Posts Tagged ‘5K’

Five years ago I first ran the local school district’s Turkey Trot 5K. (Five years ago? How can that be?!) I couldn’t run it again until now because the date always conflicted with my fall marathon training. But it fit in nicely this year since my next marathon is not until February 4, the Death Valley Marathon. I didn’t train specifically for a 5K and I only tapered two days for this race, so I didn’t have a great idea of what I should set for my race goal. It’s a hilly course so I knew I couldn’t expect to come close to my 5K PR of 22:19 set at the Downtown Anaheim 5K over a year ago, but I at least wanted to beat my time from the 2011 Turkey Trot, 24:37, and I hoped to come in under 24 minutes.

It was a gorgeous morning for racing. Cool but not cold, sunny but not blinding.


292 finishers participated in this lovely neighborhood race.

The junior high choir sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, and then promptly at 8 a.m. we set off with the sound of the blow horn. So many youngsters took off at a blistering pace and my job in the beginning was not to trample any little kids. You would think I would learn not to get swept up in the excitement and go out too fast with them, but when I first checked my Garmin the pace said something in the 6 minute mile range! Oops. I reined it in over the rest of the mile and the mile splits for the race ended up being 7:39, 8:02, and 7:57. Maybe someday I’ll master 5K pacing and not suffer so much in the 2nd and 3rd miles!

I raced the big finish line clock down the home stretch to come in just under 24 minutes as I hoped. My Garmin said 23:56. But then I checked the official race results and my time said 24:07. So unsatisfying! That’s the problem with races that are not chip timed, I guess. I shouldn’t care so much, but I do, so I ended up writing the timing company to ask why my result didn’t match the finish line clock (I don’t expect my result to match my Garmin, but I do expect it to come within a few seconds of what the finish line clock said). At any rate, I was happy with my effort in the race and pleased to win 1st in my age group out of 20 women ages 40-49 (I am 45).


The first place medal came with $15 in gift certificates to A Snail’s Pace running shop in Brea.

Saturday is my long run day and my plan called for a long bike ride (this plan from Smart Marathon Training sometimes substitutes long rides for long runs, which I find very refreshing). So after the race I drove to a paved path and rode the ElliptiGO for an hour and 40 minutes.


Oh how I love a dedicated bike path!

That hour and 40 minutes on the ElliptiGO was truly easier and more fun than running a race for 24 minutes, let me tell you! I listened to running podcasts (Another Mother Runner had on Dean Karnazes and The Runner’s World Show talked about Running While Female) and enjoyed all the thumbs-up I got for the ElliptiGO, which remains a curiosity on the trails.

Are you watching the NYC Marathon today? Because I don’t have cable I’ve had to content myself with following the live coverage on Twitter. Hooray for American Molly Huddle coming in 3rd for the women in her marathon debut with a time of 2:28:13!

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I crossed another item off my bucket list recently! It wasn’t a marathon, half marathon or any other goal race — it was volunteering at a race! On Sunday, September 20, 2015, my three girls and I got up at 5:45 a.m. to drive out to Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California to volunteer at the Girls on the Go Los Angeles Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K races. What a fun morning in a gorgeous setting!

Not a bad place to spend a Sunday morning -- Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California

Not a bad place to spend a Sunday morning — Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California

In a stroke of good luck we got the best assignment in my opinion: handing out the medals at the finish line! But first we had to unwrap hundreds of individually plastic-wrapped medals. I had no idea the medals came that way. Of course it makes sense, you wouldn’t want those shiny medals clanking against each other and getting dinged up before race day, but I never gave it any thought before. Which is exactly why every runner should make the time to volunteer at a race — to better understand and appreciate all the volunteers who make it happen!

If you are looking to boost your mood and your sense of community, get out to a local race, volunteer your time, and watch a few finishers come in at the finish line.

Happy finisher at the Girls on the Go race

Happy finisher at the Girls on the Go race

The Girls on the Go race series is particularly fun because many of the runners come in costume — I even saw a man in a tutu (what a good sport!)

While we could normally expect pleasant weather in September in Southern California, the heat wave here continues and we all roasted. That didn’t diminish the joy of the runners though and if anything, it enhanced the sense of accomplishment. Besides, who wouldn’t smile at the finish line when they receive a medal from one of these three beauties (their mother is just a little biased, no apologies there):

My long-haired lovelies handing out medals at the finish line

My long-haired lovelies handing out medals at the finish line

As an unexpected side effect/reward for volunteering, my 13-year-old got inspired to sign up for her first half marathon. We’ll build up to it by running the Brea 8K in February, maybe the La Habra 10K in March, and then a half marathon (still to be decided — her dad needs to help choose the race for his first half marathon too!) in the spring.

Have you ever volunteered for a race?

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I love running new-to-me races and the 16th Annual Downtown Anaheim 5K Race did not disappoint!

The race offered free race morning packet pickup in addition to early pickup, which meant that I could sleep until 5:15 a.m., scarf down some oatmeal with brown sugar and a cup of coffee with milk, and hit Harbor Boulevard at 6 a.m. for the straight shot south to downtown Anaheim. I arrived at one of the two parking structures on Oak Street that had free, ample parking and I had no trouble finding the check-in table by 6:25 and the porta-potties by 6:30. No waiting in any lines!

Registration cost $35 but only because I was too chicken to sign up before May 1. Normal registration is $30 and there are discounts for teams and even a $20 early bird discount fee for those on the race director’s email list. Registration comes with a nice white cotton tee which I confess I used for a sweat rag after the race (what, it will wash clean!) and which I prefer over a technical tee if it keeps the cost down (same with the fact that there was no race medal – I don’t need more bling although I mention it because I know that’s important to a lot of people). Tons of great vendors lined the expo and offered free samples of everything from vitamin water to protein recovery drinks and bars. My favorite vendor though? The one offering two-minute lessons on hands-only CPR, something every runner (every person!) should know. Check out this demonstration video from the Boston Athletic Association, the American Red Cross, and the American Heart Association:

What the lesson taught me today is that to help you figure out how many chest compressions to do in a minute, you can perform them to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive.”

For more information on the cardiac risk associated with endurance events you can also listen to this great Runner Academy podcast: How Safe Is Marathon Running for Your Heart? (And when I say “cardiac risk” I am not talking scary hype, just the facts about the actual low level of risk and how to assess your personal cardiac profile).

Speaking of hearts, mine was beating pretty quickly with race jitters as I waited on the starting line. After a live rendition of the national anthem, the race began promptly at 7:30 a.m. under gloriously overcast skies, 63 degrees and 80 percent humidity.

I hope next year the race director has volunteers holding up minute-per-mile seeding suggestion signs in the self-seeding corral because I highly doubt the dude in cotton Bermuda shorts (no joke) who tried to place himself in front of me five rows from the start could run 7-minute miles. And I’ve never experienced more jostling at the start of a race. If I wanted to be elbowed I’d do an Ironman swim. Anyway, it is thankfully a relatively small race at about 850 participants and it soon thinned out on the wide straight streets of Anaheim. Unfortunately one of the train track crossing bars was stuck down and the course police directed us on the slightest jog around that. The announcer assured us the course wouldn’t run long and indeed, my Garmin measured 3.13 miles. Besides, this year’s winner clocked a course record so who am I to complain?

In spite of my best intentions and 1-minute warm-up intervals at race pace, I started the race a little too fast and had to settle into a 7-minute pace. The first mile seemed to fly by. My goal then became to “maintain.” Funny how mantras just pop into your head as you run. Mile two was good but getting harder, and mile three was a real challenge. I tried to walk (run) that fine line between leaving it all on the course and actually blowing up on the course. I did pretty well but my pace slipped a little. Perhaps I was demoralized by the woman who passed me as she pushed a jogging stroller (I joke — I wasn’t demoralized, I was awed!) I ended up finishing in 22:19, a PR by 1:25 over the iCureMelanoma 5K last May.

Gorgeous palm-lined finish with the American flag and balloon arch

Gorgeous palm-lined finish with the American flag and balloon arch

Turns out my time was good enough for second place in my age group!

Chip time: 22:19
Pace: 7:11
Overall: 136/851
Females: 25/434
Females 40-44: 2/36

I stuck around to collect my award but the timing company experienced a glitch and it couldn’t confirm the official results in time. Those came out at about 5 p.m. today and the awards will be put in the mail on Monday.

Overall I definitely recommend this race! The parking and packet pick-up are a breeze, the course is well laid out and flat, the finish line is beautiful and the expo has a real community feel. The race director gave out prizes from some of the sponsors and it was fun to watch a little kid get four tickets to an Angels game and an adult get a two-night stay at the Anaheim Marriott! One lucky lady with size 8 feet won a pair of Skechers running shoes (I curse you, size 11s! Actually I take that back — my size 11s have given me many happy miles.)

Racing a 5K was quite the experience after all my marathon training and racing. I followed this 5K training plan for advanced runners from About.com and I feel like it did the job well. I was surprised to note that my lungs gave out before my legs, and my arms were sore. Man I must have been pumping to keep up that pace!

What’s your favorite race distance? I like to mix it up. I would like to run another one-mile race some time but there aren’t too many around and the local ones haven’t fit in my schedule. I love an 8K — I feel like that is a nice middle distance race. My favorite race of all so far though has been the Revel Canyon City Half Marathon, just because the course was so spectacular in the San Gabriel Mountains, and I felt like I was flying down the course.

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I had a fantastic morning with my family and friends at the iCureMelanoma 5K in Fullerton, California today! It’s a great community event for runners, walkers and anyone interested in supporting melanoma research.


What started last year with our core group of book club members on Team BookIt! grew this year to 53 people on Team Beckman Coulter. With the generous help of the Beckman Coulter Foundation, our team raised $5,418 for melanoma research at University of California, Irvine (UCI)! We won the top prize for fundraising, and it felt really great to contribute towards the $100,000 that was presented to UCI at the end of the race. We thought we were in the running for the prize for largest team but Team Mac came in first with an amazing 107 members who came out to honor the memory of Michael Gerard MacDonald, a man lost too soon to melanoma in 2009. So really Team Mac’s victory is a huge win-win and it’s simply wonderful that so many people participated to support much-needed melanoma research!

My eldest daughter and I ran the race in the competitive wave that started promptly at 7 a.m. The course runs over challenging terrain — a mix of grass, road, and dirt. It forms a lollipop shape as it runs out to and around gorgeous Laguna Lake, which shades you with beautiful trees along the park path. I cannot say I’d recommend it as a “fast” course but man you wouldn’t know it when you look at the finishing times. The winner came in at a blazing 18:54! I managed to pull off a PR of 23:44 for 1st in my 41-50 age group of 33 women. And my daughter also set a PR (by 4 minutes!), coming in at 24:11 for 3rd in her age group!

My husband and middle daughter had fun on the course in the 8:00 a.m. open wave with many of our friends. There were tons of great vendors at the finish line and we feasted on pizza, Italian ice, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and protein bar samples. Of course there were also sunscreen samples on hand, and my girls were thrilled to find free nail polish samples at the Solfingers booth. I am definitely going to check out the Solfingers line of sun protection gloves and arm sleeves. I’ve been wearing my plain blue Phoenix Marathon arm warmers for sun protection but the Solfingers sleeves and gloves offer several super cute designs.

I’ve got my sights set on another 5K at the Downtown Anaheim 5K Run on June 13, 2015, and we are already planning to come back next year for the 10th Annual iCureMelanoma 5K!

What do you use for sun protection? In addition to wearing a visor, sunglasses and as much clothing as I can tolerate, I like Coppertone Sport sunscreen. The dermatologist Dr. William Baugh who puts on the iCureMelanoma 5K recommends Neutrogena as his favorite brand. (Tip: he says it does not matter whether you use the spray or cream formula of sunscreen — the best sunscreen is the one you will use! If you have trouble with sunscreen running in your eyes he recommends a silicon-based sunscreen for athletes). I also try as much as possible to avoid peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I choose a shady route whenever possible (not always easy in sunny Southern California).

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PCRF Reaching for the Cure LogoMy oldest daughter trained with her elementary school’s running club for a 5K. She is 11 and she had run two 5Ks before, but this would be the first one she would run by herself. It turns out that the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K made an excellent choice for her first solo race! It offered a well-marked course, a medium-sized field of runners, a great cause, and a super-fun finish line expo with lots of activities and free food for both the participants and the spectators.

My daughter joined the team for Diann’s Defenders. After Diann’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 5, she underwent two and a half years of treatment and has since remained cancer-free for five and a half years!

Some of Diann's Defenders after the race.

Some of Diann’s Defenders after the race.

On race day our family woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the race in time for the 7:15 start for the 5K. I should have printed out the directions to the parking area from the race website instead of following the Google Maps directions to the street address. Of course several roads were blocked off for the 5K, 10K and half marathon courses and there really was only one way to get to the parking. I ended up dropping off my daughter and husband near the starting area and going back to follow the directions from my phone. Once we reached the parking structure there was plenty of parking remaining but I have to say, it was a L-O-O-O-N-G walk from the parking structure and I saw several racers running on their way to the starting line. Tip: Build in an extra 15 minutes for parking and walking.

My daughter finished the race in just over 32 minutes. She was happy with her time and super proud of the fact that she ran the whole way without stopping. The school running club had only had two training sessions (a third was canceled due to 100 degree heat) and the rest of the training she did on her own. It made me really happy to see her stick with it and achieve her goal!

After the race we made a beeline to the Jamba Juice tent for free smoothies for everyone. Then we visited the petting zoo, the puppies, the train, the inflatable bounce houses and slides, and best of all, the trampolines. Even my 4-year-old got in on the action. She got strapped into the harness and bounced high without fear!

Race pros: First off you cannot beat an event for such a good cause as the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. There’s a positive energy at the race and I think it takes a little bit of the competitive, nervous edge off (even though it’s a race for serious runners as well as fun run/walkers). The race is well-organized and family-friendly. Runners are allowed to push their babies and toddlers in strollers on the course. The best part though is the post-race expo with all the free food and family activities. My kids all had a blast. There weren’t long lines for bounce houses or even the trampolines and we spent over two hours going from one activity to another. Tip: bring a change of warm, dry clothes so you can stay and play in comfort! The cool, overcast weather was perfect for running but it felt downright chilly when we were milling around after the race!

Race cons: None of the cons would keep me from highly recommending this race for kids and adults. There’s always room for improvement though, so here’s what I would say: (1) The long walk from the parking structure made it hard for racers to get to the start on time and hard for supporters (especially 4-year-olds with short legs!) to get to the start line. That could be overcome with better planning on our part, but I did hear that parking used to be more convenient and perhaps it should be switched back if possible. (2) My daughter’s registration was not processed properly. We were charged the money for the event but I had to follow up with a phone call to actually get her registration processed. I think it was a one-time mistake of lost paperwork though and the PCRF people were very helpful and nice when I called. (3) There were plenty of porta-potties but one long row did not have a hand-washing station within sight. (4) The race took place on Sunday, May 5 (yes, Cinco de Mayo) which happens to be the same day as two other local-ish, popular races: The OC Marathon and the Safari Park Half Marathon.

Again, those were minor details that did not overshadow a great race experience at the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K!

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Earlier this month I got to experience a race from the sidelines as I cheered on my 10-year-old and husband at the LJEF Family Turkey Trot 5K. It felt strange to be up at 6 on a Saturday morning and not going for a run myself (I got in eight miles later on that day as my last long run before the marathon the following week).

Race starting line

And they’re off!

As I watched my two loved ones line up at the start, my heart rose in my throat. I get nervous before my own races, but even more so for my children’s races. I feel more vulnerable and exposed when I have no control over the outcome. If I do not do well in a race, that’s all on me. If one of my children has a bad experience, it hurts in a different way. Will this affect her self-esteem? Will she want to race again?

I had encouraged my daughter to sign up for the race, but by no means did I force her to do so. In fact, we had several discussions about how if she did not commit and follow through on the training for the 5K, I would not allow her to run it (and furthermore she would be required to work off the $20 entry fee we paid on her behalf). She assured me she wanted to run. She had done the race the year before and wanted to do it again. In the end, I can’t say she dedicated herself to the training as I dedicated myself to marathon training (what, you mean not everyone takes such joy in checking off a training run?), but my husband and I deemed her ready to put in the 3.1 miles.

In retrospect, we should have put as much work into the mental preparation for the race. Yes, it’s “only” a 5K, it’s a turkey trot, it’s for fun and fitness, it’s not life and death. But as many runners can attest, a race can be torture if you’re head isn’t in it. The mind-body connection is never more evident than in a running race. My daughter had trained enough that she was fully capable of running the whole race and beating her time from the previous year. Instead, she struggled physically and mentally. After lots of congratulations and hugs at the finish line, and after a few days passed, I talked over the race with her. Why did she think she hadn’t done as well as the year before, in spite of the fact that she trained harder this time? “Because I didn’t want to be there.” You said you wanted to run. Why didn’t you want to be there? “Because I didn’t want to keep running the whole time.” Ah. Turns out that my daughter ended up being so concerned about the possibility of being told to keep running when she wanted to walk, that she psyched herself out of running well in the first place. (Trust me, that says more about my daughter and her personality than about her dad, who certainly does not push her hard and only wants to support her). I told her I had the perfect solution for that problem. The next race, if she wanted to do one, she would run by herself without her father/pacer at her side. She can run or walk, her choice. Completely up to her. How much do you want to bet she runs the whole way?

Do you have children who participate in races? How do they (and you) handle it? My two oldest have done some 5Ks and a junior triathlon. They tell me they want to do more.

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I confess, I am not super speedy. That means that the 5K is not my favorite race distance. I’m just hitting my stride by the time a 3.1-mile race is over! Plus, for a 5K, the race-fee to race-distance ratio is too high! I want some more mileage for my money. Even 8K is not long enough for me. I am an endurance runner. That being said, I found the half marathon to be quite challenging and not exactly what I would call “fun.” Satisfying? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. Challenging? YES! My favorite? No.

What’s your favorite running race distance so far? Are you training for your first or are you a race veteran who loves a particular distance? Take the poll and leave a comment with your favorite running distance and why!

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