Fun & Speedy 8K Race Recap

sahara after 8K race - thumbs up standing in front of trees and leaves

I mentioned over in my last race recap that I was racing towards the end of November - so for the first time racing 2 times in one month! - and was racing in the 8K (5 Miles) distance rather than my usual 5K's (3.1 Miles). This wasn't just any race though, it was a USATF 8K Championship race. I've never raced a championship race before. They had a pamphlet for this 8K race at the 5K race I raced earlier in the month and I just happened to look down at the stack of pamphlets near the bagels and picked one up. Smart of them to place the pamphlets by bagels.

I originally was thinking of not racing it about a week before the day of the race - or as I like to mention this as: the day before the price hike happened to the race price. I usually go to my races with my mom or sister and as this race was happening on Thanksgiving (Nov. 28th!) I didn't want it to be an inconvenience for my sister to come along on her day off. But my dad encouraged me to sign up for the race anyways, and that everything would fall into place as the day got closer.

So, let's get started on this recap!

What was the day before the race like?

Now, I am only including this section because my neck felt like acting up really randomly. I should really get some sort of special pillow. In the evening my neck/shoulder area started to feel stiff? And I was like oh no no no no no THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS. I ended up icing the area for a couple of hours (didn't want to waste a heating pad that lasts for 8+ hours when I was going to sleep soon!).

My sister was sitting next to me like so does this mean you're not racing? (Translation: Does this mean I don't have to wake up early on my off day?) And my response no no, I'm racing, I'll be fine. And she was essentially like how can you say that, you don't know that? And to that I responded Inshallah (As God Wills) I'll be fine for the race tomorrow when I wake up.

What did I eat the day before the race

When I woke up - I felt A-OKAY! THANK U GOD. Last time I was racing, I decided to not have pasta to carb-load, this time around pasta was the queen in this household™. I ended up making whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and garlic. If you're like me and always mess up the order to actually put all of that in a sauce pan so everything turns out okay:

Before we start the recipe - As you put your pasta in a pot of boiling water, put olive oil in a pan and make sure said pan is a bit of a deep one to fit everything!

What you'll need:

1 Small Onion
15 Cherry Tomatoes (a handful/however much you'd like!)
5 Pieces of Garlic (or however much you'd like!)
1 Large Mushroom


1. Chop the onion - this goes in first. Wait until soft-ish.
2. Slice handful of cherry tomatoes in half  - this goes in second. Wait 1 minute.
3. Cut the Broccoli in however chunks you'd like - this goes in third. Mix everything together and wait a couple of minutes. (or more specifically, 2-3 minutes)
4. Dice your garlic - about 5 pieces- this goes in fourth. Mix everything together. (no waiting time between this and next step after mixing!)
5. Chop up your mushroom in large chunks - I used just one massive one - put this in last. Wait 2 minutes.
6. Don't forget your seasonings! Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion powder - all that good stuff, sprinkle a good amount in!
7. Once your pasta is done boiling (I had mine in for 9 minutes because that's what the box said and who am I to argue) strain your pasta and put said pasta in the deep pan with all those vegetables.

Mix around the pasta for a good 2-3 minutes.

And there we have it, a nice bright plate of pasta! It's honestly so tasty, like how I made this off the top of my head is a miracle.

If you're in need of some food bloggers - I'm going to direct you to Sophie from GlowSteady and Romina from Romina's Little Corner because they both are masters in the cooking domain while I am like.... the definition of inadequate at best.

sahara with white nike hijab, black nike long sleeve and green running pants standing with her phone armband
this arm band thankfully didn't slip too much on my arm!

What did I eat | drink the morning of the race

Similar to my previous race, sunny side up eggs was on the menu for race day! I drank a small cup of water not 16oz though because I didn't want to have to keep running to the bathroom. But in the end did I end up running to the porta potty about 3 minutes before the race began, yes yes I did.

How was the race location - was it easy for parking?

HAHAHAHA no. So my sister and I were trying to find parking - several roads were closed for the race, so we had to ask some volunteers where parking was etc. as it wasn't really marked. They sent an email for where to park but once I got to the town, and started typing the places they mentioned in the email in my Maps app nothing showed up - as if the location they sent was not what I was supposed to be copying and pasting into my Maps App. In the end my sister had to drop me off near the starting area so I could grab my bib and get to the race itself on time while she searched for side parking.

How was getting ready for the race?

* Before leaving the house I did a 10 minute stretch with my foam roller because warming up is important! *

There were 2,933 people racing this 8K Championship race. By the time I got my bib, I had 7 minutes until the race actually started so I was sprinting to get to the starting area before my bladder alerted me of its existence. Even though I drank the smallest amount of water to feel hydrated, I'm just going to assume bathroom dashes before a race are going to be the norm with me.

sahara standing with wind blowing behind
love this wind - the leaves kept flying on us runners

So, I made a dash towards the porta potty's that were near the starting area and there was a line. A LINE. I looked at my phone, 7 minutes until the race started. Based on the website, they'd be starting right on the dot. So after I managed to go to the porta potty, I had 3 minutes left before the race started. The issue? I was given one of those free long sleeve tops, and my sister had only just found parking so was only starting to walk to the race area. I was on the phone with her, and I had two options:

1. Put the long-sleeve on top of the long-sleeve I was already wearing. (not ideal)
2. Leave said long-sleeve by a 'Do Not Enter' sign and hope that my sister found this specific sign to grab it.

I ended up choosing to leave it at the sign, leaving it on a ledge of greenery there and let my sister know where it was. (granted I was 90% sure she wouldn't find it).

The race started at 9 on the dot and let me bring you back to the amount of runners: 2,933. So we were all lined to start and there were so many runners that by the time I actually got to the starting point (where the chip would begin to track me) I actually ran nearly a mile. I was a mile away from the starting point because of how many people there were and when we all started running once it was 9 on the dot, I had to run to the literal start line that was 0.91 miles away from where I was.

How was the race mile by mile?

I'd have to say this is the first race where I was visibly surprised every time my Aftershokz headphones told me my pace per mile.

I didn't realize my mileage (due to that additional mile I mentioned above) was off until I was about mid-way through.

Mile 1: THERE ARE TOO MANY RUNNERS I CAN'T EVEN RUN. This the first race I've ever done where there were so many racers - to the point where it was congested - that even running for this first mile was a challenge. It was a lot of maneuvering through openings of people. The roads were all closed for us, but since there was practically no room for runners to actually run because there were too many runners some of us ended up jumping onto sidewalks from time to time to freely pass groups of people without having to maneuver through said large groups of people.

I clocked in my first mile @ 7:30. Granted I had to keep finding openings to pass through to get to my actual racing speed, I was happy to see a 7 in there.

Mile 2: About mid-way into mile 2 runners started to spread out so it wasn't too much of maneuvering now, more or less the only maneuvering I was doing was if I was on a sidewalk on the left hand side to pass people, and I noticed that we had to turn right I'd hop off the sidewalk and start making my way through groups of people to turn over to the right.

I clocked in my second mile @ 6:40. Now, when I tell you I was shook at even hearing such a time I'm not joking. I did a double take AT AIR while I was running like I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I've never run a 6'40 mile ever, in speed workouts sure but in my casual,  tempo run, race, and easy running days? Never.

Mile 3: At this point, after hearing my pace was 6:40 I was giving myself all the pep talk you can maintain this pace, keep this pace, you can do this - I spoke before on the Aerobic + Anaerobic running styles on here before, and with Anaerobic it's like you have to train your mind to be comfortable with being uncomfortable at the high speed you're running at because your body can maintain this pace, it's the mind that wants to push the brakes a little.

I call this mile the pep talk mile - I clocked in @ 6:41. Did I do a double take AT AIR while I was running again? YOU BET!

sahara standing with armband in one hand and the wind blowing behind her

Mile 4: This mile I was focusing on my breathing - I felt like I was losing my control over it. In out. In Out. The way I think of it is if you have control of your breathing, you have control of the run. If you don't have control of your breathing, you don't have control of the run. I was gaining my control back on my breathing for this mile.

I clocked in this mile @ 7:27. I was okay with this because I used the time to get my breathing back under my control and could now push off faster for my next mile in control of my run. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up, and that's okay.

Mile 5: At around mile 4 & mile 5 I was able to notice that whenever my Aftershokz let me know I completed a mile, it was a bit off with the mile markers they had in place. I didn't realize the reason until after I completed this 5th mile. There wasn't a lot of inclines for this mile, it was in one phrase: Fun & Speedy.

I clocked in this mile @ 6'38. I got my speed back, now to bring it home. At this time, the 8K distance itself was complete and my app let me know I completed it in 35:01 with a 6'36 pace!!!!! Speedy me was ready to conquer on this Mile 5 like Napoleon Bonaparte.

0.91 that shouldn't exist but did because it took me 0.91 miles to get to the start line itself:  I was like oh really I'm not done GREAT. The fun part about this mile is that there were two lanes. On my right side was the finish line and on the left was all all of us runners who had to loop around way ahead to find ourselves on that right side. I was able to see the place we started and happened to notice my long-sleeve top I left by the Do Not Enter sign - glad to see no one took it!

This mile ended with a very small incline - but at this point my legs were like excuse me we have been running AT THIS SPEED for a while - but I pushed through and managed to finish just about 6 miles in 41:28. I clocked in this last 0.91 in 7'07.

Sahara smiling after 8K race in white nike hijab and trees in the background

What was my ending time

If we're talking 8K distance itself, that was done in 35:01. I was aiming to finish in the 35 in a bit of a wishy-type-of-way, I didn't expect myself to actually finish the race in 35:01 - those miles in 6 pacing were truly insane, I still can't believe I raced as well as I had. It's absolutely mind boggling. (Thank You God)

3 Mile Mark (the 5K distance that I usually run is 3.1!): 20:55! A WHOLE 5 MINUTES FASTER THAN MY 5K I DID 3 WEEKS AGO! So I technically have a new 5K PR at around 21:30? Does this count as a PR? I think it does?

8K Distance: 35:01

5.91 Miles based on my Phone: 41.28

5.91 Miles Official Time: 41:43.

I'm honestly still in such shock at how well I raced, I didn't win anything medal wise (maybe if I came earlier and actually started way in the front and didn't end up running a whole extra mile to get to the start line due to there being 3K runners this may have had a different outcome!) but overall I've honestly never been prouder of myself. My long time 5K (3.1 miles) PR time is 21 minutes, I was close to breaking into 19 minutes for 3 miles by 56 seconds. Still can't get over that!

What I Learned

The race in the beginning of the month where I was upset with my timing had to happen for me to make the changes I needed to end up running a 35:01 8K with a 6'36 pacing! I've made a lot of changes throughout my training and this really showed to me that they were the right ones - and with the path I'm going, I may actually see myself at my end goal.

I do plan to write a massive post with all the training changes and tips next week so if you're also a runner you can progress too if you're in need of some tips - keep an eye out for it!

The main thing I learned during this race is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. (In relation to running ok thank u!) On November 2nd I raced a 5K @ 8'09 average pace. On November 28th (this race) I raced an 8K with 6'36 average pace. That is a massive jump I did not think I'd be seeing at this race at all (perhaps in my dreams yes yes that jump was there but in real life?! I was shook).

sahara with white nike hijab, black nike long sleeve and green running pants with wind blowing behind her

The thing about the 8K distance is that leading up to this race, I actually only ran a 5 mile run once in those 3 weeks leading up to it. And I ran it as an easy run @ 9'13 pacing. The other two weeks - on one week I had to take it easy and not run my 3 times a week / do a lot of strength and conditioning because I got a cold. On the other week, I was still transitioning my speed work to road so wasn't running high mileage in my speed workouts so I could settle in to running on road compared to speed days on the track.

The main thing that was different going into this race is that I've never raced this distance before so my expectations - although they very much existed - weren't as solid as say they would be if it were a 5K if that makes sense. I was just like if I make it in 35 minutes that's cool if not, that's also fine because I've never raced this distance so no need to stress on what'll happen - my mindset was very much: as God Wills, strap in for the ride of 5 miles in whatever time you're blessed with.

And I think this is the mindset I need to bring back to my 5K races: Push the expectations aside, and run to enjoy the distance. Usually, what I've realized, I allow my expectations to stress me out and in the end underperform. What this race taught me is sometimes the best way to meet your expectation(s) is to forget that you're supposed to have one.

At the moment I don't have a race planned for December - hi my legs are currently in ice heaven because they are sore - but one thing I did want to ask you all is if you also run - what are your favorite post run snacks to make? Ones that'll give some y'know, energy? Anything filled with protein to energize me back to life? I'm usually STARVING and want to eat anything and everything so if you have any tips on snacks to make and bring let me know!


  1. If my neck was hurting I would have been like nope nope absolutely not, I am 100% not going. haha! You are a trooper! Oooo that pasta sounds delicious and sounds like the perfect meal to have the night before a race! but I would have to get rid mushrooms though!

    I can imagine it would be so hard running with that many people trying to get past everyone. "Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up, and that's okay"- I love that! I am going to think of that saying more often, because it can relate to anything!

    You did so well! Well done you superstar! you inspire me to start running! I bet you feel so good and proud of yourself afterwards! Great post as per xxxx

    1. HAHA Inner me was not going down without racing, thankfully it was okay by the morning, maybe a little stiffness but nothing too crazy! The pasta was so so filling, definitely think pasta is the way forward for pre-race dinners. Mushrooms are usually a go or no go food, I used to not like them and now I sprinkle them everywhere haha!

      YES - it was super crowded for the first mile, could barely run properly because there were too many runners! Yes yes yes, sometimes we think we need to go full speed ahead all the time, but slowing down to speed up is the way forward. When I saw how I picked up to my 6 pacing again after dropping to a 7 pacing, that really showed me that it's okay to slow down to gather energy back to come back stronger.

      Thank you so much!!! I honestly have never raced a better race, still think back to this day in shock that I did it and got a few personal bests! AHH YAYYYYYY this makes me so happy, running is honestly the best form of exercise! Thanks so much for reading Sharnah!

  2. That pasta sounds delish - I love a big bowl of pasta any night and it's a great carb-load. I also have eggs every morning and always find they fill me up and give me a ton of energy. Shame your neck was hurting so much beforehand but you're amazing for still going ahead with it and completing it! Congrats, here's to the next race! xxx


    1. The pasta was so so tasty, definitely think it's going to be my go-to for my next races as well! I always have eggs or oatmeal, eggs are just so fulling and give great amount of energy too!! It was the worst feeling the night before with my neck feeling super stiff all of sudden, thankfully it wasn't something serious and I was able to race stiffness-free!

      Thank you so much for reading Jenny!

  3. I wish I could do long distance running, in fact, being able to run at all without feeling like I'm about to pass out would be nice.

    I look forward to reading about your next race ��

    1. Running takes time to get used to, but so so worth it in the long run! (no pun intended!). It's a great sport to get all your muscles moving :)

      Thanks so much for reading!

  4. I'm so so so eager for your training update post. As a fellow runner I'm totally blown away by that speed change. I run my average 5k in around 24/25 minutes and my steady paced 10km are around 9 minute miles so I'm not a million miles away from the numbers you're stating here and I'm SO curious to see where these changes came from. Congratulations on the amazing pacing. Can't wait to read your next one! x


    1. I was blown away by myself to be honest, I was so surprised hearing my pace and seeing all my paces at the end - didn't realize I had that speed in me! It was a surreal moment of seeing all the changes I made in my training actually be the right ones. Definitely setting the tone for my future training 100%! Thank you so much Sophie!!! I still look back at this race-recap and it's just insane to me that I actually raced this well! Thank you so much for reading Sophie!

  5. I admire you for running. I've tried and tried yet I just cannot get into it, but I always wished I liked running. It's really helpful that you included what you ate the day before too. I've not saw details like that before.

    Carly xx //

    1. AW thanks!! It's a sport that definitely takes time to love - especially since it's like the 'punishment' of every other sport - saying I run for fun usually is met with head scratching haha! So glad to hear it was helpful to see what my pre-race dinner was, I really like going into detail so anyone reading can gain some tips! :)

      Thank you so much for reading Carly!

  6. Wow! This is fantastic — and some really great info for new or future runners in the making!

    1. So kind of you to say! Thank you so much for reading Molly!

  7. I love that you have shared what you ate and drank and how you prepared for the race instead of just talking about the race. What amazing pacing, and what excitement making your goal! It feels so good and warm to make it to the end just for joy and found you have done more then that.

    1. So glad to hear you enjoyed the format Jaya! I really wanted to make sure that I took everyone through my preparation the day before and then mile by mile so if anyone else was wondering if they should make some changes/what changes they can make can get some tips on what's worked for me :)

      Thank you so much for reading Jaya!

  8. I've only just got back into running again and just completed my first 10km, but im really looking to improve my times and run a little bit faster so im really interested to read your upcoming training post for any tips!

    1. YAY that's awesome to hear! Massive congratulations on racing your first 10K!! The best thing about racing + getting back into it is always wanting to race again and again to improve - nothing is better than the feeling of finishing a race! I hope you enjoy reading my tips in my next post and that it's helpful in your own training! :)

  9. I love how methodical and detailed your blog posts are - I loved running (no pun intended) through all the build up to your race, including what you ate and did the night before and how you prepared basically. It's honestly incredible that you completed an 8k and also learnt so much for future races too. I'm sure with every race you'll improve and improve till you hit your goals - Insha'Allah xx

    1. AW thank you so much!! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed reading how I prepared pre-race the day before and then how I felt mile per mile! I learned so so much, from how handle my breathing to really learning about myself as a runner as a whole, like that I'm capable of anything I put my mind to, even if at times what I'm aiming towards doesn't sound realistic to everyone. Inshallah hoping to race more and learn more about myself as a runner! :)

  10. I really admire you for continuing to run the next day even though your neck was hurting the night before. If that was me I would have used that as a sign not to get out of bed and call it quits. I also think it’s incredible that you managed to run a 8k in that amount of time!!
    Can’t wait to read your next post x


    1. Aw thanks!!! My neck stiffness really came out of nowhere but thankfully icing the night before helped a lot! There was minor stiffness when I woke up but nothing too bad, so thankfully was able to race and actually race the best race I've done for 2019 :)

      I really surprised myself with my own time haha! I wanted to end my race in that time, but didn't realize that it was like ~realistic realistic~ if that makes sense! Thank you so much for reading!

  11. This was so good to read, because I'd love to do a 5K-8K run sometime! I still need to work my way up because trust me, I can't run for any longer than 1 minute. I've ran in the past and loved it so it's so nice to read your experience. It's incredible that you found the motivation to go and run the next day as well!

    Melissa | Rosy Melissa

    1. YAY so glad to hear you're planning to run a 5K/8K sometime, you're definitely going to feel super accomplished! The best thing ever is progressing from not running -> becoming a runner, it's really just amazing to see progress from month to month!

      Thank you!! Although the day before wasn't the best with minor neck stiffness, thankfully managed to push through and didn't have anything too bad on race day!

  12. Congratulations! That's a great time, you must be really proud of that. I'm trying to get into running more at the moment, so loved reading through your routines before and how you get yourself ready for the race.

    1. Thank you!! I'm still super proud of my time and really looking forward to getting to a starting line again. Awesome to hear you're trying to get into running more, you won't regret it!!

  13. It is so cool that you did an 8k race!! Pretty cool that you pushed yourself more than the norm length. It is amazing to see how people prep for the race. I have a hard time running and admire people who work hard to get it done right! Wow, your pace is amazing! You're really fast! Congratulations on rocking your 8k race!!! Glad your experience went well overall. Hopefully you are having a nice recovery!!

    Nancy ♥

    1. Thank you!! It was super fun and an interesting challenge to race a different and longer distance, I'd say I still prefer my 5K's but 8K distance has a special spot for me now! I was really surprised by how fast I was going when I was running and when I finished and looked at my time, it was absolutely amazing to see that all my training decisions led me to running such an awesome race :)

  14. What an amazing achievement! I would love to be in shape enough to be able to take part in this. You must be so proud. I hope you enjoy your recovery! Xx

    1. Thank you so much!! You got this, I believe in you! The hardest part is starting and the best part is keeping on going! :)

  15. Ok first of all that recipe for the pasta sounds delicious and now I really want to make it. Ugh, cons of living in a dorm! But one day iA I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe! Secondly, MashaAllah for not only doing two races this month but also beating your previous 5K! That's awesome! Great job!

    1. YAY, so glad to hear! It was 10/10 best pasta I ever made, it was fun to experiment with different vegetables! Inshallah you'll be able to make the pasta soon. AW thank you so much, it was the first time I've raced twice in one month and was super surprised to see how much I've improved in such a short time!