A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I Hate 5Ks

Sitting on the couch watching the traditional Detroit Lions game, I am questioning my decision to run the 8th annual Turkey Rock Trot 5K. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurts and even my brain hurts. During the race I kept trying to tell myself the pain was only temporary but the fact is I am still hurting and probably will be for the rest of the day.

Me (at left), my brother Jon (right)
and nephew Alex (center)
looking pretty confident before the race.
The thing that hurts the most though is I didn't even run a particularly fast race (my unofficial time was 24:50 according to my Garmin Forerunner 410). My 8:00/mile pace was almost half-a-minute per mile slower my last race that covered twice the distance (10K) and only slightly faster than my last half marathon (13.1 miles).

I could blame the altitude (Castle Rock sits at about 6,400 ft.) but that last half marathon was in Denver (the Mile High City at 5,280 ft.). I could blame the weather but it was a fairly pleasant morning in the 40s with very little wind, similar to that 10K in North Dakota. I could blame it on a tough course but it's actually pretty flat and not particularly challenging. It just doesn't add up.

Maybe I'm just sore that I didn't reach my goal to break 24:00 and set a new 5K PR. I was battling a lot of mental "can't" during the race. My splits tell the story. I ran the first mile in 7:34, right on the pace I wanted to run today, and it's the toughest mile on the course. But for some reason I couldn't hold that pace and slowed to 8:06 in mile two.

I was just telling my brother and nephew that I got discouraged when I saw the 2K sign. "Only 1.2 miles?" I thought, "Not even halfway. I can't run this fast for another 2 miles." Then I got irritated. "Why do they have K markers instead of mile markers? We aren't in Europe!"

My brother just told me he got discouraged when a guy in an elf costume passed him. Funny how we let silly things discourage us. Thinking back I should have just set my sights on reaching the 3K marker and celebrating being over halfway. Instead I slowed down.

Here we are post-race, trying to mask the pain with a smile :)
By the time we made the turn towards home with about one mile to go I knew I would have to run a 7:30 mile to break 24:00. Instead, I slowed to 8:24 in the third mile before sprinting the final one-tenth of a mile to the finish line. To be honest, for much of that last mile I was thinking about walking, but I never did. 

I hate finishing a race feeling like I didn't give it my all. Seems like that happens to me every time I run a 5K. That's why I hate 5Ks. Short races require you to run all out for the entire race. To do that you have to push through the pain and negative thoughts that come with it. The devil on my shoulder got the best of me today.

While I didn't reach my goal I didn't quit either. I crossed the finish line ahead of everyone who didn't run the race :)

Ride on!


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