It’s hard to believe, but I have completed my third race of 3 weekends in a row. This past weekend, I ran the Clean Air Council’s Run for Clean Air 5K for the fourth time in honor of Earth Day and I can easily say that this year was my best race ever!My recap of the @cleanaircouncil Run for Clean Air 5K! #runchat #bibchat Click To Tweet
This year’s race was the 35th annual Run for Clean Air, one of the oldest Earth Day races in the country! Every year since 2012, my coworkers and I have participated in this event. I’ve previously written race recaps from running in 2014 and 2015. It’s always a fun spring race that I try not to take too seriously.
The Run for Clean Air is a 3K walk, 5K run, and 10K run. We had coworkers participating in all three distances, but most of us were running the 5K. Bret was running the 5K too. Similar to the
Similar to the Love Run Half Marathon, the Clean Air Run starts in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum, so once again, I had an easy commute from home to the starting line. I set the alarm for 6 am so that I’d avoid running late, but that still didn’t seem to help matters…
We planned to meet at 7:15 to take a group photo, then the 10K runners would head off at 7:30, the 5K runners at 7:45, and finally, the walkers would bring up the rear. We were a little late for the photo, but thankfully it seemed that everyone else was running late too!
It was an absolutely beautiful day for a run without a cloud in the sky! The air was a little chilly in the 40’s but I knew I’d be able to shake off the cold as soon as I started running. There was pre-race yoga offered for all participants, but as usual, I was too short on time to take advantage of it. I was feeling pretty nervous as I waited for the 10K runners to take off.
Have I mentioned that I hate the 5K distance? I am NOT good at running 5K’s. If you look at my performance over the past 5 years, on average, my 5K time is around 29 minutes. I’m not saying that it isn’t a respectable finish time, but I always struggle with pacing. I prefer running longer distances because I have more time to get in a good groove. I’ll never forget my very first Clean Air Run when I bolted off with my friends only to crash and burn less than a mile later…those guys ran 22-23-minute 5K’s. Not me.
So naturally, I was pretty nervous that I would once again struggle with reaching and maintaining a good race pace. While I was extremely pleased with how well I ran 3.7 miles for the Love Run Half Marathon Relay, I wasn’t sure I could pull off an 8:30 minute/mile pace just 6 days later.
I really didn’t want to start right at the front of the starting line (I left that to Bret), so I gave myself as much space as I could while waiting with a few coworkers. I think we all had a mixture of nerves and excitement. Then it was time to go!
There was a huge group of Students Run Philly Style runners participating in the 5K so the beginning of the course was mobbed. Being a “veteran” of this race, I wasn’t surprised by the big crowd, but it always poses a challenge because you want to find a clear space to run as soon as you can. People running with strollers don’t help either…just sayin’!
This is an out and back course on MLK Drive. It’s not the most exciting course, but I do like that you can always wave to your fellow runners or walkers on the opposite side of the course.
I made sure not to go out too fast and felt pretty good at my pace. I wasn’t looking at my watch at all; I just tried to stay focused. I passed a couple of my coworkers and felt strong. The bobbing and weaving wasn’t as bad after a while. It wasn’t long before I saw Bret already on his way towards the finish. I also cheered on another coworker who would finish around 25 minutes. I figured I’d be done around 27 minutes, like at the Run for Clean Air 5K in 2014.
The last half of the race was really tough. I finally glanced at my watch and saw that my pace was somewhere around 8 minutes. I was really excited but at the same time wondering how the heck I could keep it up at this pace?? There was no mile marker at mile 2 or mile 3 which mentally made things even tougher. Fortunately, I did see other coworkers on the way to the finish, which really kept me motivated. They even caught me in an action shot!
The last quarter mile is really tough and takes an eternity – you have to climb a hill under the Spring Garden Bridge before running another 200 meters or so to get to the finish. I’m sure I sounded terrible from all my huffing and puffing, but I was determined to finish strong. Just as I always hope for, Bret was near the finish to cheer me on. It was tough to find a kick at the end, but I did my best!
I was so relieved when I came across the finish line. My official chip time was 26:01! I stopped my Nike+ watch at 26:07. But that was for a distance of 3.15 miles with splits of 8:46, 8:03, 8:02 and 1:14. By my watch’s count, I had a 5K PR of 25:44!
I’ve only run one 5K in the 26-minute range, and that was at the inaugural Penn Park 5K way back in November 2011. For that race, we weren’t even sure if the distance was a full 3.1 miles, so this is a huge accomplishment for me!
I never expected to PR in this race in a million years. Like I said, I’m terrible at the 5K distance. But clearly, I’ve been doing something right these past few months. In addition to speed intervals, going to yoga, boot camp, and weight training on a weekly basis really make a difference! I feel so grateful to have another great race!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to fully enjoy the post-race experience. At 9 am I was attending the PHLBloggers’ inaugural Blog Connect Conference so I only had time to hop in the beer garden for one beer with Bret and my coworkers. I’ll be sharing a recap of the event later this week!
Last year I remember that there were some really healthy options for food, but I didn’t really notice anything special this time around. We had our beer, took another group photo, and before you know it we were heading back home.
As always, the Run for Clean Air 5K was a wonderful race! There was such great energy and we’ve been lucky to have really nice weather the past few years. As long as they keep hosting this race, I plan to be there! I really recommend this race to local Philadelphians and anyone looking for a fun spring 5K!
So now I can talk about my goals and what I’m looking forward to as spring racing season continues. Looking back at my resolutions for 2016, my only race-specific goal was to complete a full marathon. I’m now signed up for the Philly Full and will be working with Coach Kristy starting in August! That means I need to maintain a strong running base these next few months before training begins!
My next 3 races are the Broad Street 10 Mile Run on May 1, the King of Prussia 10 Miler on May 22, and the 1/2 Sauer 1/ Kraut Half Marathon on June 4. I am still trying not to overthink how I will do on these races, but it would be amazing to PR at Broad Street and have a strong showing in June with all the hills!
I’m so excited to keep the momentum going – strength training and running consistently is where it’s at!
What was the last race you had where you PR’d? How have your goals been progressing this year?