Sunday, July 26, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 City of Cypress 5K

On Saturday morning, I raced my first 5K of 2015, the City of Cypress 5K. I had been looking for a 5K to race as a fitness check-in for a couple of weeks. I figured it would be good to know where I stood speed-wise before I start marathon training.

The race was only the second time I've raced in 2015. I was honestly not sure I wanted to run the race, since I had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. on Friday to drive up to Downtown Los Angeles for a pro bono hearing (I'm doing an asylum case; as a corporate lawyer, appearing in court is not something I ever do). The closest 5K I could find was in Cypress, which is a 30 minute drive from my apartment, and I'd need to get there before 7:00 a.m. to register for the race and get in a warm-up.

I was still undecided about running the 5K on Friday night. Sourabh had a Mexican food craving (specifically for queso fundido; apparently studying for the bar exam gives you weirdly specific cravings like being pregnant does), and since he was just four days out from the bar on Friday, I wasn't about to turn him down. Also it's very difficult for me to turn down Mexican food...

When I went to bed Friday night, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., but thought I probably wouldn't want to race. Only I naturally woke up at 4:58 a.m. and felt pretty awake, and I knew if I did try to go back to sleep I'd just sit there in the dark feeling annoyed at myself for not racing. So I hauled my ass out of bed and got ready.

I ate half a Picky Bar, picked up an iced coffee from McDonald's for the 30 minute drive (this is totally a Lazy American cliche, but I really love the convenience of drive-thrus, especially early in the morning), and hit the 405 to head north to Cypress.

Once I got there, I registered, which took about 5 minutes since the organization was fantastic, then hit the bathroom. There were three real bathrooms by the registration area, and then about 15-20 porta potties near the start line.

I stretched a bit, jogged around for 15 minutes, did my dynamic warm-up routine, ran a couple strides, then hit the bathroom two more times because, ahem, Mexican food (sorry).

I ate a salted caramel Gu and sipped some water since the water station was before the finish line (it was meant for the 10K runners, but they were offering water to everyone before the race). Then I headed to the start line and listened to my psych-up playlist, which includes such gems as Fort Minor's "Remember the Name" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself". Fun story: I listened to this playlist before the first day of the California bar exam.

No corrals, but it was easy to get to the front.

As soon as the race started, I immediately regretted my decision to run with a shirt on. It had been cloudy up until about five minutes before the race started, but the sun had finally broken through the marine layer, and I was HOT.

Mentally, I just wasn't "right" for the whole race. I never felt like I pushed hard enough, but when I tried to get myself to kick it into another gear, I just couldn't find the mental discipline to do so. I almost always start races thinking, "why am I about to do this?" But this time that mentality didn't go away in the first half mile like it normally does.

The course is basically a large square through residential streets of Cypress, and it's all flat, so it wasn't super interesting, but plenty of families came out to watch so there were distractions. I mainly tried to pick people ahead of me to catch up to and then pick new ones.

Extremely sweaty post-race.

I ended up finishing in 24:06, which is 17 seconds off my PR of 23:49. My splits were: (1) 7:31, (2) 7:50, (3) 7:56, (.11) 0:47 (6:53 pace) <--- positive splitting like a champ.

I started the race well and just could not keep it up. I can't possibly blame the heat or the Mexican food or anything else for my failure to PR on Saturday because it was 100% a mental issue. I know that physically a 5K PR is within my ability, and Saturday's race was all about my inability to stay mentally strong in the latter half of the race.

I plan to run several more short course races in the next few months (with Coach Jess's blessing, of course) so that I can focus on the mental aspect of racing. I've definitely been a lot mentally stronger in races in the past, but I haven't raced much in the past year. I think more races can only be a good thing as long as they're shorter and aren't putting me at risk of injury.

One big, shining positive, however: I was first in my age group! I think most of the "fast" runners were running the 10K, but hey, any time you can end up with an age group win, the race can't be a total bust, right?

I hung around to eat a popsicle and cheer on the lead women for the 10K before jogging for 8 minutes or so as a cool-down, then drove home and took a nap.

First woman in the 10K coming in like a boss. Look at that gorgeous stride.

Now, I'm on the hunt for another 5K to try to redeem myself and PR. 

Race Facts

  • Parking: Free. I think as long as you arrived 30 minutes before you'd be able to park relatively close to the start line.  
  • Course: Loop of closed roads. This is not a scenic route. You're running on neighborhood streets, but it's kind of fun because a lot of families were sitting outside their homes, watching the runners. The 10K runs two loops of the 5K course. I would not personally be a fan of this because the idea of doing a loop and seeing the finish line so close then veering to the right to do the loop all over again would mentally kill me.
  • Bathroom situation: Six real bathrooms (three for men, three for women) near the registration/finish line area, and plenty of porta potties near the start. 
  • Swag: No medal unless you're doing the race as part of a series of Orange County races. Cotton t-shirt is included in registration price.
  • Price: $25 early registration (until roughly two weeks before), $35 "late" registration.
  • Corrals: No corrals, but I had no problem situating myself close to the front, and the race takes up about half a city street so it doesn't get too congested if you're towards the front.
  • Post-Race Food: Popsicles, bagels, bananas, and water bottles. The race is also part of the City of Cypress Festival, which has a pancake breakfast.

I would 100% recommend the City of Cypress 5K/10K if you're looking for a late July short course race. The organization was superb and the course was flat and fast.


  1. Congrats on coming in 1st in your age group! 5Ks are the hardest for me mentally, because I don't race them enough to get into a rhythm. Longer distances are more forgiving pace-wise. Now that my ultra is done, I'd like to do a few 5K and 10Ks to mix in some speed. :)

    1. Thanks! What I really like about the 5K/10K distance is that recovery is so much quicker, so you can race one and then race another the weekend after. Agreed on the rhythm -- I've never paced a 5K consistently!

  2. You've definitely got the speed going into marathon training - especially if you weren't on for this race! I am hoping to get back out and race soon, I haven't all year but hoping that things continue to go well and I can!

    1. I'm hoping they do, too! Fall racing season is so much fun. At least you've been keeping up a strong base! :)

  3. The fact that you were only 17 seconds off a 5-K PR while doing base mileage for marathon training is huge. That means your engine is primed and ready to go! I've also been struggling to stay mentally tough during races too. We have to remember we're relatively new to the sport and simply don't have the "race game" veterans have ... yet. :)

    1. I certainly hope so! Really excited to start training. And yes, it's true, we're both relatively new to our sports, and that mental side is something that takes a long time to develop, I think.