I trained for my first 5k race since 2016 and ran my first ever sub 19 5k! Towards the end of December 2017, I joined Team Florida Track Club in Gainesville, FL for a great running community and coach customized training plan, which includes track workouts and weekend long runs with the team. In the past month, I ran my first ever organized track and long run workouts. The runs in my schedule included a wide range of pace zones ran by time instead of distance except for some of the track workouts. The coach is a 2x marathon olympic trials qualifier and former runner for the university in Gainesville. The most helpful advice I have received from him so far is on my form: to carry my hands higher while running to get more knee drive.

2018 Matanzas 5000 Race Recap: sub 19 5k team photo

The FTC team members that met up at the race. I think I need shorter shorts..

I can’t show my full training plan up to the race, but my workouts included:

  • 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min long runs (7 to 10 miles), sometimes finished with pickups or in faster steady-state pace zone
  • 1600m intervals, 1K intervals, 800m intervals and 400m intervals or secs on/secs off intervals and fartleks on the track
  • 20 to 50 min easy runs at recovery run to long run zone, sometimes finished with strides

Tune-up Races

January 1: mile road race (6:08 finish)
January 18: 3k time trial on the track (11:53, 6:11/mi avg pace)

2018 Matanzas 5000 Race Recap: sub 19 5k mile race

The 1 mile tune-up race finish on the coldest day of winter, just below freezing, in Gainesville, FL.

January 27: The 5K Race

Mantanzas 5000 is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) 5K state championship. It is one of Florida’s fastest 5K races on a scenic USATF-certified course through historic St. Augustine, Florida and along the Matanzas River. St. Augustine is a must-see place if ever you visit Florida! The race brought a stacked elite field this year with a few pros from out of state, including from Hanson’s Distance Running Project and the founder spoke after the race. I met a vegan pro runner that I follow on Instagram after the race too. 

Previous 5K PR and Goals for this Race

For this race, the focus was to see where I am fitness-wise and shoot for a PR at least under 19:30. My last 5K race PR was in December 2016 when I ran around 19:38 (6:19/mi avg pace). Based on my 3k time trial, I planned to start the race at near 6:11/mi pace and then adjust as needed. In the back of my head, I had a sub 19 5k in mind, but was not expecting to achieve it in this race. Since it was a flat fast course, I did want to take advantage to run the best 5K I could.

Pre-race Fuel

Before the race, I practiced what I prepared for during training. I ate nothing and just drank green tea (for caffeine) steeped in water and mixed with coconut water (for easy to digest liquid carbs) and Clean Machine fruit punch-flavored BCAAs (for extra hydration).

Race Mile Splits

1 – 6:11
2 – 6:03
3 – 5:56
Finish Time: 18:52 (6:03/mi avg pace)

Post-race Fuel

I drank a protein shake and ate a couple of medjool dates that I packed with me. When I got home, I made a big stack of pancakes, which will certainly be memorable too!

2018 Matanzas 5000 Race Recap: sub 19 5k

Photo taken at the 3 mile mark of the race, when I could see the finish line and clock and started running as fast as I could.


2018 Matanzas 5000 Race Recap: sub 19 5k post-race

Pancakes made with chickpea flour, banana, strawberry and chocolate sunflower seed butter. I shared a recipe for these on Instagram.


During mile 1, I ran conservatively, trying to stick to the 6:11/mi pace as planned. Early on, I found myself going a little faster near 6:05 pace at times. I tried to slow down, as I was afraid of starting out too fast, but doing so slowed me down too much and knocked me off rhythm. Instead, I ran the rest of the way by feel. That brought me down to a faster pace that was hard, but manageable because I was mentally focused.

Past the half way point, I let go of fears and progressively gave it everything I had left, which led to a negative split to the finish. At mile 3, I could see the finish line and clock time. A mixture of shock and elation set in as I knew a sub 19 5k was in the bag. I sprinted the last 0.1 mile at 5:09/mi avg pace.

After only 1 month of 5k specific training, I did not expect to take off so much time from my previous PR so soon. You have to not only prepare for what you can control, but also expect the unexpected in races. The training and team support has certainly helped me and the season has only begun. Sub 18 5k, you’re next!

My focus for the rest of the spring is on the 5K distance and one 10K race. Follow along on Instagram @plantbasedstride to see which race I’m now training for (or have trained for) along with how I fuel as a plant based runner (I did not go as in depth on nutrition in this post, but will do so in other posts)!









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