My Second 5K Bombed

It’s been almost a year since I ran my first 5K. That one was such an ego boost, I think I was almost afraid to run another, for fear that I wouldn’t be able to improve upon that one.

The funny thing was, I didn’t do a single thing to train for that — except run semi-regularly for a year or two. I had no strategy, but I ran it in 29.03.91.

My goal was to get it under 30.

For the past year, I have worked out with a personal trainer (TRX and weight lifting) and I have been running fairly regularly — usually 3-4 miles 2-4 times a week. I time myself and have learned more about pacing, but I still run about a 10 minute mile on a good day. I haven’t really been able to increase my pace, but I know I wasn’t habitually running a 9-minute mile before that last one so I hoped that the adrenaline of another race would help get me to my new goal — anything under 29 minutes would have made me sing and dance in the streets.

When I saw the Bringing Hope Home STOMPS CANCER 5K, I immediately decided to run it. I am all for stomping cancer, and I thought it would be fun to run in downtown West Chester.

I created a PSMM team, and 5 of my friends joined me, which made it super fun.

I’ve been timing myself and trying to push myself to get stronger and faster. I really wanted to finish this race under 29 minutes.

There were a few unknowns with this race — the most significant one being that it was an evening race. I always, always run in the mornings. And my first (and only) 5K was a morning race. There is a theory that you are warmed up and can run faster in the evening, and I hoped that would be the case for me.

We arrived early and registered. Here we are, all pumped up and ready to go!

psmm 5k

I debated and decided to run in my Nike Frees rather than my Vibrams, although I brought both. I was afraid of tripping and I’ve had some nagging plantar fasciitis that my trainer thinks might be due to the lack of support in the Vibrams so she advised me to run in the Nikes. I am much more comfortable running in the Vibrams, but I was afraid of not having enough support… it was a toss up, but I’d totally do it differently if I could go back and do it again.

I used my Jogger app to keep track of my time. It isn’t a fancy Garmin that tells me my pace every step of the way, but it does let me know every mile how I’m doing. I tried to pace myself and not run too fast to start.

I ran the first mile in about 9.40. I had been warned not to run the first one faster than 10 minutes, but it is hard to pace yourself, and I thought I was doing okay.

I crossed the half-way mark and it clocked me at 14.40. I was thrilled. I was right on the mark! I kept plugging along.

At the second mile, my Jogger app announced my time at 19.30 (or thereabouts.) If I could bang out a 9-minute mile for the third, then I’d be good to go!

I started passing people and was trying to pump it out for mile three. I thought I was right on target. I was getting tired, but I kept up my pace (or so I thought.)

When I turned the last corner and started down the home stretch, the friendly voice on my Jogger app spoke to me.

Three miles. Thirty minutes, 20 seconds.


I looked at the hill ahead of me, and I could see the clock at the finish line. I could barely make out the numbers 3-0. I knew then that I’d blown it.

The hill was steep, and I was tired and felt I had no reason to push myself at that point. I stopped and walked for a few seconds, but vanity got the better of me so I ran the last few yards and crossed the finish line. I wasn’t even sure what my final time was, but I didn’t much care.

Then the rest of the gang came pouring in. It was SO much fun running a race with friends, and even though I was disappointed with my personal performance, I enjoyed the camaraderie, and I was proud of Steph for running through her knee pain and for Heather for running her first ever 5K after just starting training a few weeks ago.

As for me . . . it was a long ride home. The kid were bickering in the backseat, and I was disappointed in my performance. Once home, my legs and feet hurt and I couldn’t seem to relax. I’ve never run in the evening, and I can’t say this experience made me a fan.

I’ve been thinking about the race ever since. Was it the evening race? Was it the shoes? Am I just destined to run this pace forever, and that’s all there is too it?

I know that my pace is nothing to be ashamed of. I get that. I am so grateful that I am healthy and strong and fit and that I can run.

So very grateful.

When the race started, after we heard from the founder of Bringing Hope Home — a man who  lost his young wife to cancer — I thought of the two young mom friends I have lost to cancer this summer, and I dedicated that race to them. I know how blessed I am just to be here.

And yet, I admit that this has really put a damper on my enthusiasm for running. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t at least match my first pace — a year later, after working out consistently for most of that time. I came home feeling like quitting running forever.

I know I won’t, but I had to have a little pity party before getting my head back in the game.

Robin threw out the idea of a redemption race, and I’m tempted. I think I need to run another race right away and {hopefully} get my confidence back.

I can tell you this much. The next race I run — if there’s a next one — will not be in the evening. And I’ll be wearing Vibrams.