In lieu of the speedwork session this week we elected to simply do a tempo run to aide in recovery for the race and assess our fitness level. Unlike conventional group runs, we were given a fixed course and instructed to go at our own pace - attempting to cover the ~6K route in as little time as possible.
It had been a while since we had done tempo runs, as our schedule switched these out for Fartlek sessions a few weeks back. We've primarily been doing runs focused on endurance, with a couple of runs focused on short spurts of high intensity (fartleks, speedwork and hill training). As such, I elected to push a bit harder than I had on previous tempo runs to get an idea of how far the training in the last little while has paid off.
After the talk, we warmed up with a short walk through the parking lot and took off as soon as we got to the road. I started off by feel and didn't worry too much about my formal pace. After looking down at my watch I noticed that I was going at about a 4:20 pace. This was a little faster than I had planned, but I figured that I'd give it a shot to see how it panned out.
As the run continued, my heart rate was still under control and there was no sign of fatigue in my legs so I kept that pace up. Fortunately, the traffic lights along the route were on my side (for a change) and allowed me to keep moving for the entire session. As I approached the 5K mark, I noticed that I was doing very well so I pushed things up a bit and hit it in 21:33. This is more than a minute faster than my personal record in racing this distance, and was achieved with significantly less effort.
After hitting that milestone, I backed off a bit as I was running at a 3:56 pace which wasn't really sustainable for long. Once things stabilized again, I dialed things up to a near sprint (3:36 pace) as I made the final turn and finished the run in a total of 24:26. Looking back on the telemetry, pacing appeared to be relatively stable so that bodes well for my ability to manage my speed by feel.
Either way, this is definitely a good sign as it demonstrates that the training over the last few months is paying off in my overall fitness level. Being able to maintain a sub-4:20 pace for nearly 25 minutes and keep my heart rate below 85% is certainly a promising sign. Once the half marathon is finished, I'm going to have to find some shorter races again to see what I can do in an all-out effort.
5K Time: 21:23