Obviously you can run in as many races as you want to pack on your calendar. But using a race as a training run? No way. I get it, there are other reasons to run a race besides racing. But unless I have on a shirt that reads "I'm not really racing today, I just needed to get out of the house and spend $130 to put up with some major parking woes" then you bet your Sally (not a real term) that I will be trying to beat someone. There's always that girl in the annoying-looking socks that you are pretty sure is starting out too fast so you just gotta run her down and pass the mat ahead of her.
So there's some complex scheduling involved with finding affordable local races and arranging them in your calendar so that you are in peak or near-peak condition to run each one. That's going to be my challenge this year. In addition to running LA, where I want to break 3:45, I also want to run a variety of trail races, race a 10k, and ideally also race my first half marathon.
Yes, I skipped the half-marathon distance and went straight for the whole enchilada. Similarly, I never raced a 5k and opted for a 10k as my first race. There's something to be said about me for this I do believe.