The 5k Flop

It’s definitely more fun to write about the races where everything clicked! Saturday’s 5k was not that kind of race, and those days come.  So rather than pretend it didn’t happen, I’ll share the details and hopefully learn from a few mistakes for next time.

This race was two weeks out from the NYC half pr.  I wasn’t feeling all the bounce/pep back in my step yet in my weekday runs but was hopeful that I’d feel good on Saturday.

Based on the half, I knew that a sub-20 was possible if everything went as planned.  My coach also sent me a pacing plan and confirmed that sub 20 should be doable.

On race morning, I had a few stomach issues.  I’m not sure why this seems to happen for the 5k and not my big races… more nerves about hitting those fast paces? I was careful to add extra carbs the day before and woke up at 7 to eat two pieces of toast with pb and a banana.  But by 9am after my warm up, I was feeling hungry and a little light headed.  I had a few Honey Stinger chews in the car and grabbed a few of those but I don’t think it was enough to feel good.

It was also so cold and windy! I warmed up with 2 miles and a few strides and felt okay.  Then I snuck inside the gym with all the other runners until it was time to start.

It was a small race… everyone darted out and I held onto my goal starting pace (6:30).  I almost always start too fast.  This time, when I looked down, I was running 6:45s! I had to work a bit to bring my pace down: Mile one- 6:37

I was discouraged that the pace was feeling so hard but told myself it was still possible to make up that time.  I pushed a little harder for mile two, but didn’t make it under 6:30- coming in at 6:36.  Again, the pace felt much faster than that!

By mile 3, I was tired but determined until we turned a corner and had a hill to climb.  It was probably only 1/4 mile but it felt long and steep and it knocked me down mentally… physically too… I actually considered walking, which is so unlike me! I made it to the top but struggled to regain my pace.  We were also running into the wind for mile 3.

There were two runners directly in front of me the entire second half and I focused on following them in- Mile 3 – 7:04. Yikes! That’s slower than my half marathon average!

We turned another corner and I saw the finish line.  Seeing the end helped me sprint it in (6:04) so I clearly had something left in the tank… so I’m not sure if this race flop was physical, mental or a bit of both. Between the wind, the surprise hill, and my fueling issues, it was my slowest in the past year: 20:50.

But to be honest, I wasn’t too discouraged.  I know I can do better.  It was frustrating that nothing “clicked” but I also feel like I gave it what I had today so that’s all I can do! And I didn’t quit on that hill when I really, really wanted to.  🙂

That elusive sub 20 is still taunting me but I’m confident I’ll get there.  We all need some flop races so we can really appreciate the ones that just click!!

Have you had a flop race? Was it physical, mental or both?

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12 thoughts on “The 5k Flop

  1. 5ks are so tough because there isn’t much time to make up if you don’t start out well or have a rough mile. I have definitely had 5ks that were a mental and physical struggle. I’m sure it was also a factor that you just raced a half 2 weeks before. Even after recovering it can still take some time to be ready to race again!

  2. Of course these races happen and they make you realize that it’s nothing you did or didn’t do, it was just an off day and you’re human. I’m positive your next 5K will be better!! Thanks for sharing this because it’s always helpful to know we’re not alone in our race flops 😊

  3. Hmm…for some reason my comment shows Allie’s post. It was a good one, but it’s not mine. 🙂

  4. I’ll take your flop race…you can have mine!! I had a flop half where everything was going amazing and I was right on pace until about mile 11 when ALL THE WHEELS fell off! It was all fueling….I tried new fuel (rookie mistake) and my stomach was none too pleased!

  5. Flop days happen – and whether they are off days or a learning experience, they are part of running! I’m positive you are going to have a strong 5K and get your goal soon. The wind is no small matter on race day either, especially when running that fast.

  6. Argh, the flop run! I’ve definitely been there. It’s always frustrating when you want to give more but your body won’t let you. I wouldn’t call my first marathon a flop, but I was a little bummed that I couldn’t hit the paces I was hoping for thanks to a lot of wind and some surprise GI issues! I can’t wait to see you hit sub-20 in the 5K!
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