Chicago Marathon Training: My 5K Time Trial

The 5K is a beast and I hate everything about it.

I’m not fast enough to say, “well at least it’s over in 20 minutes” and I’m not novice enough to say, “I just want to get to the finish line in one piece.” Instead I’m just below average and have to embrace the pain for over half an hour.

Last night I ran a 5K time trial to help determine my paces for marathon training. My goal was to run 36:51 or 11:52 pace so that the McMillian calculator would list 5:59 as a feasible finishing time.

During my drive into work yesterday I noted that it was already 86 degrees at 8am. Groan.

I knew it would be nice and toasty by the time I got around to running after work… and I was right. According to my phone it was 84*F with a real feel of 89*F when I began my run.

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I was burning up by 1/2 a mile in and I wondered if I would even come close to achieving my goal. I thought about how stupid it was to run a time trial when it was so hot out, and I thought about how stupid it was to race after a full day of work. Mostly I just thought about how stupid 5Ks are.

All of those thoughts seemed to aggravate me enough to run fast (for me) because I knocked out a time of 37:07 or 11:58/mi.

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My goal was 36:51 or 11:52 pace so I missed that by 16 seconds … which sucks. I tried so hard to push it at the end and make up those seconds but I fell short.

I know exactly what went wrong. At the beginning of mile 3 I was really fading and I told myself it was okay to run easy for a minute and I willingly dropped my pace. I would feel bad about that except it really felt necessary.

Even though I missed my goal time I’m still pretty happy with this run because it represents where I am at today. It doesn’t represent where I will be at the beginning of October. I’ll be better by then!

The McMillian calculator now estimates my marathon finishing time as 6:01 based on last night’s run. By the end of this training cycle I hope that I can shave those two minutes off to go into race day with a realistic goal of 5:59.

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My coach and I will be talking soon and she’ll be able to give me more insight into goal planning, training strategy and more.

Maybe Cecil will give me some tips too, he’s really good about sprinting around the house at paces I can’t even imagine running.


I hope that you’re week is off to a great start and Wednesday treats you well.

I have the day off from running – not sure what I’m going to do for active recovery yet. What are you planning to do today? Run? Lift? Something else? 



  1. June 17, 2015 / 5:37 am

    That is awesome!! You were so close to your goal and you should still be able to aim for a 5:59. I couldn’t imagine running a 5k in Florida right now, especially on my own! If I wasn’t participating in an actual race on Sunday there was no way I would have been able to keep running at the pace I did.

  2. June 17, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Nice job – Kristina! Don’t be too hard on yourself – I am impressed you ran the trial in the heat and after work (which leaves body exhausted already – both mentally/physically). You came so close and I have no doubt 5:59 is attainable 🙂 You are exactly right, you will be a different runner come October.

  3. June 17, 2015 / 7:15 am

    Good job! I CANNOT imagine running in your heat and humidity!! I like where you said, “I mostly just thought how stupid 5k’s are…” I have so been there. I have talked myself out of being a runner in the middle of a 5k–brutal!
    I am cross training today–cycling–trying to think positive thoughts…

  4. June 17, 2015 / 7:34 am

    Had it been 10 degrees cooler you would have crushed your pace goal… The heat is REAL and it definitely affects how we run. Don’t beat yourself up over the fact that the calculator says 6:01… The heat is the devil!!

  5. June 17, 2015 / 7:37 am

    My sister lives in Florida and when I was talking to her yesterday she said it had reached 100 that afternoon. I felt so bad for you having to run your time trial yesterday.

    But, I still think 5:59 is a possibility for you in Chicago. I was messing around with this heat adjustment calculator yesterday ( so that I could adjust my tempo run pace for that night (5 miles at tempo pace with temps in the low 80s…so awful). I put in your 5k goal time and it said for 85 degrees the adjusted time would be 38:14, which you were well below.

  6. Susan
    June 17, 2015 / 8:17 am

    Way to get it done. So impressive how you can run in the heat. I have no doubt you can still achieve your marathon goal! Stay positive.

    Today was a cross training day. I do my speed-work on my bike and I was tired today so it was tough but I am glad I got it done.

  7. June 17, 2015 / 8:41 am

    Great job on your time trial! Even if your time wasn’t quite what you wanted, it still sounds like you rocked it. I bet sub-6 is still attainable. You are so close and you’re coming off being sick and injured. I bet your training will get you there.

  8. June 17, 2015 / 9:05 am

    Awww bummer. You still did a great job and I’m sure on another day you could have crushed it! You’re right to stay positive though: you are in a totally different place than you will be in October!

    I think you should totally still make 5:59 your goal. Remember, these prediction calculators are just that: predictions. There’s no law that says McMillan is right about everything all the time. People can and do beat their predictions all the time. I think the more important thing is putting in the proper training for your goal. You can so do this!!

  9. June 17, 2015 / 9:20 am

    Running in Florida summers is BRUTAL! I think you did awesome and have no doubt you’ll hit your sub-6 goal!

  10. June 17, 2015 / 10:34 am

    You have to take heat index into consideration when looking at pace/effort. If it had been 20 degrees cooler, I have no doubt that you would have made your goal time. Running (even walking) in 80+ degree weather is just exhausting. It will be much cooler in Chicago on race day, so training in the heat will actually benefit you more than anything. Nice work out there!

    Today I am getting back into the pool for the firs time in months. Eeek!

  11. June 17, 2015 / 10:54 am

    Nice work! I think that if the McMillan calculator is estimating your marathon time at 6:01, a 5:59 is within reach. Remember, these things are just estimating based on formulas and how other runners do. Each runner has their own quirks and strengths. Plus, as you mentioned, you still have several months of hard work ahead of you. I think the biggest thing to consider is the weather. I can almost guarantee that it won’t feel like 89 at the start of the Chicago Marathon!

  12. June 17, 2015 / 11:16 am

    I know the feeling on this topic. I got the nerve up to race a 5K last Saturday and by mile 2 I was thinking, I could just slow down a little… It’s hard!! I also thought I could just walk the last .1 mile of the race 🙂 So many thoughts when the brain gets angry from racing hard.
    Then I plugged that 5K time into McMillan too. Interesting that my 5K is slower than it should be compared to my recent half and full marathons finish times. To me I think I excel in the half based on my finish times, and that is the distance I like best.

  13. Maureen
    June 17, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    Missing by only 16 seconds is amazing!! Being in the same city as you I know exactly how you are feeling about running in the heat and my pace is suffering much more than you did so you rocked it for sure!!! If I were you I’d want to make sure I’m more prepared for how ‘cold’ Chicago in October with feel, how crazy backwards is the climate we live in lol. At least the sunsets are pretty 🙂

  14. June 17, 2015 / 8:15 pm

    Awesome! Missing your time goal by just 16 seconds when it’s that hot and after a full day of work is a success in my book! I am sure you will be able to get to that pace with your training, your first sentence is so true. I always think that 5Ks shouldn’t be so hard & that I can handle 3.1 miles….but they are always so hard!!!

  15. June 17, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    Girl, considering it’s summertime, the fact that you came SO close to your goal is impressive!! I’ve been consistently cutting back on my pace and taking walk breaks because otherwise my pulse goes crazy and I get dizzy.

    I can hold a WAY faster pace for a 5k than I can for a 10k, half, or full. But I like the idea that this gives you a good idea of where you’re starting. I’m so excited to see how your coach uses this time trial to help you train and meet your marathon goal!

  16. June 18, 2015 / 8:05 am

    I predict that you will do much better that you think. Chicago doesn’t have the humidity that we have to battle in FL. The fact that you are a few seconds off in the weather down here simply means that you will be minutes under your goal by the time you cross the finish line.

  17. June 22, 2015 / 10:06 am

    I bet you have read this…

    I hope you can experience some milder temperatures that day, I guess you never know with the weather, although I recall you said you felt cold in 50 degrees because you aren’t use to it.
    50’s and low 60’s is my happy push place, it just feels better pushing when you aren’t boiling.
    I totally think you can sub 6 this! You are prepared now and know what to expect, you got this 🙂
    My cats do the crazy sprinting too, it’s funny to watch – no logical reason just mad dashes…

  18. June 23, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    I hate 5ks.

    Anyway, you were sooo close to your goal, I’d totally count it! You for sure have a sub 6 at Chicago–can’t wait!! 🙂

  19. June 23, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    16 seconds is so close!!! I feel like if it wasn’t so hot you totally would have been 16 seconds FASTER than your goal. I am glad you know your starting point and I am glad you are working with a coach you like. Watch our Chicago, here comes KRISTINA!

  20. July 3, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    You did an AWESOME job on this run, especially given the heat. This was just a run to see where your current fitness level is at and it will grow stronger as the weeks go on and you will see adjustments as you get stronger. Super proud of your strength and discipline. xoxo