I have a love-hate relationship with 5Ks. I love them because the training doesn’t take as much time. I hate them because they are like a 3-mile sprint.
On March 2, I ran the Seattle Hot Chocolate 5K with friends Zoë, Tall Mom Mel and Tall Sister. (I also got to meet up with other friends I hadn’t seen in a while, including Kim and Stacie who were there for the 15K.)
The race itself was very well organized, and extremely fun. Even with the threat of snow, there were places to stay warm. There were plenty of potties. Few lines. And start corrals. I hadn’t realized the race was as big as it was until we were there.
Me, Zoe and Mel lined up in Corral A. There were a lot of fast-looking runners around me and I wasn’t feeling my strongest. I had an icky tummy and I’d only had about 4 hours of sleep. I kept joking that I was going to walk, which is why I hadn’t made plans to run with anyone. I really wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. The cigar smoker sitting right next to our corral didn’t help things either.
Me and Mel had positioned ourselves further back in the corral than Zoe, who is running super fast right now. The race started and Mel took off fast. She looked comfortable right away. I, on the other hand, had issues. I hadn’t warmed up really at all so my legs were stiff. I remembered that I’d done a strength workout the day before the race and the day before that, I ran 6 miles. I usually take two days off completely before races. So I had those mistakes in my head.
My other issues were dumb, but they bothered me: I’d started the wrong playlist (a slower one more for halfs or long runs), and my earbud kept popping out. Also, my iFitness belt, which holds my gigantous phone was bouncing because I positioned it over my shirt instead of under. A quick fix, but I’d say for the first quarter mile, I was completely distracted. This was unfortunate because that was probably the only flat part of the course.
The next half mile or so was down, down, down. Won’t complain about that, but I should’ve played my cards better and banked some time. Instead, I worried about falling (because the asphalt was craggy and wet), and kept my pace in check.
Then it was uphill the entire way to the finish. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but that is how it felt. If there were anymore downhills or flat portions of the course, they were few and far between the uphills.
I’ve been running on my treadmill a lot this winter. And I never set it to add hills. Mostly because I don’t want to hurt myself. When you’ve had shin splints and even a fracture, you get paranoid.
My quads and glutes burned on the uphills. It probably had a little to do with the multiple sets of squats I’d done less than 24 hours before the race. But mostly it had to do with no hill training.
The other thing I had going against me was my brain. I was very negative in my head, saying things like, “I hate this. Running sucks. I can’t wait for this to be over.” I plan to work on this. I don’t want to think like that while I’m running. I really do like to run.
For most of the race, I was focused on the ground (broken asphalt and potholes everywhere!) or on the person’s back or heels in front of me. I really was running as fast as my lungs and legs would let me. That’s the thing about a 5K—it’s an all-out sprint for over 25 minutes! Not easy!
After the race, people talked about the view of the Puget Sound in the first mile and other landmarks. I remember none of that.
I do remember heading through the tunnel in Mile 3 that is the same tunnel that leads to the uphill finish at Rock ‘N’ Roll Seattle, which made me even more negative than I already was. It’s possible I swore out loud.
After the tunnel and the steep uphill, then you continue just slightly uphill to the Hot Chocolate finish…so I was never able to get my lungs or legs back for a sprint. That’s always such a disappointing way to finish a race. But it is what it is.
Despite my poor-for-me race performance, I had a fabulous time. Yet, I don’t know if I will do the race again because of the early start time (6:45 a.m. for the 5K!), but maybe I’ll do the 15K next year instead (starts at 7:45 a.m., which is a little better). The hot chocolate and chocolate fondue afterward is awesome, and there is a building open with tables so you can sit and enjoy your treats with friends. Loved it.
Unfortunately, after I got home, I got sick to my stomach (possibly from the breakfast we had after the race or maybe connected the icky tummy I had pre-race???), and I felt horrible for the rest of the day, and could only eat apples, soda crackers and brown rice.
I got a big surprise when the results came in saying I placed 11th out of the 671 women in my age group (35-39)! And my time is about 90 seconds slower than my 5K PR (90 seconds is a lot in a 5K).
I guess the lesson is that if you have to deal with the hills, so does everyone else, so just do your best and tell your brain to suck it up. Right? Right.
All in all, the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K is a super fun event even if the course was hilly. Highly recommend!