I would like to qualify this by saying that I really don’t like running the 5K distance. It hurts too much. There is no padding in it. That is exactly what I was thinking when I lined up at the starting line on Sunday night (July 3rd) for the Firecracker 5K in Charlotte. Why was I doing this to myself? Actually it wasn’t just me. My son Peter (15) and daughter Annie (13) were doing it as well. The worst part was that it was an evening race, and it was 93 degrees by our car’s thermometer. We had to walk a few blocks from where we parked to the start, and I looked at my sweat-filled shirt before the race began and thought it looked more like I was at the finish of a race rather than start of one.
However, the very reason I dislike the 5K is also the reason it is the perfect training race for whatever other kind of racing you might be doing. It is a race we should have in our “toolbox” of training runs. Whether it’s a half-marathon, a marathon, or even a triathlon, the 5K is a perfect prep run! You can get to the race a little early and warm up with a mile and then, after the race, cool down with another mile, and you have a great 5 mile run under your belt. Because it is a fairly short distance, it is a good opportunity to challenge yourself and see where you are at. Pushing the pace for three miles is something that most of us would not do on our own. But when we sign up to run a 5K, we hold ourselves a little more accountable, and there are lots of other people who have also shown up to run. There are all different levels and abilities, and thats what makes it fun….it’s a race for everyone. While I would rather go out for an easy seven miles with a friend any day, I know the 5K is good for me. It makes me push past my comfort zone and through a little pain. I tend not to like pain, but I know that it can make for stronger performances later.
The 5K is a great beginner race too. With proper training, anyone can run one! It’s exciting to get out with others… there is a community feeling to 5K’s that makes them a lot of fun. It is also a great family race because, even if they have to walk a little, it’s a distance most kids over the age of 10 can handle. I was hoping to pace Annie for somewhere around 21 minutes on Sunday night. However neither of us were prepared for the heat and heavy humidity that greeted us before we even turned around the first bend of the race. It was good to see where we were at, and it was over a minute slower than our goal pace. However, it wasn’t a huge race and we both got second in our age groups! Peter ran it in 18:13, and was just behind the lead men. That gave him a first place in his age group and fourth overall, although the best part for him seemed to be the pizza and yogurt they were handing out afterwards. For me pizza and yogurt were about the last thing I could manage after a brutally hot and humid run. It was the free deep-tissue massage that made the whole thing worthwhile for me (thanks to the massage I was not sore at all the following day)! Actually, in the end, we brought a few of the other kids and even a cousin to watch, and it was a fun family evening. As nice as it was though, it will be a LONG time before I sign us up for a 5K in July…in Charlotte… in the evening again!
If you are thinking about running a 5K and would like some trainiing tips, click here! What 5K have you done (or are going to do) this summer?