Following my personal best in last week’s 5-k Eastside race, my hopes for the Round The Bridges 12-km race were high. Nevertheless, I repeatedly told myself tonot get carried away and start the race, which took place last Sunday, at my current 12-km PR pace of 4:20 min/km. (My PR was 51:56.) After all, there were numerous factors that could compromise this race’s success: the hilly course, the weather, Maria having a wakeful night, to name but a few.
The hilly course was a given, but the weather was almost perfect for running when I woke up on Sunday, way too early to call it a good night’s sleep: drizzle and almost no wind. I decided to get up and eat my breakfast even before feeding Maria to give my stomach enough time to digest it. Then I fed Maria and got her ready to go out and pick up my own and my dad’s race bibs – my parents are currently visiting us and my dad decided to join me in the Round The Bridges.
I was surprised to see the city center already full of life at 7:30 a.m. Volunteers were setting up the start and finish area and music blasted from the speakers. Getting the bibs was a smooth process, though, without any queues. I even got some encouraging words from other club members and our trainer. Do they notice the dark circles under my eyes? I wondered. But they assured me I would be flying.
The good thing about living right in the middle of the center is that we could leave home 30 minutes before the gun went off and still have a spot right at the front of the running crowd. And when I felt I needed the bathroom a third time I could quickly go home to use my own toilet.
At exactly 10 a.m. the gun fired and we took off. With my trainer’s advice to start off slowly in the back of my mind, I let scores of runners pass me, but somehow I did the first kilometer in 3:55 min/km, a little too fast for a 12-km race, and I knew I would have to slow down a bit.
On the other hand, given how hilly the course was, I did not strive to run the entire race at exactly the same pace. As with so many things, I concluded that going with the flow would be my best bet.
The second and third kilometers went significantly slower but still faster than my intended pace of 4:20 min/km. I felt great and did not want to slow down even more, although I realized there was a risk that I would collapse somewhere later and lose all the time I had gained.
Thankfully, this collapse did not happen. Things got a bit tough at around the eighth and ninth kilometer. Not only do I usually struggle at two thirds of the race, there were also a few mean hills where I lost quite some time – time I couldn’t regain going downhill, as those were steep and curvy.
After this dip it became clear to me that I was nevertheless running at a pace I could not have dreamt of, and I would not only smash my 12-km PR but also my 10-km best on the way. I passed the 10 km mark at 41:26, over a minute faster than my personal best, and increased my pace for the home stretch. The notorious hill in the last kilometer could certainly not get me down, and I finished the race in 49:26 minutes, 2:30 minutes faster than my previous best.
Defying the rain, Ahmed, Maria and my mom were waiting for me at the finish line. As I passed the line, I waved at them – my three biggest supporters. I received my medal and congratulated Sarah, who had finished first lady with a time of 1:30 minutes faster than me.
Whether I finished third lady (as everyone told me) or fourth (according to the results, there was another lady with a netto time of 7 seconds faster than me) does not even really matter to me. I ran a great race and finished at a very respectable time, ready to hopefully smash more personal records in the months to come.