Well, technically, this wasn’t a race. The Hamilton Lake Parkrun is a weekly 5k event that Ahmed and I started to attend recently. Although he (and some other runners) take it dead seriously, it is predominantly a fun run – albeit a timed one on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Where is the fun, you might wonder…
For me, this run is usually a stroller PR challenge; my best with Maria is 21:48 minutes. However, last Saturday it was my turn to attempt to break my 5k best, while Ahmed volunteered to take photos of the run.
Late Friday afternoon I decided to go out for a slow-paced run, since I hadn’t run for three long days. I knew it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I couldn’t stop myself. I ended up doing 12 kilometers at a steady pace of about 5 min/km, with halfway a sudden pain in my right hip (apart from the fact that both hips were not very pleased with what I was doing to them).
When I woke up Saturday morning, the pain in my right hip appeared to be worse, and I told myself I would see how it went but not push myself. The pain stayed while I jogged with Maria in the stroller to the lake.
As the gun shot I made sure I didn’t shoot away, although I had no idea what exact pace I was running because I wasn’t wearing a watch – only a phone with Runkeeper, which I notice has not been very accurate lately.
At the first kilometer mark I knew my pace was quite slow (according to Runkeeper it was 4:07 minutes), and I was gonna have to work very hard if I wanted to make up for it in the following 4 kilometers. In fact, I knew I didn’t have the physical strength and motivation to do that, so it kinda was a lost case.
I continued my run doing the best I could and wanted to do at that moment, but without exhausting myself. According to Runkeeper, my pace ranged between 4:13 and 4:06 min/km.
The last 800 meters of the Parkrun are the most grueling: as the course around the lake is too short, we run a bit more than one lap and then on the grass back to the start. Most runners lose seconds (and hopes of a new PB) during that part. I, however, had a reason to push myself a little: One of my ‘competitors’ was ahead of me, and I saw the gap getting smaller. He, for his part, was determined not to be passed again by me (as had happened during the Eastside 5K race) and put all his efforts in staying ahead.
As such, he finished about 5 seconds ahead of me. My time: 21:46 minutes, exactly 59 seconds slower than my PR. I felt a bit disappointed, but realistically, I knew I couldn’t expect to be as fast as that day in November last year. I hadn’t trained much for well over 1.5 months. Besides, I was not in the mood of pushing myself.
My cool down was a jog back home with Maria in the stroller. As soon as I started jogging the sharp pain in my right hip was back. At some point it felt nearly impossible to bear weight on that leg, and I had to take a few walking breaks.
Somehow, I made it back home, deciding to take a few days’ rest. Three days later, the pain is gone, and I am already thinking about my next race. But not without remembering the lesson to ease back into running gradually after taking a break. It is not without a reason that most sports injuries occur at the start of the season, or so I’ve been told.
Picture credits: Ahmed AlQassem