Year Two for the First Down 5K and Combine

On Super Bowl Sunday, I once again ran the First Down 5K and Pacers Combine held in West Potomac Park (see last year’s race report). This was the second year for the race, which was paired with an optional Combine in which you do 20 each of push-ups, sit-ups, jump squats and walking lunges. For doing both the 5K and the Combine, you earn a foam football imprinted with the race logo. This year the football was tiny, just a toy. Last year it was not regulation size, but still large enough that you could toss it back and forth.

Pre-race pic at 30F degrees - brrr!
This was a cold race, colder than last year. I was dressed appropriately with a long sleeve winter-weight tech shirt, a microfleece pullover, winter weight tights, a skirt, gloves and a knit hat. Some people got into the football theme of the race and dressed up. Barry the joggler was back again, juggling footballs.

At the start; I think there were fewer people than last year, maybe due to the cold

These ladies really got into the spirit of the event with their jerseys and fleece helmets (note Woody Wilson in the background)

Joggler Barry ran with deflated footballs
Scot didn’t join me this year, and I don’t know if that affected my time. I was almost 2 minutes slower on this course than last year. I wasn’t disappointed because I didn’t have a time goal. My goal was just to get out there and run the distance as part of my rebooted training plan. As is usual for a Pacers race, the volunteers were very energetic and motivational. I thanked them all for being out there for us on such a cold morning. There were really no spectators except for a few friends and family members of some of the runners, who pretty much hung out at the start/finish line.

I've run many local races with Woody Wilson, mascot of the Wilson Bridge Half, but this was the first time I saw him run with security detail

After finishing the 5K, I grabbed some water and took a few minutes of a breather before entering the Combine area. The Combine was timed separately using the chip on our bibs. We crossed a timing mat to enter the Combine area, and another one to exit it.


Inside the Combine area you can see a few runners doing push-ups and jump squats; note the Washington Monument in the background
Last year, I did push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges almost daily for the entire month of January. All of that helped prepare me for the Combine. This year, I was doing no such exercises, but I decided that I’d “train” on Saturday, the day before this race. That was a mistake; on Sunday, I was completely sore and it was hard to do the exercises. Still, I got them done, and my time in the Combine was actually a couple minutes faster than last year. The only explanation for that is that I did crunches rather than full sit-ups (Scot wasn’t there to hold my feet), and I think the walking lunge requirement was a shorter distance this year. I learned that maybe I should incorporate these exercises back into my regular routine, rather than do them once a year and expect to feel good about it.

Post-race, post-combine, with the little football that serves as my trophy; that's the Potomac River in the background
After the race, we got a bottle of water, a banana and a granola bar. I kind of missed the little snack box that we got last year, which included crackers and cheese spread among other little packaged snack items. I wonder if Pacers isn’t doing the kits for their races this year. Overall, I had a good experience and I would continue to recommend this race. I like that it's a bit more than just a 5K, and that there is a reward for completing the Combine. For many people, it takes an event like this to get out there and run on a cold winter morning. I know that sprinkling a number of these shorter races into my training schedule helps to keep me on track and motivated.


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