Chasing Down a Fast 5k- The Risk That Didn’t Pay Off

Racing Tips

I told you a few weeks ago that I got lost in the Indy Women’s 5k. Both Steve and I were incredibly frustrated, as we knew we had the perfect opportunity right there. I felt good, I was ready to go, and we had a great course to do it on. However, as you already know, that did not happen.

We spent most of the drive home looking for races for me to do the following weekend. Lexington is not exactly running central, so we knew our chances were slim, but with both Cincinnati (still have to check the spelling of that every time!) and Louisville within 1.5 hours of us, that gave us a bit of hope.

We looked at so many websites, desperately trying to figure out if any of these races would fit the criteria we needed:

-Flat

-As few turns as possible

-Organized (bigger the better)

-USATF certified

-(Bonus) Fast results from previous years

Each race seemed to have its own pros and cons, although we knew deep down that none of these were going to be ideal. We had our ideal opportunity, and that had not worked out. This was a risk, we knew that, but we thought it was worth a try. I HAD to get some kind of real evidence that I was running well.

We decided upon the Run for the Generations 5k, and we planned out the week from there. The race was on Sunday, so I would long run (19) Monday, work out Thursday, and race Sunday. It looked good, and it also meant we could get a good week of training in.

However, we could not get through to the race director no matter how hard we tried. There was no course online, and we had no idea whether this was going to be a course I could realistically run fast on. On Wednesday, I finally got through to the race director. He said that there was a different race going on in Cinci that weekend that was a faster course, and encouraged me to run the Seth Mitchell 5k instead. We took his advice, and decided it was worth a try as it was on the Miami Trail, which we have done workouts on before. The other race location was in a cemetery, and it looked as though there were not only lots of turns, but some hills too.

This led to a problem. We could not go a week without a hard workout, so we had to work out on Thursday, even if that meant backing off a little. So that is what we did, we changed the plan, and I did a lighter workout on Thursday. But my problem is that I do not do light workouts very well. I blew the times Steve recommended out of the water, even finishing my last 400 in a 72. I felt strong, but I worried I had taken some out of the race, especially on Friday when I felt really tired.

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Steve was away with his Morehead State runners in Virginia, so at 7am on Saturday I left for Loveland. Thankfully the race was at 11am, so I did not have to leave too early. I arrived in about 1hr 35 mins, and let the race officials know that I was planning on running, and hoping to run fast. I ran the course on my warmup, so I knew exactly where I was going (never gonna let that happen again!!), and got to the startling.

What was apparent was that the purpose of this race was not for world record times. Not that there is anything wrong with that, in fact, I thought it was very touching and almost beautiful how passionate this town were about celebrating the life of a fallen soldier. It seemed like it was a very special day for the town, and I enjoyed being a part of it.

Captain Seth Mitchell was killed in action in 2009
Captain Seth Mitchell was killed in action in 2009

The gun went off, and I out sprinted some kids to the first corner (as you do :P). There were two high school boys in front of me, but I had a feeling I was going to end up in the lead. The first 1 mile had ten 90 degree turns, not exactly ideal, but I knew the rest of the way was an out and back on an old railroad, so I could make up time. I ended up going through the mile in 5:15 (I know this by looking AFTER, during, I ran by feel). Looking back, that was probably a bit too fast for the amount of turns. Steve said that was more like a fartlek than getting into a rhythm, which as you know, is my strong suit.

By 1.25 miles in, I was in the lead, and powering ahead, but it was not long before I started to feel sorry for myself. I have not felt like this for a while, but I felt tired, and I was breathing a lot harder than i was last week. I think the Russian girl being ahead of me last week gave me something to focus on, I was distracted, but this time, all I had was myself and pushing myself hard. I could tell I backed off the pace, but I was still breathing very hard.

Another aspect I had not accounted for was how much the 180 degree turn around a cone was going to hurt. Steve had tried to warn me about this, but I had not listened. I knew how a turn around a cone feels. Turns out a cone turnaround in a half or full marathon is a whole lot different to a turn in a 5k!

The final .1 of the race had three 90 degree turns, one of which I almost ran into a walker who was not looking. As I turned the final corner I felt incredibly disappointed to see the time. I know I shouldn’t be, 16:53 is a fast time, but I know I am better than that right now, and it just made me upset again about losing out on last week.

Overall, the Seth Mitchell 5k was a great community event. I had a lot of fun, and they were very helpful to make sure I had everything I needed. I also won a $25 gift card to the local running store which was nice. Unfortunately I missed the awards ceremony as I had another 8 miles including 10×1 minute hard before I could be done for the day to round out an 88 mile week. Those were a struggle, which gave me some comfort that I had at least worked hard enough for the day, but of course they were mostly just painful 😛

I know I did not get the result I wanted, and those of you who saw my Instagram post after the race will maybe understand the struggle. Sometimes you feel like you never get the result you “deserve”, but that is what running is all about; persevering when most get ready to give up. Like a documentary I once watched said, most people give up just as the seed is about to break the surface to grow into a beautiful flower, so the root goes back down, and you have to start again.

This is another one of those moments, but at least we know we won’t have to wonder what if, we tried.

[bctt tweet=”Read how elite runner @tinamuir handles a disappointing race, great lessons to learn from” via=”no”]

What is a race you have completed where you were disappointed?

Ps. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, as I went on my own, I did not get a single picture (once again shows you how small this race was….there were no race photos!!) But in case you want more photos, here is what I ate after the run. If you are in Cincinnati anytime soon, GO to the Bon Bonerie, it is AMAZING!

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Brie and Ham Panini with Habenero Jam, I devoured it!

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One of the best slices of cake I have ever had! The Opera Cream Cake.

Just cause really, thats all you are interested in about this post….well, I know thats all I really care about 😉 Just kidding….kinda 🙂

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23 Comments.

  • I love reading about your races and your insights into how they felt since Im NOT a racerrunner. One word for you: memoir. Have you thought about writing one??

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    September 30, 2015 5:29 am

    Awesome job, although Im sorry you didn’t have the outcome you wanted. I hate sharp turns in races! Its awesome that you practiced racing and had a chance to push yourself….plus you got to eat that cake!!!

  • That cake looks delicious 🙂 I don’t mind the lack of photos, I am very interested in the words! So sorry you didn’t finish as you hoped, I understand the feeling. You will totally get it next time! I am upset for you too from the week before, that is still so frustrating.

  • I felt your pain though out this post and I’m just so sorry. I can’t imagine how you feel but I’ve definitely had those disappointing races where I knew I could do better and it really stings. But, like you said, you just need to keep pushing onward. I bet a nice fun weekend with a group of pretty amazing ladies will help you in that endeavor 🙂
    PS – 88 miles is freakin’ amazing. AMAZING.

  • I’m tired just reading this post! You’re an incredible athlete. Keep focusing on your goals. You’re so capable and will reach them! Also, can you send some of that cake to me in China? 😉

  • I’m sorry to hear about the race Tina. I kind of feel similar to you right now. I have been training hard but I have not gotten the results that I would like. I know you will bounce back and get to where you want too soon. 180 degree turns are one of my least favorite things about races.

  • So much in life is about not getting what you feel you deserve and pushing on to the next. But you still have to know that you ran a strong race, worked out some mental kinks, and you will be better primed for next time!

  • Jen@milesandblessings.com
    September 30, 2015 9:15 am

    You had an amazing race even with hard conditions…but I know how you
    feel when you don’t have the race you want. I actually know really well.
    I feel like I don’t race well and am not really sure why. I sort of
    feel like maybe I work really hard in training and so my race times are
    about the same as training. They actually at times are worse. I really
    haven’t actually figured it out, but it can be frustrating. For example I
    did a hard workout last Wednesday that was 7 miles between 10k and 1/2
    pace. I ran a 10k pr in that workout and felt great. I also came through
    5k in 20:08 and my pr is 19:45. I ended up doing a last minute night 5k
    in my town Friday night and ran it in 20:35…I wasn’t really that
    disappointed…I was 1st female, it was a night race and I had that hard
    workout, but I wish it had felt easier! My breathing was labored and it
    felt terrible! I felt dead by the end as opposed to Wed when I felt
    strong.

  • Those turnaround cones are THE. WORST. I always feel like my ACL is going to spring off out of my knee and bounce off the pavement. I understand your frustration about the race. You’ll get it next time! No doubt.

  • I imagine the sharp turns are way harder when running at your speed. Sorry your race was disappointing. I love to be part of races that honor someone who has passed or who is struggling. Gives it more meaning for me

  • Sounds like a tough race with that turn around and not having the perfect course. Well done for a fantastic time anyway, though I know it’s not what you wanted.
    Anyway the important part of this post is CLEARLY the cake. OMG OMG OMG!

  • Although I am no where near the paces you run, I had a similar feeling in my 5k last weekend with not enough distractions in a small race and I was too aware of my breathing and began second guessing myself, I’m working too hard, blah, blah, blah. Thanks for reassuring me that this is normal! Bummer that you didn’t get the time you wanted even though you KNOW it’s in there!!

  • Martina Di Marco
    September 30, 2015 10:47 am

    First of all, congrats on your race. It might not have been the race you “deserve,” but you still gave it your all and tried your best. When I have a bad race/workout, the first thing I ask myself is: “Did I try my best? Did I give it all I had?” If the answer to that is yes, then I’m at peace. If it’s no, then I learn from the experience and try to do better the next time.
    You also mentioned breathing hard+a 11 am-start time. I think it is possible that the weather conditions were less than ideal (too hot) to race at your full potential.

    Onward and upword now! The race you deserve is right around the corner, I’m 100% sure of that!

  • Nice work girl! Yes I think all runners know that feeling! Love your transparency and so cool to hear what goes on in the mind of a super fast talented elite like yourself!! I enjoy the challenge of the marathon and am ramping back up for my next 50k in 2016 but I still love something about the 5k distance and being in that zone. Incredible!

  • Congratulations on your win and what you did accomplish, even if you didn’t meet all your goals and struggled to find a new race. I can imagine it’s hard for an elite runner to find a 5K to race because even though there are multiple 5Ks each weekend, many are charity events. Budgets are small and organizers may or may not be runners, so a lot of times the courses aren’t certified or correct. I’ve run 2.95 mile “5Ks”, and I’ve had friends who ran 3.5 mile “5Ks”…

    Sometimes it’s really difficult to run fast in a small race just because there aren’t a ton of people to pick off or pace from. Most races I run are small charity 5Ks like this one, and I’ve run a few with only 50-100 runners and it’s easy to get distracted on the course and let your mind wander. That might be okay in a half or full but in a 5K, you have to be on your A game constantly! I prefer 300-500 people in my 5Ks and always do better with a crowd even if it’s hotter conditions!

    I too am frustrated sometimes with training so hard for mediocre times, but I’m being patient. I know that one day it will pay off!

  • Your race reports are great to read and you write about them so well. You also take great foodie pictures 😉 Wow, that sandwich looks worth running a marathon for! Well done on your race, though sorry to hear about your frustrations at not being able to finish in a faster time. Keep going, you’re awesome and all this will only make you stronger (like Saucony say!). I trained really hard last year to run a sub 4 hr marathon but on the day, I went out too fast & my quads just seized up completely at 16 miles & I finished in 4.06. It was marathon day & I should’ve been feeling on top of the world but I just felt disappointed, like I should’ve done better. This year, I’m more relaxed about running & just enjoying it again 🙂

  • I feel your pain and frustration about not getting the outcome you wanted. I admire your positive attitude so much – the race you deserve will come! I had a disappointing race earlier this year and it does sting, even if the time is good on paper. That cake looks amazing – Cincinnati has so many good places to eat!

  • Ten 90 degree turns in the first mile? It’s like a chapter of maze runner! Are you not still going to continue to work on speed through the fall to the end of the year?

    I know your struggle with trying to find a flat & fast 5k at the moment. I had a major goal time setback at a 5k on the weekend, and was disappointed that I didn’t know it was actually OFF ROAD until I got there! Lol in not doing light training workouts well too, I feel your pain there 😉

    I’d appreciate hearing what your thoughts are on tapering – whether you run over or under base mileage – leading into a 5k. As I can’t really find any advice out there, all blogs/articles focusing on faster times are geared towards marathons. It’s frustrating not being able to find 5k advice and tips that are aimed at anything more than a beginner level runner. Also, you mentioned you wouldn’t run a course as a warm up again, why was that a bad idea?

  • You worked so hard and I totally know that feeling that you had more in you if the situation or course were different. You still did an incredible job, even if it wasn’t what you wanted!

  • Oh, my gosh, Tina…I definitely remember seeing the pic of this slice of cake on IG; I guess that IS all I care about, right? HA! That was a tough situation in which to try for a 5K time that would have been indicative of your current fitness; I think you deserve a do-over on that one. Way to go and congrats for getting through it with a positive attitude!

  • As you said, at least you don’t have to wonder what if. Kudos for trying. (and oh, that cake!)

  • I ran a 20 mile training run on the Miami Trail last summer! My Dad lives in Dayton and you can pick up the trail there as well. It goes along the river and there are some really beautiful parts. I know about working so hard and then having a disappointing race. 3rd times a charm and next race you will nail it. 🙂
    I’m drooling over the cake!!

  • So tell me why a turnaround hurts. Do you mean it literally hurts or is hard. I know they suck no matter what but just curious. That sounds like a lot of turns too!! Great job racing those high schoolers 😉

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