[Originally posted on May 19, 2014]
I was recently down in Orlando for an academic conference (the 225th meeting of the Electrochemical Society for though interested in battery work) just across the road from Disney World. While most the of hotel complexes and Disney resorts down there each have there own one or two mile “jogging” paths to accommodate guests, none of these are connected to each other. Even though there may be four or five of these loops nearby each other and a simple quarter mile of sidewalk could turn a two mile loop into a four mile loop, all of these paths and walkways are isolated. I’m sure the hotels don’t want guests getting lost, but they are so close to having some great running routes without adding much infrastructure. Anyways I don’t want to digress about griping about running routes. I still had a great time running down there.
However, it was on one of these hotel loops that the conference I was attending decided to host their first ever conference 5k. The loop was advertised as one mile loop, so the race organizers decided to do three loops and add on a bit at the end to make up the difference. I was pretty excited to show of some of my running fitness to my academic colleague and I decided to run the race hard and use it like a good workout. About 60 people showed up for the run and before the race the organizers explained that each loop was a mile and we’d do three loops. I got out pretty well, but when I came through the mile in 4:33 in my trainers I knew something was a little amiss. I finished pretty strong, but ended up crossing the finish line in 14:12.
Standing at the finish, I talked to the race organizer about the short course and they said, “yeah its a couple hundred feet short.” I was a little surprised why they didn’t just tell everyone the course was short. Maybe they hadn’t measured, maybe they didn’t care. It seemed a bit odd to me. As more people crossed the line a few thought they had run great times and other knew the course was short. Other peoples garmin’s had the course at 2.83 miles.
The distance notwithstanding it was still a fun run and it got my thinking about how running might be different if other race distances were the norm instead of your typical 5k, half, and full marathon distances. How much different would even just the average runners experience be if the normal local road race was only 2 miles or 5 miles instead of 3.1. Do you think people would run more or less if they knew they only had to make it through 2 miles or were going to have to run all the way to 5 miles? How different would peoples training plans be if the marathon was 20 miles instead of 26.2? Even though the “5k” I ran in Orlando was only a little over a quarter mile short, it felt like it went by much quicker than a normal 5k. How much would the tactics differ for an elite 4.5k? Ultimately I think that track and cross country got most of their distances right. But even if it’s not an official IAAF distance I’m putting down 14:12 for my new 2.83 mile PR.
Other than the 5k race, I also ran a set of quarters with John Thompson 4x4x400 with 100 jog between reps and 3 minutes between sets. Ran them at the WashU track hitting 72-71 (set 1); 71-69 (set 2); 69-68 (set 3); 68-66 (set 4). Starting to feel quick for the first time in quite a while.