June 6, 2009: 5K Mania

Manhattan Beach, California – On a whim I decided to enter my first 5k running race since October of last year. When I started racing 5ks three years ago I was obsessed for that first year entering in as many as I could, sometimes two or three a month. But over the past year and a half my interest waned a bit mostly due to nagging shin splints and the dread of wanting to puke and collapse after each race. With the annual Long Beach 5k coming up in October (where I got my last PR) I want to train and shave 15 seconds off my per mile pace. But since I haven’t been really running I wanted to know what my base is and see exactly how much training I’ll be needing to do in the next few months.

The 5k was among the rolling hills of Manhattan Beach. I’ve done 5ks there before so I was prepared for the hilly-ness of it. What I wasn’t prepared for however was how the limited parking. I ended up parking in the surf lot and then hiking up steep hills to get to the race just a few minutes before it started. Didn’t have time for a proper warm up which I’ve found is what helps ward off nasty shin splints.

I took the first mile slow to use as my warm up. The first tenth of a mile was a steep downhill, which normally wouldn’t be too bad except for the announcer saying, “Now pace yourself, you’ll have to run back up this for the finish!” Nothing like dreadful anticipation of the finish to start off your race. After the big downhill was a myriad of rolling ups and downs, (something the treadmill does not prepare you for) nothing too steep but the drawn out inclines definitely left me huffing and puffing. I remember thinking during the race, “Man, this is grueling! I need to start training hills!” Well that thinking translated to my legs because my first mile time was not fast. And so were my second and third miles.

Overall though while I didn’t break any records,  I felt pretty good during the race and strong on the uphills, even the last steep face. I just tried to maintain my tempo even if it meant shortening my stride. And I didn’t get any shin splints, which is always a victory these days. I just checked the official results and I ended up first in my age division! Granted there were only 11 in that group, but I’ve never placed first in my age group in a 5k race before. So I’m psyched and want to do more!

Unfortunately after the 5k I took a spin class and then a yoga class and that did me in. I don’t know if it was dehydration or inner tension but I had what I think was a migraine for the next day and a half. Ugh. But this is a good lesson on getting to know my body and its limits so next time I think I might pass on the yoga class!

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