A lot of people think the 10K is the worst race distance. I used to agree, but that was before I had to properly race a 5K. It hurts, a lot, and it doesn't stop hurting and it goes on forever and when you're done you have to go run ten more miles or get on the bike for three hours because, um, you only ran three miles.
I hadn't even planned to run a 5K when my schedule was written, and because it's only a 5K, it just got kind of... wedged into the weekend. My sister was coming into town to visit and we decided that it would be fun to do a St. Patrick's Day themed race, and since the 5K is the shortest one we picked that. By Thursday night I was deep in a grumpy tired hole of training and regretting the minute I emailed Sonja to ask about "the hurting thing" and had no idea how I was going to try and run miles that started with a 7 when it made me exhausted to run miles that started with a 9 in my long run earlier that day.
Fortunately the race didn't start until 10am, so I slept in and we took our time moseying over to the race. It was extremely low key. There was no course map on the website and it wasn't going to be chip-timed, so when I picked up my packet I made sure to ask if it was a certified course. I was more concerned that it was going to be long than short (this is called foreshadowing) but all the people working packet pick-up reassured me that it was carefully measured and marked.
I did my warm-up on the course, noting that it was relatively flat and on dirt except for the first/last half mile, then climbed back in the car to put my armwarmers on and take them off over and over until it was time to line up.
There was a girl at the starting line wearing tri shorts and Newtons (Hi! ....Hannah??) so I chatted with her a bit while we waited to get started. The announcer said something about a unicorn (?) and then had us all count down from 10 and we were off.
My race plan, if you could call it that, was to not sploodge my juice in the first mile but save a bit for the last two, and to just see how badly I could fucking hurt myself, no matter what the clock said. The first mile felt brisk but not actually hard, if that makes sense, which I am sure it does not. I counted five women ahead of me from the start and decided that I didn't want to get passed by any more. I glanced down a few times in the first mile only to note that my lap pace was starting with a 7, and otherwise ignored it. The first mile beeped somewhere on the trail and then, all too soon, we were turning around to head back. This made me pretty cranky, because when a turn-around is early, it usually means you run past the finish line and around the block a few times before actually crossing the line. (More foreshadowing).
The second mile had the teeny-tiniest incline in it near the end, but in a 5K that feels like a mountain and that's when it started to hurt a bit. I heard my watch beep for the second mile and thought to myself, "Okay, worst-case scenario, you have ten more minutes of running." I passed a few people in here and a guy dressed as a leprachaun pushing a stroller passed me, but I really just remember gritting my teeth and trying to tighten up my form and all too soon, I hear my start-line-friend yelling, "the course is short!" and then, suddenly, I crossed the finish line.
As much fun as it is for a course to be short so the suffering ends, I'm actually really disappointed. I felt like I was still holding back a bit and was waiting for the last half-mile to really dig into the hurt, and I didn't get the chance to do that. (Discussion and Garmin-comparing at the finish line had it roughly a half-mile short, if not a bit more). There was no making friends with the pain, there was no having a cup of tea with suffering, I wasn't even making animal sounds yet, it was just fast and over. (I have no idea why there are so many stupid flexing photos recently, maybe they have replaced ass shots).
The guy with the clipboard doing the results let me know that I was the fourth woman over the line, but someone forgot to turn the clock on (that was sitting at the finish line) so there aren't any times or anything official. Which is fine, because having a piece of the internet somewhere saying that I ran an 18:07 5K would haunt me until I could actually do it, which is likely to be never ever ever.
So project go find the pain got derailed a bit, but it's still pretty high up on the list of stuff I want to be working on. I was more anxious about running this distance than when I stood at the start line for IMCdA last summer, and that tells me I need to be doing it more. And the fact that this didn't even hurt all that much tells me that like most fears, the thing that I'm afraid of is rather ridiculous. Which I'm pretty sure is exactly how life works.