My 1st 5K Race: Over 6 Tips and Treats

"Life is what happens when we are making other plans..." or say the saying goes.

Although the summer brought many ups and downs, I was able to continue training and working toward my 1st 5K race.  In summary, my sister (swimmer) and her sister-in-law (cyclist) and I signed up for a team Triathlon six months ago, a first for us all.  Having run about 100 times in my entire life, I began training at 10:30 min/mile pace and completed the race at 10:15 min/mile tempo for the 3.2 mile course with hills, soft sand/sidewalks, and around 400 participants.

What I learned on Race Day:
  1. I'd like to keep running and keep improving but with music!  Music is my inspiration and driving force.  This race did not allow it as a cyclist was hurt by someone wearing ear buds, but I just saw another run event that allowed them.  Read the participant guidelines for each race carefully.
  2. The entire experience was much more fun going with friends and/or being on a team.  I would have backed out last month due to my August employment at a University had I not: 1) set up a training session with an amazing running coach to help me improve my form in mid-August, 2) had my sister holding our team to our commitment to attend and complete the race.
  3. I love my family, but watching for them around the track probably slowed me down.  Turned out the moment I stopped looking, they were at the finish line standing by cheering me on.  Lesson learned: keep your head on the race and give hugs when it's over! (Thanks for coming, my family!)  Note to observers: Cheer enthusiastically!  Spatters of weak claps are not very encouraging...

About racing for the first time:
  1. Six months ago I was only learning to do a 5k.  Now I feel I could do an entire triathlon if I wanted to.  I've proven to myself I can work one hour of training per day into my week, so I wouldn't be the fastest, but I could complete the event fairly well.
  2. Of the 400 people signed up for the triathlon, about two-thirds registered the 4 weeks prior to the race.  This was this event's 1st year; I've heard registering for larger events like the Boston marathon is a whole other process and experience. Just like I mentioned about attending conventions or your first group exercise class, a little advanced planning and registration is incredibly beneficial toward your successful inclusion.
  3. Everyone was incredibly FRIENDLY.  I expected elbow jabs, foul play, and harsh competition, but I made more friends in four hours than I have in the past four years.  Only about 10% of the competitors were there to win and vanished at the start line; everyone else was focused on their personal achievements and out-doing their own race performance.
My Awesome Team: Heidi, Me, Mary

GREAT articles and resources from the professionals for your first event:
Special thanks to Dr. Jason Karp at for sharing some professional running drills with me while in California; I look forward to adding them to my routine for the next event.

(Sorry readers: If you'd like to know what the drills are, contact Dr. Karp!)

Readers: Comment with your tips/treats for race day!
Or, how are you planning/preparing for your 1st race?