This past weekend was an opportunity for me to test out the 5km and see what it is all about. I learned a few things, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts about the experience.
1. "Oh, you're just doing the 5km". This wasn't an uncommon comment that came up again and again when I explained to people what my race was for the weekend. The reason I haven't ever done a 5km is because I was terrified of it from the perspective of shear speed and potential for pain. So if you think a 5km is easy, you really haven't raced a 5km. (I however, would learn that I should have hurt a little more...but more on that in a minute). Give me a marathon any day.
2. 5km racers are not worthy of larger prizes or cash at the awards ceremony. Nor shall they ever receive a medal. Unless, of course, you're going to the Olympics. You are, however, allowed chilli at the Fall Classic.
3. 5km goes by faster than any decision I ever had to make while racing a marathon. Roughly 19 minutes and it is all over and you will find yourself at the finish line thinking, "What the hell just happened?". If you are like me (and you didn't race hard enough) you'd like to re-do the course again. Are there race mulligans?
4. Your warm up and cool down are longer than your race. Weird.
5. It is fully acceptable to feel like or actually throw up at the end (news to me - see: "run faster")
6. There is not much time to bask in the glow of the result - you don't get a day off after the race - you go back at the track the next day.
7. There is a time to run fast - and that doesn't start in the last km, it starts at about 2.2 km - damn it.
8. Despite my somewhat frustrating learning experience, now I want to race a bunch of these fast races and actually feel that awful at the end. I felt my conservative strategy did not pay off and would like to expand my blow-up-o-meter to be able to really feel some pain. I think Ironman and marathons have had this protective pacing effect of not putting yourself in a danger zone where you can't escape - and I think it would be good to bust through that mental barrier and really feel the other side of running fast.
Overall it was a good learning day, and a good 5km workout in there. My first race was the marathon and I have slowly trickled down to a 5km - 5 years later. I can't even imagine what a 1 mile race feels like, but maybe someday I'll find out.
So be kind to your fellow 5km-ers, respect their drive to take on a challenging race distance. I certainly vow never to say, "Oh, just the 5km....." again.
Because it's not about the distance - it's about how you run it.
Happy winter running!