As a little kid, I would sometimes run a bit with my father. Nothing serious. He would take part in a race near where we lived and I took part in their kids’ race a few times. To feed my nostalgia, I decided to take part in it last year. Sadly, that coincided with my seasonal sore-throat-and-worse sickness. I still ran it, since I was on the getting better side, but it was miserable and I was slow: 44:37 for 10 km. The course is probably a bit short too going by everybody’s Strava, so it is even slower than it already looks. I did not end up writing a report for that one.
This year, I wanted revenge. Besides the kids option, they offer a 5, 10, 15, and 20 km. I once more decided on the 10 km.
Training for my half marathon in a month has been going well enough. I have been hovering at 80 km for the on weeks, 60 km for the off weeks. The body has been alright in handling some of the T, R, and I workouts (Jack Daniels terminology). The week before race week was a third 80 km week in a row. I was also at a conference during that week, so while I dropped the heavy workouts, it still was hard on the body. Instead of the usual workouts, I did two long runs that week. While in a constant tiredness state, by the end of the conference, it felt like I got through it alright.
However. The conference ended Friday, so Saturday and Sunday I got to catch up on some sleep. My body must have dropped its defences after coming off that intensity (is that even a thing?), because Sunday I started to feel a sore throat develop. By the evening I was hella tired, had a slight headache, and a throat that was getting worse. I stayed home sick Monday and Tuesday, pumping myself full of teas, honey, and throat medicine. Wednesday things started feeling on the up again, which is a good sign. If it gets bad for me, it usually takes a week of feeling complete shite. Luckily, it did not get to that level yet. I was not feeling 100% necessarily on Thursday, but good enough to head back to work. The tea and such continued. Friday I started feeling tired in the afternoon (I had been sleeping 9h-9h30 every night since Friday evening), but had to attend an alumni event at work. This lasted a bit longer than I had had in mind and Saturday (8ish hours of sleep), I woke up feeling a bit worse again: sneezing, runny nose, throat a bit worse again. That afternoon I got a very slight fever. I had a paracetamol and went to bed early that evening. Sleep did not come though and around midnight I felt feverish again. Had a second paracetamol and eventually managed to sleep.
The race starts near the village’s town hall on a non smooth stone road. You go down for half a kilometre only to then go back up for the next half. You do part of a lap of the local track, connect to another (properly asphalted) street and then follow those for a while. This stays flattish till km 2. Then the next kilometre is downhill. With three kilometres in the legs, you go off the easy roads and into some local fields and forests. As a local friend of mine pointed out: if you are already feeling it at this point, then you will blow up. The next kilometre you climb back through first a forest and then between fields. You can hope it has been dry recently (it luckily was for me) or this part can be even worse. After a kilometre of that, you briefly (about 300 metre) go back onto roads, some asphalt, some the shitty non smooth stones they like in this village. After that the local forest/park till you reach the finish line area, completing one 5 kilometre loop. Though I reckon the loop is a bit short.
Goals and Strategy
I was thinking of going out at a little under 4 minutes per kilometre and seeing how that feels. At least in the easier start this should be manageable. In reality, I figured I would just see if I could get my heart rate at the upper end of the Lactate Threshold estimate. For me, that should be in the low 170s. If I find someone to run it with, all the better.
As mentioned in training, sleep and slight sickness made the last run up to the start a bit worse. Sunday morning I luckily felt OK in terms of sickness. Definitely on the tired side, but what can you do? I had some pasta leftovers as lunch. Girlfriend and I ended up biking over around 13:15, to be there around 14:00, an hour before the start. A bit generous, but rather safe than sorry. Sign up was smooth, the line was pretty short still, and after a brief wait I changed into running clothes, dropped off my bag, and went for a 2k warmup around 14:35. After that some dynamic stretches and trying to keep myself a bit warm before the start. The sun helped. I think. It was ~15C and sunny.
I lined up around the second-third row, on the outside of the first turn. Looked a bit calmer on that side and I hoped for some room in the turn. That worked out as I hoped. On the downhill at the start, I just tried to get into some rhythm. Bit too hard to tell what effort I was running at with it being downhill anyway. You get a nice view on the groups forming ahead on this downhill. Time to try and catch up to as many of them as possible.
This goes well. I just catch up to a group of three when I reach the track and decide to maybe hang behind. They are going a bit slower than I want though and after 100 metre I start moving up to the front of the group to continue at my own pace. That is apparently good enough to slowly keep passing people. Especially on reaching the downhill I notice I might have a small advantage with my longer legs. The people closely behind me quickly drop away and I easily enough close the gap on the black teenager ahead of me.
I am just behind him at the start of the forest and field area. I feel like he slows down a bit on the unsteady grassy ground so decide to just move past him and set my own pace. Once the climbing actually starts I think I drop him briefly, but near the end of the climb he passes me again. He clearly sped up quite a bit, so I immediately assume he must be doing the 5 km race. I do not bother to try and follow him.
I finish the first lap in 19:21 (official timing). I spot the teenager, he indeed finished the 5 km. Official timing has him at 19:07 for fourth place, a minute off the podium of the 5 km. Ahead of me I see two guys running together, I am about 5 seconds behind them on the timing mat.
I do not see anyone before the two guys, I do not know whether they are doing the 10 km or one of the longer distances, and I do not know what place I am running in at this point. So I just assume they are in my race and that the placing might matter. I decide to close the gap on the downhill, recover while hanging in their two man group, and then see what I can do from there. Closing the gap works out nicely, I am right behind them at the end of the downhill. I sit behind them as we start a brief climb again. One of them starts faltering and I sit behind him a bit too long. Once I decide to pass the faltering one, I have another gap to close again. I aim to close it on the short downhill before the climb to the track and once again this works out nicely. I hang behind the other guy, recovering some, as we go through the track.
Once we get to the streets again, I feel like I have recovered plenty and pass him. Going by the breathing and steps I hear behind me, I do not drop him. On the next downhill though, it does happen. By the time I reach the end of that longer downhill, I do not hear anyone behind me.
After some climbing in the forest, a turn in the field enables me to glance behind me. I spot a little group 50ish metre behind me. Once again I do not know who of them is in the 10k, so I just decide not to let them get close to me. I keep the pace honest as I continue the climb and do not bother looking behind me again. I try my best to focus on keeping the pace up as I am in the last km. It goes well enough and I run to the finish without anyone coming close.
Results have me as sixth for the 10 km in 39:16. Splits of 19:21 and 19:55. Note that with the way the timing mats are placed, the first lap is slightly shorter (just shy of 100m?) than the second lap. There is also the Strava activity for more details. I would have needed 36:57 to get on the podium, still a ways to go. Of the 15 km, five more people passed the 10 km timing mat before me. The winner of the 20 km did too.
Of the two guys I joined up with after the start of the second lap, the one that faded finished 44s behind me. The other guy was actually doing the 20 km. He passed the 10 km point 30s behind me, slowed down a little bit more in the next two laps, but finished the 20 km in third position in 1:21:48.
The girlfriend did the 20 km. She came in third in 1:43:10. She was not really trying though.
This one was fun for some racing experience. However, it tells me nothing in terms of what pace I can do right now in a regular race. The heart rate gives some indication, but I kept everything controlled enough so even that only tells so much. I have got a flat 9 km race coming up in two weeks, that one will hopefully be more indicative as to what to do on my goal half in a month.