Holly Jolly Fun Run – 5K Race Recap

There’s something to be said for last minute races. It seems to work for me when it comes to 5ks, anyway.

At the beginning of this year, I set a few goals for myself and PBing at the 5K distance was at the top of the list. I found a bunch of local races in the area and signed up myself up to keep me motivated throughout the Winter. It took me 4 races before I finally squeaked out an 8 second PB at a race I signed up for at the last second. Then I ran a horrible summer race that made me feel like I fell backwards and left a bad taste in my mouth. So I tucked away my 5K goals and focused the rest of my summer on training for a Fall half-marathon.

As soon as my half-marathon was over, I came across the Holly Jolly Fun Run 5K. The route looked pretty good – fairly downhill and I know the area well. I just didn’t know if I wanted to bother with trying to race a 5K again – I hate them! They hate me. Usually my entire 5km race experience is a 5 km hate fest. But, the season was over. I already completed my goal race, and so I registered the Wednesday before the race and decided to give it a go.

The prettiest course map I’ve ever seen.

There was no pre-race day prep. I did my usual trail run on Saturday morning, but took it a little more easy than I normally do. I had a burrito for dinner, drank beer, and ate chocolate. I woke up the next morning and had my usual smoothie breakfast (without yogurt) and tried to drink as much water as I could.

Mike planned his long run around me (love him) and did 5km on his own before joining me for a 6km warm up to the start line. At this point I was feeling nervous. I’m a “comfy” runner. And with the changing weather, I had no idea what to wear. Another reminder that I really need to lay out my clothes the night before. Apparently, I never learn.

Since I struggle with 5K races, I thought going for around 23:30 would be a decent time goal to aim for.  But then my coach emailed me and told me to shoot for low or sub 23 “if it was nice out”. I looked up what the average pace for that would be and felt intimidated. It just seemed out of my realm of ability. But, after a pep talk from Mike and my friend Eric, I decided to just go for it.

The race

KM Splits: (1) 4:42 (2) 4:35 (3) 4:28 (4) 4:31 (5) 4:24

The race was pretty uneventful, aside from the fact that I felt strong from start to finish. I was pretty nervous during the warm up because I felt kind of tired and out of shape, but I’ve come to accept this as the norm for warm ups before races.

I started out at what felt like a conservative pace and was happy to see a 4:42 on my watch when it beeped at the 1km mark. That was the last time I checked my pace, I’ve realized that I tend to get hung up on pace and end up wasting a lot of energy worrying about it. Eric convinced me to run the race based on feel: “comfortably hard” and “a little hard to breath but can still hang on”. When we hit University Ave, I tried to pick up the pace a little, without feeling like I was going all out. Whenever I caught myself losing focus and getting distracted, I tried to snap myself out of it and stay in the moment. This race was scheduled half an hour before the Santa Claus parade so families were lined up along the entire route and kids came out to high-five us runners as we passed by. I had a ton of fun and high-fived as many kids as I could. The whole thing went by really fast, actually.

This guy wore a Santa beard and therefore received millions of cheers from little kids. Which means I got to feed off the energy of their cheering even though none of them were actually for me. (Also, Santa beat me).

I saw Mike somewhere around the last 500m and he ran with me for a bit. He tried to motivate me, but I was blasting music so loud in my ears that I couldn’t really hear what he was saying. Actually, I bumped into my friends Wing (who had a massive PB – read her recap here) and Sam near the end as well but couldn’t hear them, either. I was totally in my own zone, which is a first for me when it comes to running races. I’ve also realized that I panic (practically hyperventilate) at the sound of my heavy breathing, so my band-aid solution for now is to drown out the sound of with music so that I don’t get tempted to give up mid-race. It seems to be working for now, so I’m just going with it to help build up my confidence.

Mike and I discussed the route briefly during the warm up, and I was mentally prepared to run about 1.5km after we turned off University Ave (the main street on the course). As I was running down University, I kept telling myself to leave something in the tank for after we turned off it. Except, as soon as we turned off University, I saw the Finish line and realized I had severely miscalculated how much I still had to go. Oops. It was my fault for not knowing the course better, and I do regret not going harder in the last (actual) km as I could have. But honestly, I’m happy with how the race went so I don’t really regret much at all. I felt strong the entire time, and never hit that “pain train” zone where I feel an overwhelming urge to give up and walk to the Finish.

My official chip time was 22:40.

Like I said, I’m really happy with how this race turned out. At the beginning of this year, I thought I was doomed to hover in the 24 minute mark and it was annoying me. I started to think that 5Ks were just not my distance and I was about to give up on them entirely. But you know what? 5Ks have their place, and I’m totally game to do this all over again next year.


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4 thoughts on “Holly Jolly Fun Run – 5K Race Recap”

    1. It took a while for me to realize that I can’t decide the timeline for these things to happen and to just put the work in and get there when I… get there. 🙂 xo

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