5k Race Recap: Handcart Days

Handcart Days 5k Race Recap

Here’s my 5k Race Recap from the Handcart Days race last weekend!

I was actually supposed to run a 5k over three weeks ago, but was thwarted by the fact that the other race was actually 8 PM instead of 8 AM, and my husband and I were moving houses that same day. By the time we got done moving, I was definitely too exhausted to go run a 5k. Therefore, the Handcart Days 5k was a chance to redeem myself.

My last 5k race recap before this was the Sweetheart 5k in February, so it had been a while since I raced this distance.

Fun fact: The Sweetheart 5k was on the same exact route as the Handcart Days 5k, so it was a fair comparison to my previous 28:00 personal record that I had matched at the Sweetheart 5k.

I felt pretty good before the race. My training plan called out for 2 rest days before the 5k and although my mileage was already really low for the week, I obliged and took both rest days. I was actually a little nervous that I would be tired, because I helped my husband do a bunch of landscape raking in the backyard on Friday night before the race.

Race Start

About 30 minutes before the race started, I warmed up by jogging and walking around the perimeter of the area. I did some light stretching about 15 minutes before the start. Mainly, I wanted to make sure I already had blood flowing through my muscles before I asked them to start working hard.

All smiles right before the race started!

At the start of the race, I focused on keeping my cadence quick, but still keeping my effort fairly easy. The one thing that stood out to me more than anything in the first mile of the race is that I just felt like I was floating. It seemed like everyone around my was pounding their feet loudly and breathing heavy. They all looked like they were working so hard and I would just reel them in one at a time and float past, my pace feeling almost effortless.

My plan was to run just under a 9 min/mile pace, since my last 5k PR time was an average 9:04 pace. I figured that if I stayed under 9 minutes per mile (which I thought should be fairly doable with my recent training), then I would definitely be able to PR this race. After glancing at my new Garmin Forerunner 35 a few times, I saw that I was hovering right around an 8:30 min/mile pace.

“Wow! I thought…that pace seemed so much harder to hit during my tempo runs.”

Mid Course

5k’s always make me laugh a little inside because it seems like everyone races away at the start but by the halfway point, I usually end up passing everyone who went breezing by me. Pacing is important! Know what your fitness level is and don’t push it more than you can handle. Just saying.

At the halfway point, I noticed two things: 1) I didn’t see any women around me and 2) suddenly it got REALLY hard to hold my pace. Actually, my pace slowed quite a bit despite me fighting harder to keep it. I felt like there was a very distinct moment halfway through the race when it got a LOT harder.

As it turns out, there was a reason for that:

I saw the reason long after when I got home and looked at the stats on Garmin Connect. On the way out, we were running slightly uphill. On the way back, we were running uphill! That explained a lot…

Final Stretch

Between 2.2 miles and 2.8 miles, I REALLY struggled to hold my pace. I knew I was on track for a great 5k PR if I kept my pace up, but I was also fighting a bad side stitch. Even so, I wasn’t about to give up. Honestly, I was hoping for a time somewhere around 27:00. That would be a minute off my previous record and a HUGE improvement.

We came around the final corner and the finish line wasn’t much farther. I kicked it down and pushed hard through the end.

As I approached the finish line, the clock had just rolled over 26 minutes. I couldn’t believe it…I felt like the clock was broken. There is NO WAY I had approached the finish line that early.

Race Results

What 5k race recap would be complete without sharing my results??

After crossing the finish, I stopped my Garmin at 26:21. It turned out that my official time was 26:20!! That’s a HUGE PR of 1 minutes and 40 seconds less than my previous best 5k time.

My performance at the Handcart Days 5k was far better than I expected, even though it had been quite a while since my previous 5k.

Pardon all the selfies…my official photographer (aka my husband) wasn’t able to tag along to this race.

I tried sticking around for a while to see if I placed in my age division, but it was going to be at least an hour until they announced official results. My husband was waiting for me to get home to help him move dirt around and prepare our yard for sod next week, so I headed home once I found out that it awards wouldn’t be held for a few hours.

Later that afternoon I checked the results online to find that I had placed FIRST in my age group! That was super exciting…I remember when I used to see people who ran a 25 minute 5k and I thought there was no way I would ever be able to run that fast.

Now…it suddenly seems within reach.

What races have you ran recently?


Run Happy,


About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>