Rebel Sport Run 4 Fun
A few weeks ago, my friend Venks told me about the upcoming Run 4 Fun 10K out at Olympic Park. I hadn’t run farther than 5K since mid-August, right before I got sick and had to pull out of the half-marathon. Since then I’ve mostly been doing short run/walk training intervals to build up my leg strength and transition to forefoot running. The Run 4 Fun was a new event though, and it was billed as a Fun Run. So what the heck? I could walk if I needed to. I signed up.
A week before the race, Eileen and I did an easy 6K jog (with walk-breaks) around the neighbourhood. On Thursday, I did a 5K run/walk around the city at lunch. I really wasn’t sure what goal to set for the race, so I did one final test on Friday: a 5K run without stopping. To my surprise, I felt pretty good during it! My pace was less than 7:00/km, and I felt like I maybe could’ve gone a bit farther. So when race day dawned on Sunday, I posted my official goal: to run the whole 10K without walking. (The farthest I had ever run without a break before was 8K, so this was going to be a challenge.) I also set a back-up goal of finishing in 75 minutes, which I thought was achievable even if I had to walk. The Snook and I caught a train out to Olympic Park on a very gray morning…Here I am before the race. It was a gray morning with rain threatening (perfect weather for a run, really). I felt good. I’d had a PBJ for breakfast and I was decently hydrated. My calves were still a bit sore from my last run, so I worked in some Dencorub. At 8:45am, I said goodbye to the Snook and headed to the starting line. I did some stretches and jumped in place to warm up. The crowd was pretty mixed, with lots of little kids and even some people in costume. I even spotted a guy dressed as a kickboxer with boxing gloves on! With five minutes to go, the rain finally came down. (Bugger.) It stopped just before the gun… and we were off!
I went out slowly, deliberately letting lots of people sprint past. I told myself several times in the first few kms to just run my own pace without worrying about the time. I didn’t care if I was fast so long as I didn’t walk. To my surprise, at the five minute mark RunKeeper announced that my average pace was just under 7:00/km. This was crazy; I hardly felt like I was putting in any effort at all. It wasn’t a fluke though; my second and third kilometers were even faster. I wondered if this was due to the forefoot running being more efficient. I really was going faster without any perceived increase in effort. I tried hard not to look at the clock, and to just concentrate on keeping moving. I didn’t feel winded or tired at all. The course doubled back on itself a few times, so the Snook was able to cheer me on at 3 different places during the run. He snapped this photo at one of them. (The lens distortion is pretty fun.) I wasn’t struggling at all.
In the latter half of the race, I started to seriously entertain the possibility of finishing in under 70 minutes. My pace had slowed down a little bit, but my average was still hovering right around 7min/km. I decided to conserve what little I had left in the tank for the last kilometer, when I’d do my best to push. At the 9km mark, I realised that I was right next to the kickboxing dude, who I’d been following for most of the race. I said hi and introduced myself. His name was Peter. He asked what my goal was for the race, and I said I was successfully running the whole thing without stopping. I also admitted that I had a secret goal of finishing in 70 minutes. He checked his watch. “We can do it! Come on, Kris!” So Peter and I pushed ourselves through that last km. We urged each other on. Finally we were at the tunnel into the Stadium, and then we emerged out onto the grass with the finish line only 50m away. I sprinted, and the stitch in my side finally exploded. I didn’t care. Peter and I crossed the finish line at 69:06 and I gave him a winded hug of thanks. (I found out later when I checked my stats on Runkeeper that the final kilometer racing with Peter was my fastest of the whole race. Thanks again, Peter!) I was wheezing and stuggling with the pain in my side, but I managed to collect my bottle of Powerade and my medal before going to find the Snook. He was very proud of me! He’s the best support staff a runner could ever have.
So that’s it! I met my official goal, and also my top-secret speed goal too. This goes a long way towards making up for the disappointment of missing out on the half-marathon a few months ago. I really think that changing to a forefoot strike has reinvigorated my running. My persistent lower back pain is gone. I’m running faster with less effort. And now I’m thinking about the Sydney half-marathon in May, and maybe finally breaking that 100min barrier at the City2Surf next year…