Welcome back! If you are reading this one first, I recommend that you read my first post about the running weekend here.
I had just completed the 30 miler and felt okay, I had a minor twinge but I knew a little rub and care would look after it easily enough. Tomorrow would be a new day and my first 5km race would happen! But if you follow my blog, you would know that this wasn’t about me, this was about Victoria completing her first proper race and me hoping that some of my advice had helped. You can read about those here and here!
We had earmarked the Connswater 5km/10km as our race as it was far enough away but not too far. It was the inaugural year of the event, so I had not received any feedback about the course or organisers. Into a world of the unknown for us!
We get to the location (CS Square) early enough, but with me, I always need to pop to the loo before a race, so off we went to find a toilet. Being a more experienced runner, I thought to look for portaloo’s, but alas there is none to be found, the toilets to a cafe had scores of people queuing, so this was automatically a first annoyance to me about the event. They had planned for over 500 runners but had not planned ahead for toilet facilities for these runners. A nearby community centre and McDonald’s were also having their cubicles inundated with anxious runners. I went to the community centre and got sorted.
Then came to the all important pinning of the numbers, I always attach mine to my shorts on my thigh for comfort, but I felt it was probably easier for Victoria in her leggings to attach it to her top. She looked like a happy little runner, so I stole some pictures! I asked how she was doing and she said a little nervous, her issue was that she had stormed to a very fast PB at the parkrun the day before and now felt a little tight and sore in her legs. I had figured it was a little bit of fatigue as she had completed a sub 34 minute 5k! Such progress and it made my heart swell to see her be so happy with her efforts.
We get into position (last minute as we missed the call and expected all runners to go together. I thought it was wiser to have Victoria around the back of the 5km running pack as then we could ease up the pace and get past people and if there were any log jams on the course, it would be eased, by the time we got there… How wrong was I!?
As soon as we started onto the pathway, we were stuck behind runners, with me looking further up the path I could see this was an issue for the majority of the field… Issue number 2! I was disappointed with this and partially myself, maybe I should have had Victoria further up the field to try and dodge this quicker at least then we could slow the pace down. But then that was a chronic issue for me, to start too soon and I didn’t want to make that a habit for her. But we did lose a good minute of projected time at the pace we were going. I knew it would be a struggle to get a PB, but Victoria had mentioned earlier that she just wanted a sub 35 minute, which I agreed to. We had a target and anyway, she had already run a brilliant pace the day before! This is just a bonus!
We finally get some space between us and the others and we open up our pace, we are on the 10-minute mark and I knew if we were going to get a PB, then that was the pace we needed to keep at for the next 2 miles. I don’t mention the pace with her as I want her to feel comfortable and not worry about times. We go through Victoria Park and over the suspension bridge… I had tried to warn her from my previous races, that this bridge is small and thus will bounce like nobodies business. We slowed the pace right down and on the bridge, but it was at this point the 10k athletes started to overtake us and just like that, issue number 3 came over me. The runners were blocking each other, no one knew what to do. This was despite words from the organisers at the start, but in reality, this should have been arranged and runners, told well in advance. I also didn’t like the races starting at different times. I would have gone for a staggered time start personally. Also, there were no mile or KM markers, so it was a bit tough for new runners to gauge their pace, or just know how long was left without looking at their phones or watches.
We go along a long road named the Airport Road and it is a boring old road, knowing you have to go back down it doesn’t help the mind either. I get a little frustrated as the 10km runners are going past us on the left and due to not wanting to get in their way we stay to the right. Sadly there were two other runners taking up the entire right-hand side of the path and so we were stuck behind them at a slightly slower pace than I would have liked. When we got to the turning point on the road we were able to break from them and our pace naturally increased.
I am happy with our running, it would be close if we get to a PB, but we were well within the 35-minute target. Then sadly Victoria had a slight panic attack mid race, but somehow and I still don’t know how she managed to beat it and kept going despite being distressed from it. She just sucked it up and kept going. Some determination in her I tell you!
After we get past that part we reach a hill and off she zooms, flying up the thing, eventually, it catches up to her and she walks for around 10 seconds, nothing damaging, but she thinks she has cost herself badly. She hasn’t and at this point, I begin to regularly check my phone as we are around 0.5 KM away from finishing, but we are no were near the finish by my estimation. I begin to worry that my phone has not logged things correctly and so I keep looking down at the distance. I found out later that Victoria thought I was disappointed in the running so was checking that. But no, it was the distance! In my books, the course has been mismeasured and is a bit too long. A massive issue if there was ever one. The number of people gunning for PB’s here was high. I hope I am wrong, but as we turn onto the final stretch, I can see we are almost at the 3.10 distance on my phone as we cross what looks like the 3-mile marker mats. I stop my phone on 3.10, just in case it is wrong so that we have an actual finish time that we can go back to.
A strong finish later and we are done!!!
The times say 35 minutes, but after checking my phone it was 34 and I am happy. I let Victoria know of the situation and she looks annoyed. We go to collect our packs and it is disappointment number 6 or so… A bottle of water and a smushed banana, but also our medals in a plastic wrap. I don’t know about you fine folks, but after so many races, I kind of get used to someone being there to give me the medal. I am not expecting someone to put it around my neck, but for someone to present me with it, is always a great thrill for a finisher. It might be a little self-centered, but I had hoped for someone to do that for Victoria. So I took it upon myself to do it for her.
I tell her how proud I am and immediately she is plotting the next one. I have succeeded in my plan and snared her into the world of running! Hurrah!!
After we finish I check the results and Facebook page to see our times and we were not alone as there appeared to be a lot of complaints about the event. I had issues with the event, but it was their first year, but I felt it could have done with a bit of advice from runners on what to do. The main complaint was the distance issue as everyone noted it was 0.10 miles too long. I comment saying that maybe it should be considered to use the times from the other mats as they would give the correct times for the correct distance and then maybe that could appease everyone?
I provide a long, long post about how they can improve, but keep it constructive as possible. I want to go back next year and see how they improve and also to see how we improve as a little running duo!
The race could have been better for us, the training could have been better on my side, but Victoria has seen some great improvements and is way faster than I had expected her to be. She has done awesome and I keep telling her so! I will, of course, keep updating you all on her progress. Until then.
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