I have a quick recap of my recent 5K to share with you guys – no pics, because I forgot to bring a running belt and there was no bag check at the race so I left my phone in the car. All the same, I like typing up these recaps to think about what went well, and what to work on for next time. So here we go:
The race started at 9 AM, so I woke up around 7:30, ate some leftover oatmeal, got dressed and rolled my legs. I felt pretty tired from the late night before (company holiday party), and my legs were tired from standing all night so I knew my goal for the race should be conservative. The weather was pretty windy and a little cold, so I decided on a thick long sleeve shirt, shorts, fleece headband, and festive compression socks! After drinking some coffee and using the restroom, I drove over to Pentagon City about half an hour before race start.
I wasn’t feeling too great by the time the race started – I needed to pee again (no port-o-potties available at the race) and I was really cold from standing around in the wind for 15-20 minutes. The race started on time, and I started weaving around all the walkers for several minutes in the first mile, which was slightly uphill. Right away, my goal of a 9:00 pace went out the window. Mile 1 – 9:39
By mile 2, my calves were SO tight; they felt solid with pain and I had to stop several times to stretch them. I considered quitting, but decided to make my new goal just finishing the race with a sub 10 min time. It helped that mile 2 was mostly flat or downhill. Mile 2 – 12 something (I stopped my garmin while stretching)
Mile 3 was slightly better than the first two; my calves loosened up a little and I didn’t need to stop completely, although my pace definitely slowed during the uphill right before turning back into Pentagon Row. I focused on passing people one at a time and not letting anyone pass me (I think one guy sped by me, but I had zero chance of catching him lol). Mile 3 – 9:01
When the final stretch came up, I started sprinting as best as I could to get across the finish line, thinking about going back home to my warm house and hot shower. 0.10 pace – 7:35
Final time: 31:01 (9:59 pace)
Race Thoughts/Lessons Learned
While this was one of my slowest 5Ks ever, I was really proud of myself for pushing through windy and cold conditions and finishing the race. I’ve had a lot of DNSs (did not start) and one DNF (did not finish) this year, so starting and finishing a race is no small accomplishment right now.
On the short-term prep side, there’s a lot I could have done better: I should have hydrated properly the night before, rested my legs (no more races the morning after a party haha), and not piled up the week’s mileage in the days leading up to the race. Also, given the lack of a bag drop, I should have brought a trash bag to keep myself warm before race start (I’m also never running a race without restrooms again). Most importantly, I’ve learned the hard way that I really need to warm up before short races, especially in cold weather. If I had to repeat Saturday’s race again, I’d jog for 10-15 minutes prior to race start.
For long-term improvement, it’s become clear to me that I need to work on my speed and leg strength more diligently. My old 5K record was a sub-8 min pace, and I’ve backed off on my speedwork paces over the last couple of years and I can’t hold that pace for more than a minute or two now. I’ve decided to try subbing Orangetheory classes for my speedwork sessions in the hopes that I’ll build speed with coaching during the treadmill sessions, and strengthen my body all over with the cross-training portions of the workout (row and weights). I know that I’ve had a hard time pushing myself on my own lately, so I’m hoping the OTF coaches and group setting will get my butt back in high gear ;)