Tale of Two 5K Competitions

2009 has been an exciting year.  It was my year of firsts:

First year of competition.

First triathlon.

First duathlon.

First did not finish (dnf).

First year living fit with routine exercise and healthy diet.

I also started off the year running my first 5K.

After some consideration and mulling about, I decided to enter my second 5K competition, the NewsPress Half Marathon and 5K Fun Run.  Not only would this give me something to do while I was waiting for my trainer to complete the half marathon (yep I was there to cheer him on for a change!), but it would also allow me to show the world how much I improved my running ability since April’s Chardonnay 10-miler/5K (my first 5K).  In addition, this would also be another first, the first competition completed wearing my Vibram FiveFingers (barefoot running “shoes”).

Note that the race courses are exactly the same, starting at Leadbetter Beach and running east, looping back to the beach.

The 5K Results

To make a long story short, below is the data from April’s Chardonnay 5K (results):

Time: 33:04   Pace: 10:39
Place: 114/182 (top 63%)

And, Nov 7th’s NewsPress 5K Fun Run (results):

Time: 30:39   Pace: 09:48
Place: 91/250 (top 36%)

There is no question about it, I have really improved my running ability. I shaved two minutes, twenty five seconds (02:25) off my overall time and 49 seconds off my pace. I also placed in the top 36% of the group, compared to 63% in April.

More Data

Below is the data that I recorded during the NewsPress 5K. (click here for interactive chart)

Heart Rate, Speed, and Map of Aric's 5k run.

Notice how smooth the heart rate and pace is.  I was surprised to see this as earlier this year, my runs were plagued by heart rate spikes, a really fast pace followed by really slow walking recovery driven by horrible form.  It wasn’t pretty. (I don’t have a similar data set for back then since it was before my GPS heart rate monitor)

So to see such a flat heart rate line means a few things:

1) My muscles have become stronger and able to sustain longer runs.
2) My run form has improved, making me more efficient.
3) I am able to control my heart rate while keeping a fairly consistent pace.
4) Running barefoot probably helped my form and efficiency too.

Looking at the graph, you can even see my mad sprint to the end as I out sprinted another participant to the finish (right side of graph). You can also see at the left side of the graph that my pace started out quite fast and I started slowing down to a more manageable pace.  Nice to see the speed at the start and the finish!

Wow!  Such a great way to end the year.

The tale of two 5K’s is really about showing you that all of that hard work and training does pay off.  In fact seeing these results makes every minute of pain and suffering during the last two years worth it.  Now I want to know what 2010 is going to bring.  I certainly am not going to settle for a year of seconds and I hope 2010 will be a year of more firsts!

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