virtual race day: #BVSC Lockdown 5k Challenge

So, the long awaited race day arrived. During these chaotic times of uncertainty, the concept of a race day lineup is certainly a very different thing. However, in the likely absence of any real races for the remainder of this year, a virtual offering shall be seized with both hands, willingly.

As crazy as it sounds, from the moment I woke up yesterday morning, I had a buzz about me. The same kind of feeling that I normally get when a target race is about to happen. We are so starved of meaningful running activity that the promise of any type of engagement is truly exciting.

The night previous I had an allergic reaction to something that resulted in a doctor’s visit first thing the next morning. My lip badly swollen, made breathing a little unnatural. I feared that the excitement of this virtual race day was not going to bare fruit. Thankfully some meds from the doctor, who is as always sharp as a pin in his judgments, took effect quickly and I was back in action.

race day woes like no other – that ain't pretty!
race day woes like no other – that ain’t pretty!

analysis

I jogged to the start line much like I would on any given race day. The only difference was nobody else was there when I arrived. All the rules obeyed: 2km radius, social distancing, no teams, individual runner, etc. It’s a bit strange being your own starter for a race but at least you can’t be caught off-guard!

Participants could to pick any 5km route they wished for this challenge by the good folk of the #BVSC. It could be as advantageous as they wanted; downhill all the way if that worked. I however, couldn’t resist the opportunity to run it like a track race, on a short, quiet block near my house – 10 laps. An honest course I thought. Seeing the routes that came in from others, a stupid choice if I was planning on a competitive time! 😂

every downhill advantage in the world available to me and I chose my own personal track for race day
every downhill advantage in the world available to me and I chose my own personal track for race day

Still, when else would I get the opportunity to run a 5km race like it was on a track but wasn’t? I’ve never run a 5km track race and this is probably the closest I will ever get to doing so. After eight weeks on a treadmill, I was mentally prepared for the suffering of ten laps. However, physically, that was a different story.

pretty steady and a heart rate to match the kind of effort I expected to give
pretty steady and a heart rate to match the kind of effort I expected to give

Charts look good. Surprisingly good. There is a slight dip in the middle mile for the pace but it’s pretty steady overall to be fair. Elevation is as flat as a road gets, nothing more than 4-5 metres drop/gain over the course of the lap. Heart race rose steadily until the end. Precisely the kind of effort I expected to see and in some ways, thankful not to see the 170+ take firm hold until the last few minutes.

you know what, I'm more than happy with that set of splits
you know what, I’m more than happy with that set of splits

Considering I paced myself with nobody to chase, being about as race ready as somebody who just climbed out of bed, I’m bloody well delighted with those splits. I remember clocking the first mile and thinking this isn’t too bad. Then midway through the second mile I saw the pace had dropped to about 6:38 and I just couldn’t claw it back. I got the legs moving again for the last mile and powered home with a sprint finish, passing nobody, acknowledging no crowd. The people in the houses I was circling must have thought I had truly lost many a plot.

I think the lack of Zone 5 was that I simply couldn't move fast enough to get there on race day
I think the lack of Zone 5 was that I simply couldn’t move fast enough to get there on race day

I don’t know what to say about this really. Eight weeks of treadmill running has obviously maintained a decent level of fitness. Speed obviously has not left me completely either, given the decent enough splits. Sure it’s not a sub-20 but honestly, I was wondering before the start if sub-21 was even an option. I think that there should have been more Zone 5 for a max effort, even over this distance. All I can think of is that I lacked the power to push myself to reach that zone until tiredness took over in the closing stages. (view Garmin data)

race day summary

What a blooming brilliant event this was. About 30 people in total took part; all spread across the county, doing their own thing, on their own specially selected routes. It has buzz, excitement, anticipation. Also, the new online camaraderie – a virtual pat on the back/handshake after the activities uploaded. Just what many of us badly needed – a normal race day – even if it was so far from normal.

Despite all the positive outcomes, there are a few things I need to consider from this unusual event. Running on meds for my allergic reaction did me no good at all. I wasn’t just dead after the effort, I struggled to hold my phone when I got home, couldn’t beat off the tiredness, and crashed out on the couch for a few hours. Very unpleasant indeed. I know it was the meds in retrospect having felt somewhat similar today after taking the second dose this morning but being relatively fresh beforehand.

The other thing I need to take from this is that there are no bends, uneven surfaces, slippy wetness, or curbs on a treadmill. Sure, that goes without saying but the lessen is that if you don’t run it, you’re not training for it. My legs are in bits today. I have a serious pain in my right shin and calf and my left side has been better. It’s nothing that won’t recover and roll out but it’s sore and I won’t be running for a couple of days because of it. Running on a treadmill is great to maintain some level of fitness but you do sacrifice many muscles and movements that you use on the road every day. Awakening these functions with a 5km run out of your skin is probably not a good idea!

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