With a Turkey Trot a mere 6 weeks away, I have been thinking about what it will require to best my previous PR on the course. To begin with, there are several advantages to the race, and this is why I think a new PR is conceivable and why I have reserved my 5K efforts until this point.
First of all, the course is close. Like out the front door close. The start is about a half a block out my front door and the race goes right by my condo (and the 3 mile loop is one I regularly run). This proximity gives me a huge mental advantage: I know the course like the back of my hand so I know what mile markers to key myself into distance and I know where I will need to push myself for the final stretch. Plus, being so close takes away from the anxiety of getting to a race. Seriously. Part of my stress for each race is ensuring that I know how to get to the start line with enough time. With this race in walking distance, I can roll out of bed at 7 and be at the start line at 7:30 no problem.
Secondly, the weather here in South Florida on Thanksgiving is usually perfect for running. Morning temps for that time of year hover around 50-60 degrees (although last year was a little cooler than that), which is perfect for a 5K -- cool enough to run comfortably but warm enough to not need extra layers.
Lastly, it's this same course that I have consistently been able to achieve my best 5K times each year. As I mentioned previously, my time last year was 28:28 -- the time I hope to beat this coming year. So, with all of that in mind and in my favor, I decided this evening to run the course and time myself to see what kind of time (or lack there of) I am working with at this point.
I jogged over to the area where the race begins and set the Garmin. I didn't want to necessarily "race" the course, but I did want to push myself so I could understand again what it's like to push myself for time (I have spent the past 4 months just being concerned with covering the miles, now I need to cover the miles quickly).
Mile 1: 9:25
Mile 2: 9:33
Mile 3: 9:46
Total Time: 29:35
This is pretty much what I expected; although, it does demonstrate my key problem with the 5K: pushing too much too soon. Clearly, as the miles progressed, I tired and each mile got progressively slower. I don't necessarily care about negative splits, but I would like to see more consistent miles (10-20 seconds apart may not seem like that much, but within this short a distance, it kinda is). Plus, I understand that in order to achieve an improved time, I need to keep each mile around 9 minutes, reserving 30-50 seconds for that last tenth of the race. Ideally, I'd like the Trot's race time to be about 2 minutes faster than the above time I ran this evening.
I think it's conceivable, but I will need to be conscious of doing speedwork and I think I will make it a habit of timing myself on the course over the next few weeks to see how I can improve upon what I started with tonight.