Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Lederhosenlauf 5 K

It’s been three years since I attempted a PR 5 K- the Get in Gear back in 2016. I ran 22:29. I’m not a gifted runner. That was a good time for me. But as usual, I want more. A PR 5 K is tough and after targeting a 4 mile race a couple years ago, and a PR mile last summer, I’m back to try again. This year it was the Lederhosenlauf on June 8th.

Erik and I in our 2019 Lederhosenlauf costumes. Photo: random dude
Saying I was training for a 5 K felt a bit ridiculous when I often run twice that distance several times per week. But plowing through a 5 K and running a PR 5 K are about as far removed from each other as the Earth is from Mars.

I set my PR goal at 21:45 which works out to exactly 7:00 min/mile pace.

I followed a weekly track workout plan that I read about in an elite runner’s blog. I figured a speed workout just once per week x 6 weeks wasn’t enough so I started a couple weeks early with some “warm up” intervals and then added a second shorter interval session to each week. These “warm up” intervals were at goal pace for a minute with ample rest. Once I started doing the track workouts, I did one week of sprints and then started doing a weekly hill running session. For this workout I chose a hill that took me about 40 seconds to run up at 7 min/mile pace, recovered on the way back down the hill, and repeated 12 times.

Here’s the weekly track workout in italics below and how I felt/altered them. The trick is to think “I’m running a 5 km, not a 400” when doing the intervals.

Weekly Track Workouts

5 x (5 x 200 m at 5 K pace) w/ 30 seconds rest between reps and 3 minutes rest between sets

[This workout was easy. I took the full rest and shot under my goal pace every time so the last couple I really tried to hit it hard but only ran 45 seconds (6:00 min/mile pace) so apparently the cumulative effect from the whole workout really did catch up to me.]

5 x (400, 400, 200 m at 5 K pace) w/ 45 seconds rest between reps and 3 minutes rest between sets

[The first couple sets I was dead-on with my pacing. I was doing these with Erik and he started increasing the pace and so I ended up hitting 6:30 pace for the 400s and 6:00 pace for the 200s. On the second 400 I always thought “next one is just a 200” which was nice.]

5 x (600, 400 m at 5 K pace) w/ 1 minute rest between reps and 3 minutes rest between sets

[These ones started getting a bit harder. On every 600 I thought “I can’t believe this is the pace I’m trying to maintain for a 5 K.” It seemed too fast. I cut my rest down to 45 seconds to make it harder and better align with Erik who is aiming for 6 min/mile pace. Even though these were hard I was still able to always hit goal pace and mostly ran faster.]

5 x 800 m at 5 K pace w/ 3 minute rests, then 5 x 200 at a little faster than 5 K pace w/ 45-60 seconds rest

[This week was really hard for at least 3 reasons. 1. I had done my uphill interval workout the day before. 2. I decreased the rest to 2 minutes. 3. The weather was wicked. This was the cold rainy weekend back in May. We managed to hit the tail end of the rain but by then had to contend with 30 mph gusts on the backstretch. I still hit my paces and crushed the 200s (averaging 45 seconds) but was breathing so hard at the end of each 200 and even during the 800s. Somehow I’m always able to take a couple deep breaths and start again even though I’m not recovered. At the end of my last 800 I thought “there is no way I can do this for a 5 K!” I told myself to shut up and just finish the interval in slightly under goal pace. On my cool down run home, I noticed really bad pain in my elbows (technically in my distal-lateral triceps insertion point). I’ve had this pain before with running in the winter and my guess is that in the cold and wind, I really tense up in my elbows/triceps and this causes significant pain. It’s really weird to have bad elbow pain and have nothing else hurt after a hard track workout but our bodies can do some odd things! While the weeks previous I was able to hit my goals, this workout was HARD.]

2 x (1 K, 800 m, 600 m, 400 m at 5 K pace) w/ 2 minutes rest between reps and 4-5 minutes rest between sets

[Did this one on a quiet city street because we were visiting my mom in Bemidji and it was more convenient than running to the track. I programmed my Garmin with the above workout except I decreased the last rest to 1:45 and the rest to 3 minutes between sets. This one was hard again. Now I didn’t have the 200 markers on the track to know if I was on pace or not. I also had gotten some really bad back pain a couple days prior to this workout. The second 1 K was so hard- that kind of hard where I felt like I needed to have explosive diarrhea and I felt nauseous even though I was doing these in the morning and hadn’t had anything to eat before running. I was so glad when these were over. I did manage to mostly hit my paces (slightly over in the 1 Ks but otherwise mostly under).]

Less than two hours later, while cutting down a tree, I sustained a crush injury (no broken bones, no tendon, ligament, or meniscus tears- just considerable soft tissue damage) on my left knee. “Good thing I already did my intervals for the week” I thought when this happened. I hoped to be back to running soon but I still had considerable pain when running a week out so I missed the next weekly interval workout:

5 x 1 K w/ 3 minute rests; start at slower than 5 K pace and progress to running goal pace for the last 3 repeats

My new hope became that I could just run pain free at an easy 8 minute per mile pace for the race. As the days drew closer to the race, this hope turned to the realization that if I was about to do this 5 K, it would be walking, in other words, as noted above, I would be plowing through it. How quickly I could go from attempting a PR to not being sure I could even go 5 K! My only consolation was that the course was changed from the streets of Summit Hill in Saint Paul to a three lap course around the lawn of the State Capital with lots of turns- not a very good PR course.

The 2019 Lederhosenlauf 5 K course from my Garmin.

 While I wasn’t too sad to miss the last track workout and attempting to run a PR 5 K, because those things are really hard, it was a bit of a bummer that I had to give up so late in my training cycle. It would have been a much bigger bummer had I been training for a marathon.

I tried to capture my swollen left knee in this photo but didn't do a very good job. It was minamally swollen but still was causing me quite a bit of difficulty. I couldn't even speed walk. My socks are pretty awesome though! Will definitely rock these again.

The starting line with Erik on the far left. He went on to get 5th place. Photo: Lederhosenlauf
The only runner wearing lederhosen. Photo: Lederhosenlauf

This guy was at least wearing a shirt that made it look like he was wearing ledershosen. Photo: Lederhosenlauf
Taking up the very rear as I try to job a bit on my toes. I haven't been last off the starting line of a running race since never. I only ever expected this if I jumped into some pro race. Photo: Lederhosenlauf.

Now, most people wouldn’t have even bothered with doing the 5 K but I’m often too stubborn for my own good. Erik was racing to be competitive. I was trying to limit the pain in my still swollen knee. I was a bit afraid that my competitive nature would kick in and I’d run against my better judgement and just forget about the pain but when I took some running strides in the race, they were too painful to keep going. Unfortunately, there weren’t many walkers in this 5 K and so I was just about last place, yo-yoing with a group of 3 girls who alternated running and walking. The whole thing just seemed stupid; however, I was going slow enough to really appreciate the gardens on the capital lawn.

Casually strolling the 5 K with the biggest smile you will ever see me having during a 5 K! Photo: Lederhosenlauf

I took a DNF on the 5 K after two laps, although technically I went 5 K total as I had done a loop before the start as we got to the venue early. This was the farthest I had gone on foot (I had been rollerskiing and biking) since my knee injury and my knee wasn’t too happy afterwards as it swelled more.

It was indeed stupid and obviously not the ending I had in mind when I signed up for this race. But the post-race cookies somewhat made up for this:)

Winning women's time was 22:10, 25 seconds slower than what I was going for, but as noted, it would have been a tough PR course. I think I could have at least finished second had I not been injured. Maybe next year:) It would be so fun to lap people!