The 5K race— who can beat it? Over the past few years it has become one of the most popular distances to race, and is probably the most popular distance for the novice athlete. It requires little training, is generally a low cost event, and allows athletes to maintain physical fitness. It is not, however, a distance that requires endurance training. For this reason it is a distance that I do not race frequently, so when a few friends asked me to participate I grumbled.               

A few of my work friends decided to do a 5k to support our local burn center. I was not thrilled with the idea. But when I figured out I could hoodwink my boss into a half day off and sit on the beach for a few hours prior to the race, the idea was suddenly much more appealing. I decided that Ironman training could remain on hold for this silly sprint, and gave in.

After a long hard day soaking up the sun at the Jersey Shore, I went home, took a shower and mentally prepared for the task that lay ahead of me. A friend and I arrived at the event about an hour early since doing only a 5K was really not an option for me. The plan was to get there early, run about 5 or 6 miles, not let anyone know we already ran, then tackle the race. That seemed like a good scheme—I could get most of the running in I wanted yet still satisfy my friends.

We arrived to the area 55 minutes prior to the event and parked a few miles from the start line to ensure that we ran the proper distance before the race. Since we were running a few minutes late, we immediately began our run. As are most NJ summer days, it was hot and humid, but we didn’t let that stop us. We continued our run until we looked at the watch and realized that we were running absurdly late and had no idea how far it was to the start line. We picked up the pace, looked at the beach signs and realized we were still at least one town away from the start line. “FML” I said, out loud. My friend said she would dart back and get the car while I kept heading for the start line. I finally made it to the start line and found some friends that were waiting for me. I was covered in sweat from head to toe, and looked like I had just hopped in the ocean—obviously they realized that I already ran. With about 2 minutes to spare, I registered, grabbed my crappy 5K t-shirt, and frantically called my friend to meet us as the race was starting.

By the time she arrived, the race was about 3 minutes underway, and our friends had already begun running. Determined to catch them, we began to sprint. Passing all the first timers, we quickly caught up to our clan; I obnoxiously slapped their asses as we passed. As we made our way to the second lap (I don’t know what 5K needs 2 laps, but I went with it), I looked at all the novices so determined yet totally enjoying themselves, and I could not help but smile. It all begins with the high you get from completing your first 5K. Next thing you know, you’ll be signed up for your first 140.6!