Hi everyone! Last week I decided to sign up last minute for the Alaska Sea Life Center’s 5k Wildlife Rescue Run on Saturday. It’s one of only 2 5Ks held in Seward all year, and I originally was bummed I couldn’t run it because I had to work. The proceeds help rescue and rehabilitate sea animals in the Seward area and since my company works pretty closely with the Sea Life Center I was sad I couldn’t help out. Last week my manager brought it up and asked me if I was running it. I said of course not, since I had to work. She then told me she’d give me some time off during the day to run it since she knows how much I love running! At first I was really excited since I haven’t run a 5K since April. But as the race day approached I realized that while I’ve been running a lot of long runs lately, I’m not really prepared for a fast and short 5K.
The race started at 12:00 pm at the Sea Life Center and followed my usual waterfront running route out to the harbor and back again. I did not like having a mid-day race because I’d already eaten breakfast and had no idea how to fuel for a race at that time of day! I ended up eating my usual pre-race oatmeal at 10:30 since I felt weird breaking my race day food tradition. It was a beautiful day for a race, although a bit warm (68 degrees!) and sunny since it was already noon. I usually run at night when it’s cooler! The race was run really well and there was tons of crowd support from both Alaska Sea Life Center employees and tourists who happened to be camping along the waterfront trail. The finish line area was also decorated with chalk art congratulating us on finishing which was so cute!
The entire race my stomach was hurting and I was so hot. I would have given anything for some shade! I can honestly say I pushed as hard as I could but I still didn’t manage to break 30 minutes by a few seconds as usual. My time got me in the top 75% of finishers, which was pretty good considering the fact that the entire front row at the starting line was made up of teenage track stars who were doing sprints before the race. As I paced back and forth in the shade after the race to try to cool down and not puke, I realized something: I don’t think I really like 5ks. Why?
- I’m not fast. And I hate trying to run fast. It’s stressful and painful and my body hates it. I can run a 10:00/mile pace no problem, but anything under that causes my stomach to hurt and my breathing to be all over the place.
- Everyone else is fast, and the race is so short that you don’t ever get the chance to catch up. In half marathons you can start off slow and then pass lots of people at the end, but that’s rarely the case with a 5K. It’s so mentally difficult pushing through the fact that you’re being passed by so many people that you won’t ever catch up to.
- You have no time to enjoy the scenery or live in the moment. You have to push so hard that you can’t take any time to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
- It’s so hard to turn off all the negative “You need to slow down NOW” thoughts going through my brain. When I only have a short amount of time to fight them off I find that I can’t do it. I always try to stay positive but when my Garmin is telling me to hurry up or I won’t get there under 30 minutes yet again I just kind of shut down. In case you couldn’t tell, I stress over time goals!
- They sound easy in theory – I mean, I run 3 miles a few times a week so how hard can it be? But for some reason my body freaks out when it’s in a 5K situation and it seems so much harder than a regular 3 mile run at the exact same pace! It’s kind of depressing that a 5K can tire me out so much after all of the long runs and half marathons I’ve been through.
There are some things I like about 5Ks – the excited new runners that are running their first race, the cute race shirts (that I have way too many of), the fact that they are so popular and I can usually find one to run whenever I have the urge to challenge myself, and the fun themes that some of them have. Everyone has their favorite race distance, and for me that’s currently half marathons. Even though I used to love signing up for 5Ks when I first started running, I no longer really enjoy them the way I used to and I’m looking for other races right now. I’m also kind of bitter about not hitting my sub-30 goal yet again (I’ve only done it once), but I don’t really feel like training for that right now. Maybe after Beat The Blerch I’ll be more willing to try that out. For now, I’m going to stick with my longer distances and focus on running long, happy runs!
What’s your least favorite race distance? Do you like 5Ks? Would you rather run fast or run long?