Post Marathon 5k Race
Is there anything better than a post marathon 5k race? Three to four weeks after completing a marathon, training hard for 16 weeks, is perfect for a 5k race. My body has gone through the recovery phase and is nearly back in peak form. The physical aspect aside, a 5k or even a 10k will feel like a very short distance. It is still difficult and the effort level will be far greater, but mentally it’s over before you know it.
For me, I haven’t ran a 5k PR since 2016. At that time it came out of nowhere. I ran the Boston Marathon that April, having had a good race and a marathon PR of 3:18:30. However, I was not expecting much from my 5k, as I did very little what we would call proper training. The race I went to was in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. four weeks after Boston It had a reputation as a good, fast course. When the race was finished I crossed the line in 18:11, my fastest time in a 5k by a wide margin.
2023 Ballyshannon 5k
This year, the marathon was London, where I also PR’d, this time in 2:56:44. When I saw Ballyshannon come up 4 weeks after London, I knew it was on my calendar. Once again, I did very little training after the marathon, letting my body recover nicely. I did however, put on about 8 pounds while in recovery mode. This wasn’t going to make my 5k any faster. Still, I had high hopes that I could come close to, or perhaps run, a new 5k PR.
There was a great crew from my club, many of whom hadn’t run this course before. I try to describe a course to those who ask as best as I can. So my personal evaluation of this particular Ballyshannon course was that it was a tough 5k, but fast. How can that be? Well, it has an overall net elevation decline of about 100 feet. The first 3k is undulating, rolling up and down the country roads. The final 2k consists of a long downhill and a super fast downhill finish. If one can make it to the final right-hand turn with anything in the tank this is brilliant.
Post Marathon 5k Race Report
The start of the race is about a mile from the registration centre. This made for a good warm up and a few dynamics were done on the way. Arriving at the start about 10 minutes early allowed for a few strides as well. It wasn’t long before the start began getting crowded out on the main Donegal Road. We had only one half of the road closed off for the runners, so it was pretty tight. I managed to get myself up near the front, but there was very little space to spread out.
I was glad I was at the front when the gun went as there was no mat for the start. This meant that the results were strictly gun-time. So the clock started as soon as the lead runners were away. If you were back in the field, you lost a few precious seconds. It was, however, a fairly small field with about 130 runners taking part. Still, give me the seconds any day.
My post marathon 5k course climbed a wee bit out the main road. After roughly 600 metres we took a left hand turn onto a quieter road. This is where the rolling hills of Ballyshannon made us work a little harder. It’s a little hard to see from the elevation below, but there is some hard work involved in this first 3k. Up and down, up and down. I was feeling really good though and I knew I only had to push for less than 20 minutes. I kept the mantra going in my head saying, “you can do anything for 20 minutes!”
Post Marathon 5k Race Result
Like everyone, I was quite happy to find the last right hander down to the finish at the water’s edge. The final climb before this turn ensured I was pretty well spent before taking it. However, the beauty of a downhill finish is that by lengthening the stride, the hill can do most of the work. I wasn’t looking at the watch during the race, not even a quick peek. I thought I had done enough to run a post marathon 5k PR for the first time in 7 years. It wasn’t to be. My finishing time was 18:21, 10 seconds off. That said, there was nothing left in the body.
I know a sub 18 is in me. Whereabouts, I’m not quite sure. But I do think I can get it with some targeted training. That said, I was really happy to run my second fastest 5k ever. Additionally, so many of my teammates who travelled down for the race smashed their best 5k times. That, from a coaches standpoint, was every bit as satisfying.
My Final Race
This race was bittersweet for me. After running for the Enniskillen Running Club since 2013, this was to be my last race in the green and white. I am moving on to warmer weather. This club has been a lifeline for me. I have made so many positive connections in Enniskillen. I have got to know some of the best people in the world. The memories will be with me forever and I will always be grateful for landing in this club.
This is not the end of my running though. There will be plenty more race reports and updates. It’s just a new chapter in the new book.