Monday, May 18, 2015

III Carrera Popular Cuidad de Pozuelo (5K)

After my underwhelming performance (behaviour) in the Madrid Half (Full) Marathon and with just under 6 months to go befoer the New York Marathon, I thought it was a good moment to build up my confidence again, starting with a local 5K race. I ran the first edition a couple of years ago so I knew what to expect: hot weather and "annoying" hills (well, I live in Pozuelo so them thar hils I know well). This time I managed to convince the whole family to take part: my wife and I would be doing the 5K and the kids a 900m circuit. While the grownups were running, the eldest (12) could be looking after the youngest (10).

In the end, it didn't work out quite so smoothly as the eldest had other plans. It turned out that he had a birthday party to attend at the same time as the race, so I was left with the problem of finding a "babysitter" for Adrian. I say "I" because Ana was going to run the race sí o sí (yes or yes) so I would be the babysitter by default. I was pretty confident I would know someone running the race as it was near both where I live and where I work, as well as there being a chance that some of my running friends took part (in the 2013 edition, a friend who lives 265 kilometers away took part!). The challenge was to find someone who was accompanied by a significant other because it would be no use if they were also running the race. Just at the last minute I spotted a friend of my wife who had the whole family in tow, so problem solved. Ana and I went off to the start line of the 5K, which started 25 minutes after the 10K so that the two races would more or less finish at the same time. I wished Ana good luck and recommended that she didn't start as far forward as me for risk of being trampled by faster runners.

As seems to always happen when I run 5Ks, the initial pace seems to be surprisingly slow and I start to fantasize about finishing in a high position but then my lungs start to hurt, my legs feel heavy and the leaders start to drift away. I suppose I am used to running longer races and I think that I have to start off very explosively, but 5K is still 5K. When I think back to my rowing days, the standard competition distance was 2,000m (in about 6 minutes) and the Boat Race, that was considered to be an endurance event, lasted about the same time as it would take me to run 5K. There was someone who was having a harder time of it than me, who I managed to overtake, but I was passed by a couple of youngsters and their coach (on a bike).

I ran in a vaccuum pretty much all the way, to the point that I had to ask directions from a friendly policeman who told me that it was all downhill from there onward. Just as well. I looked back to see if anyone was following me and the same policeman told me not to worry, that there was no-one behind. I was surprised to see in the final results that there were a couple of people only a few seconds slower than me. As I hadn't bothered to record my time myself, I thought that perhaps my chip hadn't registered the time and someone had just assigned me one that respected the finishing order. But the video showed that I was indeed being hotly pursued to the line.

Just as two years ago, I was "pipped" to the podium (by decent margin, mind) and was the 4th "veteran", finishing 11th overall. It would have been really cool to be on the podium in front of my son, but I can't say that I really deserved it this time. Then it was the turn of Adrian to take part in his race. The starter counted down from 3 and half of the kids anticipated the start, half of them stopped and looked questioningly at the starter who waved them on - in short, a disaster. A girl fell over in front of Adrian and so he didn't get off to a good start. By the end of the second lap, he was making a big effort and it made me proud just to see that. As I said in the last post, the important thing is not winning, nor even taking part in my opinion, it is trying to do your best.