back in 2006 so she felt nervous about running an 8.30. So to get there we’re taking the training “serious” this year and we’re on a 5 month training program.
The San Jose turkey trot is in downtown San Jose about a mile from A and A’s condo. It started at 7.50am. Given the 45f temperatures, we decided to jog to the start and get there about 10 minutes before the gun went off.
Well attended races/runs like this are broken into waves based on pace. There were 3 waves for this one. The 6min to 7min pace group. The 7min to 9min pace group and the rest. We went to our respective groups and I started chatting to folks. Of the 4 people I spoke to, everyone was polite but brief, like they didnt want to talk :). The only guy who was responsive was a 65 year old man who was targeting a 6.45 pace. He was very nice and said he comes down to Carlsbad for the Carlsbad 5,000 every year. Hopefully I will see him at it with him next year. I also chatted briefly with a cross-country highschool kid who said he was targeting a 6.20 pace..
When the gun went off, the usual happened. Everyone just took off @ a brisk 5.30 pace. I’ve seen the results and I know my pace and I kept to it. I felt comfortably at my 6.15 pace but I was a little worried about keeping the pace for the next 6 miles. I judiciously kept to my pace as people pulled away. I remember 2 kids who caught me and went by me. I asked them how old they were and they said 14. That made me feel better because they werent 9! Surprisingly after about a quarter of a mile they couldnt hold their speed. I caught them and I didnt see them again.
Then I saw the mile 2 sign which was a relief.
I also passed a fit looking woman, the only one I saw ahead of me between mile 2 and 3. Around mile 3, I passed the lone other black guy I’d seen. I remember he had yellow Nike tights, and nice hair (Labeja = envious bald guy) and looked more like a quarterback than a runner. At this point I had started a trend that would continue for the rest of the race – passing people.
Around mile 3.5, my pace dropped to 6.35 briefly and I went thru a brief panic thinking maybe I’m done. Fortuntately I got my pace back up, and I was good.
I also saw multiple groups of highschool cheerleaders. When I ran by a group of predominantly black girls, they yelled extra loud for me and I felt a surge of energy.
When I saw the mile 4 sign, I felt some relief. I knew I could maintain the 6.15 pace for the remaining 2 miles. The 6.15 pace is a discomfort that is difficult to describe. I was able to speak although not conversationaly like I could at 6.45 to 7.00. I was doing what I refer to as focused breathing, I have a pattern I like to maintain when under stress. My legs felt good although I could feel my left hamstring was a little sore, and it’s been a problem for me in the past.
I was encouraging everyone I passed at this point, telling them 2 miles to go, 2 miles to go. Unfortunately they didnt have any legs left to stay with me after they’d run the prior 4 miles faster than me.
At mile 5, I told the guys I passed, 1 mile to go, time for some pain! My target was to run the last mile at 6 min or faster.
I caught the cross-country kid I saw at the beginning around mile 5.5. He told me I was looking strong and he reminded me that there was less than a mile to go. Those were encouraging words. I ran mile 5 to 6 at ~5.55/min.
As I passed the 6 mile sign I heard a heavy breather on my left. It was a kid I didnt recognize, who I probably passed earlier. He was in final sprint mode. Bro, thought Labeja, lets go. I went into beast mode and sprint we did. I held him off and about 200 meters from the finish I looked back and he was about 20 steps back. My body relaxed a little bit and I slowed a little. And then bam! He blew by me with about 50 meters to go. I was really impressed by this young guy who got dropped, dug deep, and sprinted by in complete and utter PAIN. He got to the finish maybe 5 seconds ahead of me and bent over double. I went and congratulated him. He ran awesome!
I then walked back to look for Susan. She was tough to find in the crowds as she was wearing the event t-shirt. Fortunately she saw me and yelled, Labeja! I ran with her for the last 0.2 of a mile with some pain in my butt. She looked comfortable and even said she was ok. At the end she told me she ran at a 8.07/mile pace which is awesome as that puts her on track for a sub 1.50!
I ran at a 6.12 which was great. I set PRs for my 1 mile, 2 mile, 5k and 10k speeds. Hopefully we can make the turkey trot a Labeja family tradition!!!
We decided to make a weekend of it. Got a hotel in the Gaslamp district at a great discount thanks to my friend good deals ak.a. David G.
Chula Vista Duathlon is a true endurathon. It starts with a 5k run, then a 24 mile bike, followed by a 10k run. Any of these events individually would be taxing.
Saturday before the race was great. We happend upon an Islands restaurant in Chula Vista after we recon-ed the course. Islands is where we had our first meal when we landed in San Diego in 2010. This, my friends, was an omen. Burgers we ate at grandpa-dinner time (5pm). This was after a pancake breakfast a few hours prior so I was high as a kite on carbs on Saturday evening.
Although we went to bed @ 9pm, I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours all night. Usually when I can’t sleep I think about a physical activity such as cycling, running or basketball. On Saturday nights thoughts about the cycling and running I would do on Sunday kept me awake. The alternative was to think about work so basically it turned into one of those nights where you toss, turn, go to the bathroom then fall asleep at 430am just before the alarm goes off at 530am. Fortunately this meant my stomach was clear by 6am as we set out to the race.
I bumped into a familiar face warming up at the start of the 5k. I met him at the Solana beach sprint duathlon in 2012. He was there with his beautiful family and I sensed a quiet confidence in him. At the start he asked if the route was clearly marked to which the guy about to set us off said I’m not sure. I asked the guys around me if anyone knew the course from the prior year and only one guy did, who said if you’re not interested in a podium stick with with me.
When the siren went off, everyone took off like it was a 1 mile race. Solana was off the front immediately at what must have been a 6 min pace. Podium was right behind him followed by a guy in a red kit. I had a guy in front of me running with a really weird gait a la Chris Froome. I looked at my watch and realized I was running at a 6min pace which I knew wasnt sustainable and immediately backed off as my target was 630 to 700 pace. There was some movement as the guys who started too fast slowed down and I passed them. At mile 1 of the 3.11 mile run (5k) I was in 5th. I had a heavy breather right behind me who pulled around me and I saw it was Froome with the awkward gait. I let him lead as he was doing exactly the pace I wanted. I let him lead for about a half mile until my consciene got the better of me and I pulled through to give him the benefit of having a pace-setter. Unfortunately around the 2 mile mark I lost him and he later told me his hamstrings seized up and he couldnt keep up the pace.
I got to transition in 5th place and I was right behind Podium who had been dropped by the other runners. I was surprisingly quick (all the transition training at night this week paid off) and Podium and I came out at the same time. Podium was HOWEVER on a TT bike with a disc wheel. I was riding my commuter road bike (shimano 105) with aero wheels.
He pulled away from me pretty quickly and I watched him go, while I was pedaling along at 22mph he must have been doing 25mph. Had a professional triathlete blow by my as well in those first few miles on the bike.
I caught Red Kit (duathlete #4) around mile 4. He was on a road bike as well and he was already appeared to be suffering. At turn 1, I saw Podium ahead of me and a few people behind him. I also saw someone chasing me. We had a slight descent + tail-wind after turn 1, and I went as aero as I could and coasted along at 25mph. We had a climb coming and I had a plan for it.
I had my chaser catch me as we turned onto the one true climb of the day. She didn’t seem to know it was coming as she slowed down significantly on the climb, I dropped her even though I intentionally took it easy and never saw her again.
At the bottom of the climb I gunned it and caught a triathlete ahead of me. This was a flat to slightly ascending stretch of road which is my strength. I crested this stretch and we had another down-hill afterwhich I caught 3 more triathletes. Passed them, and kept doing the same thing: 20 to 22mph on the flats, get my speed up to 25mph on down-hills and coast, slight ascents keep my speed up at 18 to 20mph and any gradient that was significant I went down to 12 to 14mph.
The last few miles of the bike were beautiful. Great scenery, lots of rollers (short hills followed by descents) which I’m good at, and I caught and passed lots of triathletes. All of sudden the bike was almost over. I started going over the transition in my head. I was going to do something I hadn’t practiced which was take of my jersey and run shirtless.
My 2nd transition was S.L.O.W. First someone gave me the wrong bag (volunteers were handing out bags) but I was just really slow at putting on my shoes and I actually stopped to thank people for their help. The whole process took me 1min30seconds which was one of the slowest transitions.
The 2nd run started with a slight climb and my plan was to take it easy and look for my running legs. I chatted with a Scottish triathlete who came out of T2 with me as we run at a 8min pace. We had another triathlete pass us at a fast clip and I decided to stay with him until I realized he was running below a 630pace. I backed off to a 630 to 700 pace. I wasnt sure I could sustain a 630 to 700 pace as I hadn’t done any bike-run training and I expected my legs to be shot.
I caught a few runners and then I heard a heavy breather and my Sottish triathlete was back. He blew by me as I took it easy on a short climb on mile 2. Since he didn’t say hi I decided to use that as motivation and keep him in sight. Friggin’ Sean Connery.
He passed a lady triathlete without acknowledging her either and I thought to myself don’t worry I’ll catch him for you. The lady triathlete turned out to be the first female triathlete.
Sean Connery maintained a 630 to 700 pace and stayed about 5 seconds ahead of me until mile 4 where I caught up to him and got right into his draft. After about a mile he chatted with me and said where is everyone. I chatted with him and moved forward to pace-set as I thought to myself, I guess he’s a nice guy, and so much for that motivation.
With me moving into the pace setter shortly after mile 4 that meant I would have to run at a sustainable fast pace for the last couple miles as opposed to my usual modus operandi which is to save my toughest effort for the last mile.
I hit a couple hills, and went into Strava hill-run-mode which for me means head down, high leg turn-over and keep pace up on the climbs. All of a sudden I’d dropped Sean Connery. I suspect he lost the mental battle when he saw me kill a few hills but I’m sure he could have kept up otherwise.
The best and worst part of this race for me at 5.8 or so when I was someone ahead of that looked suspiciously like Podium who I knew was in 3rd in the Duathlon. I chased him hard. And then all of a sudden I saw a big sign that said FINISH ahead of us. I run as fast as I could which meant PUSH, PUSH, PUSH, arms pumping efficiently, focused breathing, head nodding, legs moving. The crowd was awesome and they yelled as they saw me chasing him down.
Although I beat Podium by 2 minutes in the last run he ultimately finished 5 seconds ahead of me in a well deserved 3rd place and I was 4th. This left me with a lot of what ifs…
It was a great experience and the best part of the race was seeing Wifey and the kids, as always at the finish and knowing they saw me give it my all!
Here’s my list of things to remember for last year:
Nutrition + pace I chose + the pre-race recon
What didn’t work:
Need a TT bike + practice transitions + bring better running legs to win it.
I haven’t run a 10k in a while and so when I got a work email inviting me to participate in the Tip Top 10k in Carlsbad, I thought why not. I will be competing in the Chula Vista Duathlon in August so doing a 10k also seemed like a good idea to get ready for it.
Well, I normally run twice a week and average about 10 miles/week in addition to my normal biking routine. However I am coming off a recent vacation and work travels and my average for the last month or so is only 6 miles/week and 1 run/week. So you could say I’m not in Tip Top shape (pun intended). Based on the above, I decided to run this one at about a 7min to 730min pace which is below my half marathon pace of about 640min/mile and my best 10k pace of 620min/mile.
This run is a corporate fundraising run with about 50 participants. It traverses a few trails and goes up Faraday and has a bit of shall we say, elevation gain.
As the race started, I was in 3rd position behind 2, a guy wearing a Chicago Marathon t-shirt with the words 10.10.10 on the front and a guy who looked 50+. They were going at about a 630 pace. I let them go, and stuck to my 700min pace.
At the first turn 10.10.10 went the wrong way with 50+ in tow. So all of a sudden I was at the front of the race. When I saw 10.10.10 chasing me down, I slowed down and let him pass me. Better to race with honor than to win without, at least that’s what I believe.
We ran through the Crossings and 10.10.10 took a wrong turn again and this time it was me who followed him the wrong way. We turned back together and chased down the group behind us that had gone the correct way.
We passed them and climbed the hill in Veteran’s Park. At the top of the hill we came to a fork that wasn’t marked and again we walked for a little bit until we saw a volunteer in the distance and run to him.
Came out of Veteran’s Park and it was a left turn up Faraday. 10.10.10 was given bad directions by a volunteer and had gone the wrong way and I had to tell him which way to go. 10.10.10 took off fast and I let him go ahead of me as I was going to try and catch him on the Faraday climb. I gave it my all as I chased him up Faraday but I couldn’t catch him and decided to try again on the downhill out of Faraday.
We passed a water stop before the last mile downhill Faraday and here I stopped, drank water as I speedwalked. Then I run a 6 minute mile down Faraday chasing 10.10.10 down. I got closer and closer and run out of tarmac as he got to the finish at Agua Hedionda Lagoon just ahead of me.
I finished 2nd overall and had a great run. I ended up doing an extra mile with all the wrong turns and still averaged a 707min.mile pace. Susan did the 5k and she was the first female finisher. A friend of mine did the run as well and his 9 year old son came 3rd in the 5k!
The 5 reasons I ride:
1. Meet new people.
2. Kick ass.
3. Get my ass kicked.
4. Feel better after each ride.
5. I hate driving.