On January 1, 2014, I ran my first "real" 5k! I've done a couple of 5k fun runs and "barathons" (drink a beer every kilometer) but I'd never before run a regular, timed 5k race. I knew this race would be a wakeup call to my legs that are used to long, slow distance training. But since one of my 2014 running goals was to run a 5k, I decided to do it on the first day of the year.
The Hangover Classic 5k was held at Sly Fox Brewery in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about an hour outside of Philly. The race name rung true as I awoke on New Year's Day with a pounding headache and parched throat, side effects of a little too much champagne from the night before.
I knew I would feel better after a run, as I always do, so I threw on my Oiselle gear and laced up my Brooks shoes and headed out the door. Somehow, I actually convinced Josh to run this race with me. I think the promise of a noon start time and a free beer at the finish line helped seal the deal.
Neither of us were too pumped at the freezing start line, especially after we realized both the start and finish would be uphill. But we lined up with about 200 other runners and waited until the race director said "GO!" And we were off.
Josh immediately set a pace that was a little too fast for me, so I hung back and ran at my own speed. I had previously set a goal of running under 25 minutes, which was around 8 minutes per mile. This was kind of an arbitrary goal since I'd never run a 5k, but it seemed feasible in my mind.
The course was 4 laps of an industrial/office complex, plus one last uphill to end at the brewery that made it about 4.25 laps all together. The starting line was placed at the bottom of the long hill. The hill passed the brewery, then turned the corner to a long downhill. It was interesting to run a course with almost no flat sections, which made the uphills feel torturous and the downhills feel spectacular.
As we passed the brewery for the first time, we saw Josh's parents which gave me a little boost each lap. They also took some great pictures, many of which are featured in this post. It's really fantastic to have future in-laws who are so supportive in our athletic endeavors.
I hit mile 1 in 7:41, which shocked me. I don't usually pay attention to my paces during training runs, so I just sought to settle into a pace that was just over my comfort level and had me breathing hard. If it began to feel too easy, I would pick up the pace. Judging by the way I felt that morning, I thought there was no WAY I would be running sub-8 minute miles during this race!
From mile 1 to 2, my competitive side began to set in. I caught up to a woman who looked about my age, and set out to beat her. I couldn't really see any other women up ahead, so I knew that while the leaders were well ahead of us, I could still secure a place in my age group. We exchanged places a couple of times, but as we rounded the corner for the third lap and started up the long hill again, I passed her for good. I ended up passing many people on the uphills, which I attribute to my long trail run training.
The third lap was by far the most grueling. It felt like mile 18 of the marathon, when you know you are close to the finish yet still have so far to go. I hit mile 2 in 15:20, which means mile 2 was just a bit faster than mile 1 at 7:39.
Once I made the ascent up the big hill on the fourth lap, I knew that I would beat my goal of 25 minutes. I hit the gas on the downhill, and knew I just had one small uphill to go. As I rounded the corner and saw Josh crossing the finish line ahead of me, I sped up that hill as fast as I could.
I crossed the finish line in 23:27, which was 1:33 under my goal of 25 minutes. I'm not exactly sure what my pace was for mile 3 because there was no mile marker, but I finished the last 1.1 miles in 8:07. My overall pace was 7:33, so mile 3 was definitely my fastest.
I ended up finishing 2nd in my age group (age 20-29) and 9th woman overall. Since this was the first time I'd placed in a race since my first race EVER, we decided to stick around for the awards ceremony and enjoy our free Sly Fox Lagers.
Receiving my 2nd place AG medal
Afterwards, we went to a local Pottstown restaurant, The Brick House, for some burgers and drinks.
Obligatory Bloody Mary shot
I'm really happy that Josh and I ran this race together, even if we didn't stay with each other during the race. I'm proud of him for coming into a race and trying his hardest even though he doesn't run much, and supporting a hobby that I love so much. Hopefully, he will be running some more races with me in 2014, though I'd be happy if I could beat him one of these days!
Overall, I had a really great experience at this race, even if I didn't feel my best at the start. I don't think I had run ONE sub-8 minute mile in months preceding this race, let alone 3 in a row, so I was pleasantly surprised with my 7:33 pace for this one. This race has definitely boosted my confidence to beat my other time goals for 2014, including the 10k, 10 mile, and 13.1 mile distance.
I have to agree with those who told me that 5k's are quite painful. I actually told Josh's mom "I feel like I'm dying!" as I passed her on my final lap. Regardless, I definitely see another 5k in my near future!