Race Recap: TC Valentine’s Day 5K

On Wednesday of last week I graduated from my physical therapy return-to-run program, which then allowed me to “slowly and deliberately” rebuild distance and speed. So, then, three days later I ran a 5K. Probably not entirely what my PT had in mind… I must have forgotten to mention it to him when I skipped out of his office with a doctor’s note saying I could run again…

The TC Valentine’s Day 5K is the first race in the TC Summit Challenge. I ran it last year for the first time (also as a Summit Challenge runner) and quickly fell in love with it. I had never done a race so early in the season, opting usually for the classic mid- to late-April start that most Minnesota runners take, but I love the quick and early start to my season and the fact that I am already 2 months in to “race season” by April.

Packet Pick Up

I picked up my packet on Friday at Marathon Sports in South Minneapolis. I accidentally said the words “car trip” in front of the dog, so he came too…

I really like when Twin Cities in Motion does their packet pick-up at their offices because they are on the Green Line, which is the train I take home after work, so I was bummed that this required me to take an extra car trip (and that there are approximately 1.5 parking spaces near Marathon Sports and 23 vehicles trying to get in them). Even then, it was stupid easy to get my packet once I got in the store and I highly appreciate the lack of gimmicks, giveaways, and other stuff. I got my bib (chip timer attached) and my shirt. Badabing. Badaboom.

The Shirt

Nice design, high quality… odd fit.

I am not new to struggling with TC event shirts and the fit. Fairly universally, I wear a women’s large shirt– in casual clothing, business clothing, and workout/running clothing. Last year that is the size shirt I ordered for all of the TC runs in the Summit series (except the 10 Mile). And exactly none of those shirts fit, except the 10 Mile because I ordered a men’s medium. The women’s large was dramatically too short (um, for running or working out? weird) and too narrow in the shoulders. But I have broad shoulders, so this isn’t surprising or do I think it is the fault of the shirt company (Brooks) or TCM.

But I am not an idiot, so I didn’t repeat last year’s mistake. I ordered a men’s medium for all the races. Because, look, I am beyond being embarrassed about my shape or how clothing fits and all that nonsense– I am just going to buy what works for me and actually wear it. Men’s race shirts work. Usually. Length is supremely perfect, fit in the torso and shoulders is dreamy (fitted but not tight and I can actually lift my arms up over my head should I be wearing the shirt when I do something like lift a weight or throw my arms up in celebration). But the arms? Super baggy. Fine length, but about twice as much fabric as I need. Are my arms really THAT much punier than the average guy? I lift weights!

Anyhow, the moral of the race shirt story is I am too big to be a woman and too small to be a man. Neat.

Race Day

It was like, actually zero degrees. With windchills whipping around the lake at around negative twenty degrees. I was wearing exactly everything I own. Beautiful sunshine, though.

The Race!

[Note: The term ‘race’ is used quite loosely.]

I was not going to arrive one minute earlier than I needed to for this race, given the weather conditions. I parked up the hill from the first mile marker about 25 minutes before the start time and that worked perfectly. After walking from the car, I got down to the start with less than 10 minutes to wait. I knew I would be slower than normal due to cold and injury recovery, so I started pretty close to the back. That also helps me keep a slower pace at the start and burn any extra energy with a stronger finish.I was surprised at how soon a lot of people started walking, and that really caused some traffic jams for the back of the pack.

My strategy was 10 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. In hindsight, it was probably too long for the running and I should have done something closer to 8:1, but I really had a hard time convincing myself to start walking before I reached the first mile. It is very humbling to not be physically able to run a 5K. It was a good reminder that getting injured is no joke.

Most of the run was pretty uneventful. The wind really hit hard in the 2nd mile and most of us were sucking air pretty hard trying to get a full breath that the wind didn’t steal.

I am sure the post-race food was excellent, but when I crossed the finish line I paused the Garmin and just kept running to the car. I was very worried that if I stopped I would get cold. From the time I arrived for the race to the time I got back to the car, I was outside for less than an hour– success!


Slow. 32:47 (Official), 32:57 on my watch- a 10:29 average pace, which included the walking time. But I was successful at negative splits and had a 3rd mile that I am not unhappy with.


  • Mile 1: 11:02
  • Mile 2: 10:27
  • Mile 3: 10:11
  • Last 0.1: 8:54 (pace, not time)

It’s funny, I have sort of been chasing the elusive sub-30 5K time for a while, so a 32+ is disappointing, even though understandable given my current health status. But then I think back to my very first 5K in 2008. I ran/walked that in 41 minutes and I was SO EXCITED about that time and that is how I got hooked on running. Perspective. I can be at peace with 32:47 today.

The next race is March 7– the TC Hot Dash 5K. I am jealous several of my lady-runner-friends are doing the 10 mile that day, but there is a-no way I would be ready for that. But we are going to have brunch afterwards and I will probably eat as if I ran 10 miles instead of 3. Perspective!

Looking forward to full health by the Goldy’s 10 and Lake Minnetonka Half in the spring!



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