Foot Traffic Holiday Half & 5k: Lessons Learned

This weekend was the 5k I’ve been looking forward to for the past month or so: the Foot Traffic Holiday Half & 5K in Portland. When Betsy’s Best Bar None agreed to sponsor me for this event, I opted to run the 5k as I didn’t think I had enough time to race the half-marathon distance and achieve a personal record (PR) finish. I did, however, think that I could achieve such a result in the 5k distance and that was the plan going into Sunday.

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After the Portland Marathon on October 4th, where I qualified for Boston, Betsy’s Best sponsored two 5k’s, one during each of the weekends following the Portland 26.2 race. I recovered well during that week following the marathon and would have achieved 2 consecutive official PR’s if it wasn’t for an error in race organization in each of the races–the first race involved volunteers sending me the wrong direction, not realizing that I was finishing my final lap and the second race lacked a sign at the turn-around point, causing runners to run further than 3.1 total miles, in addition to a passing train that forced many runners to what was about a 3 minute halt.

 

Heading into this past Sunday’s race, I was sure that my training was going to pay off big! I pushed myself much harder on the track; included more hills into my training; and did everything else I needed to do to ensure I was healthy and strong in my training. I made sure to hydrate more during the two days before the race and made sure to eat smart as well. I had my potatoes for dinner which is my go-to pre-race dinner food that I’ve learned my body really responds well to. Turns out…none of that made a difference. I didn’t run a PR time at the Foot Traffic Holiday 5k, but I did take some lessons with me as I do after every race no matter the result.

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And we begin! 

The following are a few of the lessons I learned  from the Holiday 5k:

  1. Designate and dedicate at least 15 minutes to a proper warm-up. I jogged out and back for maybe 3 minutes and then did some strides and dynamic exercises/stretches to loosen me up. I then finished with some strides to get my heart rate up before the start of the 5k, but it just wasn’t enough time. Allowing for a proper warm-up with just enough time to rest and recoup before the start is great for priming the body for the fast pacing that racing a 5k requires.  Perhaps what distracted me from dedicating more time to my warm-up routine was my running into Alberto Salazar and an Oregon Project colleague while they were discussing Galen Rupp’s race strategy. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thinking straight after Salazar responded to my question with a response suggesting Rupp’s sole goal was an Olympic marathon trials-qualifying time–something I’m not sure many track news agencies could confirm before Sunday’s race.                                         8
  2. Don’t second guess the racing strategy. Going into this 5k, I knew that I needed to go out and hit the first mile mark at no slower than 5:22. I knew I could do it, but I allowed the slight inclines of the first mile to slow me down and cause me to second guess the strategy. That resulted in a 5:35 first mile and I found myself in 2nd place with an increasing gap while I rapidly tried to recreate a racing strategy that undoubtedly ended up using more of my energy and caused me to slow down while I figured out a plan instead of focusing on my pacing and mechanics. It would have been great if the new strategy ended up working, but it didn’t and this was a most valueable lesson that I learned and I’m glad I did.
  3. If an elevation profile is desired, but not provided, go and run a preview of the route. Even though I would have liked to have known what the course would have looked like as far as inclines and declines, the organizers did not provide a profile map on their website. Because my event was a 5k, I completely understood why the elevation profile is not too significant due to the shorter distance and the course being a relatively flat course. Since I did want to know, though, I should have taken the time to drive the 10 minutes to the race route and run it as a preview. Had I done that, I believe I would have been prepared for a possible headwind during the last mile of the route due to the exposure of this neighborhood section to the Willamette River with no trees to block the winds.

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I may not have run my best race, but I had a great time running and representing Betsy’s Best Bar None. I gave it a decent effort, learned valuable lessons, and  got to be a part of a great event put on by Foot Traffic that gave thousands of people the opportunity to come together and celebrate health, running, and community…three of my favorite things!

What are your most valuable lessons that you’ve learned from a race that you’ve completed, attemped, or perhaps did not get to start? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

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