Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Bridgefest 5k and other things

I know the race countdown clock on the bottom right lists my next race as the ConocoPhillips 10k. That's only partially true. For the second year in a row, my oldest daughter (age 9) wanted to run a local 5k race sponsored the YMCA. Last year was her first time running any sort of race and she wanted to break 45 minutes. And we did, just barely.

24 degrees on a February morning is what most of the rest of the country calls a mild winter. Here in Houston it's a sign of the apocalypse. And yet there was still a good crowd. This is a very local race, so there were only about 750-1000 people running it (tops - probably less) but everybody was excited and friendly and slightly quirky - just like you expect to find in this sort of race.

My daughter wanted to beat her time from last year, so we decided to try to do it in 40 minutes or better. That's not a very fast pace for me, so I ran it with a backpack (for putting my daughter's gear in when she warmed up and for carrying keys, wallets, etc.) and a camcorder in one hand.

We started off near the back (since there's nothing I hate more than slower people lining up at the front) and set off at pretty good pace. We kept it at about 13 minute miles, and that's counting the small walk breaks we took at each mile. The entire time we chatted it up, talking about running style, and how there are all sorts of people these races, slow and fast, and about life, and about how far we had left to go, and other things. A good ol' daddy-daughter date. I took some video too (still being edited).

At about a quarter mile to go, I left her to race off to the finish line. This was prearranged, and I did it for two reasons: I wanted to see how she would do on her own, and I wanted to take some video at the end. She did great on her own - she crossed the line running at probably about 8:30 miles. The video was not so greata - although I did get some great pictures of what my feet look like when I'm running at a sub 6:00 pace. Oh well.

She finished in 36:47 (unofficially), besting her goal by better than 3 minutes. And she was beaming. She wants me to put her on a training schedule so she can get better. We also got her a new pair of shoes (hers were completely worn out) and it turns out her feet are big enough to get adult shoes now.

She's also got great form naturally - she runs like I want to run, for the most part. She does swing her arms a bit much and she needs to up her cadence, but those are easy problems to fix with time. Her legs run like they are machines - smooth strides, good midfoot strikes, nice leg lift, good posture. I'd trade my form problems for hers in a heartbeat.

And speaking of form, I took a light 4 mile jog after the race and then filmed myself running at marathon pace (about an 8:12 pace) and a sub 5k pace (about 6:15 pace). I filmed from both the side and the front. Both times I tried to run without thinking about form. I'm quite happy with the results - in slow motion, the side shot shows exactly what I am trying to get. Good midfoot strikes, bent leg landings, lifting the leg off the ground, good posture. I could stand to bend my leg just a bit more and engage my core. But the improvement after three weeks is astounding.

The front profile isn't quite as good. I still have too much hip action, but I think I've figured it out. My shoes are showing more wear on the outside of the shoes like a supinator would show, but I'm clearly not a supinator - I've been having pronation action when I strike, striking the outside of the foot and rolling in more than I'd like. Based on the video, it looks like I'm running with my legs too narrow. I'm not quite running like I'm on a balance beam or anything, but I'm not exactly in athletic position when I land. I think - and I don't have anything to back this up yet - that my feet should land farther apart horizontally (that is, ignoring the forward movement). They don't go far enough now, and as a result I'm slightly swinging my feet outside of an ideal plane of travel when I bring them forward and I am landing on the outside of my arch and then rolling inwards. My next step will be to try to fix this.

Video to come after I'm done editing.

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