In April last year I knew I’d be back in the US in the fall visiting my parents so I signed up for the Air Force Marathon 10K and 5K. I’d never moved myself 6 miles at one time without the help of some sort of vehicle, so I figured it would be a good goal and motivator to get fit!
I completed the 10K, just barely (The 5K I ran with my mom so I didn’t count my time). It was difficult, and I still don’t know how I managed to run almost all of the 10K on what can be regarded only as a pathetic level of training (maaaybe two runs a week, jogging lightly around the neighborhood).
I was averaging 11-12 minute miles, and before my race I really thought it wasn’t possible for me to go any faster. I had so much fun running the 10K (despite the pain!) that I knew I wanted to do it again at some point and really take it seriously.
Since December I’ve been running a whole lot more and focusing specifically on my speed. I’ve gone from not thinking under 11 minutes was possible to being able to run a mile in 8 and a half minutes.
I figured I was ready to try another 5K, so I signed up for the Stroke Association’s Resolution 5K race at Clapham Common (South West London).
I couldn’t take my camera, so you’ll have to rely on the beauty of my words to capture the spirit of the race, but for your benefit I’ve thrown in an awkward self-portrait of me at home, post-race.
By the way, I know there’s much controversy over wearing race shirts on race day, but they made us. Seriously. They sent several e-mails saying to show up in your race shirt, but if you were like me and didn’t receive the shirt, they gave it to you on the day and told you to wear it. Everyone was wearing this shirt.
The race was 15K, 10K and 5K, so I was all the way in the back. My guess is there were a couple hundred people in the race – good amount.
First let me say that my training has been almost exclusively on a treadmill since I’ve been working on my speed, so I wasn’t sure how fast it would seem to run outside.
As soon as I crossed the start line I could tell right away that my natural pace was MUCH faster than what I was used to running only a few months ago. I was passing so many people that I thought I was overdoing it, but it felt like a speed I could maintain so I kept going.
It was very odd to pass people because normally I’m the one jumping out of the way for the cool kids.
I was fine until around the 15 minute mark when I knew I had to take a short break. I walked for about 40 seconds, then picked back up at my same pace. It’s weird how walking for a minute helps so much!
After the 3K mark I got a lot more hopeful because I could tell if I kept my pace I was on track to make it under 30 minutes, which was my goal.
So I kept running. And running. It was getting a bit difficult to maintain my pace again, so I walked for 30 seconds. I started losing motivation because the 4K sign STILL hadn’t appeared. Eventually I realized I somehow missed it or they didn’t post it, and I was almost done with the race.
This upset me a bit, because I feel like I could have pushed it a lot harder for longer had I realized I was actually almost done rather than not even to the 4K mark.
In the end I pushed it and still managed to finish in 29:04, which was a full 7 minutes faster than my 5K in October (also at Clapham Common).
At the finish line we were given this little blue 5K medal, a snack bar and a bottle of water.
This is my third race, and the only one where I didn’t get a goody bag, but I was glad! I got a shirt, medal, snack and water for this race – and that’s all I ever wanted. I hate those big “goody” bags filled with crap and paper I don’t want.
Overall I really like this course because it’s nice and flat, but the only problem is that at times the running area is a bit narrow and you get slowed down by all the people. There were three or four times when I had to slow down a lot because there was no where for me to pass people.
Post-race I’m scarfing down a vegan spinach wrap that I got from Whole Foods in Clapham Junction (I’m definitely going to try to replicate this – yum!) and washing it down with some Vita Coco coconut water with pineapple. Healthy pina colada!
This might possibly be the worst, most unappetizing picture to ever appear on a food blog, but I assure you it was great!
I can’t wait for my next race. I’m going to keep training because cutting so much time in a few months has really motivated me to keep going!
Time for me to rest up and get started on the third book in The Hunger Games …