Race Report: Freedom 5k

Happy 4th of July!  I hope everyone enjoys a safe and happy celebration!  This morning I ran the Freedom 5k, and it was a fun time.  I didn’t do my usual Expectations post for this race, because I wasn’t quite sure what my expectations and goals were.  I knew I wanted to pace myself well, hopefully go sub-30, and maybe even get a new PR.  Even still, those goals were pretty loose.  I just wanted to have fun and go fast!

The Quick & Dirty

Freedom 5k

Fairfax Corner, VA

64℉, Overcast

29:53 (9:38 pace)

Overall Female Rank - 100/276

Age Group Rank (F35-39) - 12/35

Hurray for free finisher photos to download!  Boo for yet another unflattering finisher photo.

Hurray for free finisher photos to download!  Boo for yet another unflattering finisher photo.

Pre-Race & Warm Up:

I slept fitfully, and was awake before my 6am alarm. I downed a cup of black tea with milk and stevia, and 8 ounces of tri-berry nuun. I took a quick shower, dressed in a blue tank and my Coeur tri shorts, simply because they're the comfiest running bottoms I have. Around 7am I had an applesauce pouch, and at 7:15 headed out to the car to drive to the race site. After parking, I pinned my number on and tucked my phone and keys into my SPI belt.

I jogged briefly around the event site.  It was probably no more than 3 minutes, just shaking out the cobwebs. I stretched out my achilles and did some leg swings to loosen up my hips. About five minutes before "go" I headed towards the start line. Seeding at these events is tough, as I don't want to get caught behind walkers, but don't want to get in the way of the speedy runners.

The Race:

Compared to my April race, which was 30 degrees, I immediately could tell that it was fairly humid.  On the bright side, it was 65 and overcast, so it could have been far worse for July in DC.  I headed out for a fast start. There was a bit of weaving in the first mile, but I wouldn't call the race crowded. As I hit the first mile marker and saw a split of 9:46, I wondered if I'd be able to beat my PR of 29:03. In the back of my head I also wondered if I could keep running that fast...and even faster. I started to feel a bit tired, and thought I'd grab some water at the halfway point. As soon as the water hit my mouth I started coughing, so I spit it out and tried to keep going. From that point on I coughed occasionally, and I wasn't feeling great. My legs were feeling fine, but my lungs were just not letting me push any harder. I kept checking in with myself: it's a 5k...do you hurt enough? No? Push harder! There's a long hill heading towards the mile 3 marker, and it was tough going. I checked my watch more than I ever have in a race. I realized a PR wasn't going to happen, but sub 30 still could. I tried to put the gas on, but my face started to feel tingly. Once I hit the mile 3 marker I made the final turn and headed for the finish line. I pushed as hard as I could, and didn't have anything left to give as I crossed the line.

Cool Down:

In April when I crossed the line I had to keep walking to keep my hamstrings from seizing up, and every muscle in my body ached. This time as I crossed, it took quite awhile to catch my breath, I felt like my face was on fire (and boy was I pink) and my skin tingled all over. My brother was at the finish line to meet me, and we walked over to my car, and I finished off my bottle of nuun. We walked around a bit, cheered on some people, and I did some leg swings to keep my hips happy.  We headed over to Silver Diner for our usual post-race breakfast.  My brother is a complete champ for coming out to cheer me on for an 8am 5k on a three day weekend.  I also got a text from my parents.  Who’s the luckiest?  Yup, that would be me!

Goals & Race Post Mortem:

I didn’t have any firm goals for this race, but I was hoping to go sub 30, and get a new PR.  While I did take :57 off my last 5k, coming in just under 30 minutes, my PR from 2007 still holds at 29:03.

  • My splits:

    • 1 - 9:46
    • 2 - 9:28
    • 3 - 9:20
    • .1 - 1:19

My limiter for this race, just like in April, is my aerobic base.  I'm no expert, but when your breathing is what keeps your pace down, that means the aerobic engine needs work, right? My zone 2 training just started a week or so ago, so I am really excited to see what happens when I race this course for the third time this year come November.  Plus, the fall temperatures will be quite conducive to running.  I believe I will get a new PR on that day!

In the Zone (Part 2) – The Test

Nothing will work unless you do.
— Maya Angelou

Indeed!  I did some serious work on Saturday.  My LT field test was a bit scary, a little painful, and above all, empowering.  There isn’t a feeling much better than overcoming something that had you mentally up against a wall.  My LT test had me unreasonably worried.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t pace myself well, that the results wouldn’t be worthwhile, or that I would collapse and throw up.  If any of these things had happened, it wouldn’t have been a failure, just a learning experience.  Yet in my mind, I had worked it up to catastrophic proportions.  One day I will experience a sports related failure, and at that time I will overcome it, I’m sure.  Fortunately, yesterday I executed well.

My plan had been to head over the high school across the street and run this test on the track.  I jogged over to the school as my warm up, and was dismayed to find that all the gates were locked.  What?  I could have sworn I’d seen runners on the track early on weekend mornings last summer.  Due to the hills, I didn’t want to run my usual routes in the neighborhoods, so decided in the moment to do loops around the high school parking lot.  Each loop took me about 8 minutes to run, and there was only a slight elevation change.

The thirty minute time trial began.  I tried to pace myself slower than I thought I should go for the first five minutes.  Even so, I was moving faster than I had run in quite some time.  I continued with the test, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed and my breathing even.  After ten minutes I hit the lap button, so that I would be able to check my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the test.  Mentally I kept checking in.  How am I feeling?  How’s my turnover?  Am I pushing the same now I was did a few minutes ago?  I noticed my breathing switch from my usual count of in-3-out-2 to in-2-out-1.  The last five minutes I tried to give it everything I had, focusing hard to keep myself from slowing down.  I was pouring sweat and felt like I was on fire!  As the last few minutes ticked by, I noticed a guy run into the parking lot from the neighborhood.  He ducked into an unseen alcove, opened a gate that I hadn’t noticed before, and headed down to the track.  Ugh, really?  Luckily I only had to run hard for a couple more minutes, then the test was over.  I walked a little ways, getting my heart rate back down, then slowly trotted the rest of the way home.

Once I got inside, I got down to the business of recovery.  In this case, I sucked down some nuun and sipped a chocolate milk.  I did get a little bit off track at that point, and while I was still cooling down before hitting the shower, I found myself answering the siren song that is salt & vinegar potato chips.  So good!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

I believe my LT test went very well.  I didn’t puke.  I saw a max heart rate of 193, which sounds kind of freaky high.  I felt completely fine though!  To each heart their own, I suppose.  After getting everything uploaded, I checked the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes of the test.  That number is my lactate threshold, and is used to determine my training zones.  So there we go.  Starting next week I’m ready to start Zone 2 training in earnest.  I’ll do another LT test in about 6-8 weeks.  I’m so excited to see what kind of progress I make through the summer and into the fall!

week in review: Olympic Distance Training, Week 1

I haven’t done a week in review for a couple weeks!  I didn’t do a review for my final week leading into the Reston Sprint, since it was just a bunch of taper.  Then I took the week after the race completely off.  There was no scheduled off season for me over the winter, so I felt I needed a bit of a break before regrouping into Olympic distance training.  The specific event is still TBD, but I have 13 weeks until race weekend.  This week was a lower volume, to get me back into the mindset of real training.

My totals:

Swim - 2:19:40, 5200 yards

Bike - 1:02:36, 18.78 miles

Run - 1:09:46, 5-45 miles



  • Swim - 49:05, 1850 yards

    • 150 w/u :60
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 4x50 drill :20 (fingertip drag and thumb drag)
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 1x200 swim :60
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 4x50 drill :20
    • 4x25 kick :15
    • 100 c/d

This was my first day back in the water after my week off, and I was feeling good.  There was nothing notable about this workout, just getting it done. I didn't worry about speed, and focused on a high elbow pull and body rotation. I spent a few minutes in the hot tub and then I was on to start the day. Getting out of bed was rough, but once I hit the water I was happy.

I went back to my usual applesauce before the workout and everything sat nicely. I had tri-berry nuun at poolside, and a chocolate milk in the car on the way to the office. Stomach felt good!

  • Trainer Ride - 32:34, Aerobic Intervals
    • 5 min w/u
    • 4x (4 min @85%, 3 min easy)
    • Cool down

Holy sweatfest, so that's what working on the trainer is supposed to feel like. My HR zones were estimated, so I need to do a test soon. The time just flew by. Granted 30 minutes on the bike is easy now, but still, it was nice to not feel bored. I can't believe I didn't look into intervals sooner.


  • Run - 17:16, 1.36 miles

Low humidity! Partly cloudy! 60 degrees! What a gorgeous morning to get my running feet back under me. It was a little tough to get going, but nothing too bad. I could tell I took a week off, so mentally it's a bit alarming how fast my running legs disappear.

Loved the look of these little yellow guys next to the pale purples ones.

Loved the look of these little yellow guys next to the pale purples ones.

  • Post Run Stretch
  • Functional Strength - 50 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • myrtls
    • pedestal 1
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down


  • Swim - 46:15, 1850 yards
    • 250 choice warm up :60
    • 300 pull (breathe 3/5 by 50) :90
    • 400 swim 2:00
    • 400 pull 2:00
    • 300 swim :90
    • 200 c/d

I didn't realize until I started how long the rests were in this workout.  Despite not really wanting to, I did it as written, figuring the great Sara McLarty knows far more than me. :)

Average pace was 1:55 for the 400 swim, which is :01/100 faster than my last workout and on race day. Consistent!

  • Trainer Ride - 30:02, LT Intervals
    • 5 min warm up
    • 8x (2 min @ 95% max, 1 minute easy)
    • Cool down

Getting up to the right HR zone is hard work in just two minutes, and I definitely worked harder on the trainer than I ever had in the past.  There was loads of sweat, and even a few moments where I had to tell myself to hang on. This was hard, but I loved it!

It took them four days to completely dry after the race, but I'm back in my beloved Stealths.

It took them four days to completely dry after the race, but I'm back in my beloved Stealths.


  • Run - 23:04, 1.79 miles

Ugh, could it just rain already! The humidity was so thick that my fingers were actually sticking together. My calves felt like iron ropes at first, then the started loosening up, just in time for the run to be over. I am planning to do an LT test at the track once school lets out. I think I'm ready.

  • Post Run Stretch

My groin feels tight, along with my right outer hip.

  • Functional Strength - 50 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

My right hip was really cranky all day, and doing the myrtls was tough.

Friday (Active Recovery Day)

  • Swim - 44:20, 1500 yards
    • 200 warm up
    • 6x50 2x(kick, drill, swim) :45
    • 6x50 2x(back, breast, free) :60
    • 6x50 descend 1-3, 4-6 on 2:00 (really....on 2? I might as well move to the pool and live there)
    • 300 as 2x(50 kick, 100 swim)
    • 100 cool down

I did not want to go to the pool this morning, but told myself to go it would be a short swim.  Active recovery day, and all, right? Sara McLarty's workout had other ideas, as it included so. much. rest. 50s on 2:00?! I also forgot to hit start for my warmup, so Garmin only recorded 1100 yards and 44ish minutes, so who knows how long it really took me to cover the 1500. As for the swim itself, I just wasn't feeling it. My back was feeling a bit off, I was tired, and mostly I just let my bad mood spoil the workout. Bah!

  • Foam Rolling

Whole body, including hips. My calves were tender, but everything else felt pretty good. My quads and inner thighs need more work next time.


  • Run - 29:36, 2.30 miles

70, sunny, and humid. I can only imagine what it will be like later in the summer! I slowed way down because of the heat, and decided to have a nice easy run. Besides feeling like a slowpoke, it was good. I do have a scraped up toe on my left foot...guess I need to tape it up to prevent it rubbing in its neighbor? Or maybe some extra Aquaphor?

  • Post Run Stretch


  • Unscheduled Rest Day

I was supposed to ride for an hour, but sat on the couch for “just a minute.”  The next thing I knew I needed to hustle to get to Father’s Day.  It never feels good to miss a workout, but I had a wonderful long visit at my parents’ house.  No guilt here!

This week started off strong, and went well.  I do wish I’d gotten on one or the other of my bikes this weekend, but I feel ready to hit the ground running for the first build of this training cycle.  My new strength training program was a bit more than I was expecting, so I struggled with DOMS pretty hard.  My calves were tender to the touch for a few days, but they’ve come around.  My right outer hip is feeling quite stiff.  I’m not sure if it is soreness from the myrtls, or if perhaps it is something else.  How it responds to this next week should give me an idea of what’s going on.  Speaking of next week, here we go!  The volume only goes up from here, with plenty more milestones to start checking off on the way to Oly distance.