For the fifth consecutive year we will be making the one hour ride up to Holland, TX for the 39th Annual Holland Corn Festival and the 14th running of the Holland Corn Fest 5K. There are a couple of races that we do every single year – the Ronald McDonald House Lights of Love 5K and the Holland Cornfest 5K. I basically build my training plans around these two small local races as I want to be sure that I support the two events and their charities, but I also find that it is very valuable to compare my performance twice a year on the identical courses.
Once on the 3rd Saturday in June and once on the first Friday Night in December.
It gives me a good barometer as to our fitness, any improvements that we have made and if my training is lacking in a certain area.
Comparing race times across different courses, different times of year, different weather makes it difficult to get any concrete sense as to how fit you are or how well you raced. But on Saturday morning I know quite a few things about what we are going to face.
The course is going to measure 3.15 miles in length. Just slightly longer than 5,000 meters.
We are going to climb 225 feet during the race, making it one of the more challenging 5K courses that I have run.
The temperature is going to be approximately 82 degrees at the start of the race. Adding to the challenge of running a fast time.
I also know that there are going to be somewhere between 6 and 10 runners out in front of me over the first mile, if we run well, we will have a chance to claw our way back into the top 10 overall. And if we execute our splits to the best of our ability we should run a time between 18:50 and 18:59.
In looking at the last two years in Holland we ran nearly identical races.
In 2011 we ran our course record 18:53. In 2012 an 18:57.
The difference being our final 1/2 mile and kick as I felt myself ease up off of the gas just a hair last year knowing that we were racing the very next day at the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon. This year we will not be racing the following day, so we will be going full-out and run through to the finish.
The one thing I am interested in seeing is if being in an ascending period of our training will make a difference or not in Holland as opposed to coming off of a Spring Marathon as we have been in the past few years. In 2010 and 2012 we were coming off of Boston in April and were running only 35-40 miles per week. In 2011 we had not quite yet kicked off NYC Marathon Training and were again averaging 35 miles per week or so.
This year of course we have a September date with Big Cottonwood – so we have been running mileage in the mid 50’s for several weeks now.
We have also been doing track work for the first time over the past 7 weeks which may have improved our speed just a bit going into Holland. The downside to all of the increased work is that our legs are going to be far from fresh on Saturday morning.
Coming off of yesterday’s 19-mile long run in 75 degree temperatures we are anything but rested. With workouts on Monday, Tuesday and 800’s on the track on Wednesday I am going to run our Thursday miles at a very slow, easy pace and then stay off of my feet as much as possible on Friday to hopefully trick our legs into feeling fresh on Saturday.
Fatigue will not likely show up early in the race, but the final mile, which features some late climbing before the final 2/10 of a mile that rewards runners with a downhill finish is going to test us. To be honest, I am not going to put too much stock in our performance in Holland. Sure I hope to run well and I would love to shave a few seconds off of our course PR. But given the course, the heat and being in the midst of an aggressive Marathon Training plan – I’m not quite sure what to expect.
There have been times that I have raced during marathon training and been completely flat. Others where I ran a tremendous race. But flat or fresh, fast or slow the race on Saturday is going to be a great workout, running a little bit longer than 3 miles at just a tick under or tick over 6 minutes per mile on a steamy hot, hilly course. With a 2-mile warm-up and a 2-mile cool down, we are going to have a great 7 miles to put in the bank to follow-up with a shorter long run of just 14 miles the next day to wrap up another week of 55-56 miles.
Then things will jump up a bit for the next month our weekly mileage hitting 67.3, 67.3, 54.6 (cut-back week), 68.3.
After another cut-back week of 54.6 miles we will then creep into the 70-73 mile per week range until we taper.
Comparing things to our preparation for NYC – we will be running 7 runs of 20 or more miles instead of just 5 and topping out in the low to mid 70’s this time around instead of the 65 we averaged before running our PR in Gotham.
I’m not sure that we are going to have any big indicators that will let us know for certain exactly where we are prior to race day such as a half-marathon tune-up race 4 weeks prior and even if we did, given the heat here in Texas, our time wouldn’t really mean a whole heckuva lot from a projection standpoint.
Instead we are going to have to trust our training, rely on past performance coming out of our training cycle and hope that the combination of weather that promises to be possibly 35 degrees cooler than we have felt on our skin in more than 3 months and a downhill course will combat the nasty reality that we will be racing at more than 9,000 feet elevation. Should those two factors create a “neutral” day for us in Utah, which is my hope – I’m starting to really like our chances of breaking through that 3 hour barrier for the first time.
But for this week, we’ll continue to do what we do, just keep taking things one day, one workout and one mile at a time.
It will be our first time running Holland in the 45-49 year old age group after placing first the last 4 years among the 40-44 year old runners. One age group is wide open this year with us moving up – another one hopefully is about to realize that there is a new guy in town to be dealt with, and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
Saturday morning. Boom goes the dynamite.