Yesterday I raced my first ever 5k at the Women’s Fitness Festival here in Sacramento. After last Monday’s race, I was feeling really tired and kind of “blah” so I took it relatively easy the rest of the week: 8 miles easy Wed, 6 miles slow Thursday, 5 miles Friday, and 4 miles Saturday. I skipped my favorite workout of the week, Tuesday night speed work, opted out of the Thursday speed work, and decided to just totally skip any long run. I also figured this was my last week before my scary-as-hell 12 week marathon training cycle started, so I may as well enjoy it.
Yesterday morning, I drove to a buddy’s house (Gen) to meet up with her and another girl from our run club. We jogged about 2 miles to the capitol where the race start was, and arrived about 45 minutes before the race was supposed to start. Our running club had a little booth set up to advertise for upcoming races, so we hung out there for a little bit. After internally (and a little externally, probably) freaking out for a while, our coach (Jen) showed up since she was going to pace my friend to a 21 minute 5k. Since I was pretty scared of the 5k distance and starting out too fast or slow, I asked if I could tag along with the pacing for the first couple of miles, then see how I felt. A 21 minute 5k is a 6:46 pace, which sounded about right based on my 10k pace from last weekend.
After a half dozen or so strides, we lined up at the start, where we ran into yet another run clubber (who ended up running sub-20 like it was NBD).
I purposefully set my watch to a screen that didn’t display my pace, and focused on just setting in with the coach. The first mile felt hard, but in a sustainable way. Mile 1: 6:45, right on target.
Somewhere in the second mile I started pulling ahead of Jen and Gen, but I assumed I was speeding up too soon so I tried to ease back in with them. The second time I started pulling away I figured I was almost to the 2 mile mark, so I just went with it. And I’m glad I did, because Jen/Gen had slowed a little bit. Mile 2: 6:56.
I knew that I had to really step it up the last 1.1 miles to make it sub-21 after the slow second mile. I switched my Garmin back to the screen that showed overall run pace, and just focused on getting that number back to 6:46. The pack of runners was pretty thin at this point, but I managed to pass 3 or 4 in that last mile. I figured that even if I didn’t make it sub-21, I might be able to place if I passed enough people! Mile 3: 6:39.
The last little bit was as much of a dead sprint as I could manage. As I was coming down the chute the race timer was reading 20:57…20:58…20:59…21:00.
I stopped my Garmin a second or two after crossing the line and it read 21:03 for 3.12 miles, average pace 6:45. Our run club president thought the timer read 21:01 when I crossed, so I thought I hit right at or just over 21 minutes based on my chip time.
While waiting for the official results to be posted, I learned that all four of us from the club ran PRs (though Gen barely missed her sub-21), so everyone was pretty happy.
The official results were the most exciting part though!
Official time: 20:59.6!
Age Group Place: 4 of 388
Overall Place: 16 of 3245
There were obviously a lot of walkers at the event, but I’m still pretty proud of how I did! Honestly, I was way more scared of the 5k distance than I needed to be. It’s a hard distance to race for sure, but it was FUN and I felt great after. [Gen said I didn’t run hard enough if I felt so great at the finish…]
My only tiny (really tiny) regret is letting myself hold back in that second mile. I think I could have probably maintained the 6:45 pace and then still speed up at the end, but part of me is glad that I was conservative. Having a great race experience and being excited about running is exactly what I’ve been needing after a couple of lackluster weeks. Plus, I have another 5k on the calendar in a couple of months and I’m already thinking 20:30…
For now, though, it’s time to focus on 12 intense weeks of marathon training!