Friday, November 2, 2012

Eugene Monster Mash 5k

In the spirit of keeping things true, I report on each of my races (save one race I might -or might not have- entered under an alias name, as a non-competitive course sweeper). Sometimes a race doesn't go how you plan, but there is always something to learn from each one. 

Last Sunday was the third weekend in a row where I raced the 5k distance. I had it in my mind that if I could just get a nice flat-ish course that was 3.12 miles (or so), that I would be able to beat my recent PR of 19:20. I ended up not racing very well, but learned some things. 
                  I still have a lot to learn...

I had a little trouble getting out of bed Sunday morning, but eventually got ready and out the door.

The sky tore open and rain dumped out for the last 20 miles to Eugene, (and never really stopped). I arrived at Alton Baker Park in plenty of time to register, use the restroom, and warm up.

While I was signing up, I bumped into an old race rival/friend "Chicken Head", also known as Tom. We discussed the weather and if he should wear his costume or not, and both of us were in a little bit of a foul spirit about conditions. (pardon the pun).

An easy mile of warm up later, and I looked at my watch. I ran about a minute and a half slower than my "good" easy pace. I told myself that "it's good to warm up easy first", and that "I have felt crappy before and managed to race well despite it". My racing self was not buying any of the positive-affirming-coach self-talk.

A few racers were warming up, and I made sure that my shoes still could do strides and drills in puddles. Then I found a dry spot to wait for a few minutes before the race started.

At the start, I was surprised at how many people showed up at the last minute, several in costume. (I will speculate a good many did not turn out since it was between pouring and light rain right up to the gun, but there were about 300.)

This was a dog-friendly race (a first for me),  with lots of little dogs in costumes. (Makes me wonder if the RD will ever start charging a fee and make them wear a bib.)  Anyhooo...they were on leash, much to my relief.

The race
The race started and we were off. The course followed a familiar path along the river, and in the first mile I started struggling. There was a dog running behind me- a big dog. I could hear his nails and tags, and I kept thinking..."How is this dog (and his owner) running this pace?"  I don't run with a dog, so maybe that is not that uncommon, I just kept waiting for them to back off. I was a little afraid the dog might get tangled in my feet and cause me to go down. Irrational, maybe, but that's where my mind was.

I was none too pleased about a 6:08 pace mile one. I had worked hard for that, and I began to lose the mental battle there. Normally my body can make up for whatever confidence I don't have, and my perspective improves mid-race. Physically I was not having a good day.

Shortly after the first mile, I was passed by a woman and a few guys. She wore pink shorts and I didn't recognize her from any other races.  And no wonder she passed! I was slowing down.

The second mile went over a foot bridge. I kept losing speed as we went, and I kept getting passed. I could not push away the negative thoughts about it, and was fighting my own gut feeling that I was too tired to race. Nothing felt "on". My shoulders and back have been very tired, and my legs just weren't turning over at the rate they had been recently able to. I considered stopping, (and then how ridiculous that would be). So I kept going...
It was work. Not fun, work. Mile 2: 6:19

I heard footsteps and knew there was a woman behind me. Could I do it? Could I stay ahead of her? That became more important than the fading time on my watch. I just didn't want to be passed by another woman. Somehow I kept her behind me as we went up and over the second bridge. Mile 3: 6:29

With the finish line in sight, and the sounds of third female trailing at my heels, I just tried to keep my feet rotating. And here, FINALLY, I felt like my core and hips were engaging properly (something missing in the entire first 3 miles of the race). All this to keep ahead of the other racer- racers- behind me. last .15 @ 5:52 pace - official results

We crossed the line a second apart - 19:51, and 19:52.  Relieved to beat 20 minutes, (as I had not been watching my watch very carefully after mile 2), I turned to see who had been pushing me. A woman in wet fairy wings! We talked for a brief moment as our tags were taken, and she asked me something about the race, and if I normally run that for a 5k. I have no idea why she asked this, or what she expected me to say, but I admitted it was not what I was shooting for.

Next, I found Tom (courageously fast with mock poultry on his head), who decided to put the wet chicken helmet away for little while. And also met a new friend, Stephanie. She missed the race, so we finished up some easy running on the bark path at Pre's trail. I listened in amazement as she told me of how she ran her first marathon in 3:20 never training over 16 miles in one run (Hanson plan).


  • I might not be the kind of runner who can race a hard 5k three weekends in a row. Two might be pushing it. Every other weekend might be better. 
  • Just to make sure I could do it, I ran a short "light workout" of 4x600's in between races at just faster than goal 5k pace. In hindsight, this might not have been a good idea between races, but I don't really know. I probably won't try it the same way again, though.
  • There are some silly dogs and dog owners in Eugene!! It was fun to see all the costumes and the kids who came out to run the kids race. I need to take pictures at races!
  • The finish time is a failure today, only because I prepared myself for something much faster; but, three months ago it was a good pace for me. I am improving- I just need some time to let my body absorb it all. 
  • Instead of focusing on what went wrong, I am using this and going to keep my "season" open. Flexibility is good!!!
  • When I can't motivate myself, and am frustrated with how things are going, it is amazing what a little competition can do!


  1. Oh Raina, I am glad you posted this! It is good to talk about races that do not go according to plan. I think when we first start running most races go well, but the faster we get, the harder it gets, and the not so good races creep up. I like how you turned around your thinking about the race and were able to see the positives. Yes, amazing what a little competition can do. And amazing to me that your HR is mile 3 was lower than mile 2. Interesting! No doubt in my mind that you have a sub 19 in you. Smart to race a bit now. I know for me, things are different now then they were when I was getting serious about running at 35-36:)

  2. Oh, my, the typos...I meant "HR in mile 3", and "smart to rest". Gosh, this flu went to my head, ha!

    1. Heh. Yes. That is interesting...I take it as a good sign. My legs did not have the anticipated effort in them, but my heart and lungs had room to spare.

  3. Sorry that the race did not go as you had hoped. Still, you showed amazing mental strength to push through the race and finish strong!

  4. "The finish time is a failure today, only because I prepared myself for something much faster; but, three months ago it was a good pace for me. I am improving- I just need some time to let my body absorb it all."

    This exactly! I think we often forget about the "time" aspect. Our bodies are like fine wine! Can't be rushed to perfection! Hahahaha.

    Seriously though, I remember reading an article after the Olympics where Kara Goucher said this:

    "I'm confident I'm (going) in the right direction, but I have also learned it's a process and it takes time. It does take time, it takes years of hardening."

    Wise words, no?

  5. It may not have been what you wanted, but it still sounds pretty dang fast! I'm glad they changed that race. It was so stinking expensive the last few years - like $40 for the 5k and you got some kind of shirt or jacket, but still. Racing fast/short is not easy!

  6. Maybe not your best but wow still fantastic especially for the 3rd 5k in a row! I love that you're focussing on getting faster--my favorite! Sounds like some fun costumes out there.

  7. I agree with Ana-Marie... Having PR races is easy(er) when you first start out running. When you have built yourself to the level you are at - speed WOMAN - those PR's do not come as frequent. Continuing to remind yourself that you are still working your ass off even though you do not reach that PR goal is key. You will go Sub 19 soon. I know it!

    **Your HR stayed super consistent throughout this race. Good stuff - It never inched above 170 either... I know the course has a lot to do with your heart rate; but this means you are running efficiently - Right??

  8. I am trying to wrap my head around running a sub-7 minute mile, let alone 3 in a row!!
    It is tough to be running on that 'off day' when our elgs just don't do what we know they can. Sometimes I just want to disown them. :) It's the bad runs that makes the good runs that much sweeter!
    Still a great race- and that sub-19 PR is in you-- just waiting to get out!!

  9. It's so interesting to see how your heart rates behave in a 5K (even one you weren't happy with). I haven't run much less raced a 5K in almost 2 years. I'm hoping to do some next year, but I can't imagine doing one three weekends in a row. You are tough! No wonder your body was a little rebellious!

    That sub-19 is in there.

  10. Ok-first of all laughing at your opening sentence-ha!

    So, here you are racing again 3 weekends in a row!!! Wow! I did this right before my marathon too. 3 weeks with A 5K PR, a HM PR, and then another NON PR HM on attempt 3....I wasn't feeling well for that race (Dick Beardsley) either and I worked very hard for a less than exciting finish time for me..... 3 weekends in a row is a lot! Physically AND mentally a lot to race like that. Your statement about absorbing is SO TRUE (you will see this;) and I'm glad you know this!!! I think these non-perfect races (especially those that have a 19 and 2nd overall female associated with them) are good for us on MANY levels....they help us relate, they help us learn how to push through mentally...physically. Pushing is pushing. Effort is definitely not always indicative of pace. Point being in all this, keep looking at all the positive as you are!! Sleep in this weekend- Allow yourself to absorb those 3 SUPER races and the workouts in between and I absolutely believe with every part of my being in both looking at your races and looking at your training paces that you have the ability in those legs now for a sub 19 5K on a good course this fall!

    Maybe I will pack a jogger stroller for Boston. Just in case you should decide to come....You and AM can alternate between pushing me at 5:45 pace and I will sip on a juice box and sing as there's no way I can keep up with the 2 of you speedy ladies!!!!!

    Great job Raina!! Always love reading your race reports! XOXO

  11. Let's see, 7th overall, 2nd female, sub 20, crappy weather....pretty darn good run Raina! The 600's may have been the difference. I find when I run 5K's back to back to back I need no other speedwork, just tempo runs. Nice race!

  12. I was going to ask if maybe racing three weekends in a row could have been part of the problem. Disappointing as it may have been, you probably needed a race where things didn't go according to plan to make you really think about things like that. And I think it's important to document the disappointments as well as the's not always flowers and rainbows, and writing about the times it's not makes your blog that much more real and valuable for those of us who read it. So thanks! :) And congratulations on holding off that last woman! :)

  13. Kind of puts things in perspective, eh? I keep trying to find the balance between improving and being content. Running is ONE thing I do. And it's not even close to the most important. In the grand scheme of things, who will remember your time on this race in two weeks? Or a month? Will you? Good job for finishing strong even though you felt bad. For what it's worth, I would KILL to get a 5k time like that...

    1. Good questions, Jodi :) Great point. It would probably be hard for me not to remember any of my races, but it is small in comparison to much bigger things. My contentment does not hinge on racing.

  14. You are fast to me on what you think is a slow race. Wow. Very awesome fast. Rest up and go after another one. After all, you know a new PR is getting close when you have to work harder.

  15. Well it sounds like at least you got some perspective out of the race and you know you are improving so that's a good thing. Of course, as a slower runner I think your time is amazing and I can't even imagine it running that fast! Great job pushing through at the end...competition can definitely push us.

  16. I would love for that 5K time. It is great!!!! The Hanson's marathon program is very intriguing. I have heard great things about it, just don't know if it would work for me. Have you thought about using it Raina?

    1. I had NEVER met anyone who actually used it and told me they had! It was her first marathon and she was shooting for 3:18, so missed it by 2 minutes. Only TWO minutes on her first! I had never ever considered it, but it sure has me thinking. I am just not sure I am that brave. She did tell me she was struggling at the end, but who doesn't?

  17. Good morning. I know that things did not go as planned -- but what ever does? If all days were good days - - how would we know when adversity strikes? You already know the answer: Psalm 23. I am glad that you are racing and doing it well to boot!

    Btw - you are very speedy imho. I hope only for the best for you and your running. Take care and dont let a small "setback" like this hurt you long term.

    Peace and Godspeed.

  18. Well I am WAY behind reading this but I can so relate to this type of 5K. I have never run in a race with dogs though so that is something new. Not sure how you were able to keep it together. A yapping dog at my heels would have totally distracted me.

    A few thoughts- 3 in a row is hard. I did that in October and on my last one I was just ready for a little break. Physically the recovery is easier (for me) but it is very mentally tolling! There is just not much room for error. I do not do speed work in between 5k's that are one week apart. I will do 2-3 100m strides a few days before but no other form of fast running. I just count the last 5K as my last speed workout.

    Glad you found that extra kick there at the end and finished strong. You are learning so much from these 5K's. I know it didn't go (pace-wise) exactly as planned but under the right conditions I'm sure it will all come together for you soon!

  19. I am not sure my body would be up for 3 in a row, that's intense! It's still an awesome time, and as you pointed out, you're improving! Even your rough races are inspiring for me. :)

  20. i know that 'off' feeling - except i haven't raced much lately so it's just occasionally during a training run for me. and hey, racing under an alias is fun! ;)


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