Saturday, April 13, 2013

My first 5k -- done!


We had so much to do today I didn't think we would be able to fit it all in, but somehow we did. First was Jasmine's violin performance in a String Festival (she was in non-competitive under 10yo). Luckily for us they split her category into two groups so by 10:30 she had her medal and Tim could rush the kids off to their swimming lesson and then Jas to a party while I made my way to the race area. Luckily it was literally a block away. The 10K or maybe the half marathon was in progress, tomorrow is the marathon and ultra-marathon.

I changed and put on sunscreen, had my banana and string cheese and half my bottle of water, and sat down to play with my iPhone for half an hour. Then I checked in my backpack and got in the long line for the porta-loos. I was feeling a bit discouraged as I looked around me. In front of me in the queue was a woman with two young children (maybe 5 and 7) and also a toddler in a stroller, and I knew they were going to beat me in the race. Everyone was going to beat me. I could run a whole 15 seconds at a time, who was I kidding?

But I made my way to the starting line anyway and placed myself near the back of the large pack -- apparently there were 705 finishers today. We couldn't hear any of the announcements from back there so the starting gun came as a bit of a surprise but we all started shuffling forwards. We couldn't run yet, it was too crowded. After 100 metres or so I passed the starting line and the pack started to thin out.

I decided to put on my Zombie app, week 2 day 1, during the race. As I anticipated, I couldn't hear all of the voice-over at first due to the crowd but later it helped me get going. I was up to 30 second intervals today. For the first 10 minutes I watched a pink-haired lady in front of me, she stayed at a walk. Because I have short legs (I'm only 5 foot tall, 152 cm) I walk slower than most other people (I'm probably also just a slow walker). So this lady strode ahead and I would jog a little to keep up, then walk to recover and she would get ahead again, then jog to catch up again. At some point I passed her and then I never saw her again and had to use other people as markers.

Those first 10 minutes were the worst of the whole race. Whether it was because I wasn't warmed up properly (I did a little stretching and walking, but not much) or just the hard surface of the road when I usually run on grass, my legs were killing me. Quite bad pains up my shins. In particular, every step on my left foot sent pain shooting the front of my leg. And this was only the first 10 minutes! I still had 4 kilometers to go! But actually after that the pain eased up and it wasn't too bad at all.

After the 10 min warm up the zombie intervals began so I did those. 30 seconds of running each time, which I found managable. I found that I did 40 steps (on each foot, I always counted each right foot-fall) in 30 seconds. I was also listening to the soundtrack to Jekyll and Hyde, but couldn't hear it all that well.

When I was a couple of blocks away from the finish line on the first of two laps, the real runners started passing me on their second lap. After six or eight men had zoomed past me, a group of spectators started cheering me and yelling "go girl!" and "doing great" and similar and I smiled and sped up and then realised that they were cheering the first girl to lap me on her way to the finish line. She looked about 14.

I did my last zombie interval just before I finished lap one, and then I was on my own with the timing but I kept trying to do the same thing ... running 40 steps (about 30 seconds) and then walking to recover. The only water station was at this point so I had a few mouthfulls and set off on lap two. I felt in pretty good shape. I started trying to pass people. My stats show that although I was slightly faster on my first lap (not by much), I was comparatively faster on my second lap in relation to others -- so I slowed down a little bit but not as much as other people. We were all either walking a bit and running a bit, or just walking. I would set my sights on someone ahead of me, run to catch up, walk and fall back, run and pass then, walk and drop behind again, run and pass them for good.

The middle three kilometres were all pretty managable; the leg pain was much reduced and I was pacing myself well. But that last kilometre was a real struggle. I was out of energy. My legs were tired. Each running interval was harder than the one before. I was dehydrated and overheated. I saw a woman point out the corner to the finish line sprint up ahead so I sailed past them ... only to find she was wrong and I had another block before the correct corner. Finally the finish line was ahead. I walked until I thought it was close enough for a final sprint and ran. Saw my husband and little son cheering me on. Crossed the line and slowed to a walk. My husband yelled at me to go on and I realised the actual finish line was about a metre further on. Lurched over it. Yay!

After collecting my backpack and having a drink of freshly-squeezed juice (man that was good!) we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for a quick lunch -- I was still all hot and sweaty but we didn't have time for anything else -- then went to pick up Jasmine from her party. Got home at about 2.15 pm after a day that felt like it went for about a week, scoffed some birthday cake, had a hot bath and collapsed into bed for an hour. Killer headache and aching legs.

But I did it. My first 5K. My dream time would have been 45 mins, the only thing I had to go by was walking/jogging around the lake about a year ago in 52 mins. I hadn't done very much training.

My official time was 49:38, and I am happy with that. I got under 50 minutes, at least.

The winner took 15:58, the first female 18:53.

I was 682nd of 705 finishers (not last! yay! but as I tell the kids, even the person who came last did really well for finishing at all. The slowest walker is lapping the person sitting on the couch), 89th of 92 in my gender/age group.

So will I do it again? Dunno. I guess so. Not anytime real soon. I am still keen on running away from zombies, and I like doing races. I don't consider myself a runner. Some people say you are a runner if you do any running whatsoever, I disagree. I'm not a chef just because I cook my family dinner, I'm not a writer because I scribble a shopping list (or even this blog). I think it can make words almost meaningless if you broaden the application so far. But I guess I am in training.


  1. Congratulations!! I have a 5k this morning. Not sure if I'll do any running since I'll be with my sister and she ran yesterday and has to have a break in between runs because of plantar fasciitis. I know what you mean about not being a runner.... I still don't think it quite applies to me. Running for 5 minutes tops just doesn't make me feel like a qualify yet =)

  2. Good luck! Walking is great too, and it must be fun to do a race with your sister. Do you cross the finish line together, or does one of you suddenly sprint ahead at the last minute?