Race day was sunny and beautiful with a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, ideal for a fast time in a 5k race. The race course - flat and easy. I eased my way towards the front of the the start line feeling excited but very calm inside knowing that I trained hard enough for this race. As the gun went off, I started slower than the elite runners in front, but my aim was not to compete with these runners but with myself, to break my old 5k time of 26:33 at last years Toronto Challenge 5k Race. I checked my Garmin 305 for my average pace, about 4:45 -5:00, heart rate at 150, and so far going to the first k, I was doing ok. I maintained the same consistent pace until the 4k mark when I slowed down a bit for the final push to the finish. With 300 meters to go I gave it my all running faster ,and passed a few runners as I crossed the finish line in a time of 25 minutes. A new PR!
That was the scenario I had been dreaming to happen in the last few days before the Legacy 5k Run ,a race I did this morning with my co-worker friends . And, it didn't happen.
This morning was the exact opposite of what I was hoping for. The weather was bad, with the temperature dipping to 9 degrees Celsius. The forecast was for cloud and showers in the morning, and it even felt colder because of the wind. I woke up at 7 for my breakfast and usual pre race preparations. All my friends were supposed to congregate to my place at 8:45 am, after which we were to car pool together and proceed to the race site for our timing chips and kits (for the ones who didn't get theirs yet).
At 8;45 none of my friends arrived yet, and I received a call from Joey that his daughter would like to register to run with us. Same day registration was between 8:30 -930 am, so had to tell him to rush to my place so we can sign up his daughter. By 9:15 everybody was present so we proceeded to the race site, registered Joey's daughter, but then received another call from Omar asking if we could register his wife Jen, and that they're also on the way to the site. We did that and then rushed to get our timing chips. We all met and gathered together underneath a Runningfree tent as we waited for Omar and Jen to arrive. I then helped everybody tie their timing chips on their shoelaces properly (as some of them were doing a race for the first time).
The first timers in our group were Joey, Kevin, Denese, Renate, Christina, Andrea and Rachael. The ones who have run a 5k race before, with our previous best times- Jen (23:51), Omar (23:55), Dave (25:03), Ken (35:54) and myself (26:33).
Ten minutes before the 10 am start, we had to huddle together with other runners under a small Runningfree tent to avoid getting drenched by a heavy down pour of rain. It was windy and cold at the same time, so I tried to keep warm by jogging in place and rubbing my palms together. I don't know, but for whatever reason , friends become tighter when they experience adversity together, and I felt that way just being around friends who were as cold and a bit wet as I was.I then asked Dave, who is a Christian and our bible expert to pray for the rain to stop. I prayed on my own earlier but the rain continued and I thought I needed somebody who has greater influence over the Big Guy. It did stop after a few minutes and then we were asked to proceed to the start line .
I was told that around 1500 people registered for this year's race, more than the 1000 plus in last year's. But this morning, the number of runners huddled together in the cold and rain at the start line would have been just half the number of registrants.
As the start whistle was blown, we gradually walked/jogged to the start line and off we went, slowly at first as around 3 hundred runners were in front of us. I noticed having a problem with my breathing into the 1k mark, my pace must be too fast? I looked at my Garmin and lo and behold, it was saying - battery low- and then it just stopped working. I always relied on my Garmin to check my heart rate. As long as I maintain my pace with my heart rate not going above 90% of my maximum heart rate, I know I would finish safely.
By the 2k mark I took off my wet vest (it was becoming too heavy) , rolled it and carried it on one hand, occassionally transferring it from one hand to the other as I was running. I also felt very thirsty at this time. I saw a young mother carrying a big umbrella with her young son pouring what appears like fruit juice on a miniature table on small paper cups offering the drink to runners. I was tempted to take a cup but decided to wait and drink at the water station on the 3k mark. That was exactly what I did, grabbed a cup and gulped the water down and continued running on completely wet road. I tried to keep pace with a group of 5 teenaged runners all wearing yellow (must be a cross country school team) who were just 20 meters ahead of me. Tried my best to pass them, and actually got to about 5 meters close but was not able to.
By the 4k mark I was feeling tired (what happened to all those LSD training runs?), so I slowed my pace until maybe about 500 meters to go, when I went on a higher gear, increased my pace, and crossed the finish line in 28:42.
After the race, we all went back to my place where we had a hearty lunch.
Am I aiming for a new PR again? Yes, but not in the 5k. I am running the Toronto Sportinglife 10K Run, the biggest 10k race in Canada (as far as I know, is there anyone bigger?)on Sunday, May 03. My previous best is a slow 1:02 in the 10k distance, so the chance of bettering it is greater than me improving on my 5k best time. The only problem is I will be watching the Pacquiao vs.Hatton fight on Saturday night and if the Pacman does not knock the Briton out in the early rounds I'd be in trouble come race day ( for I'll have very little sleep).