Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lafayette 5k

For a race taking place in the dead of winter, the Quaker Oatmeal Festival does a great job of bringing out the runners for this annual 5k, both at the pointy end and among the masses. I think someone said there were 1,200 signed up to run today. Given the mild mid-30 degree temps, strong sun and proximity to New Years (resolutions), I guess I'm not that surprised. Apparently all it takes to bring out the big guns is a $400 prize purse, but I suspect that it's more about the chance to run against competition than it is the cash.

The later 9:30 start allowed for a reasonable lie in, despite the 60 minute drive down to Lafayette. Burch and I carpooled down, and after a brief $160 dollar pit stop courtesy of the local constabulary, we got to the start with plenty of time to run the course as a warm up. Bumped into Zack at packet pick-up, and he joined us for the leisurely course preview. The course was a little hillier than I was expecting, but the 90 degree turns were nice and wide, and the 180 turn looked okay, so not the fastest course out there, but fair.

Lining up at the start, Bob Sweeney asked me for my over/under prediction on how many women were going to beat me. He'd called three for himself and I called one, hoping that I could take down at least two of: Tera Moody (2:30 Chicago), Nan Kennard (2:35 on a tough Baltimore course) and Fiona Docherty (2:32 Chicago).

For once, I managed to control myself out of the gates and eased up to race pace. The first km involved a decent uphill pull followed by a nice descent. Knowing that the course was marked at the kilometers (makes sense for a 5k) rather than the miles, I was working on a goal of 3:18 pace or 16:30. Hanging a few steps behind the lead three girls, who were in a tight pack, I went through the first km in 3:15 feeling like things might be a touch hot.

Through the second and third kilometers I let the lead trio of ladies gap me by a few meters, and found myself slowing to a fair degree with the hills. Fiona had set out the zippier of the three, and was setting the pace, but from the looks of her form she wouldn't be holding it. Tera and Nan looked very smooth. My second and third kms, which were net uphill, came in at 3:25 and 3:33. Seeing the 3:33 on the 3rd split, and feeling decently in control, I decided I needed to up my game and embrace some pain if I was going to dip under 17.

With the exception of one mini-grunter, the last two kilometers were flat to downhill, so I was confident that the sub-17 was going to happen. I went by the last guy within reach on the final uphill and then set my sights on trying to run down Fiona who had now dropped a good five to ten meters off Nan and Tera. The fourth km came in at 3:19, and soon after I watched Nan put a strong race-winning move on Tera through the last two turns into the home stretch. As for me, I never could reel in Fiona, but finished feeling strong with a 3:18 last km, which was good for a time of 16:51 (5:25) and seventh overall (in the men's race).

As it turns out, the trail and ultra crowd were out in full force. John Tribbia was a few ticks behind me, and then in the ultra-guys-running-the-roads race, Bob S beat out Aaron, who out-kicked Ryan who in turn beat Scott Jurek, with George somewhere in the middle. With Joe Grant on course taking pics, there was a highly unusual concentration of ultrarunnners on hand.

Post-race we headed out as a pack for seven to eight additional miles at an easy warm-down pace. Having won the race within the race, I didn't feel the need to prove myself in the extracurricular rope climb contest - or, for that matter, in the proposed pull-up contest. A fun morning.

As far as where a 16:51 at 5,000 feet leaves me in regards to a marathon time at sea level, I am still highly unsure. I'm hoping for a stronger performance next weekend at the 10 miler in Littleton, as I plan to take two or three very light days beforehand (compared to 75 miles M-F this week). If I can run 5:40s or better there then I think I'll have the chops to hold 5:50s over 26.2 miles on rested legs at sea level in February ... or go down trying.



  1. Yeah, nice excuse on not climbing the rope! Haven't been practicing those pull-ups lately or what?

    Nice job out there, despite missing on the 'chick' prediction. You still represented the mountain runners well.

  2. Nick- only in Boulder can you get triple-chicked at an Oatmeal race in January!

    What time are you aiming for in your marathon- 2:35? I ran a 16:35 at altitude, then ran a 2:34 marathon at altitude... so I'm guessing a 16:51 would put you pretty close to 2:38 at sea level. Just my estimate. But hard to say, esp. with tapers.

  3. Sounds like you had a good run!

  4. you got pulled over? next time that happens just say "do you know who I am? I'm f@#$%&^% NICK CLARK that's who, and I have a race to win". It works in America.

  5. Jon - I'd be pretty disappointed if I ran 2:38. I'm hoping to go under 2:35. 5:50s would put me in the 2:33 range. It's so hard to tell, especially when comparing 5k times to the marathon and then trying to factor in altitude. My fitness definitely favors the longer distances, so I like to think I've got that 2:33 in me even if the 5k time suggests otherwise. My buddy Justin ran 2:29 in London off a 16:20 5k in Fort Collins, so who knows. If I can run between 56 & 57 next weekend for 10 miles, then I'm going to take that as good enough to run with 5:50s.

    2:34 at altitude is moving. In Utah?

    Aaron - ha, yeah. And then he goes, "who the f&*% is Nick Clark," and doubles my ticket. I went with the nice-as-can-be attitude, and when that didn't work reverted to a pissy asshole attitude.

  6. Congrats on getting the sub 17 monkey off your back. Always great to share some strides and conversation with you.

    Official results:

    Speculation for a marathon from a 5k to a marathon is always tough. McMillian's calculator puts a 16:25 5k as a 2:40 marathon. But, as we discussed this AM - some guys go the other way.

  7. BQ for your age is 3:15. Take things easy in NOLA so you're fresh for Salida...

  8. Nice job, Nick. I thought accents charmed cops. Guess not. Maybe that only works for Australians.

  9. Nick- you've definitely got the endurance and base to do 5:50's. As long as you don't go out crazy-stupid fast, you'll be running strong and fast at the end. Go get em. Go big or go home, I always say.

    Yeah, mine was at Top of Utah marathon.

  10. Great job Nick! Sorry to hear about the $160 ticket. They sure do a great job keeping things safe early on weekend mornings, but where are they late at night when drunks are throwing beer bottles at you on I-25? Hmmm..... I'll hold back my rant.

    I might again use my "my wife is delivering twins" excuse, it worked in September ;).

  11. Not bad for a mountain ultra runner. So is there a Clark vs Burch duel for 2011?

  12. Rob - I'm still waiting on the pay-out from the 2010 series. So far, just one bet riding in 2011. JT and I have an over/under for our combined times at New Orleans/Salida.