“Last year I felt the same. I was tired and convinced I should stop running races,” I told myself over and over in the days preceding the first edition of this year’s Eastside 5K. But if I were completely honest with myself, I knew this time around my fatigue was not an illusion. I had had a few bad runs during the past week. Like that 20K on Saturday, during which I could hardly sustain an average pace of 5:14 min/km. Or the stroller runs on Monday to the swimming pool and the grocer, where every kilometer seemed longer and heavier.
The thing is, if you don’t race you don’t know what you are capable of. It is what I told myself last year when I did the Eastside 5K, and what I repeated to myself this year around.
My plan for the race was easy: Run at a pace of 4 min/km for the first 3K. If I feel strong, I can increase for the last 2K. The result: hopefully a time just under 20 minutes.
The reality turned out a bit different.
As soon as we started off, the path went uphill – not a great start for a race. The first kilometer was also fairly crowded and included a sharp turn. So I wasn’t very surprised – albeit slightly disappointed – when my watch showed 4:14 minutes. Luckily, the second kilometer went downhill, and I could complete that one in 3:53 minutes. “Just one more K like this, and my average is back to 4 min/km,” I said to myself.
But the third kilometer was tough, and I saw my pace creeping up. It was hard to stay concentrated and keep fighting, and what made it even more difficult were the pedestrians and other joggers on the same narrow path. The third kilometer went in 4:15 minutes, way too slow to get even close to a PB. I completely lost the willpower to fight, as I knew I would be disappointed no matter how much effort I put in. It was simply a lost case.
The fourth kilometer went uphill again and I lost even more: 4:42 minutes. When I spotted the finish line I made an effort to come in under 21 minutes, but 20:57 – 1:10 minutes slower than last year’s PB on the same course – is something I am not proud of at all. It kinda makes me wanna do another Eastside 5K as soon as possible to forget about this one.
Explanation for this Bad Race
Following the race I started wondering what could be the reason for this fitness dip. I think it could be two things: Either I need to boost my iron levels again, or I need a proper break from running. I will try the former first and see if I notice an increase in energy and performance. If not, a break may be all I need (which will happen anyway because we will be traveling to Saudi Arabia soon).
Despite this being one of those nightmare races, I think in a way it was good to experience this. Disappointment and defeat are feelings I handle very badly, so it was a good opportunity to practice putting things into perspective and being grateful for my health and everything else. Of course, having Maria running to me and giving me a big hug as soon as I entered our apartment made it very easy to put this bad race into perspective and be grateful for all my blessings.