5k= 5 kilometers, about 3.1 miles, very common race distance and a great place to start.
10k= 10 kilometers, about 6.2 miles, again another very common distance, a possible starting place as well.
Half Marathon= 13.1 miles, if you aren't sure if a marathon is for you try this distance first
Marathon= 26.2 miles, an adventure for some, pure torture for others.
Ultra = more than 26.2 miles in one race, for the real crazies out there
Triathlon= Swim, Bike Run. There are sprint triathlons (shorter portions of each element) or Ironman length triathlons (longer distances for each element)
Dualathlon= a combination of two of the triathlon events. a great starting point for beginngers
Trail races= literally a race on a unpaved trail. found a lot in hilly places!
Road Races= literally races on (mostly) paved roads
Relay= sometimes longer races can be run relay style, that is a team completes the distance by splitting it up.]
If you hang out around the Erie, Pennsylvania area much then you want to check out the Erie Runner's Club website. The plethora of information there is a great resource. When I first moved into the area they were my main source of information.
A few of their upcoming races include:
August 19th: UPMC Hamot 10K/ Mayor's Cup
A great run through downtown Erie. A little hilly I believe...
September 16th: Erie Marathon and Half Marathon
SUPER FLAT and VERY FAST marathon and half marathon course. I ran this last year and had a great time. It can still be a little warm in September, but the closeness to the lake makes this a great first timer race.
October 6th: Her Times 5K
I also ran this last year with a group of young women through the YMCA in Erie. A really fun woman-only race that is also VERY FLAT! This is a great event for women who want to see what racing is all about.
Erie offers plenty of other races as well. There is a triathlon, a dualathlon (a combination of two of the triathlon events) and various trail races. There is a cycling club, various outdoors clubs and many many many runners groups in the area. Try using the Erie Runner's Club website for more info or searching the internet for erie "whatever club you want" to find one that interest you.
Another great resource for finding races throughout the country is Runningintheusa.com. They have a great calender with upcoming events that you can narrow to search for specific cities, dates or length of race.
If you are going to be on vacation or visiting family, consider running a road race while there. It can be a great way to knock a few goals off your list, including running a race in every state! When searching for races, try searching for the city + road race to find a match. There are usually lots of small towns with races associated with festivals or city events throughout the year. Check out a city's website for those kind of events.
If there is a local running club, a e-mail or phone call to the director might yield a training group or other individuals to run with while you are visiting. You can meet some awesome, and very interesting people this way.
I must be a super running dork because I even created a wish list of races I want to complete before I die or have to stop running. It includes:
- The Western States 100: Mainly for the belt buckle. And the slight pride in myself for running 100 miles in 24 hours.
- The Boston Marathon: Um. I feel obligated as a runner to run this. As well as see Heartbreak Hill for myself.
- A race in every continental U.S. state. I would like to do every state but Alaska can be a challenge.
- The OBX Marathon: I loved vacationing here as a child. I want to return and run the marathon there. It looks beautiful.
- A triathlon. I am not sure which one yet, but I want to do a full triathlon at some point.
- Grand Island Marathon: A good friend ran this marathon a few years ago. I am not the best trail racer but I still want to give it a go.
Racing is a great way to join the running community and really get involved. I have found races to be both a personal challenge and a encouragement to keep training. Whether you want to win or simply want to finish, racing is a great way to accomplish any goal (and have proof of it!)