Last night I ran a 5k race.
It’s a local race series that has five runs, each one month apart, and it takes place every year from April to August.
It’s heavily attended by runners from all the running clubs in the area and the results list contains some pretty impressive times. A friend of mine was running in it, having been building up her running over the last few months, so I decided to join her. Last night was the third race in the series and we were feeling pretty nervous after seeing the results. The slowest time from over a hundred runners in race 1 was 31:45 , which is faster than my best parkrun this year.
The race started at 7:15pm, so I had all day to feel worried about how I was going to do. I ate a massive lunch because I didn’t want to have dinner before running and then spent most of the afternoon wishing I’d eaten less because my stomach was so full. When we arrived everybody was super-fit looking. I was grateful to pin my run number over my slightly wobbly baby-belly because there were some super-flat abs wandering around.
My friend and I followed everyone else to the start (we weren’t sure where it even began), and we hoped we’d still be able to follow the course when everybody else had run off into the distance and we had no fellow runners to guide us. The route turned out to be really well-marked, which I was grateful for.
Suddenly we were off and everyone surged ahead – they were all SO fast! After I’d been running for about 14 minutes I saw a sign that said 400 metres to go. I was really out of breath and my brain seemed to have stopped working – for a moment I thought I had somehow sprinted 5k in 14 minutes and I was going to be one of the first finishers. I was even more confused when people started clapping and cheering. My brain couldn’t deduce what was happening until a runner went past me and I finally realised we were doing two laps and he had already run it twice, while I still had 2.5km to go.
At that point I think I psychologically took a bit of a dive because I much prefer to run a route that doesn’t repeat (not to mention being lapped by the winner), and to know that I had another lap of what I’d just covered still to run made me feel so tired. However, I carried on and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
My legs felt strong, but my lungs were burning – what held me back was a lack of lung capacity I think. The kilometres ticked away on the Garmin I’d borrowed from the husband and the last one felt so long. At the 400 metres sign, second time around, I knew I should be picking up speed, but I felt really tired by that point. I checked my time and I had about 90 seconds to go before the 30 minutes mark. I tried to put a bit more into it, but I was running out of power.
Finally the finish crept into sight and I put on a spurt for probably the last 20 meters. I knew I hadn’t broken 30 minutes, but it wasn’t loads over. My official time was 30:39 which I am actually really, really chuffed with. My friend did amazingly and was ahead of me for most of the race, coming in just 5 seconds shy of a sub 30.
The last race I ran was at the same site – they sometimes run a prologue to the series in the winter and that was the one I did in December 2013. My time back then was 30:56, which means three and half years (and one baby) on, I am 17 seconds quicker. Not bad in my book.
The fourth race in this series is in a month’s time. I am going to push for a sub-30 time in July – it’s a goal I’ve had for so long and it will be so great to achieve it. But even if I miss it, I get one more shot in August. I will get there!