Monday, June 11, 2012

Carrera Solidaria Santander II

I'd been in two minds as to whether to run this 5K race as I have continued to have almost imperceptible but definitely there pain in my left Achilles tendon but I did a test last week of 12 sets of 1 minute running at 18kph and it seemed to be more or less OK the next day.

The race was actually 6 races running in parallel: a 5K and a 10K in each of Madrid, Valencia and Santander. In total there were about 6,000 people running, half of them in the Casa de Campo in Madrid. The organization was as you would expect with only one small niggle: the only water at the start was a huge pile of bottles which were being zealously guarded by a security guard, one who did not know the answer to the question she was inevitably asked between 1 and 3,000 times - "is there somewhere I can get some water round here?".

I managed to get a good spot on the starting line and a 9am, the gun went off. The first kilometre didn't feel that fast but we got there in 3:30 and I found myself running right at the front thinking that I might actually have to slow down a little and be a little tactical. I guess everyone else was playing the same game. My mouth started to feel very dry but I told myself that it was only a short race and it was probably better not to be carrying half a litre of water swilling around in my stomach.

That's my head poking out there on the right, honest
During the second kilometre we started to stretch out a little bit but I was still in a good position and there was always the hope that everyone in front of me was in fact running the 10K race. At the turnaround point only three people peeled off to continue on to the 10K race but at least the way back was mostly downhill. As usual, on the uphill sections I would lose ground and would make some of this back on the downhill sections. By now the final ranking was not going to change unless something drastic happened.

I wonder which distance is considered to be the most painful of all - I wouldn't be surprised if it were 5K. I ran all but the first kilometre at over my anaerobic threshold (178) but my pulse only got as high as 185 in the end. It's been a long time since I last saw my so called maximum heart rate of 191 bpm which, by now, may have come down somewhat (it is thought to drop by as much as one beat per year).

As I came down the finishing chute I remembered that we had been asked to make a gesture of rocking a baby to remind people of the cause for which we were running: Unicef. I think I was probably the only one who did it because the guys in front of me were probably to focussed on the race and I didn't see anyone behind me doing it. Now I come to think of it, it might have looked quite silly. I realized afterwards that, for most people, the gesture of rocking a baby is done cupping your elbows with your hands; when I hold a baby I hold their head in one hand and their bum in the other so my rocking gesture probably looked more like an impersonation of a gorilla. With gritted teeth.

I finished in a time of 18:12 which isn't bad considering I haven't been training for the distance or even running that much lately, as well as it being quite hot and a hilly. I was 9th out of about 850 people running the 5K and 3rd in my age group (36-45 - damn, what's wrong with 40-49?!). I hung around thinking that I might get on the podium for my age group. I don't get on the podium very often and my kids would find it infinitely more impressive that I got a trophy for coming 3rd in a race of 4 people than completing a 20 times Ironman. In the end I didn't get called up for what I was expecting but instead for being the fastest out of all the employees of Santander who ran the race (which sounds a bit crap but a large proportion of those running were from the bank). Actually, as you can probably imagine, they made much more fuss over the fastest employees (or "professionals" as the trophy says) than they did over the overall winners.

Haha, "Special Professional Prize" makes it look like I won the élite category. Pretty cool.

That's Chema Martínez lurking in the back there just behind me

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