And this time, it’s 10,000 metres on the track
The next step on Gwen Jorgensen’s (potential) Road to Tokyo 2020 takes place this coming Friday, 30th March.
After running her first post-baby track race last month – impressing pretty much everyone with her 15:15.64 for 5,000m indoors at the Husky Classic in Seattle – this weekend Gwen will be doubling the distance to 10,000m and this time will be outdoors, when she runs at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, California.
All smiles because it’s race week!
— Gwen Jorgensen (@gwenjorgensen) March 26, 2018
If that Stanford name sounds slightly familiar, the Cobb Track and Angell Field is the same Stanford University venue at which Alistair Brownlee ran his 28:32.48 for the same distance at the Payton Jordan Invitational in April 2013. That same meeting takes place on 3rd May this year, and is one which could also potentially feature on the Jorgensen schedule.
The women’s 10,000m takes place at 8:50pm local time this Friday evening (which would be 4:50 am UK time on Saturday morning).
What to expect?
Only five months since the birth of her son, Stanley, her 15:15 for 5000m was an impressive start to her ‘running’ career. Logically, one would think that a further seven weeks on she would be looking/hoping to see another step up in performance. Still, seven weeks isn’t a huge amount of time, and that last block of training at altitude will, I would speculate, have been more focussed on performances later in the year and laying her foundations for future marathons, rather than optimising for an early season track race. Further, Gwen is still building her capacity to cope with the mileage that she hopes to reach in time, using swimming and cycling as cross training.
One other factor to consider is the competition – in Seattle Gwen had the pacing benefit of athletes of the quality of Courtney Frerichs and Emily Infeld, both World Championship medallists. There doesn’t appear to be anyone of that pedigree and experience racing this weekend.
Ok, with that background… 15:15 for 5,000m would, roughly, predict a time in the region of 31:45, all other things being equal / no ‘Beast from the East’ or extreme temperatures etc. Not an exact science, but assuming a run for ‘time’ (rather than a tactical effort for position), that would be the sort of time that would be on a par with last months 5,000m effort. At least, in my eyes.
On that basis – if Gwen is able to race in a similar manner and arrive with improved fitness since that run in Seattle – I’m going to say that 31:30 would be a strong effort. Quicker than that, let’s say circa 31:20-ish and I think she and her team would leave the venue very content. And rightly so.
Much quicker than that? Well, if she does, you have certainly got an athlete showing huge potential to go significantly quicker in the future too based on that rate of progression so early in her (pure running) career.
Taking into consideration Gwen’s inexperience in this format of racing and perhaps the lack of that higher level of competition to set the pace for her to follow, I’m going to go for somewhere between those two times, 31:20 to 31:30, as my prediction for this weekend. I also think there is a strong chance that as the race progresses, racing to win may become a priority over going all out for a time.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see her return in May though, against a stronger field, ready to go faster with another five weeks of training in the legs and more experienced athletes in front setting the pace. On that basis, it is quite possible that this race will also be a fact-finding and logistical preview for a return to that Payton Jordan Invitational at the same venue. After all, Jorgensen and her team like to ensure all details are covered. When you’ve stated you have a goal of Olympic Marathon Gold in 2020, you have to.
As always, it will be interesting to follow her progress.