Run Your Heart Out 5K Race Recap

5Ks are not necessarily easy. Although they are the most popular race distance, they aren’t my favorite distance. I usually try to push myself pretty hard and it doesn’t usually feel great. But it’s nice to mix up the distances and try to push pretty hard for a short distance (knowing it will be over soon!). Mike and I ran in the Potomac River Running Run Your Heart Out 5K this morning – our first race since the Richmond Marathon. We ran a PR race this past summer – Run with Dad 5K – and really enjoyed it! The Run with Dad 5K wasn’t very expensive, swag included Nike tech shirts, there was great food/drinks post-run, free race photos on flickr and it’s fairly small. This was all pretty much the same (minus the Nike shirts, sadly). There were pros and cons for this race, as outlined below.

Day Before:
No exercise for us on Saturday, well besides walking while we were out running errands. We did some carbo-loading with bagels for breakfast. I really miss carbo-loading before our long marathon training runs. I love carbs! Anyway, lunch was a last minute Chipotle decision. I was concerned with the beans (you’re supposed to avoid fiber the day before a race) and the spiciness, but we were starved and it was the only option really while we were out. My stomach felt a little off the rest of the afternoon, leading to more unease about this morning’s race. Dinner was grilled, marinated chicken breast and pasta.

Chicken burrito bowl...good idea?

Chicken burrito bowl…good idea?

Pre-race dinner

Pre-race dinner

Morning of:
We woke up at 6 am, with a plan to leave around 7 am. Since the race was in Reston (about 30 mins drive), we decided to pick up our packets the morning of the race rather than making a special trip the day before. I woke up questioning why we even signed up for the race. It was COLD out. I’d so much rather be in bed. Why do we do these things for fun!? Step one, coffee. Then I braided my hair (I hate when ponytails bounce while I run, so usually braid for races), ate a Luna bar at 6:30 and drank a glass of water. It’s really nice to be able to drive to a race and not worry about metro’ing and checking a bag. So I brought a lot of extra layers for pre and post race.

Small races are so nice because there’s never a line for the bag check. I was disappointed they didn’t have the promised Nike tech tee (changed the details on their website from when we signed up). It’s now a Helium E2 brand, a brand I’ve never heard of before, but looks just like the Nike one we got in June. Cute design and v-necks for females! We got our souvenir pin (PR races encourage runners to sign up for their races to collect pins from all races), lanyard (for pins), shirt and bib, and went back to the heated car where we awkwardly tried to pin on our bib while sitting.

Image 3

Image 4

8:40 a.m. – one last bathroom stop and then some warm up runs on the track. Another pro for small races – no lines for portapotties! It was 25 degrees out so we wanted to get our muscles warmed up in order to start the 5K as fast as possible. Since the race isn’t very large, there’s not a wave start but rather sandwich board signs with estimated paces along the start line area. People seemed to generally choose their appropriate “corral”.


The race starts and ends at a high school in Reston. The route actually changed from when we originally signed up – kind of disappointing. The new route was actually an old one for us – the same one we did for the Run with Dad 5K in June. PR keeps the cost down by not closing roads. The course starts and ends on the school track but, other than that, is entirely on paved trails with rolling hills. The trails are pretty narrow, which can prove tricky if you’re trying to pass someone or turn a corner. There are plenty of volunteers along the course with giant arrow signs, although there are enough runners so that you aren’t running alone and don’t feel like you’ll get off course.

And we're off!

And we’re off!

Great shot of the start line by photographer Matt

Great shot of the start line by photographer Matt

It was COLD! It’s so hard to breath while running in the cold weather, at least for me. I almost stopped 3 times to catch my breath but thought it’d be better to just slow down my pace rather than stop. It really hurts inhaling the freezing cold air and I found myself wheezing quite a bit. I really tried to focus on keeping my breathing steady; my chest felt so tight. I knew I wouldn’t PR. I’ve only been running about once a week since it’s been so cold in DC and I just can’t push myself too much without having a wheezing attack in the cold weather. It was hard to remember running the same course in June when it was SO HOT out!

Uphill - just passing mile 2

Uphill – just passing mile 2

Matt came to cheer us on! He’s working with a PT to get running again after his stress fracture during the marathon, with a goal to do the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in March. Mike had a great time of 20:48 – PR’ed! I crossed the finish at 22:30 (my PR is 21:48). It was great to be able to get some extra layers from the car while we had some food and waited for our results.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 6.51.14 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.50.14 PM

PR had a great food selection after the race with a line that moved quickly. Fruit snacks, pastries, a variety of bagels, bananas, and heart cookies (cute idea and delicious!). My only suggestion would have been to offer coffee, as well. My throat was so cold and scratchy that a hot drink would have been perfect!



The results were posted and I realized I came in 2nd place in 30-34 age group and Mike came in 3rd place in his age group! We hung out in the high school until the awards ceremony. It’s so inspiring to see 75+ yr-olds still running! And pretty amazing to hear the times (18 mins!) of people much older than us. There’s a real camaraderie with the PR races – many runners seem to know each other from previous races, etc. Mike and I each received gift cards to Potomac River Running stores.



– Reasonable price
– Nice t-shirts (even though not Nike brand)
– Great food selection afterwards
– Small size that makes it easier to place and get awards
– Professional quality race photos posted on flickr for free downloads

– the drive from DC to Reston (30+ mins)
– the COLD (although not PR’s fault – we chose to sign up for a race in February)
– the fact that the route changed from when we signed up


One comment

  1. […] put on by and benefits the Fairfax Law Foundation. We’ve done a few of the PR races in the past and have been impressed with the price, food, logistics, t-shirt, etc., so we figured this race […]

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