Comfortable Running | 5K Race

ok why do i look so short i promise im 5'5 and a half

This past weekend I raced my first USATF race of the season and all I can say is if someone can invent a hat that doesn't turn into a literal heater on my head as I keep running that would be great. In the beginning I'm thanking my hat for being on my head because of how cold it is (it was 21ºF | -6ºC) but once my body starts warming up that's when I'm ready to toss my hat, sweater and gloves off because suddenly I am a sauna personified.

ok now to the actual race tea!

Day Before the Race

The day before my first ever USATF (USA Track and Field) sanctioned event, I listened to a motivational podcast to calm down any nerves. So, I decided to keep with this tradition and opened Spotify and listened to Fearless Motivation - Motivation Podcast for most of the day before this race.  I constantly looked over at the race website to take a look at the details they had about the course: It was going to be a flat course- based on the map that seemed to be true - and professionally timed. Oh and also, you get a free mug for the first 300 Runners who passed the finish line so uh clearly I need more mugs for my collection that is overflowing - I'd like to thank the person who gave this mug idea.

Also, in terms of protein for the day before, I actually made something from Sophie over at - Lentil Ragu Recipe. The first time I made this, I made it with whole wheat pasta and this time that I made it I decided to have it with Freekeh. It tastes amazing, and if you need to spice up your day-before-race dinner, I'd really recommend giving it a try!

Day of the Race

So this day started hilariously (well, hilarious to think of now). I had about 3 massive cups of water before leaving the house - and as I started driving to the race location, about 10 minutes in my bladder decided to alert me of its existence. So for about the whole drive I was counting the minutes until I got to a bathroom.

The good thing is that when I got there there was a lot of parking spaces. The first parking lot was full when I got there, so I had to drive to a second parking lot that was a bit of a walk from the main place for registering. You'd think that as a runner I wouldn't mind this walking - and would treat it as a warm up - but, ya girl here needed a bathroom like I needed oxygen to breathe.

When I got to the doors of the place, there was a person at the front mentioning that on the top floor there was registration and on the second floor was where to get free shirts. Without missing a beat I replied 'and bathrooms?' - I swear my mom was laughing so hard behind me.

By the time I registered, everyone was already heading out to the start line so I didn't have enough time to properly warm up - tip for myself is to actually not snooze my alarm thinking 'oh I have time', I left a bit later from my house than I should have.

Actual Race

The race started with about .5 seconds of a flat section and suddenly the path went up a hill. Now, I've done hill sprints to prepare for any type of race course so this wasn't something I hadn't trained for before - I just wasn't expecting it. (In other words whoever said that it was a flat course I just wanna talk) I started off at a 6'26 pacing and started to feel like I had to conserve my energy better. I slowed down my pace to conserve and spread my energy throughout the 3.1 miles but the mistake I made was that I conserved it too much.

Throughout the race, I decided to "keep pace" with someone who was next to me. The thing that kept happening was that the person would either be too slow that I'd just pass and try to find someone else to keep pace with or the person is going at a pace where I felt I wouldn't finish strong. I decided mid-way to just go my own pace that felt comfortable and told myself that it was my race so going at pace with someone else is turning my race into someone else's.

I finished the first mile in 8:16, the second mile 9:00 and I'm not sure what the third mile was, actually. From that first mile I was strong, but by mile 2 and mile 3 I felt like I need to pull in the speed and spread it out better. 

Race Results

here we have a 30 minutes post race sahara who was warmed up after her race but since this photo was taken 30 minutes after the race I was not so warm & was turning into a popsicle - also people were playing ice hockey on the lake and not going to lie, I wanted to join

I finished it in 27:24:30 and placed 3rd in my age group! My previous race I finished in 27:57 (that's the unofficial time but the official time was 28:03) - so!! I went faster which I was really happy about. I felt more in control and comfortable during this race, maybe a little too comfortable but that's okay.

One piece of advice:
 It's better to run comfortable and in control than to run uncomfortable and out of control.

I've had faster training runs of the same distance and at first I was put off by the time I finished in. But something a friend of mine was saying was that this specific race doesn't determine how fast you can go. That's when I started to think of races in the same way as Standardized Tests. A standardized test does not determine your intelligence, I'm looking at you SAT (this is a Standardized test in the USA!) just as this race does not determine how fast I am capable of going.

My mom was so happy to hear that I placed when I told her and that's when I realized that I was looking at everything all wrong. I was nitpicking and saying everything I did not do, not immediately realizing that being able to run is a blessing in it of itself. I've been injured. I've been on the sidelines. And here I was healthy & able to run and exercise and now I'm being picky? It just didn't feel right to take away from the moment that this was for me. 

I walked away with a new 1K PR of 4:54, a faster 5K than my last, and with a stronger finish than my last.

Also I wasn't the only one who noticed it wasn't really ~flat~ as the website said! A few runners were chatting about how that was not a flat run at all but overall it wasn't too bad in terms of hills.

What I've Learned

I've learned that I'm more than just numbers on a chip time. Also, to enjoy every moment as it is and not think of what the moment is not. In terms of running training, I've come to the conclusion to run on paths that include hills. Up until this point, I have only been running on hills for hill sprints not necessarily on my 5K Sundays which are normally pretty flat.

So, I guess it's time I varied my running route, which is going to be interesting since I normally run the same exact path - so I'm all for changing scenery!

In terms of strength, I need to work more on my core strength and arm strength. My core could be better/stronger and my arms, well they're not noodles anymore but they could use a bit more work!

Overall, I'm really happy with how the race went down - oh, and yes yes yes I did get the mug!! I came in place 85th/287 Runners and 32nd Female/178 Female runners! - and also, by the looks of it, I'm going to have to figure out how to store my medals + bibs because just pilling them in a corner of my room is apparently not the right solution.


  1. Sophie's recipes always look and sound so fab so I bet it was soooo good and gave you loads of energy! I have had that full bladder feeling, not long ago actually, I was waiting in a very long queue to get inside a venue! I don't blame you for wanting to know where the bathroom is it is such a priority ( I feel a bit old :/ ) Just when I think running on flat land is bad enough... A HILL?! You really are a superstar you know. Amazing that you finished 3rd out of your age group and that you were faster than before.. AND you got the mug YES! It is good that you know where you need to improve. I need to work on my arms too because they are actual noodles. You are doing amazing, great post! xx

    1. Yes! This was the first time I've made one of her recipes and honestly how have I not made it sooner, her Lentil Ragu recipe was so delicious (even if the first time I made it the tears were too real for fine onion chopping, you'd think I was watching the film My Sister's Keeper in 3D) - definitely just the amount of protein I needed for the day before a race that's for sure!

      Bathrooms are such a priority like no matter where I am, as long as I know where the bathroom is I'm all sorted haha. THAT HILL CAME OUT OF NO WHERE, I JUST WANT TO HAVE A NICE CHAT ON THE PERSON WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A FLAT COURSE, like I was living my best life for .5 seconds and that hill was like SURPRISE YOU THOUGHT.

      Ah girl you're so so sweet, thank you so much!! And that's one of the most important things about racing, every race I do I constantly learn what changes I need to make, it's all one long learning experience :)

      ps. I mean, I almost couldn't open a glass container a couple of week ago, so I think my arms might just be noodles as well hahaha

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  2. I love your posts and I loved this one! I'm about the same height as you - 5'5" and a quarter (that quarter is VERY important!). Sorry but I laughed about you needing the bathroom so badly, haha. It sounds like you had a great race in the end though!


    1. AW thank you so much!! This just made me smile so much, I'm so happy you enjoyed reading this post and my posts in general :) And yes, that quarter is VERY important haha, some angles I look shorter that I am and it's like I can't *not* mention I'm taller than I appear in the photo!

      HAHAHA at least now I know what not do on the morning of a race!

  3. I hate feeling like there's even a chance that I'll need the bathroom before or during a run, it's so distracting! I'm really happy that you stopped beating yourself up about your time. Sometimes you might go a little slower than normal but if you end and you've managed to keep a pace and feel good at the end, it's still a win even if it's not the best pace ever.I hate hills so much, I always feel like I'm going to die even if I do them at good speed. You made the ragu again?! YAY! I loved the twitter commentary the first time so I'm really happy you liked it enough to make it twice. x


    1. (I'm really not sure how I haven't responded to this comment oh wow hi!)

      Yes! I hate when it's like I'm about to start running and it's like well wouldn't now be a good time to use the bathroom. *me as I look into the camera that doesn't exist* and then there's me on the starting line like uh come again no now is not a good time hahaha. And yes 100% at first I was upset about my time but some days are slower than others - as long as I'm strong and steady throughout the run that's all that matters :)

      Hills are like my enemy, anytime I do hill sprints i low-key dread them, in races I'm always like ok so who DECIDED here was a great place to put a hill, the satisfaction of making it to the top cannot be matched though!

      Your lentil ragu is such a staple in my life what is my life without it I actually don't know haha - it's been a while since I've made it, may just make it this week again! :)

  4. Another amazing post, Sahara! I'm always in awe of you, your fitness and your running. I hate running, even when I was a lot fitter than I am now, I hated running but wish I didn't! I also HATE needing a wee in the car. Worst feeling ever!


    1. Not sure how I haven't responded to this yet! Thank you so much Jenny! I feel like with running, it either grows on you or you end up preferring cycling instead haha either or! And yes! the worst feeling ever is needing a bathroom while driving! Lesson learned - never drink 3 massive cups of water before leaving the house!

  5. 27:24 is a great time for 5k! I am super proud of you. I also want a mug the next time I compete in a race, thank you :p

    1. Not sure how I haven't responded to this yet! Thank you so much! The mug was such a nice touch, especially since you grab hot chocolate in it after the race :)

  6. Oh my gosh that is absolutely amazing my darling! Congrats on such an amazing time!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  7. Ahhhh THE BATHROOM THO. I FEEL THIS SO DEEPLY. Whenever I used to do races it would be around a loch or a foresty type place and always without fail about halfway though my bladder would be like either you finish now or you find a bush - and I was a teenager so I'd run ridiculously fast. My coaches would be like omg you did so well and I'd be like "...need... bath...rooom..." You should defs find somewhere for your medals gal!! You're doing amazingly! <3 <3

    1. Not sure how I haven't responded to this yet!! That bathroom feeling oh my god literally I feel like I've stamped it in my mind NEVER drink 3 massive cups of water before driving! I can so relate!! Mid-way during races I feel like bladder likes to alert me to it's existence, it's a perfect way to encourage you to go faster because the faster you go the faster you get to a bathroom hahaha

      I love running where there's a lot of trees and running through a foresty type place - honestly makes for such amazing views when running!

      AHH thank you so much! I still have to figure out how to store my medals, time for Pinterest to come and save the day!