Ready to run a 5K

My first 5K? Really?

Yeah, that kinda surprised me too.

Since I started distance running back in 2009 I’ve completed approximately 100 races of varying distances, but never once I had I signed up for a 5K. Why you may ask? Really it was for two reasons.

For starters, when I first began training for distance running, my main focus was to increase the length of my runs. As a result, I was quickly running between 8-10 miles during a training session and then even longer. 5K (3.13 miles) was really more of a warm-up distance than anything else.

I was typically running more than 5K even on weekday maintenance runs. And weekends were always my long runs, so it didn’t seem to make “training” sense to swap out those long distance runs for a short run.

Secondly, races aren’t cheap. But if you look at the cost of a race, the most expensive distance (as in cost per mile) is the 5K. If you want to get more pavement pounding for your buck, go long. Take a look at the prices for the upcoming Savannah Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.

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The cost per miles for the marathon is $4.20 ($109.99 / 26.2 miles), while the cost per mile for the 5K is $15.98 ($49.99 / 3.13 miles). I guess you could call it running economics.

I liken it to buying snacks at the movie theater. You’ll pay $5.99 for a small soda, but for only $.25 more you can get a total bladder buster and it feels like you’re not getting quite as screwed at the cash register. Always go with the bladder buster, right?

So if that is my running logic, why did I sign up for the ’80s Rad Retro Run 5K?


It came already solved, but I’m still smiling.

Well, first off I did get some economic aid thanks to Groupon. The race only cost me about $20 (quite reasonable) and on top of that, it was a short drive from my place, even closer than where I typically do my Saturday long run.

But more importantly, it’d been a bit since I ran a race. I was jonesing for the camaraderie and fun of running an organized race, but my conditioning is still in recovery mode. So better to tackle a distance for a training run that wasn’t going to kick my ass.

Oh, and did I mention it was an ’80s theme… totally!

And it didn’t disappoint. Quite the contrary. About 250 runners, many clad in neon, showed up at Kennesaw State University for the ’80s Rad Retro Run. The start time was 9:00am, not the crack of dawn races I’m used to, so that was another bonus.

One odd thing is I wasn’t entirely sure of my race strategy for the 5K distance. I typically employ the “don’t go out too fast philosophy.” If you start too quickly you can burn yourself out for the latter parts of the race. But since this was race was going to be done in 30-35 minutes, I figured I could really push the pace without too many problems.

FYI, you absolutely can go out too fast in a 5K. I learned that on Saturday as I hauled a little ass off the start line (or at least what qualifies as “haulin’ ass” for me) only to be gasping for breath in the final 1/2 mile. Lesson learned.

The course itself was fine, utilizing the university’s running path, although a little short (it was comprised of two loops). So the second time around you were lapping some of the slowers runners. Just another chance to say “hi” to fellow pavement pounders.

So I did my two short laps and staggered across the finish line feeling sweaty yet quite satisfied. But wait, there’s more!


Sitting on 2nd.

It seems Saturday’s race was full of firsts for me because I also got on the podium.

Yup, after 100 races, I finally placed in my age group. Turns out my less than stellar pace still nabbed me 2nd place in my age group. Granted there were only 14 runners in my age group, but it still felt pretty good to be right near the top and to get to pose for a photo. And I even earned a piece of bouns bling for my silver finish… a mini-Rubik’s cube medal “thingee” that started coming apart after I stepped off the podium. Oh well, still a nice gesture. Besides, the only way I ever could solve a Rubik’s cube was by taking it apart so who am I to complain.

So, I walked away from Saturday’s race feeling good and with a new found fondness for the 5K. The marathon, half marathon and 10K will still be my distances of choice, but I think I’ll toss in a few more 5Ks for good measure.

Especially if there’s a Groupon.

Run short or run long… but Run on!

Is there a 5K race out there you especially enjoy?

Posted on May 7, 2018, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I usually do Challenge series. On Twin Cities Marathon Weekend (for example), I can do a 5k and a 10k on Saturday, then the 10 miler or Marathon on Sunday. I have to drive to the expo on Saturday (50+ Miles each way) just to pick up my Sunday Bib. I figured, since I am there, I might as well get a few warm at races (I can pick up the Saturday race bibs on Saturday morning…so no extra driving), get 2 more medals, 2 more shirts, then a bonus jacket and medal for doing the combo. I don’t do a lot of straight 5k runs just cause all of the races are a long trek from home and it seems like a waste of a day just for a 5k. That said, 5k races HURT…if you are truly racing them. I have collapsed at the finish line of a few 5k races but never have for a marathon. The shorter the distance, the more you can push the red line (I don’t do this on combo events…I will need the legs again). Congrats on the podium. In about 115 races, I have podiumed just one time. It was an incredible feeling! Congratulations!!!

    • I have yet to try a Challenge series (like Disney’s Dumbo Double Dare), which does indeed sound like fun. The LA Marathon has a 5K the day before, but I was always concerned about resting and saving my energy for the full race. But it makes perfect sense that if you’re already in town for a weekend event, why not do a 5K as a race “appetizer” or warm-up (where you take it easy). I think I’ll have to give it a go.

      And I understand how you can drive yourself far into the red on a 5K. If I’m pushing it at a race my goal is to hit the finish line with absolutely nothing left in the tank (I don’t do that too often). But for a 5K you really are hitting the gas hard from the get-go, a much different strategy.

      On a related note, the last time I really pushed it at a race was the Big Cottonwood Half where I was trying for a PR and to break the 2-hour barrier. I knew it was going to be close (by a matter of seconds). In the last mile I decided to give it everything I had, knowing full well that I might puke and/or collapse at the finish line. Fortunately I PR’d, beat 2-hours by 10 seconds, and didn’t puke or collapse… although it was close.

      And thanks for the podium kudos. It did feel nice. The closest I had come in the past was 4th place in my age group at the LaceUp Palos Verdes 10K. And given my endurance/speed struggles as of late, it was a welcome ego boost (and motivation to keep pushing). Where did you reach the podium and what was your prize?

      • HITS Sprint Triathlon (Wacconia). It was a small triathlon and has stopped coming to town due to weak turnout. It was always a podium chance since the field was so small (sometimes, there was nobody in some age groups). I ran it twice. First time, I ended up being in the largest and most competative AG and finished 5/7 (and I would have podiumed in any other AG). The next year, I was 15 minutes slower, but my AG didn’t show up. I finished 1st of 3 people (everyone got on the podium). Got a small framed certificate that I Still prize. But the real prize was qualifying fur USA Triathlon Nationals Age Group Championship (automatic invite to anyone who wins their Age Group at a sanctioned event). Only time I ever qualified for anything…

      • That’s cool. It does suck to see a race you like go away (I’ve got another post coming up on that). And that’s funny about AGs having drastically different times. At my race I would have won the Men’s 30-34 AG (way younger than me) but would have come in 9th for the Men’s 50-54 AG (older than me). So I shall enjoy my “Rubik’s Cube” which is totally falling apart at this point.

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