A wise person once said “The voice you listen to creates the reality you live in”. I never felt the truth of those words as much as I did today.
This morning I ran the Terenure 5 mile race. I finished with a chip time of 1:13:12. All in all I’m pretty happy with my run, even though I was hoping to finish in 1:10:00. It definitely wasn’t the slowest long run I’ve ever done, so progress is progress!
This run was difficult for me in a lot of ways, and I ended up having a very long conversation with myself throughout. Although, towards the end of the race the conversation was reduced to me chanting: ‘it’s not far, it can’t be that far’ (even though I was still only at the 4 mile marker!)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Getting to the race wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be considering Sunday morning buses aren’t as frequent as weekday ones. But I managed to get to the location an hour ahead of time which gave me loads of time to finish my water, hit the loo, stretch and generally soak up the atmosphere. Of course, I did tweet a bit too 😉
It was during the waiting around time that the mental battle started. It seemed to me that pretty much everyone was all fit and slim and wearing the best gear and there I am fit, yes, but not slim and wearing old sweats and a men’s running top. It was intimidating as first, until I realised (and my friend reminded me after I had texted her) that I had every right to be there. I’d earned my place, not just by paying for it but by training for it. So I got over myself, and nervously waited the last half hour before the start time. I was nervous because it was a fairly big crowd and an unfamiliar course and there was my goal time in the back of my mind to think about too. But, time not only flies when you’re having fun, it also flies when you’re deep in thought (and tweeting away on twitter!).
The starting line was a bit awkward to get to but I finally got to a place (well behind the 50 min balloons, I knew I’d never keep up with them!) and just waited for the air horn. Before I knew it we were off.
And then I found myself alone.
For pretty much the entire race.
This is when the conversation with myself got really serious. And I must admit, this race was run more on will power than on physical stamina.
You see, by the time I reached Mile 1, the main field was gone. Long gone. I couldn’t see anyone running up ahead. I was happy enough reaching the first mile marker, one down; four to go right? Then, before I even got to Mile 2, the elite runners passed me on their second lap. I actually laughed, and kept laughing for at least half a mile. There I was plodding along at my usual pace and these guys all zoom past me and for less than a split second I shared the course with them. That was cool. But it also told me just how long this course was, and that I still had a long way to go!
The second mile was long, even though it was one of my fastest. I thought a flat course would be easy but turns out, without the hills there are no downhills and thus no little breaks or pushes to keep a person going. Running flat meant running on my own steam the entire way. At what I thought was the half way point the conversation was all about how I’d come so far and half a course left is better than a whole course left. Right? Right!
My third mile was my slowest, partly because the road closures were lifted so I was running on the footpath by this time, and partly because I was feeling hot, needed water and still had a long way to go. This is why I’m really grateful for the water station that appeared somewhere around the 3.5mile mark. And thanks to the two guys who were cleaning up all the discarded cups!
The last part of the race really took its toll on me, for a lot of reasons (some of which I’ll mention later), but I have to be honest and admit that it was mostly me chanting ‘it’s not far’, ‘you’ve run this far before’, ‘not far to go now’, ‘you can do it’. After I hit the fourth mile I had to walk for a bit, so I alternated between walking and running. I think I probably walked about 100 meters all together, but I realised as I walked that my legs were feeling wobbly; I didn’t want to lose my momentum so I picked up my feet and got back running each time.
Before I even got to Mile four, the voices in my head kept saying ‘it can’t be that far now’, ‘the finish has to be just up ahead’. Of course..it wasn’t. My heart kinda sank when I saw I was only at 4 miles, but my head kept saying ‘it’s just around the corner’, ‘it’s not far’. So I kept at it, and talked myself through the last mile until I finally DID cross the finish and I nearly cried with relief and of course a bit of pride.
So I am glad I ran this race. I really am. I’ve learned a thing or two and I’m more prepared for my mini-marathon in June than I was before I ran the 5 miles.
But I think, to be honest, that this race was better suited to elite or fitter/faster runners.
Firstly, before I even got to 4 miles, I saw some marshalls had already packed up and headed for home. Others were standing around in groups chatting. There was very little cheering although I did get some ‘well done’ calls, it was obvious that the race was gearing down. There were some places you wouldn’t even know there was a race going on, although I have to say the people in Terenure were really good at acknowledging me with a ‘well done’. It definitely helped keep me going! (Also, there were two kids handing out jelly beans at some point along the race, I’m really sorry I didn’t take any! I wish I had, mostly because it was a brilliant idea, and also because I could have used the energy! So thanks, kids. I will definitely take some next time!)
Secondly, for an advertised ‘road race’ the roads really only closed for the main field. I ran most of the race on footpaths, contending with pedestrians and drivers. This wasn’t a huge issue as I usually train on footpaths, but it would’ve been nice to run on a clear space for once.
Thirdly, when I crossed the finish line they were already starting to tear it down, and there was no one cheering. Even the announcer had stopped announcing. I was actually worried for a moment that my time wouldn’t be recorded! I think that was the most disheartening moment. To run up to an empty finish line and have to dodge around workers putting things away…for me, that was hard. I felt like I wasn’t part of the race at all.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly…by the time I got to the finish line there was no water. It was gone. All that was left was a bin full of empty bottles. I very nearly cried again! There was tea and coffee on offer, but what I really needed was water. It’s possible the organizers underestimated numbers, or maybe people were taking two or three bottles at a time, so it’s no one’s fault; but it WAS frustrating to me, and I felt as though it was MY problem for having been so slow.
But please don’t get me wrong! There were some awesome things about the race! The course was in a beautiful neighbourhood, the lead up was fun and exciting (great twitter work guys!), registration was quick and easy, the post-race refreshments of scones, fruit and yoghurt was lovely and the t-shirt was a great race souvenir. The organisers put a lot of time and effort into getting this race together and they did a fantastic job. Also, a €10,000 donation to Debra Ireland is a brilliant result and they are to be congratulated for that!
So to end my post I have to ask; would I run this race again?
Yes, actually I would, but only if I were a faster, fitter runner.