First of all, very sorry I made you all think I was expecting a baby with yesterday’s blog title haha! I am definitely not, “Baby’s First 5k” was more meant to indicate that I felt like a baby deer on ice in running my first 5k – all spindly legs and very unsure of myself.
So now that they’ve gotten that out of the way – I raced a 5k! My first 5k RACE ever. I’ve done 5k races as a shake out for the big race the next day before, but never an all out effort. I was really nervous about it – which was so funny. With my first marathon, there was some part of my mind that wondered, “what if I really can’t run 6 more miles after running 20?” But with a 5k, I know I can run 3.1 miles. But how much can I hurt for 3.1 miles? That was the part that made me nervous. I was afraid a lack of mental toughness would disappoint me.
The night before, I had a chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries.
The morning of I had a chocolate chip bagel with peanut butter and banana. I ate both halves, but forgot to take a picture before I finished the first first half LOL. I also had coffee.
My dad used the 5k as a shake out run for his goal race the next day, the half marathon. My mom walked us to the start line. It was COLD!
I lined up at the very front, I knew if I could come in around 20ish minutes – I’d be in the top finishers based off last year’s results. So I wanted my gun time to be the same as my chip time. While I wasn’t overly worried about competing, I did think it would be fun to see what I could do.
The gun went off and a very fast pack took off. I started out and was aware of not wanting to go out too fast. As I ran out, I checked my watch – which showed 7:00. The pace I was running was definitely not a 7:00 minute mile. But I also thought maybe I was going too slow. I started to worry about that and picked up the pace as much as I could. My Garmin shows my actual fastest pace was 5:29, so I may have gone out too fast without being able tell.
I approached a hill and felt my nostrils kind of seal up. While I had no congestion or stuffiness earlier that day, my nose seemed to be totally un-usable at the moment ha! I figured what goes up, must come down, so I pushed up the hill as fast as I could.
I knew I needed to average a 6:27 pace, and my watch still seemed off. At the one mile marker, I hit lap so that I could see what my pace was. 6:29 – so that was right on target. My coach, Sarah Crouch, had told me to run the first mile with my head, second mile with my body and third with my heart. I knew the second mile was also where she said not to fall asleep. So I tried to stay really on pace. We came through a series of turns which made it feel hard to keep my pace up.
I kept pushing as hard as I could and finally regained control of breathing. I checked my watch again and saw the second mile had passed without me seeing the split time. The watch was still off, so I decided to stop looking at the watch and keep pushing.
Around the beginning of the 3rd mile, I was running next to another woman who looked to be my age. So I tried really hard to stay with her. I knew she was doing the same, and I briefly remember thinking it was so much fun to actually compete with someone. I did a surge and she dropped off, and I kind of wished she hadn’t.
Coming around the last corner I tried to push as hard as I could. I had a tenth of a mile to go and I saw the clock over the finish line tick to 20:00. I felt my heart break a little, as I had really wanted to stay under 20 minutes, but I had also promised myself that I wouldn’t give up if I got close to under 20, but didn’t quite make it.
Coming through the finish line, my whole body burned and my mouth had a weird, metallic taste to it. I had equal feelings of frustration with myself for not going sub-20, and happiness for being done.
I felt ok after about 5 minutes of walking and drinking water, and waited for my dad to come in with my mom. She is the best cheerleader, and her infectious excitement about watching me race helped me be happier with the end result. My dad was really excited too. Parents are the best.
She even let me hold her foam cheering finger (like the ones you see at baseball games) for my dad when he came across the finish line so she could take pictures.
She told me she thought I’d been the 5th woman to come in, which was really exciting. I knew I wanted to compete in my age group, but I’d never even considered the top women’s placings.
When the race results came out, she was right! I was 5th woman overall! I didn’t win my age group – the woman who won was the overall winner of the women’s race. Still, very fun for me as I am not usually in a podium spot. While the screen shot below doesn’t show it, the race website shows there were 146 women in my age group/division.
Overall, I loved racing a 5k. It went by so incredibly fast. I feel like there is no room for an error in pacing. In a marathon, if my watch is off, it doesn’t matter as much, because I KNOW what goal marathon pace feels like. With this race, I was unsure of what a 6:27 pace should feel like. It’s so much different than a marathon, but also teaches a lot of great skills that I will apply toward the marathon. I also think doing some faster races to get your turnover up is a great thing. I can’t wait to try it again!