“Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.”
—Lauren Fleshman, American distance runner
5k Races Recap
After a disappointing marathon back in February 2022 in Mesa, AZ, I decided to rethink my training plan for 2022. I figured I would have to back track and working on shorter distances in order to get faster at the marathon.
Some reasons that it is beneficial to run shorter races to get faster.
- Increases your aerobic capacity: Training for a short distance like a 5K requires a bit more speedwork and by pushing yourself to run faster for shorter distances helps your body learn to use more oxygen, which increases your aerobic capacity. The more oxygen you can consume, the faster you’ll be able to run for longer. When you eventually get back to marathon training, you’ll find that you can sustain a faster pace over the longer distance than you could before.
- Your running efficiency improves: Doing speedwork will increase your leg speed and help you become more efficient. By performing intervals and faster speeds you get a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles which will teach your body how to clear lactic acid more efficiently. This will ultimately help you in a marathon when you’re running slower and less lactate builds up, because your body will be able to mitigate that smaller amount far more easily.
- Less time consuming: We know marathon training is long and can be draining with the long runs and early mornings adding more hours of training in a week. A few shorter runs and some quality workouts will be more than enough to prepare you for the 5K distance.
So I planned out my race season with a couple 5Ks, a couple half marathons, a 13K, and a 10K (because why not hit all the distances this year).
My first race after my full marathon was the Big House 5K in Ann Arbor, MI. I went to race with a friend. It was so nice to just show up early before the race, grab our packets, and hang out before walking to the start of the race. It was a chilly morning. I ran a 2 mile warm up with some strides beforehand. I wore long sleeves, shorts, and gloves with hand warmers for the race. We all lined up and I definitely had some nerves bouncing around in Corral A with these fast young athletes but when the race start we were all off. Within the first 0.5 mile we were running uphill on State Street. I just tried to go by effort and climb the hill. The race flattened out after that as we ran around Central Campus. There we definitely some pot holes to avoid along the route but I just kept cruising and picking up the pace after the first mile. The last mile we start heading down hill with some rolling up hills to head back to the Big House Michigan Stadium. At this point, I was just trying to hold on as we weave through the parking lot into the Stadium. It is a nice downhill slope into the stadium as we run onto the football field and get to hit the Go Blue banner. I finished with a time of 21:16. I surpassed my goal to break my Turkey Trot 5K time of 22:30. My mile paces were: 7:04/mi ->6:45/mi->6:37/mi. This landed me 2nd female age group winner with free entry to this race next year 🙂 I’ll take it and be cool to see if I can make more improvements. I started training with a coach in the beginning of March and nice to see already after 1.5 months I am seeing some improvements in speed. I cannot wait to see what more there is to come.
My second 5K races was the Tulip Time 5K in Holland, MI. I met up with my running coach, Sara, who came into town. I wasn’t going to turn down a chance to meet up with her and race. It is a bit harder to go visit her in CO as much as I love it out there. Altitude training sounds like an awesome advantage!
We ran a 30 minute shake out run with strides. After a long car ride it was nice to shake the legs out. It definitely felt hard though but I remembered my runs before my last 5K felt pretty bad.
That evening we used the Normatec which are compression massage leg and hip sleeves. Researched does not really show they actually make a difference but they help my legs feel refreshed for training the next day. It was nice to wind down and relax.
In the morning, we fueled before heading out the door to drive from Grand Haven to Holland. I’m glad we left when we did because the parking lots filled up. For being a Tulip race, we really didn’t see any tulips! This race they just gave us numbers in the order we arrived at packet pickup so it was nice to have a number next to Sara!
We did a 20 minute shake out run. It was a bit chilly to start which hopefully was going to be a good sign for a solid race. Sara and I coordinated in our Elevate Your Running tanks. I was wearing pink for the first time ever but I’m ready for some PRs since Pink is for PRs. We changed into our carbo plated shoes, took a gel, lined up at the front of the start line and performed dynamic stretching as we waited for the race to begin. The race began and I just tried to keep Sara in sight. There was a nice downhill at the beginning of the race. I felt great starting but looked down and saw I was going less than 6min/mi and definitely had to back off. The second mile already started hurting after I hear a kind volunteer at Mile 1 shouting out our mile split. I went out too fast and we began an uphill climb during the 2nd mile. At this point I was the fifth female that I saw ahead of me. I was running near the fourth female so I just tried to hold on and try to pass her. I was able to pass her and I had hopes of top 3 so I tried to attempt to catch up to the next chick. In Mile 3, I attempted to pick up the pace and knew I was getting near the end. I felt the burn every where. I guy was running with me and told me “You better not let me pass you” so I just cranked up the speed, a little bit, and made it to the finish. One of the girls ahead of me crossed over to the 10k course so I thought I made top 3 but some ladies that started behind us somehow made it. I ended up being 5th female and 1st in my age group. Sara was 2nd female and 1st in her age group. We got additional medals for our top age group winnings. She broke 20 minutes in the 5k! I got 20:24 which is a new postpartum PR and beat my time from last month! This shows me that I am making improvements and that breaking 20 minutes isn’t too far away hopefully!
Overall this was a fun race! It was larger than I expected and was nice to see what I am capable of. I have to figure out my heart rate as it has been super high for races lately and don’t know if it is a nerves thing, hormones thing, allergies… I am learning how to balance training and racing with my cycles and what I am putting into my body. I am happy with my time but I think more disappointed in how it was executed and really want negative splits. My mile paces were 6:33->6:53->6:42. The last sprint to the finish I hit 5:49 min/mi pace though!
Sara and I walked around Holland to see this Tulip Festival but it was pretty underwhelming. We headed back to Grand Haven for breakfast and mimosas! It has been so beautiful to see Lake Michigan and everything being green. I love Lake Michigan and the West side of Michigan so much.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to race with my friend and coach. Each race is a learning experience and opportunity to see what we are made of to keep improving. On to training for my next race!
What is your next race?
Do you agree Pink is for PRs?