Valentine's Day TC 5K Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran the Valentine’s Day TC 5K at Lake Nokomis. And if you follow me on social media (@JenniferLThiel on Twitter or @Jennifer.L.Thiel on Instagram), you already know I had a pretty awesome race! But let’s start at the beginning.

I slept pretty good the night before (which doesn’t always happen before a race) and woke up just before 6 a.m. Of course, because of the way Vinnie decided to sleep my arms had fallen asleep and I was a little bit stiff. That’s what happens when you let a bed hog dog in bed.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the morning, just had my usual coffee and oatmeal breakfast (with a diced apple in my oatmeal because we are out of both frozen berries and jam). Vinnie was super sleepy all morning and just laid on the couch until I started pouring my coffee because he knows that's when he gets his morning Kong. Such a spoiled dog.

Mike got up at 8 a.m. (we planned on leaving at 9 a.m.) and I was already dressed and ready to go. So while Mike got ready, I took Vinnie out on a walk and also foam rolled just to get some of my soreness out. Then, we got our bibs on, kenneled up Vinnie (so that he could nap some more) and headed on out!

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The one downside to this race was there isn’t a ton of parking close by and the roads were pretty busy. We were about 20 minutes away from race start when Mike decided to drop me off and go find street parking. So I had a short, two minute walk to the starting area and I got in the corral by the 9 minute pace sign. Meanwhile, Mike found a parking spot about ¼ of a mile away and walked to the start, lining up towards the back of the pack. I love that Mike will come and do a 5K in single digit temperatures “with” me even though I’m way ahead of him.

It wasn’t too crowded when I first got there so I got in my dynamic warm-up moves. However, it ot crowded pretty quickly and by the time it was race start we were packed in. Which wasn’t bad since it was chilly out there. The temperature was single digits and it was probably about -5 to -8 with the windchill. So, a regular run temperature for me!

When the start gun went off, I felt like I was going slow and was anxious if I was going to PR on this race. My 5K PR was 28:35 (a 9:12 average pace) and it didn’t feel like i was going that fast. I was hoping that the crowds would thin out soon and I’d get going faster. That’s the downside of self-corralling races, you end up weaving around people who line up in a spot way too fast.

However, I shouldn’t have been worried about not going fast enough. Looking back at my data, I was going at a sub-9 minute pace after the first minute. But it seriously didn’t feel like that. I finally looked at my watch around the ¾ mile mark and almost swore when I saw my pace was around 8:35 min/mile. I don’t think I’ve ever run a sub-9 minute mile. So I was both happy and scared. Was I going to be able to keep it up?

I passed the first mile marker and kept on passing people. There’s something that makes me feel good when I pass people on a race course. Of course, I don’t pay attention to the people passing me.

I kept on feeling great during mile two and I was thinking that I was going to get a better PR than I originally thought. I was going to be super happy about PR-ing by five seconds with how long it’s been since I raced a 5K. By the time I passed mile two, I realized even if I somehow slowed to a 10 minute mile, I’d still PR by almost 90 seconds.

I slowed down just a bit in the final mile. I wasn’t hurting or feeling like I was losing steam but I didn’t want to crash and burn at the last moment. And I think doing this was the right choice since I had enough left in me to give a good kick across the finish line.

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And boy was I happy when I saw the time on my watch! I finished in 26:36, a 2 minute PR, and I felt awesome at the end. I got my medal (a gorgeous pink heart-shaped one) and wandered my way to the food area. Of course, I had to grab a heart-shaped sugar cookie post-race and it was the best cookie ever. Probably because it was a post-PR cookie.

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I was able to get pretty close to the finish line and waited for Mike to finish. He was about 20 or so minutes behind me but even though I was right at the finish line I missed seeing him cross! I blame it on the fact that I decided to do a finish line selfie as long as I was waiting. We walked back to the car and I finally started to feel the cold on the walk back.

Luckily, I had some Nuun waiting for me in the car because I was thirsty. Pro-tip: if it’s super cold outside, make your Nuun with hot water and it will take it much longer to freeze. I did it for my 14 mile long run last week too and it lasted over two hours in 15° (without the windchill).

So now it’s back to marathon training but I still have one more race coming up before the Eau Claire Marathon. I’ll be running the Hot Dash 10 mile on March 24, with Mike being my official race photographer. We’ve run the 5K course before but this will be my first time running the 10 mile (and my third 10 mile race). We’ll see if I can pull out another PR