My First 5 Mile Race

I’m just going to come out and say it. Five miles is a weird distance. Not quite a speedy 5K, nor the endurance tester of a 10K, this somewhere-in-the-middle distance really threw me for a loop. I had no clue how to approach it.

But I do love a challenge, so I didn’t hesitate before signing up for this small, local race. On Saturday morning, I woke to blue skies and perfect running temps (at least for me) in the high 50s, and I thought to myself, This is a sign it’s going to be a good race.

Famous last words.

I drove the 15 minutes to the local elementary school serving as the start location (LOVE races at schools — usually means real bathrooms!). As soon as I parked, I leaned over to grab my iPhone arm band and sunglasses and realized, CRAP, I forgot my headphones.

So I know many of you will say, Ohhhh, you don’t need to run with music, blah blah blah. But to you, I say I need music — especially for a small local race like this where I’ll likely be running by myself for portions of the race, which is expected to have zero crowd support. So, yeah, I kind of needed my music.

I panicked. I tore my car apart. C’mon, I have to have some extra headphones in here somewhere, right? I ripped into the trunk and suddenly it dawned on me: the kids’ headphones from when they watch DVDs in the car.

Ear buds they are not, but desperate times call for desperate measures, friends.

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So I put those bad boys on, feeling like the world’s dorkiest newbie runner, trying to avoid the odd looks from more experienced runners.

My guess is there were about 100 or so people running the race — an interesting mix of some serious runners from the local running group, a bunch of mother runners like me, a loud and obnoxious group from some area CrossFit studio, families, etc.

Eventually, we were on our way and the first mile went by much too fast, considering we were running in some random suburban neighborhood with not much to look at besides houses. But there were a few downhills without much in the way of inclines, and I finished Mile 1 in about 8:24.

The rest of the race consisted of rolling hills — some pretty deep — but aside from that, it was pretty nondescript. It kind of felt like a long run in my neighborhood. Eventually, a woman around my age passed me around mile 3 and I used her as my rabbit the rest of the way, yet never quite caught up to her.

The race went like this:

Mile 2 – 8:39
Mile 3 – 9:06
Mile 4 – 9:16 (slow poke)
Mile 5 – 8:10 (I think?? I forgot to shut my Garmin off after I crossed the finish line. Whoops!)

I tried to sprint as fast as I could to the finish line. My “It Would Be Awesome” time goal was 42:00. My time on Saturday was 43:29 (8:38 pace), which I was pretty pleased with. And, ironically, it falls smack in between my best 5K and 10K times.

And, hey, a new distance = a new PR, right?

While I didn’t place, I was 5th in the 30-30 age group and the 11th woman overall … pretty good (but not awesome) numbers for a small local race.

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But there was one casualty from Saturday. I lost my Boston Strong Sparkly Soul headband somewhere along the way. Sniff, sniff. (I replaced it post-race with my pink one above).

Some random thoughts from the race…

  • This race (and also the James Joyce Ramble last weekend) have me thinking about things like race consistency and negative splits. I feel like my runs lately have been so schizophrenic — a fast mile followed by a slow mile with no rhyme or reason. I would like to be more of a consistent runner. Who’s got some tips??
  • They handed out medals to everyone who finished the race. I feel like I’m seeing that more and more, medals  handed out at all races, whether they’re big or small, a 5K or a half marathon. It kind of reminds me of the participation trophies that our kids get now for all sports. Anyone else notice this? Are medals the participation trophy for runners?

My next race is not until Memorial Day weekend, another new-for-me race — a 10K trail run. Um, I guess I should find some trails to run on, hmmm?

Who else raced this weekend? How did you do? Let’s share our accomplishments!