Ending the 5k frenzy

It's funny to think that at two different times since I started running that I went more than a year between 5ks. Now I can say I have run four 5k races in four weeks. It's not something I highly recommend, but it's been fun. The fourth 5k this past Saturday was similar to the first one in this series — my main goal was to help pace Josh, a co-worker of mine, while still getting in a very solid run at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Roanoke. I was hoping to push Josh to a PR on Saturday, but he just couldn't quite hold the pace for the final mile.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk, RoanokeJosh ran a 24:23, just shy of his PR this past summer. His PR was when I set my PR at the Fab 5k; this course in Roanoke on Saturday was completely different with rolling hills and a couple of tough bridges.

I ran with him for about 2.5 miles, then went ahead with a strong finish myself at 24:08. I would have liked to have gotten to under 24 minutes for the both of us, but on this course I am more than pleased with what we both did. I think with the right conditions on a flatter course Josh is poised to break 24 minutes.

The past four weeks have been a tremendous learning experience for me, as I not only set a personal record for races in consecutive weeks, I also added the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak into the mix. Here are some things I've taken from this:

  • It's perfectly fine to leave something on the course. Yes, I've done that before, but it's been way too long since I ran a race for the fun of running a race and enjoying great company.
  • If you're going to run races in consecutive weeks, make only one of them your "A" race. This approached worked well for me with setting my course record in the Christmas Classic.
  • Pacing another runner is an awesome opportunity to take the pressure off yourself. I hope to do more of this in the future. Saturday was fun for me because I didn't care about my time. Thinking about the "what could have been" element of race like the one on Saturday was quite enjoyable and presents a challenge should I do this race next year.
  • Lastly, these four 5ks have made me realize that the distance of 3.1 miles is the hardest distance to race. I used to think it was the 10k, but it's now this for me. Those precious seconds you may lose at the beginning weaving around slower runners or not hitting a hill exactly right are the make-or-break points with setting personal records for a 5k.

Now that this challenge is done, all that is left is 13.1 miles for 1,000 running miles this year …