MY FIRST 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.
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?
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, although rather short. Even though the race was only 5K, it was comprised of 2 loops. So the second time around you were lapping some of the slowers runners.
So I did my two short laps and staggered across the finish line feeling sweaty yet quite satisfied. But wait, there’s more!
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 falling apart as soon as I stepped off the podium. Oh well, still a nice gesture.
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?