Let’s be real. There’s not a whole lot to say after a 5K. The race is shorter than the warmup, and it’s hard to remember much that happens once you’re in the Pain Cave. (And if you don’t enter within the first few minutes, you’re doing it wrong.)
I’d hoped to squeak under 21 minutes and vanquish the 21:01 high-school PR that’s haunted me since 2003. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I did tons of speedwork last spring and summer—probably too much—and backed off when I couldn’t shake some weird hip and leg pain.
I set out shooting for 6:45 pace, which would put me at 20:59. I ran the first mile in 6:30. I said, “Eek.” But also, “This feels like the right pace.” Then, 6:33, 6:34, and enough of a sprint to the finish to end with an even 6:30 pace.
Now, for a few notes on the 5K (this one, and all of them):
On the B.A.A. 5K course. It’s super fast and flat—there’s a pair of small hills in the third mile, but both ups have equally-sized downs. And the finish line is the same as the marathon’s. Much, much too cool.
On why I haven’t raced a 5K since 2010. I hate having to be so thorough about warming up, and timing it so I’m not cold again by the start stresses me out. And the “release the hounds” chaos of a large 5K start is even worse, with its high potential for falling and getting trampled. (To the gentleman I accidentally tripped up a bit while cutting through the crowd: I apologize. And “gentleman” may be the wrong word for someone who drops as many F-bombs as you did.)
On why I should maybe race more 5Ks. They’re the one distance I really can run by feel. I have a knack for determining the right level of hurt for this distance. It was probably all the practice in high school.
On how short they feel after 11 marathons. I was feeling rough just after the second mile ended. I hung on, and suddenly, we were turning onto Hereford, less than a half mile from the finish. It came up so quickly, I thought the course was measured wrong. (It wasn’t.)