When I began training with a coach at the start of this year, it was with the medium term goal of training for the Surfer’s Path Marathon in May. When previously training for marathons on my own, I would run 5K and 10K distances but usually never encorporate races into my training for any distance less than a half marathon. This time, however, my coach had other plans.
She recommended that I do 5K and 10K races. First, she wanted me to run the 5K distance to see what my maximum pace was (meaning: how fast could I push myself without overdoing it). Then she would have me run a 10K at a pace determined from the max pace I ran in the 5K.
This was a new experience for me. I’ve always had distance as my main goal of running, not speed. I was learning, from my coach and from running media at large, that in order to reach those distance goals, one has to pepper their training with speed work.
I found the Fitness for Vitality Seattle Run race series that had 5K and 10K races perfectly aligned with my schedule with each race roughly a month apart. Each race had entries for 5K and 10K distances. I signed up for a 5K (The Resolution Run) in January and a 10K (The Revolution Run) in February.
First, about the race itself: for a race of its size, it’s very well organized and had a very positive vibe. It’s small and very family friendly. It’s so awesome to see so many kids in the race. The race announcer, in the last two races at least, was very funny and did a great job of getting everyone psyched for the race (which wasn’t easy given that temperatures were so frigid). Luckily the beautiful surroundings of Seward Park and Lake Washington helped as well to distract from the fact you’re standing out in the cold. Lastly, the flatness of the course is welcome to any new runner or longtime runner looking to set a new personal record.
The course for the 5K is a simple hairpin course in the Seward Park Peninsula and a double hairpin for the 10K. There is an aid station with water and gatorade at the 1.5 mile mark and a table at the finish line loaded with the usual post race fare such as bananas and water (but also includes PB&J sandwiches, how extravagant!). The race is chip-timed, which is great for such a small race, and the results are posted promptly. All in all, no complaints. I would definitely run this race again. Especially if I want to set another PR time.
Which brings me to my personal experience. The 5K in January was my first time running that distance for time. I did really well, running at an average 7:13 min/mile pace. Getting 8th in the 5K for the male finishers overall!
I learned something from that race. The 5K distance can be intense. And running it for time is hard. Since it’s a shorter distance, your energy is concentrated in a faster pace. I now see why I shunned speed for distance. Distance is all about building a lower threshold of endurance over a longer period of time. Speed is about being able to build up a lot more endurance and gradually increasing the amount of time. No wonder I need to coach to keep me to task.
That brings me to the 10K in February. I also did very well in that race, running at an average 7:24 min/mile pace and getting 6th for the male 10K runners. Similar experience to the 5K, endurance-wise. By the end I felt like I had given it my all. It was intense and beyond my comfort zone for sure, but I wasn’t hurting. Even though I did well, this running for time business is something I need to get used to.
They do have an upcoming race, the Evolution Run on March 30th. I won’t be running that one since the next race on my schedule is the Mercer Island Half Marathon this coming weekend. I intend to have a more prompt turnaround on the report for that race…but don’t hold me to it.