Waiting in line to pick up my race number the heavens opened. It absolutely bucketed down. A weather bomb is what we call these, complete with a wind that is really blustery and cold. The guy next to me said he was thinking about calling it a day and going back to bed. I didn’t mind the rain, but I was really hoping that wind would die down, just a little.
The race director counted down to the start. He used a loudhailer probably to drown out the sound of the rain and wind. 10, 9, 8, should I rethink my strategy? 7, 6, 5, did I eat enough? 4, 3, what the hell is that weird cramping sensation in my right calve and why on earth did I foolishly boast about my target time of ‘1.33 point something’ previously to you lot?
No gun, just that man with the loudhailer yelling 'GO' and off we went. My plan was to run as many sub 4.30s as I could. I figured I'd have the aerobic puff required after the 80k per week program I'd committed to these last couple of months. As I reassured myself of this my Garmin let me know 1st km 4.03 ... "OH COME ON PEOPLE THIS IS A CRAZY PACE, IT'S NOT THE BLOODY OLYMPICS", I thought. There had to have been at least 50 runners ahead of me too! The 2nd km 4.26 and the 3rd km 4.23 went by in the blink of an eye. It wasn't until the 4th km that I realised the 10k runners had started with us. Oh I see, silly me.
What did occur to me at this time was how comfortable I felt. Dare I push the pace? I decided not to and reeled off a number of 4.30s. The only deviation coming from a 4.47 on a rare uphill that extended for about 1k. As for the rain, well it had completely died away to nothing more than a drizzle. Even the wind had virtually gone.
I’ve always been that guy EVERYONE passes late in a race. The guy that fades badly even with my friends and family there to cheer me on. But with 5k to go something quite extraordinary happened. I found myself being the one doing all the passing. 1 became 2 and in no time 2 became 7. I was passed just once late in the race. A 7/1 count was indeed a first for me. My final 5k splits said so much, a 4.29, 4.22, 4.23, 4.13 and the last, a 4.19 … wow where did that come from?
I’ve since had mixed feelings about my time. On the one hand I was absolutely wrapped with how relaxed I felt throughout the race and at how strongly I completed the distance. I was also happy enough with my time given the conditions. But something has been nagging me ever since. Had I given it absolutely everything? Did I run it too conservatively in the middle given all my recent failures? I’d done the work so why hadn’t I pushed a little more? Was I scared? Where was that self confidence and will I find it in time for my next race in November at the Adidas Auckland Marathon?
Perhaps I’m being a little too hard on myself. I did after all have such a great day. I loved every minute out there and now cant wait for Auckland. Steve Jones, in a very well known running quote once said “If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down, because that means I didn’t run hard enough”