A training run? Those are easy, right? So once I managed to survive our annual family ski trip without injury (yes!), I signed myself up for both the marathon and the 5K in one slightly foolhardy swoop. Wheee?
It's increasingly difficult to comment on training when I seem to be perpetually stuck in the peak part of a marathon training cycle; I guess by now I'm just used to weekly long runs and mileage around 80-85 miles per week. Nothing was different in the weeks leading up to the trail running festival here in Wagga, other than that I found myself inexplicably tired after the week of skiing. Any day when I don't run is by definition a rest day, but I guess 6-7 hours of skiing doesn't qualify as rest. In any case, I was surprised and displeased to find my legs feeling quite leaden in the week leading up to the trail running weekend, although the 2 day mini-taper certainly did help. Until I did something a little foolish, but more about that below. Ahem.
Perfect weather greets us - the kids and me - when we arrive on Saturday to pick up our bibs and prepare for the first, shorter races of the weekend.
|Wagga Beach, aka the Murrumbidgee River, where all races start and finish|
We pin on our bibs and install Mum at a table near the playground, where the kids will happily occupy themselves while I run the 5K. It's a casual affair for sure - everyone lines up at a seemingly random point on the path, I insert myself near the front (hoping to thus avoid getting creamed by the inevitable flood of primary school kids who I know will sprint like maniacs for the first 100m then stop dead in their tracks right in front of me), someone says "GO!" and everyone dashes off.
Mile 1: 6:24 (pace in min/mile)
We all race like maniacs down the path towards the river bank and to my relief the short uphill that comes after about 50 metres seems to sort out a good few of the kids, although I'm still going way faster than planned at this point. It's tempting to slow down but rather suddenly I find myself in 3rd place overall - and the 2 people ahead of me are both about 11 years old. There's a boy who is WAY ahead and a girl about 50m in front who keeps looking over her shoulder. Hmm, I wonder if I can catch her?
The competitive part of my personality steps right up, says firmly "Of course you bloody can!", and without thinking further on it I surge until I pull up to and then sail right past her. When the first mile chirps on my Garmin I look at the pace and wonder what on earth I'm doing, but I can't really slow down now, can I?
|"Take that, pre-teens"|
photo credit: Ewen Thompson
Mile 2: 6:21
We turn on the levee bank and head back towards the beach; I really should slow down but I don't, and I can only hope it won't destroy me for tomorrow. Past the finish and out along the levee bank on the other side of the beach, the Wiradjuri bridge looms ahead as the second mile beeps but I don't even check my pace, I just bounce down the stairs to the narrow track beside the river and head back to the finish.
Mile 3, 0.1: 6:38, 6:11 pace to finish
This mile is going to be slower but looking up at the levee bank I can't even see my little nemesis, the little girl who has tempted me into racing this 5K almost all-out. I could jog it in but that's so not my style - to a smattering of applause and the great surprise of my waiting children I cross the finish line as first female.
Placement: 2nd OA, 1st female.
|"Nice one Mum!"|
Turns out I've been beaten by an 11 year old, and my 10 year old friend (whose name is Maya) finishes in around 21:30, which her Dad informs me is a 1 minute PB for her. Splendid! But it's time for the kids' 1.5K race and I have 2 very excited runners to organise. Thankfully Amelia excuses me from running with her (I only have to beg and whine a little bit) so I am able to watch from the sidelines as everyone departs in a flurry of squeals and flying feet.
It's very soon that Maya appears again in the lead - she wins by a handy margin but wow, here comes Jack in 4th place! I'm yelling at him to overtake the little girl who is in the finish chute ahead of him but no matter, he's done and in his own words, "That was EPIC!" Amelia appears surprisingly soon afterwards, probably in 8th or 9th place overall, declaring "I'm not even puffed!" - there are high-fives all-round and we conclude they are both running the 5K with me next year, no question about it.
|My little running champions!|
1. Running a 5K race in a nice tapered state the very day before a marathon is fun!
2. It's utterly impossible to hold back when you are in a position to win a race outright.
3. We will know VERY soon how badly marathon performance is affected by racing a 5K less than 24 hours earlier.