June 09, 2014

Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival: 5K & 10K race reports

...Continued from Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival, Part 1; Part 2; and Part 3.

Considering I was registered for the Hat Trick (5K, 10K, and half-marathon), you would think that the races would be the major part of the weekend; but with all the other stuff going on, the races were just a small piece. Staying so busy actually helped me to kind of forget that I would be running 22.4 miles before going home! ;)

On Saturday morning, I was up super early. I just couldn't sleep well, and it was really light outside so early in the morning. I chose to wear a super bright orange shirt for the 5K & 10K races, so that I would be easy (well, easier) to spot if a reader wanted to meet up. I had no idea that the race would be so big, otherwise I would have come up with a more specific meeting plan.

I had planned on wearing black capris, but after the Running Skirts "fashion show" that I took part in the day before, I decided to wear the skirt I was given. It actually had black capris attached to it, so my thighs were still covered (I can't wear shorts/skirts because of my loose skin). There was some bright orange in the skirt, so it matched my shirt.

I wore a hat, because it was already really sunny outside, and finally... I wore the blue mustache slap bracelet that my Ragnar SoCal team had worn in memory of Mark. To me, the bracelet represents Mark's positive attitude, and that he NEVER complained about anything, even though he certainly had a lot of things to complain about. I knew that the races this weekend were going to be tough, and I wanted to wear the bracelet to remind me that no matter how bad it got, someone else has it even tougher, and I shouldn't complain.

I was really nervous about the races, because I knew the courses were hilly, and it was so sunny and hot outside, even for a 7:15 AM start. I walked up to the race with some of the other bloggers.

When I say "walked up", I mean that very literally. We had to go up about 60 steps to get to the starting area! My thighs were a little sore before we even reached the starting line ;)

The 5K
There were a ton of people there lined up for the 5K--I got into the corral and the farthest I could move forward was between the 10:00/mi and 11:00/mi pacer. That was fine with me, though, because I planned to run about a 10:30/mi pace for all three races.

When the gun went off, it took a long time to get to the starting line. Once I crossed, I was really glad that I wasn't trying for a PR because it would have been frustrating trying to go around people. Once I started running, my legs could definitely feel the hill workout I'd done on Friday--it wasn't too bad, but my legs didn't feel very fresh.

It was quite a bit hotter than I expected it to be, too. The hardest part about the 5K was giving myself permission to run it nice and slowly. My slowest 5K, up until this race, was 27:17 (an 8:46/mi pace); so it was hard to make myself believe that it's okay to run a 5K at a 10:00+ pace. But I kept reminding myself that the slower I went today, the easier the half-marathon would feel tomorrow.

The finisher's chute on this race is fantastic--you turn a corner, and then the last tenth of a mile is just lined with a ton of people (and shade!). I crossed the finish line in 31:32 (a 10:09/mi pace).

I took my medal, and got some water, then chatted with the other bloggers and walked around a little. One run done, two more to go!

With my roommate, Jessica, who did the Five & Dime

The 10K
After about a 40 minute break, I lined up for the 10K start. Again, it was pretty crowded, and I lined up in the same place as before. While I was standing there, I heard someone say my name. Turns out it was a reader named Crystal, and she gave me a hug (poor girl, I was very sweaty after doing that 5K!). We chatted at the starting line for a few minutes before the race started, and then we were off. Again.

I felt better during the 10K than I did during the 5K; I think because my legs had loosened up a little, and the sun wasn't directly in my face.

The 10K course is an out-and-back, which I love. I like out-and-back courses because you can see people ahead or behind you going in the opposite direction. As we ran along, we could look to the right and see other racers. I actually saw Shalane Flanagan go past (way in the front of the pack, of course!). I was on the lookout for Caitlin, who I figured would be at least a few minutes ahead of me.

I heard "Hey, Katie!" and I saw Caitlin wave to me. I kept thinking I saw the turn-around point just ahead, but it ended up being farther than I thought. Finally, we turned, and I had just three miles to go.

I managed to take a pretty good mid-race selfie during the 10K. Dani, from Weight Off My Shoulders, is the master of taking mid-race selfies, and she gave us some pointers. I decided to try it out, and I got (what I think is) a good one!

The last half of the 10K was tough! Miles 4-6 contains Heartbreak Hill, which just feels like a really, really long, gradual incline. It wasn't nearly as steep or dramatic as I imagined, but it was hard! I found while doing this race that the long, gradual hills are much tougher than short, steep hills.

My only real goal for these races was to run the whole thing (except while drinking water at the water stations). I didn't want to walk the hills, because I thought it would be a good challenge for myself. And I was right! I almost caved on Heartbreak Hill, because it was so hot and my legs were tired, but once I could see the crest of the hill, I knew I'd make it. The last part quarter mile was downhill, so you can get a good pace going to cross the finish line. I finished the 10K in 1:02:23 (a 10:03/mi pace).

After the race, I was walking around a bit, and ran into another reader. Her name is Lisa, and she's lost a whopping 75 pounds!

I was so relieved to be done with the first two races. I tried not to think about the fact that I was going to be running 13.1 more miles the next morning!

This post ended up being much longer than I thought. I'll do a separate post for the half-marathon.


  1. Doing my first 10K Saturday...walking not running (hoping next year I will be running it.) I might need some of those mid-race selfie pointers :)

  2. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    Ugh! Hills and heat are my kryptonite. Glad you lived to tell about it ; )

  3. I did the 10K on Saturday - my first 10K - My quads are definitely feeling it today! I really liked that short downhill to the finish line that I was able to gun it. I was so close to walking at the end of the Hill - I took 1 step to walk but stopped myself as I have yet to walk during any races. I was thrilled the water stops were fairly plentiful.

  4. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    Way to go!!

  5. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    I love that you wore Mark's mustache slap bracelet. I got chills seeing it again and all the memories tied to it.

  6. Love the blue bracelet!! It's amazing how powerful something can become. I'm with Martha...It gave me the cills to see it on your arm again. So happy you had a great weekend. Hugs!

  7. Will you share the selfie tips, TIA!

  8. It sounds like a great weekend! My daughter and I are still amazed you did all here races! Awesome.

    That's neat your wore Mark's bracelet. Great thought.

  9. I just have to say that you took an epic mid-run selfie. I died laughing when I looked at mine...

  10. Omg a lot has happened since I last read your blog. What a year you've had. Love the bracelet.. that is such a sweet thing to do! Great job on the races!

  11. Thanks for being my roomie! So glad we met! Hope to see you again soon :)

  12. Congrats. You killed them both!!!!

  13. Congrats !! sounds like you had a blast - the Selfie was awesome, you are so photogenic.... Love that you wore the bracelet and what it stands for... no matter what we are going thru someone out there always has it worse... great attitude !

  14. I love that you wore that bracelet. That bracelet got me through some tough oarts during Ragnar, I'd remember looking at my wrist and it would inspire me to push on. :)


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