You never quite know what you are going to get when you sign up for a St. Patrick’s Day 5k in New England. You’ll likely get beer but you are also just as likely to get a snowstorm or a heatwave. It’s what makes early spring running so exciting and unpredictable around here.
Mid-March in New England means a couple things to me. First, I start arguing with the kids that temperatures in the mid-40’s still means you need to wear something with long sleeves. Second, I need to consider chiseling out some furrows for planting the first peas. Finally, it marks the unofficial start of the spring road racing season. I’ve never met a competition I didn’t like!
5 reasons I still like running 5k’s:
Budget They’re not cheap, but they are cheaper than most other races and you typically get the same snacks for running a lot less.
Competing Many longer events are about enduring your way to the finish. 5k’s are about racing.
Fitness The 5k requires strength, speed, power, and endurance. You can effectively train for a 5k with a variety of workouts not just long runs. It will not only help you run better but also improve your overall health.
No Chafing The risk of nipple bleeding is very low.
Beer & Naps It’s just long enough and takes just enough effort that it totally justifies at least one beer and one short nap when you are done.
We totally took advantage of the beer and nap clause yesterday.
When you sign up for a race in New England, you really never know what you are going to get. It could be mid-40’s in June or mid-60’s in January. It keeps you on your toes. It wasn’t quite 60 degrees, but it was way, way warmer for this New Year’s Day 5k versus last year’s version.
Last year, I struggled to pin my bib through six layers of clothes and had icicles hanging from my ears by the end. This year, I was quite comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. The hill in the first mile? Yeah, that didn’t change.
For me, 2018 has been the year of the 5k. Or, the return to the 5k. Through the first half of the year, I’ve ran 7 5k’s. I’ve improved my time in each one, but I’m still not close to my PR.
One silver lining to being limited to shorter distances is that you can race more. You might find yourself racing four times in five weeks. I love racing. I love the nerves and possibility of the start line. I love suffering and pushing myself, at least after the fact.
But even I’ll admit that four in five weeks might be a bit much. And I have two more weeks coming up of races. I’m going to need a break before I get injured or burn out. But back to last weekend. This one wasn’t my fault. Really. I hadn’t scheduled this one on the calendar. A friend who is not quite as obsessed with running and racing as I am suggested we try this race and, to support him, I agreed. Turns out the Trillium 5k is pretty popular and parking is pretty limited at the brewery so entry is a lottery system. You know the end of this story. I was selected. He was not. Therefor, four races in five weeks.
As I milled about the starting line to this year’s HMEA 5k, I tried to pick him out of the crowd. The problem with having a teenage running nemesis is that they sometimes change so much and so fast that is is hard to recognize them from year-to-year.
Other than the James Joyce 10k in Dedham, this 5k in mid-May may be the race that I’ve ran the most times over the years. It’s my wife’s company fundraiser and along with raising money for a great cause, it also offers a great after party with a free BBQ and lots of family-friendly events. The kids are more than happy to go, collect tchotchkes and eat cotton candy.
One of my favorite things about where we live is the abundance of preservation land and trails. You almost have to try not to run on trails in our neighborhood.It’s given me a keen appreciation of the benefits (and ankle twisting dangers!) of adding trails into my running routine.
So while I have been slowly exploring the local trails and adding more off-road miles to my training plan, I had yet to run an actual trail race. This past weekend, I changed all that. With a new 5k trail race just a few minutes from the house, how could I not sign up?