Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race report

After my 5k a few weeks ago, I was planning to back off racing that distance until we had some better weather.  But I got a lot of encouragement to do a few more, even if they’re just for fun, and use it as speed work. So at the last minute this week, I came across another 5k near our house and signed up.

My goals:

  • Stay positive and have fun!
  • Hold back just a little in the first mile
  • Maintain a steady pace
  • Break 21 minutes

I knew it was going to be hot and humid again, but since it’s been consistently warm the last two weeks, I was hoping my body would be more prepared.  I stepped outside and was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of a breeze masking the 72 degrees and 99% humidity.  I jogged almost 2 miles to the start line, barely breaking a sweat and feeling encouraged.  What a difference from the last 5k, where I was already struggling to breathe in the warm up jog!

As we lined up, I tried guessing who would be a good pacer.  I’m always amazed at how difficult it is to gauge this!  All body types and sizes were lined up behind the 6 minute pacer, and I could only pinpoint one all-muscle girl who looked like she would fly!

As we took off, I purposely held myself back to find a comfortable pace, a lesson I learned after sprinting out in the last 5k and feeling zapped 1/2 way through.  I gradually increased my pace and found a group of similarly paced runners as we thinned out.  Success! Mile one beeped at 6:34.  This was really close to the time of my first mile last time, but I felt so much fresher and stronger.

Another perk to this race- there were 2,000 runners (as opposed to 200+ in the last one) so there were a lot more people (and spectators) to distract me and keep it interesting. I focused on two or three women ahead of me, and tried to catch them one by one.  That solid muscle girl was no where to be seen.  Having people in sight really helped me push myself to hold the pace.  Mile two was a few seconds slower, but still where I wanted it, 6:42.

As we started the last mile, I found myself using spinning cues and positive coaching messages (“keep your upper body relaxed, feel the rhythm, push hard-you’ve got this!”) They are so engrained in me right now! I knew I could hit my sub-21 goal if I held the pace.  Mile three was actually my fasted mile at 6:32.

The course was nice and flat until the final tenth mile, when we went up and over a bridge and down to the finish line.  There were finally lots of people cheering and I used their energy to sprint the remaining stretch at 6:17 pace.

Final chip time- 20:46 (6:40 average pace)

That’s 23 seconds faster than the race two weeks ago.  I’ll take it! It made such a difference to go in with less pressure on myself.  I was even thinking of ignoring my Garmin and running on feel, but I did check it at each mile and probably at least twice between miles.  My cheering squad:

I heard L and daddy at the finish, and was informed I was the second overall woman (behind Muscle-girl who ran a 6:05 pace!), and first in my age group.  So we hung around for the awards (a medal) and then they headed home on the bike and I finished my (not very) long run day with another 5 miles, for a total of 10.  I still felt strong and finished the last 3 miles at 7:46, 7:42 and 7:32.

Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to keep trying! This was only my 3rd 5k (ever), so I definitely feel like I’m learning a lot from each one, and I’m starting to understand the joy of racing this distance!


75 thoughts on “Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race report

  1. great job! I knew with a little cooler temps you could easily get sub 21! I think with some speed work you could definitely get a sub 20 5k! The 5k is a tough race so congrats to you!
    stephanie recently posted..Girls on the Run 5kMy Profile

    • Thank you, Stephanie! It is a tough race… I’m still learning a lot. It means a lot that you have confidence in my ability. I’d love to hit sub-20, but would definitely need to ramp up the speed work! I’m not doing a whole lot of it right now. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile

  2. Great job and congrats on breaking 21 min! I am not a 5K person and rarley run them, I would much rather run slower for longer then short and fast 🙂
    Jen recently posted..Running soloMy Profile

  3. Congratulations! That is an insanely fast time! And it sounds like you felt strong the entire race. Great job!

  4. Yes sub-20 is just waiting to happen for you! Congrats on a great, speedy race Laura! Isn’t it funny how you can never really size up peeps at the starting line? Guess you were right about muscle girl though. Ha! : D
    Marcia recently posted..Race Report: Wisconsin Half MarathonMy Profile

  5. What a great race! I am so motivated to start running 5Ks now!!! I still need to figure out how to run faster. My lil legs are so used to running marathon pace! You are incredible! Keep up the awesome work!
    Kelly recently posted..Marathon Training Week 14My Profile

    • Meanwhile, I’m living through you and your marathon training! Yes- it is a switch to find that faster pace and hold it. I’m not sure what the secrets are… I’d say sign up for several and let your legs practice getting the hang of it!
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile

  6. Wow, you rocked it! Good job on the new PR! That’s awesome! I think I need to sign up for more 5ks; they are a nice challenge for something other than distance. I have never run a 5k that had pacers though. That’s pretty cool! In fact, many of my races don’t have pacers, but I tend to stick with the smaller ones!
    Travel Spot recently posted..What I Learned (2): The RelayMy Profile

    • Thanks, Kyria! They are a nice challenge… I’ve stayed away from 5k’s for a long time, but am learning to embrace them. I was a little unclear about the pacers– there were folks holding 5mm, 6mm, 7mm signs, but I don’t think they actually ran as pacers, it was just to line people up appropriately.
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile

    • Thanks, Lindsay! Yes- I hear you- it’s hard to do it all. I’ve gotten more interested in strength training too, but then it has to take a back seat when I want to race well. If you put the work in, you could definitely break 25 minutes!
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile

    • I didn’t think I had it in me, but I think logging lots of long runs this winter helped make the faster pace in short runs feel a lot easier. I was bummed I didn’t get to run a marathon this spring, so the 5k’s have given me something to focus on!
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile


    You are living proof that sticking with a goal and working for it, practicing, evaluating and using your mind can make a dream come true! Can’t wait to see how you do in the next one 🙂

    Loved the photos with the cheer squad too. 5k is the perfect race distance to cheer for- off the track.
    Raina recently posted..Eugene Marathon* full reportMy Profile

  8. What an incredible race! This was so inspiring to me, for so many reasons. I am getting ready to race a 5k on Saturday and am hoping to break 21 minutes too. Your splits are incredible – I want to nail mine the same way! I will think of you on Saturday and remember to give myself strong encouraging messages that I CAN do this!! 🙂 I love your blog – so happy to be reading it 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks, Jessica! It’s funny, I started reading your blog right before your marathon and was living vicariously through you, since I opted to pull out of an April marathon after missing several weeks of training because of a silly twisted ankle. And I had been hoping for a 3:35ish, too. 🙂 You definitely have the sub-21 in you! I found that it took me a couple tries to find my 5k legs, but I have a feeling you’ll nail it on Saturday… can’t wait to hear about it!
      Laura recently posted..Last minute 5k- Sprint 4 Life race reportMy Profile

  9. You didn’t just break 21:00, you killed it!! Great job!! I love that your last mile was the fastest! You are getting faster and faster so quickly. I *may* run a 5k this weekend and I will definitely be thinking about your pacing strategy here!!
    Corey recently posted..What Triathlon has Taught me about RunningMy Profile

  10. Pingback: May recap | Mommy, run fast!

Comments are closed.