It’s race day! I’ve been working up to this day since the beginning of the year when I started my first 5K plan with Garmin Coach. I had it all planned out, today I would run my first half marathon. But, sometimes things don’t go your way. Today, I run my first 10K instead at the same event.
Race day – preparation
The start of the 10K isn’t until 15:30, so that leaves me with lots of extra time. I had planned to leave for the city at around 13:00, leaving me with lots of time to watch the marathoners, get changed, drop my bag off, etc. So, a 9:30 alarm seemed reasonable. Of course I was awake by 8:00. I had breakfast, cleaned a bit, reconsidered my outfit and what stuff to bring a few times, had lunch and then I just got on my bike and left. My race was waiting for me! I was on my way for about two minutes when I realized, it might be smart to bring some form of money. My watch does support Garmin Pay, but unfortunately my bank does not. I turned around, picked up my bank card, and left for Eindhoven, again.
I am going to the race alone. My boyfriend supports my running in his own way. He gifted me my Garmin Vivoactive 3 when I got serious with running again two years ago and then helped me decide whether to upgrade to the Forerunner 245 or 645. He helped me set up this blog and made sure people would be able to find it. But, he will not come to my races. He does not understand the point of waiting around until I run past for 20 seconds and then he can wait around a bit more. I don’t really mind being there alone, I can do whatever I want and it helps me focus.
The start of the race is about 10 – 15 minutes walking from the bag drop-off location and I leave well before 15:00 in that direction. On my way there I started noticing a slight hunger feeling coming up. I tried to ignore, but then figured it might be smarter not to. I still had more then enough time to find me a snack and get to the start without issues. I took a small detour towards the train station, picked up a little snack and ate it as I walked towards the start.
About half-way through my walk the first portable toilets started showing up, the gross ones. The idea of a toilet in combination with maybe some small race-nerves, convinced me that I needed to use the toilet. A woman leaving one of them convinced me I didn’t. She didn’t even say anything or make a face, but as she closed the door, the smell from inside reached my nose and almost made me vomit. The thousands of runners that were doing the marathon and the half marathon had also passed here while waiting for/on their way to the start. I guess I didn’t really need a toilet after all.
It seems the starting line is much further away as I thought, it feels like I’ve been walking forever. As I’m finally approaching the start I notice how empty it is. I walked all the way to the first line of runners, but I really don’t want to start in front. I know I’ll be in the back soon enough so I better get myself a spot more to the back. There is a deejay making lots of noise and some announcements. I stretch a bit and walk around a bit. Then I check the progress of my friends who are running the half marathon. I get a text from my boyfriend with a screenshot of the Marathon Eindhoven app with my name in it, he’s ready to follow my race. I’m also very ready to start this race, but as the 15:30 mark is closing, not much is happening. The starting area is getting really full and I’m nowhere near the back anymore, walking around is not really an option anymore. Oh well, I guess that will sorts itself out soon enough. I hear the loud music from the deejay and all those people around me are very loud as well. I close my eyes for a second and all the different noises become one. It’s almost therapeutic. I’m ready.
Unfortunately there seems to be a bit of a delay. It doesn’t become fully clear to me as the announcements from the deejay are difficult to understand, but it looks like the roads aren’t cleared yet. At 15:20, we are finally ready, the race starts.
We slowly and a little impatiently make it towards the starting line, I start my watch, this is it. I tell myself to go slow. Don’t let the people around you get to you, let them pass, find your own pace and run your own race. I decided not to look at my watch and go with how I feel. I found a pace that felt comfortable and stuck to it. Someone called my name and I turned around a little confused, I didn’t know there would be someone here that I knew. I had no clue who this woman was though and she was now shouting someone else’s name. Yes, that’s when I remembered there was a big paper on my stomach with my name on it.
The first 3K I was slowly decreasing this pace as it didn’t feel so comfortable anymore. I looked at my watch and it told me my average pace was 7:10 min/km. Well, that explains a lot. There is no way that I will be able to finish 10K at this pace, at this point of my training and in this weather. I slow down. At the same time I’m trying to ration my water as I foolishly thought that there would be enough water posts and my 0,3L bottle would be enough. Well, two water posts on a 10K run is pretty good. There were even sponges, energy drinks and some fruits. But I’m used to drinking sips of water spread out over my run and that doesn’t really work well with a paper cup. Yes, I tried.
The first 5K were extremely hard. Of course I was going too fast, but I also hadn’t seen any water posts yet. I was starting to wonder if I would need to finish the whole 10K on that little bit of water I brought with me. I already made some negotiations in my head with spectators which were basically just me begging for water.
Finally, a little after the 5K mark I saw the first water post. Yes! I stopped to walk and drink my water, then passed a nice lady handing out small pieces of bananas and took that as well. I might just make it to the finish after all.
So far it has been pretty quiet with spectators on the side of the road, but it got slowly busier after the first water post. I started seeing kids asking for high-fives which of course they got from me. Made me smile. Lots of people calling my name now, I try to give them a smile or just raise my hand at them to show them some appreciation.
I was still suffering a lot, but the city center was approaching and I know this part of the course very well from being a spectator myself and just spending lots of time in the city. I decided to slow down a bit more so I wouldn’t need to take more walk breaks on these busy streets. I wanted to enjoy this part the most. As I see the PSV stadion approaching a nice surprise showed up as well, another water post! This one had energy drinks, water and some fruits. I had one cup of energy drink in one hand, a cup of water in the other and I spilled most of it, mainly on myself. But, I got some liquids in me and that would get me across the city center and through to the finish line!
I’m turning towards the market square which appears to be completely filled with people. It’s crowded, it’s loud, it’s awesome. I got a few more high-fives in and then I’m headed towards Statumseind. For those of you that don’t know, this is a long street, completely filled with bars. I may have spend some nights here out on these streets. The smell of cigarette smoke and beer reaches my nose. If I had any doubt were I was, I knew now. The street is completely full of people, most are more busy with each other and their drinks as with the people running by, but the atmosphere is great. A bit further down the street I notice the two friends that ran the half marathon. They are waving and shouting at me. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to make it to see me, but I knew exactly where they’d be if they would. Seeing them gave me more of a boost as I could handle at this point. I ran out of there towards the tiniest of hills you can imagine and instantly needed to walk. Lots of people telling me I was almost there (I know!) and that I could make it (I could probably make it crawling from here), but my heart rate needed to go down a little bit. I walked a bit, drank the last drops of water from my bottle and went on to run the final part of my race.
Someone offers me a beer as I run by, but I’ve got a race to finish. Two more corners. I’m fighting, but it can’t be far anymore. One more corner. I’m speeding up and passing some people I have passed and got passed by already so many times. I turn the final corner and the finish line is closer as I thought it would be. I feel relieved that the finish is approaching and manage a minor smile. I made it!!
And, I made it in 1:17:37. That’s 3,5 minutes faster as my previous fastest 10K!
Above some of the more decent pictures the many photographers on the road managed to take of me. On the last picture I’m looking up at the finish line! I just see relieve.
What have I learned today? If you need water, bring it! Also, pacing is very important. And, I would not have made a half marathon today. Yeah, I knew all of this already before today. Anyway, I loved the experience and while I’m taking a little rest now, I have some plans for the coming months. It’ll probably involve a half marathon, because this still needs to happen. I’m still working out the parts that are actually realistic, but more on that soon!