I wanted to talk a little more about the 5k I ran last week (on Thanksgiving) and some of the lessons I learned. This was my first 5k since May 2016. I feel like over the past 4 years my 5k times have gradually gotten slower. Part of the reason for this is that I have been injured quite a bit and haven’t trained the way I wanted. I also get nervous about 5ks and will go out too slow. It also helps to have perfect conditions (flat course, good weather, etc.) which is pretty difficult to control.
Here are 5 lessons I learned from running a 5k.
1. Don’t get boxed in at the start
I thought I knew better than this. The race had pace markers so I lined up where it said 7 minute/miles which was slightly faster than I planned to run. However, this was still pretty far back in the pack. I knew there would be some fast runners, but it seemed farther back than I should have been for a local 5k. Turns out I was right and people had lined up incorrectly. Some people ahead of me started walking 2 minutes into the race. For part of that first mile, I was running a 10 minute/mile pace. It slowed me down significantly.
2. Running in the cold has it’s challenges
It was in the mid to uppers 20s on race morning. I thought this would be good for running. While it was better than racing in the heat, it still had it’s challenges. It was tough to stay warmed up at the start. Also, when the race got tough and I started breathing really hard, I felt like my lungs were burning. Do you know that feeling when it’s so cold that it hurts your lungs? This made it really hard to push the pace, especially on the uphills.
3. Train on hills to race on hills
To be fair, I hadn’t trained at all for this race. I had done some fartlek runs and tempo runs, but no specific speedwork. I run on hills regularly because it’s hilly where I live. However, I don’t run fast up hills. I didn’t do any hill repeats lately. So when the entire second mile of this race was uphill, it was all I could do to just hold on and try not to stop running.
4. Kids are speedy
I said earlier how there were alot of people lined up in the front of the pack. There were A LOT of kids up there. I wasn’t sure if it was because they just didn’t know, or because they were really that fast. There were a few kids who were near me for most of the race and they made it look so easy. In fact, you can clearly see in the race photos how they fly right past me at the finish.
5. Some races can (and should) be run just for fun
It was awesome to see so many people out on Thanksgiving morning running a 5k. I have a really hard time racing for fun. If I’m going to pay for a race, then I am going to run it hard. But really, there’s no reason to get upset if it doesn’t go well. There are other reasons to do a race other than for a certain time. In this case, I’m happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran harder than I would have on my own. It was also fun to run alongside other people since I’m generally a solo runner.
Turkey Trot Charity 5k Race Recap
The race was at 8:30 am and started down the street from my office. There was free parking in a public garage, and Rob was kind enough to drive me there and come cheer me on even though he wasn’t running. I sat in the car until about 8:05, then went into my office to use the bathroom and warm up. Then I ran about .6 miles to the start and did some dynamic warm ups.
I lined up around 8:20 and decided at the last minute to give Rob my phone to hold because it was bouncing around too much in my pocket. Just around 8:30, we were off.
As I said before, I was boxed in big time. My pace was around 9:30-10:00 during the first quarter mile, and gradually got faster as the crowd broke up. There was a big downhill at the end of the first mile and I basically sprinted down it to make up time. My first mile was in 7:28.
Miles 1.1 to 1.8 were a big uphill climb. This part of the race was a real struggle. I was actually tempted to walk but I’m so glad I didn’t! It was so nice to see the top of the hill and then get a little downhill to finish off mile 2 in 7:48.
The last mile was mostly flat, with a few hills. My breathing was really hard during this mile but it helped to know we were getting closer to the finish. Mile 3 clocked in at 7:27.
When I knew the finish was just around the corner, I picked it up and sprinted to the finish. My Garmin said the last .1 miles was at a 6:15 pace.
I saw Rob taking some pictures at the finish and once I crossed the finish line I jogged for a few minutes to cool down.
After the race I was really confused because this guy came up to me and asked if the course measured short for me. I went to look at my Garmin and he said his watch said the course was “only” 3.15 miles. I gave him a confused look and said that mine said the same, not wanting to correct him and say that a 5k is 3.1 miles. Rob witnessed the conversation and was just as confused as me.
I got some water and a banana and we decided to walk back to the car. It was really cold out and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be getting an award, so we headed home.
I ended up getting 4th in my age group, and my official time was 23:36 (7:36 pace). This is my second slowest 5k time ever. I also think it was one of the harder courses I have done, and I’m not exactly in 5k shape, so I’ll take it!
I’d like to do another 5k at some point soon so I can work on getting my time back down, but I also don’t know if I really want to (which is totally just because they are so hard!) So we’ll see.
How do you feel about 5ks?
What is your favorite weather for racing?
How do you decide where to line up at the start of a race?