A few weeks ago, my friend asked me to join her in running a local 5k race called the Torchlight 5k. I’m actually not a huge fan of 5k races because my running goals aren’t speed, and it seems like a lot of effort to pay and then only run 20 minutes! At this point in my marathon training, racing also isn’t the best idea because putting my body under that pressure for a short distance isn’t super beneficial for my end goal. BUT, it seemed like a fun race, I wanted to join my friend, and I knew I could take it as easy as I wanted, so I signed up.
The week of the race, I wasn’t feeling the hottest. I had done a long training run the weekend before, along with some runs in really hot and humid weather. My body was pretty wiped and I cut my run short the night before to try to give myself a little rest. Other than that, I hadn’t tapered. I also have had a pesky sore throat that I thought might have been strep, but it turned out to just be allergies and body aches from running, so I felt like I would still be up for the run.
Going into the race, I decided that I was just going to take the race as it went and listen to my body. I lined up in the 7:00 pace group, because I knew I could carry that at least for the first mile. I’m pretty confident with myself in longer races, but I don’t feel like I am as strong at short distances and when I looked around me and saw a bunch of really fit runners with different running group singlets on, I suddenly got super intimidated. I was actually trying to back up to get out of their way, but it was too crowded so I just stayed where I was.
The first mile felt really good. I struggle with how to pace a 5k since its much longer than a mile where I can all out sprint and just deal with being uncomfortable, but it’s significantly shorter than a half marathon, where I know I need to find a comfortable pace that I can carry for over an hour. I did take off a little fast, running the first mile in 6:17, and started feeling it a little after the one mile mark.
I slowed myself slightly, but since I had crushed the first mile, I wanted to keep under a 7:00 pace to try to hold onto the good start. The course is along a parade route and the race goes right before the parade, so there was good crowd support and I saw a few people that I knew, which helped me want to stay strong. The one thing I have really noticed with my running this year is that I am a lot mentally tougher, and I can put up with being pretty uncomfortable and keep going. In previous years, I would’ve slowed or stopped and walked when I hit a certain level of discomfort.
After battling through mile 2, I knew there was only a few minutes left and that I could maintain the pace for a little while longer. At this point, I was surrounded with the same male runners that I thought I should get out of the way for in the beginning. In that moment, I was super proud that little me, runner of 4 years, in pink Nikes and a cute lulu lemon top was holding her own against “real” runners. I’m usually not competitive with other runners, but I could tell a couple of the guys did not want to fall behind me, and it motivated me to keep pushing even more.
By the last minute or so, I was really struggling. Almost every race in Minneapolis goes over this historic cobble stone street and it’s super bumpy and miserable to run on (especially in racing flats!). I did not take the last 200m as fast as I probably could have, but I could see the clock was still below 21:00, and I was happy finishing under that given this wasn’t really a goal race for me.
I ended up finishing in 20:52 which is only 10 seconds over my PR time. I was pretty proud of myself for being able to pull a time like that without much preparation! I also finished 10th out of 311 women in my age group, and 36th out of 2094 women. Like I said, I try really hard not to compare myself to other runners, since everyone has different backgrounds, lives, training, bodies, schedules, etc. BUT, I’m also always so hard on myself for not pushing more, and it’s a good reminder that after only a few years of running, I’m doing alright.
After the race, there was a fun festival and parade through the beautiful city of Minneapolis. I ended up walking a ton after the race, and put on 10 miles of walking in addition to the race, so it was a long day for me. I didn’t have a long run scheduled that week, so I think I recovered fine without disrupting my marathon training.
Are you someone who runs 5ks? Do you have a favorite race?