To 5K or not to 5K — that is the question.

I am a big believer that good things come out of difficulties. I have seen it too many times in my life to believe it otherwise. And, because of that I’ve also learned how to roll with the punches because in the end — something good will come out the mess.

This past year has really tested me in that regard. When I sprained my ankle last April, in the moment I didn’t think I’d still be dealing with it after 10 months of rehab, failed rehab, reaggravation, etc. I had to lay aside plans and goals because it.

And, that sucks.

I had to drop a number of marathons, ultras and even my 100 mile run attempt. It’s been hard. And, as hard as it’s been to step back — I’m also really loving the focus on the shorter distances. Like a lot.

The doctor told me to keep my distances around 3-5 miles and at a pace that didn’t aggravate my ankle to more than a five on the pain scale. So, with that gauge I’ve decided to put everything into those 5Ks and test my mettle at the distance.

It’s been a tough adjustment, because I am so used to longer distances with a slower pace. But, in the 5K there’s no reason not to pick up that pace for 3.1 miles. It’s really a matter of changing that mentality.

I’ve been really enjoying the change of pace — quite literally — the past couple of weeks. Last weekend’s 5K saw a 35:17 minute time, which was a 2:42 minute improvement from the week before. Just seeing that improvement excites me. Ignites me.

I want more of it.

And, this is what kind of tears me up a bit. As much as I want to focus on just 5Ks right now. I know that if I am going to hit my 180th race at the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon in July I have to fit 10 half marathons in between now and July 21st. That doesn’t give too many weekends for 5Ks.

But, at the same time I know that if I work at this more with my coach that I can hit one of my top running goals and that’s to join the Sub-30 5K Club. I’ve wanted that goal pretty much ever since I started running. I came close in 2010 when I ran a 30:25 minute 5K. So I know it’s within me. It’s just a matter of when.

And, I feel that now is that time.

After this weekend’s race I scoured the local races to look for a fun and fast 5K that I could do this year. Something hopefully within the next 5-6 months and that wouldn’t interfere with my half marathon races and training.

The race that really popped out to me was the Drop13 Big Cottonwood 5K. It’s a relatively new race (the 5K started last year, the half has been around over 5 years) that On Hill Events does. The few things that really stood out to me about it was — 1) you’re bused up the canyon (a rarity for a 5K), 2) it’s allllllll downhill and 3) it’s down Big Cottonwood Canyon (my favorite canyon).

The only issue is — the half marathon that weekend was one of my planned races as I work toward my 180th. And, it is one of my favorite half marathon courses and races.

So what do I do?

There are other races on free weekends that I can do. But, I am also trying not to race distances longer than a 10K on consecutive weekends. I could also make exceptions. But, do I reallllly want to do that?

From the races available on my free weekends I could do one of the following instead of the Drop13 Half Marathon —

April 28: Saltair Half.
June 2: Ragnar Relay — Wasatch Back.
June 29: Utah Midnight Run.
July 14: Canyon to Canyon Half Marathon.

Regardless of whatever race I choose to replace the Drop13 Half with — there’s an issue with back-to-back race weekends. And, in the case of the Utah Midnight Run it’s the night before the Heber Half. A feat that’s not new to me, but it begs to be questioned whether or not it’s a smart idea.

I am also hesitant to add Ragnar the week before race day. I’d love to use the month I am not racing between the Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathon and Drop 13 to train a bit harder on the 5K distance. And doing 15-20 miles the weekend before seems a bit counterproductive toward that goal.

That really leaves the Saltair Half and Canyon to Canyon Half Marathon as my best options. I am familiar with the Saltair Half. I have done that course numerous times. The Canyon to Canyon Half Marathon I have never done.

What it really boils down to is — if I go with the Saltair Half I have the Salt Lake City Half Marathon the week before and then the Provo City Half Marathon and Vigor Big Cottonwood Half Marathons the following too weeks. I am sweeping the Provo City Half, so I’m not too worried about the wear and tear.

But, that’d get the race out of the way and then give me that month to focus on 5K training — which I like.

On the other hand if I went with the Canyon to Canyon Half Marathon I would have to give up my Run4fun Trail Run bib (it’s 7 miles) and that would mean I would be racing on three consecutive weekends with Hobber Half, Canyon to Canyon Half and the Handcart Days Half.

Doable? Yes.

Smart? Eh, maybe not.

I’m somewhat conflicted on what I should do. I know that the Drop13 5K would be my best bet on a sub-30 minute time this year. But, it’s no guarantee that I’d reach it this year.

But, I also want to run into my 180th prepared and stronger than I’ve been in years past. I really just want to make sure I get to July 21st healthy and with my ankle intact.  A justifiable goal.

I have a few weeks to decide. And, I’m going to take those couple of weeks because I really like I could do both this year.

Well, I’m doing my 180th goal regardless.

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