This was probably my best race of the year. Yesterday I ran 17:49 at the Nature's Bin 5K with a huge negative split. Conditions were pretty ideal -- mid 40s though a little windy going out but that made the tailwind nicer on the last 1.5 miles, which is a straight shot down Lake Avenue. My early pace felt pretty controlled and I thought it felt faster than 5:54 at the mile, but I trusted how I felt and didn't panic to try to make up for lost time. The second mile I just tried to stay in the groove but not overextend myself. There were a few guys that were coming back to me and this made it easy to lock into my pace. When I hit the turn off Edgewater onto Lake I got a sudden extra gear and just started running as hard as I could. Right after the turn I hit the 2 mile in 11:47 (5:53) and I figured if I knew that if I just held pace I'd break 18:00. I ended up doing much better and hit the 3 mile mark in 17:16 (5:29) and then kicked it in as hard as I could. I came from way back to catch a guy on the final straight but he managed to outkick me. In any case, I'll definitely take it. I haven't had a really good negative split race in a long time. I think my focus on short intervals with short recovery, like the 16 x 400 with 100 recoveries workout I did earlier this week, are really helping me. I also think that the combo long run/tempo workouts are helping too as well as giving myself 2-3 days between stress workouts. Next up is a 2 mile road race in New Orleans on Friday, which will be a nice speed workout. It's going to be weird running in 80 degree temps again though the race is an evening race so it might be a little cooler.
Most serious runners keep a training log. I've found it to be a great tool for analyzing what works and what doesn't work for me. It's also motivating when you notice that you are improving at the same workout. Earlier this week I ran a session of 16 x 400 on the Rocky River track with 100 meter jogs for recovery. The goal was to run the 400s at about 8K/10K effort. From the beginning I noticed that I was hitting my recoveries much faster than usual, while hitting my 400s at the desired pace. Definitely a really good sign. For the 400s I was nailing consistent 87's and the recoveries were all like 30-33 seconds. Normally when I do this workout it takes me about 40 seconds for each recovery jog. With that said, my overall time for 8k (5 miles) was 31:51 (4 miles of work at just under 5:50 pace, plus a total of one mile easy on the recoveries). Looking back at my log, I noticed that earlier this summer and fall I did the same workout and while my 400s were at similar pace, the overall time was much slower. The last time I did this workout my overall time had been in the high 33's and before that, just over 35. This leads me to believe that whatever I'm doing now is working for me! Obviously race performance is the most important thing and as fall kicks in, I'm feeling optimistic. Next up is a 5K road race on Saturday and the following week, a Halloween themed 2 mile race in New Orleans. For the latter, I'll wear a costume and treat more as a hard workout than a serious race.