Rocky Mountain 5K Race Recap

I ran the Rocky Mountain 5K as part of the Elk Challenge, which was to race both the 5K on Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. This is the recap for the 5K, and I’ll post the half marathon recap soon!

I was in wave 1 for both races and lined up at the front for the 5K with the intention of taking things slow and saving my energy for the half the next morning. The race announcer came on speaker to say that if you wanted to be in contention for an overall award, it will be based on your gun time, not your chip time. I looked around to see who was there and to size up my competition (at this point I had no intention of going for an overall award). The women around me looked no faster than I was, so I got arrogant, took a chance, and went to the very front of the starting line. All intentions of taking things slow were going out the window.

I could see that the first mile began with a giant hill. It looked daunting and hard and I figured that if I took things too fast, I’d be very sorry later.

Well, the race started and I took things too fast. I got to the top of the hill at around the half-mile mark and noticed that I was running a sub-7 mile pace. I backed off (a lot) and just cruised on the flats. At this point I was the first place female, but I was running scared. It is not easy to run in the lead and it was really making me feel a little stressed out. I wasn’t sure how far back the 2nd place girl was, but I was inwardly hoping that she would pass me to take the pressure off.

And then just after the 1-mile mark, the 2nd place woman passed me and I felt like the pressure was off. I pulled back a bit and reminded myself that I had a half marathon the next day, which was a target race for me and a potential PR. I kept the 1st place girl in my sights, but really had no intention of going after her. I was already feeling a little tired and was desperately trying not to push myself too hard. Miles 2 and 3 were mentally tough, but I was doing a good job passing some of the men and kept my women’s overall place.

Just before the finish line, there was a female elk chilling out. I was pretty excited, since how often is it that you see an elk during a road race. Just as I was coming into the finish chute, I heard the announcer say my name, hometown, and place. It was pretty exciting coming in to a rather big crowd and party.

My final time was 23:55, not bad for a hilly course at 7,500 feet!

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I think I was most excited about my NPS pass.

After I grabbed some food and water, I was shuffled over to where the awards ceremony would be. After about 20 minutes of waiting, they called the winners up to the podium and gave us our medals and National Parks Passes (yes, a won a National Park pass… pretty much the best thing ever). I’d never stood on a podium at a race before, so this was pretty freaking exciting.

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A beautiful and perfect setting for a 5K.

Frank and I walked around a bit, trying to shake off some of the lactic acid. I was over the moon with my 2nd place, but I knew I had to get to bed soon to be fresh and ready for the half the next morning.

To be continued…

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16 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain 5K Race Recap

  1. Congrats on a great race. Yours is the second post I’ve read recently where the blogger ran a 5km the day before their longer race. I’m doing my first half this Sunday + we have a great, free, timed 5km race on every Sat morning over here. Would you recommend? I know the usual caveats about everyone being different etc but is this something lots of people seem to do or just your own preference??

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    • I don’t know. I typically don’t run fast before a big race. Sometimes I’ll do like 2 miles really really slow to just shake things out. This double race thing was only so I could complete the Elk Challenge. To be completely honest, had I let my ego get the best of me and chased down the 1st place girl, I would have given up any chance of a good race the next day. If you run it, I’d keep it slow… like 2 min/mile slower than you usually run. Good luck on your half!!

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  2. Congrats!! That is the most awesome prize ever. So cool. I would not want to run at the front of the pack either. I’m sure I would be just as relieved as you were to get passed (although I’d still try to hang on for a top 3!). Racing myself is one thing but racing against others freaks me out.

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    • Right?! I had no idea that was the prize, but I was thrilled. Mine expired in June, so it was perfect timing too!

      Racing in the front is so terrible and also fun… I kinda want to train up for a really solid 5K and do it again. Haha!

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      • You should do it! One of my secret (I guess not-so-secret) dreams for my training cycle is to place in one of my races. It’s hard to train for that though because it all depends on who else shows up.

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      • You just have to adjust how you race. Pick out a race that has a finish time that is doable for you and then run with the leaders. I’ve done that twice now (Free State Half and this one). It doesn’t feel good though. Neither race left me feeling nearly as well as I did after Rocky Mountain Half. It is really fun to place though.

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  3. THAT IS THE BEST PRIZE EVER!!!! I know you will be using that thing. It is so scary to be first, which is crazy because shouldn’t that be a GOOD feeling? No. It’s only good if you’re first and you have like a tenth of a mile to go and there is no one behind you! 🙂 Congrats on your second place finish.

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    • I know!!! Especially for us. Frank was pretty excited too, since we were about to drop the $80 for a new one the next day.

      Being in 1st is definitely very stressful… I’d much rather take 1st from someone else than run in 1st for the whole race.

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