Five Fall Races

I'm back from vacation (see my Colorado trip recaps if you missed them) and happy to be linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What. I wanted to devote this Friday Five post to something I've been thinking about a lot--races.

Some of my favorite blog posts to read are race recaps. And yet, I don't love races. Running, yes. Races, with the all the anxiety and pressure, not so much. So I have not done many races, and of the four races in which I was trying to reach a goal, I only reached my goal in one (which was a finish-without-walking goal, not a time goal). Not only do I not love races, I also haven't been very successful in them...which maybe contributes to not loving them.

Last winter, I trained very hard (outside, through the polar vortex, without missing a single training run) to run a sub-30 5K. Granted, I set that goal arbitrarily without thinking about my true ability, which I now know was the wrong thing to do after reading Run Less, Run Faster. But first attempt in March was 30:06 and second in May was 30:20. Can you feel my pain? I've been trying hard not to compare myself to others (Steffany from Run Steff Run just wrote a great post on that), but it's difficult when I read blog posts along the lines of, "I didn't do as much training as I wanted to, but hey, I ran a new PR!" or "This was just supposed to be a fun race and I didn't really try, but hey, I got a new PR!"
Crossing the finish line of my last 5K race in May

I haven't raced a 5K since then. I think I've been feeling like if I don't race, I won't be disappointed if I don't do well. But recently, I read posts from Mar on the Run and Run Jenny Run about using races as training runs. And I'm inspired by Sparkly Runner, who always seems to have so much fun at all the races she runs. And Kristy from Pittsburgh Runner just wrote a great post on why it's okay not to PR. So I'm trying to shift my thinking from "If I race, I must PR," thinking that's filled with pressure and anxiety, to using races for training or even just for fun. You know what that means--I have to get out there and race! 5Ks, I'm looking at you. I'll still shoot for my sub-30 goal, but another big goal will be to not cry like a baby if I don't meet that goal.

My goal half marathon is October 18, after which I'll have some time to race for fun before starting training for 2015 races. Here's my target race schedule for the fall.
  1. Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (October 18). This is my goal race for this year, which I've been training for since I ran it last year. This was the race where I met my goal to finish without walking, but I ran slowly and wondered how everyone else ran it so fast. It was then that I decided I would really work to get faster and improve overall as a runner, and I set goals to train and run for a 5K and 10K this year to build a foundation for half marathon training. Unless absolutely everything goes wrong and I completely fall apart, I'm pretty confident that I'll have a better time. I do need to work on handling the anxiety and pressure, though.
  2. Jack-O-Lantern Jog 5K (October 25). This race is in Washington, PA. I can't find anything about the course, so I'll be winging it.
  3. ZooZilla 5K (November 1). This race is held in the Pittsburgh Zoo. The description says it's a challenging course that starts with a big uphill climb before entering the zoo.
  4. Turkey Trot 5K (November 27). I did the five-mile race for the Turkey Trot last year and loved it.
  5. Jingle Bell 5K (December 13). This race uses the trail I frequently run on, so I know the course well.
I am hoping that after running these races, I'll be more comfortable with races in general. Who knows, maybe one day I'll even love them!

How do you feel about races? Do you race a lot? Do you use races for training or fun runs?

Check out the linkup!

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