The 5k Cycle

Six-months ago I was training for a marathon and today I am thrilled to run a 5k. In January, this wasn’t exactly how I pictured my year.

Being an injured athlete takes just as much hard work and effort as being healthy. Finding the delicate balance between recovery and activity is different for everyone. What do you do when you’ve invested in long races that your body isn’t able to run? Runners find another way.

For the last 12 weeks I’ve been injured and trying to figure out how to manage. I’ve gone from walking to jogging to hiking to tentatively running. Below are my swapped half-marathons for 5k races, and some important insights I’ve learned from each one.

Provo Freedom Festival 10k/5k-

This race is an annual tradition for the college town Provo, Utah- which knows how to throw a 4th of July party. The Freedom Festival seeks to observe American freedoms while honoring those who’ve paid the ultimate price protecting our rights and privileges.

This year when my knee injury side-lined our usual outdoor wilderness anniversary adventure, my youngest daughter and I opted to walk the Freedom Festival 5k as my hubby and sons backpacked the longest slot canyon in the world. We decided to dress festive and girly to ensure the best time possible.

Lesson Learned: While walking a 5k was definitely a hard experience for me, the best part was spending time with my youngest daughter. That’s something priceless I’ll never get back.

Bountiful Pioneer Handcart Days 5k-

My local running community is amazing. Our runners are all different ages, sizes, speeds and experience who love to get together and run! We run for different reasons and occasionally get together as one big extended family.

Seven years ago our friend Josher decided to change his life 180° by running 180 long distance races. (half-marathon or longer) Along the way, Josher lost 180 pounds and inspired everyone who knows him. (You can read about Josher’s experience here Race #180)

Josher has done a great job of organizing events, supporting other runners and bringing our extended community together; so as a great big running family, we all jumped at the opportunity to celebrate this milestone.

Lesson Learned: Running doesn’t have to be about pace, time and results; sometimes it’s about gathering together and doing something you love. Many friends worked behind the scenes to make surprise preparations for Josher’s historic race. (t-shirts, signs a really tasty pie) I had never even heard of this race before but now the event is memory I’ll always cherish and remember.

American Fork- Timp 5k

This half-marathon is a personal favorite because it’s scenic and like running in my back yard. Some days, I’ll have a family member drive me up the canyon and drop me off so I can run 11 miles from the half-marathon starting line back home. When I knew I could only run the 5k this year, I was sad to be missing out.

I was eager to run, but unsure what to expect. As the race started I felt pretty good until just over a mile. Not doing any long runs in a month, I knew my endurance had slipped and I felt myself sucking wind. My knee was great, but my body was fatigued. Concentrating on running form and staying relaxed, I ran focused on the fact that I wouldn’t be running again for a week as I finished the 5k.

My goal was to finish in under 25 minutes, so I was happy to cross the finish line with a 23:16- a 7:30 mile average pace. When I checked the results, I was floored to see I’d actually placed 3rd over-all. Since you only compete against whomever shows up- I guess all the fast runners were doing the half!

Lesson Learned: 10 years ago I couldn’t run a 5k without walking. There will always be better and faster runners, but in the end we all compete against ourselves. Every now and again, it’s okay to celebrate a moment that was 10 years in the making. I’m so grateful running is full of unexpected surprises.

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