I ran the 5K in the Publix Women’s Half Marathon and 5K in Savannah, GA on Saturday.  I’m starting 5K training this week, and this was my pre-training baseline 5K. I left the race excited – excited to know where I needed to improve, excited to know my pretty good starting point. 

Pre-training baseline 5K Start

At the start

Race Review

The Publix Women’s Half Marathon and 5K was geared towards women. The race allowed male participants, but there were no age divisions or awards for them. The day-before expo had wine tastings, massages, and a fashion show. Instead of participant shirts, they gave out bags (which I loved, because how many race shirts do I own now? a lot.)

Pre-training baseline 5K medal

Bag, bib, medal

The race was organized, on time, and had plenty of porta-potties. There was a good police presence and the route showcased the Savannah squares (although it was annoying to run them!!). For a race only in its second year, it already feels well established and posing to be an excellent destination race.

I hope next year they expand the start so we aren’t so crammed. Or if not, separate the half marathon and 5K starts.

Pre Race

It rained hard all Friday night.

It was still raining when my alarm went off. I hit snooze and considered sleeping through the rainy race. But, I didn’t want to blog that I “didn’t feel like running” so I ate avocado toast, drank a coffee, and braced myself.

TH came with me, and I thanked him by being an agitated, grumpy ball of nerves.

The rain stopped when we reached the park. I picked up my race packet. TH and I did a half mile warm up back to the car to drop off my goodies. I wanted to do some strides, but the field was sopping wet and the sidewalks crowded. The jog got some blood flowing to my legs and signaled to my body to get into running mode. It also calmed me down. I lightened up and became a more pleasant person.

Pre-training baseline 5K selfie


I ate a honey stinger gel 15 minutes before the start. While they are primarily for mid-run nutrition during long distances, they have caffeine and easy carbs. I figured it would not hurt to experiment.

Pre-training baseline 5K gel

Honey Stinger Gel

Both race distances started at the same time, but the time corrals were small. There was about 18 feet between the “8 min/mi pace” and the “10 min/mi pace” signs. Once the ~700 5Kers and ~1,100 half marathoners filled the corrals, I felt packed like a sardine (and someone kept coughing on my arm).

Pre-training baseline 5K

Before it got crowded

I felt a twinge of jealousy as the half marathoners shared energy chews and geared up with the belts and bottles. I only brought my stopwatch, an experiment to go without my phone. I kind of needed to pee, but decided to hold it.

Pre-training baseline 5K

The first mile I couldn’t feel my pace. I hit a wall of women following a 2 hour pace sign for the half marathon and tagged along. My mind was reeling and I couldn’t get it to calculate 120/13.1, but knew I had never run a 2 hour half before.

When they hit the first mile marker perfectly at 9:00 min and me at 9:01, I realized I had made a mistake. The race was a third over and I was running slower than my PR pace of 8:52/mi.

Panic set it.

A little voice in my head said, “This was a waste of time and money.”

I pushed through the wall of women and picked up speed. My stomach started to hurt and my breathing labored. I sounded like an asthmatic freight train when I passed people. I didn’t know how to breathe at that pace. And I started to worry that I was going too fast and that I was going to crash and walk like my last 5K.

I hit the 2 mile marker at 8:17 which was better, but slower than my breathing and effort had led me to believe. I focused on my breathing and tried to sound less like death. It worked, but I felt like I was slowing down. I passed a bunch of people in the 2nd mile, and didn’t pass people in the 3rd. But I also noticed that no one was passing me either.

We ran parallel to Forsyth park which contained the finish line. I could see it through the trees, but it felt far away. I wanted to stop and walk. There were kids along the side of the road; I smiled and high-fived. They helped my spirits a bit.

Pre-training baseline 5K kids

Love the kids

Ugh, then we ran past the park! They made us go up one more block and come back.

I know it’s just a block.

But I wasn’t mentally prepared for that “extra” block. I tried to hang on to my pace; I didn’t feel like I could push. I got through the block and entered the park. When I saw the finish sign (and the race clock!) I found my sprint.

And apparently, I was pushing it. Despite feeling like I was slowing down. I did the last 1.1 miles in 8:51 which is 8:03/mi.


26:10 was my chip time! I averaged 8:26 min/mi. I PRed by 1 min, 23 seconds.

I got 28th overall (718 participants) and 5th in my age group (77 participants).

Pre-training baseline 5K medal

5K Finisher Medal

More 5K goals

I’m glad I did this pre-training baseline 5K. I’m super excited about my time, but also excited to learn where I need to improve.

Things I want to improve:

  1. My breathing. I need to learn to breathe at 5K pace, especially as I’ve worked to increase my cadence/shorten my stride.
  2. Even out my splits. Negative splits are fine, but I’m pretty sure a 48 second split is wrong!
  3. My warm up routine. I want to get in 15 minutes of jogging and strides.
  4. Better caffeine delivery before the race. I don’t think the gel helped.
  5. Start closer to the start. Being behind the pace wall hurt me this race.
  6. Stop anticipating fantastic weather, short routes (or just learn the route), and other ideal conditions. I’ll spend less energy swallowing inevitability and more energy succeeding inside the given conditions.

I knew I had gotten faster and stronger since my PR 2 years ago, but it was good to actually see it. The 5k is a beast. I am excited to learn it and take a break from my long distance running. My hope is a 25:29 5K, or even (I’m scared to write it!!) a 25 min 5K.

Guys, I’m actually scared to write that on the internet.

But let’s make it happen.