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Impressive Longevity or Depressing Mediocrity?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, April 06, 2014
in Road Races

I have done over 400 races in my career at distances including 5k's, half-marathons, marathons, triathlons and the Ironman. I don't really have a favorite race distance but by far the 5k is the race distance I have completed the most. In my career I have completed 186 5k races. That means that 46% of the races I have completed in my career have been a 5k. Even I was a little surprised by that amount.

 

Now like a lot of runners I keep very detailed records of my running stats. I analyzed my 5k racing stats over the years and found some interesting data. I looked back and tracked just my 5k races over the last three 10-year-age-categories I have been in. Keep in mind I am only 41 so I have not been in the 40-49 age group for very long. Now the below data includes total number of 5k's completed, average time, how many times I broke 20 minutes, and how many age group places (1st-3rd).

20-29     Completed 45 5k races-average time 19:56-broke 20 minutes 29x (64% of time)-placed 17x

30-39     Completed 124 5k races-average time 20:05-broke 20 minutes 62x (50% of time)-placed 39x

40-49     Completed 17  5k races-average time 20:21-broke 20 minutes 4x (24% of time)-placed  6x


My lifetime average time for all 186 5k races is 20:04. I have always said I feel OK with my 5k time if I break 20 minutes. As you can see above I have broke 20 minutes 95 times which is 51% of the time. I also have placed 33% of the time which has stayed pretty consistent despite the age group changes.

Enough stats already!!!  Why am I outlining all of these stats?  If you exclude a dozen or so bad performances/great performances basically all of my 5k's for the last 20 years have been between 19:15-20:15. My question is the title of this post...Impressive longevity or depressing mediocrity? Regardless of your answer you have to give me one thing...At least I am consistent.

Every year (for the last 10 years) around this time I prepare to compete in the Good Times 5k Spring Series. I have written a number of posts about the Good Times Series. (check out the series here). This is a 10 week series where you run a 5k on Tuesday nights. By competing for 10 weeks in a row (not counting any additional races I compete in on the weekends) at the 5k distance you get a good feel about your fitness. As I look forward to starting this series on April 8th I am in reasonably good shape and feel I can run some fast times.

Despite all of my training this winter and the hope and promise a new racing season brings somehow I think I will be somewhere right around 20 minutes.....(hopefully a few seconds under)

 

 

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Next Goal Race: New Hampshire Marathon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
in Road Races

This year has been a very enjoyable training year so far. With no big races in my future plans I have had no pressure. I have mostly ran 25-30 miles a week with only a couple of bike rides so far. I have been racing quite a bit as I recently just completed all 10 races of the Good Times 5k Spring Series and finished 4th in my age group. (same as last year) After finishing eleven 5k's in 10 weeks I was feeling it was time to take a little break and come up with a long term goal.

Several blog posts back I wrote that I usually get hit with an idea about a goal race during the winter months. I get all excited, sign up and start training. This is the first year that did not happen. Nothing came to mind and I didn't want to force the issue by signing up for a big event when my heart wasn't in it. Running in the Good Times Spring Series was fun but I still did not have any inspiration for that big goal race.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with my wife while having a cold beverage at a fine establishment about Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. Every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend for the last 5 years I have vacationed at Newfound Lake. The roads around the lake are great for cycling and you will always see a ton of people running or biking around the lake. I usually get a couple of really good rides in during the weekend and always try to swim/run as well. There is a 16 mile loop around the lake and I have ridden it over 50 times but have never attempted running the loop. I mentioned I thought it would be interesting to run the 16 miles around the lake some time. It would be a tough hilly run but would be fun. As the conversation was progressing it happened.....inspiration hit me! I should just enter the New Hampshire Marathon! The course starts in downtown Bristol and then circles Newfound Lake before returning to Bristol. Not only do I know the course extremely well but I have also filmed the race! (check it out here)   Perfect!  I finally have a big goal race!

I am super excited. I finally have a big event planned for 2013. Unfortunately I picked quite a challenge as this is not an easy course. This is a very hilly course with a couple of tough climbs. The goods news is that I know every inch of the course and the last 9 miles are rolling to downhill. Basically you just need to survive the first half of the course and then hopefully have some legs left for the last stretch of miles. I have always wanted to run around the lake and now I can do it in a race environment. You really will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful venue for a marathon in the fall.

To make this even more special I have talked my brother in law and sister in law into making this their first marathon. They have the marathon on their bucket list so I said why not this year? Tough course but easy travel, low cost, and they know the course as well as I do. In addition I think I have talked my wife into coming out of "marathon retirement". Once I made the decision to enter this race everything fell into place. On October 5th The New Hampshire Marathon will be my 8th marathon and my 6th state. Let the training begin!

Click here for the New Hampshire Marathon course video.

Click here for the New Hampshire Half Marathon course video.

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Sharing the Running Lifestyle

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, November 08, 2012
in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving is a time when many people pause and take time to reflect on the past year and what they are most thankful for in their lives. Some families share specific things they are thankful for together and others choose to be thankful in a more private way. I believe it is very important to be thankful and you should never take things for granted. I was taught regardless of what position you are in life there is always someone else who is hurting worse than you or has less than you.

 

As I reflect on the past year, one of the things I am most thankful for is the great times I have had running, racing and living a fitness lifestyle. My wife and daughter have been running and racing for years, and I am thankful we have been able to share these times together. As a runner it is wicked awesome (yes, I am from Massachusetts) for your entire family to enter the same road race. One of the proudest moments of my running career was a couple of years ago when all three of us entered the The Coaster Run 5k Road Race, and we each placed in our age groups and received medals. Sharing the running lifestyle with your family is really motivating and is a great way to share experiences.

This was also the first year my brother-in-law and sister-in-law embraced the running lifestyle. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the Good Times 5k Spring Series completing all ten events. If you are a runner you will understand that racing a 5k and then drinking a few beers with family once a week is really a great time. It is cool to be able to run with family and share running goals and experiences. I am thankful for the quality time we were able to spend together before and after the race each week. Good times with family can be limited by geography or the business of life. The opportunity I had this past year to share my running lifestyle with my family is something I am truly thankful for, and I hope to have this opportunity again in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fastest 5k Race in the World?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, June 05, 2012
in Road Races

I am not sure if the Hollis Fast 5k is the fastest 5k road race in the world, but it is certainly the fastest 5k race I have ever completed. What makes this course so fast?

1) It is a point to point course with only one turn. You basically run straight down one road for the entire race.

2) The course has a gradual downhill grade. You will not be running out of control like you would if the downhill grade was steep. This allows you to run the entire race with your normal 5k stride, and you will be able to maintain your top end speed for a lot longer with the same effort.

3) Wide road, so really no issue with crowding.

4) Last mile has quarter mile marks so you know where you are for the entire last mile. (1 mile, .75, .50, .25 to go)

Here is some real data about how fast this course can be. Last year I ran all 8 races in the Good Times 5k series in Lowell, Massachusetts. The last 5 races in the series I ran between 19:06-19:36. The Good Times series ended the week before the Hollis Fast 5k so my conditioning did not change before I entered this event. My time at Hollis was 18:32. Not only was this about a minute faster than my average time last year, but it also broke my all time PR of 18:44.

Here is how I ran the race. I started out running with the normal effort I would give in a 5k but ended up running the first mile in 5:45 which is 10-15 seconds faster than usual. I am a crash and burn 5k runner so I usually run the 1st mile very fast and then die off to the finish. This is where the speed of the Hollis course pays off. Because the race is a gradual downhill the entire way, you are able to maintain a faster pace for longer. My time for the second mile was 6:02.  The course flattens out in a few spots so you need to concentrate to maintain your pace. Keep telling yourself that if I can hold this pace for another 30 seconds the road will start heading downhill again. The beauty of the Hollis Fast 5k is that it continues going downhill right to the finish. My third mile was 6:07. I was dying, but the course enabled me to hold pace. I finished in 18:32 with a new PR.Hollis Fast 5K

I recommend that you do not wear a watch for this race. Since it is a downhill course you will have no baseline to know what is a good pace or bad pace. Run a hard controlled effort for the entire race and then give it everything you have for the last half mile. The bottom line is that if you are in good form right now, you should definitely enter the Hollis Fast 5k on June 14th. Sign up today as they only accept 1200 runners, and there is no race day registration. If you want a PR in the 5k this year....run the Hollis Fast 5k....you will not be disappointed.

 

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Another Good Time at the Good Times 5k in Lowell

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
in Road Races

Last night was the 8th race in the 10 week Good Times 5k series in Lowell Massachusetts. As the weeks keep going it gets harder and harder to get excited about blasting out 3.1 miles every Tuesday night. Especially since I have been riding 75+ miles the last 3 Sundays. Tonight was similar to the last couple of weeks. My legs were a little sore and I had a lot of overall body fatigue. The good news is that I broke 20 minutes again with an 80% effort. Basically Tuesday night has turned into a nice short tempo run for me.

For once my brother-in-law and sister-in-law did not PR. They were close but finished just off their best times. My daughter ending up running for the first time this year after finishing up lacrosse season and ended up with a PR. It seems every week someone gets a PR. The rain also held off, and it ended up being a decent night. Next week is the reverse the course week. Basically we run the same course we have ran for the 8 previous weeks in reverse. Should be interesting.....

 

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Are runners obsessed ?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Thursday, May 24, 2012
in Road Races

As a runner/triathlete I have a lot of time to think during my long training sessions. I have been thinking a lot lately about the drive most dedicated athletes have for training. Many runners, regardless of ability, are following some type of training plan. This training plan becomes a voice in our heads that refuses to let us relax. You are constantly thinking about the next few workouts and how you plan on including them into your life. There is never an option to skip a workout...typically that is not even discussed. If you are sick or having a real bad day you may shorten a workout but missing one is only reserved for 1-2 times a year life events that prevent you from working out. You will wake up at 3 AM to get a workout in before an early morning flight. You will workout in rain/snow/wind/heat/cold etc. Weather is not an issue. Many times I have seen noticeably sick athletes show up for a race. It begs the question...Why?

I am currently competing in the Good Times 5k Series which is held on 10 consecutive Tuesday nights. In this series points are cumulative for overall prizes at the end of the 10 weeks. This means that if you miss a week you are probably out of the running. What does this make people do? People show up sick, tired, cancel appointments, etc. There have been many examples of people competing the day after running the Boston Marathon or other Marathon events. Your VTR host even ran 2 days after doing the Bassman Half Ironman. Are we not reasonable people? Do we have no "common sense" filter in regards to running? What drives us to keep going at this frenetic rate? Are we obsessed? If we are obsessed what are we obsessed with? Running a certain amount of times a week? Running a certain mileage number no matter what?

My opinion is most people who train seriously as a runner or triathlete are very committed people. This means once we lock onto something we don't stop until we've completed it, no matter what. The drive to continue is very strong and is not easily deterred. This is a great asset to have when you have miles to go in a marathon and you feel terrible.  It helps you finish the race. Unfortunately, most of us can't shut this off in day-to-day life. It is a part of us. That is why we will run a 5k on Tuesday night when we ran a marathon the day before.  At a later date we may agree what we did wasn't the smartest thing to do but soon enough we are in a similar situation, and we do the same thing over again. It is part of us...we can't stop. (oh...I think I just answered my question...I  guess we are obsessed.)

The photo below is me getting an IV after refusing to quit and successfully completing the Timberman Half Ironman in 2009...Nothing wrong with hitting the medical tent after an event, right?

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Westford 10k Road Race Race Report

Posted by Meg Tang
Meg Tang
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on Saturday, May 19, 2012
in Road Races

meg at westford 10kAfter months of searching for my first 10k road race I finally signed up for the Westford 10k Road Race. (See Dave's earlier blog post here) On May 6th I completed the race. It was my first time running a 10k. After only running 5k road races for years I decided to set a goal of completing a half marathon this fall. As this is quite a jump in distance from a 5k I was determined to complete a 10k this spring to build my confidence. If you are familiar with Westford, Massachusetts you may be surprised that I chose to complete my first 10k in this town. Most of Westford is very hilly. After viewing the race several times I realized the course was not as challenging as I had originally thought. I saw that there was a major hill the last mile of the race but at the beginning there was a huge downhill. The middle section of the course featured rolling hills but no major climbs.

I started out a little conservative since this race was my first 10k. I was still a little nervous about completing the event in good shape. The big downhill at the beginning really helps you conserve your energy at the beginning of the race. If I ran the race again I probably would run faster on the downhill but holding back made the first mile very easy. I continued my conservative but steady pace until mile 3 and noticed that I was passing a lot of runners that were breathing heavy while I was not. I decided at that point to pick up the pace. The next few miles were rolling, but I managed to get through that section OK. The hill at the end on Main Street is tough but it is at the end and you know if you just push hard you will soon be at the finish line. I crossed the finish line at 55:33 which was better than I expected. I left the race happy to finish my first 10k but also knowing I could have run faster the first 3 miles. I will continue to run the Good Times 5k race series each week and probably look to run another 10k before I run my half marathon in the fall.

 

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