My first 5K – JP Balki Event

After 13 weeks of training for my faster 5K with Garmin Coach the day has come, today is race day! My very first race is a local charity race: JP Balki Event. 

Race day – preparation

I have been feeling ready all day. I usually run in the morning and this race is at 15:30, it feels unnatural, illogical. It just doesn’t feel right! I’m standing around, waiting to be able to go for my run while it’s usually the first thing I do. I’ve cleaned the entire first floor and I’ve changed my clothes twice. First it was sunny (short sleeves), then it wasn’t (long sleeves) and now it’s sunny again and I’m thinking about my short sleeves! I’ll just bring both to the race I guess. There is plenty of time to second guess my choices!! 

A friend who is running the 10K is picking me up and when she arrives it has started snowing and I’m instantly rethinking my clothing choices again. This must be race nerves cause I never doubt the running clothes I put on in the morning. Then again I also usually don’t have any time to rethink my choices. By now I’ve already decided I am not made for afternoon or evening races or should at least practice this a lot more if I wan’t to run more races. My next organised run will be at 7:30 in the morning, so that’s something to look forward to! 

It’s 14:30 when we leave and it’s about a 10 minute drive, so we should have more than enough time to arrange everything. The event organisation didn’t provide us with much information on where to go, park or pick-up our start numbers so we just hope everything will be clear when we arrive. The website mentioned one location and that’s where we went and found the start/finish of the event. Luck provided us with a parking space not more than 100 meters away, so far so good! 

The second we leave the car we notice the cold wind and I find myself rethinking my outfit again. I’m going with long sleeves and a T-shirt and have a shawl and light gloves available that can also be tucked away in my Flipbelt. Spoiler: I will be regretting this decision soon. We walk towards the start/finish and it looks a little abandoned, it’s also not really clear where we need to go to pick up our start numbers. Most people seem to know exactly where to go (it’s year 7 of the event) and we just follow the others. We arrive at a small open area with at first sight just a first aid spot, some picnic tables, two bouncing castles and a burger spot. We’re feeling a bit lost, but eventually find the entrance to a bigger tent in the back with a big bar, bag drop off and the spot to get our start numbers. We’re ready! 

The race

At a little before 15:30 we have an impressive one minute silence in memory of the person for whom this event has been organised for the past 7 years. A young man died of heart failure during a run in 2012 and the event is organised by his friends to remember him and at the same time raise money for two charities that perform research towards finding the cause and preventing early heart failure. 
It’s a small event, according to the race results there are 35 men and women running the 5K distance with me. I’m guessing the amount of participants is similar for the other 4 distances that are starting at the same time adding to a total of approximately 175 runners for the total event. 

The countdown starts and we are off! 


I got off too fast and even though I’m aware I’m slower than most other runners I tried to keep up with the other runners, which was my biggest mistake. 

I am not particularly proud of the above graph, but I think it shows my struggle pretty good as well as the main cause for my struggle. First off, you see my heart rate in the red line, which immediately climbs to 180 and than slowly increases to a consistent average heart rate of 185. A lot less consistent is my pace. The first two minutes of the race I’m running at an average pace of 6:00 min/km, which is way too fast for me and I soon realize I will not be able to keep up that pace. I slow down and try to catch my breath again after which I accelerate (too much) again. It takes me about 8 minutes before I find my goal pace of 7:00 min/km and by then I’ve already lost my race. This is also more or less the moment I realize that the long sleeves were not necessary and I’m feeling very warm. I’ve taken off my shawl and gloves, but it’s not enough. 

The rest of the race is just about surviving the race and hopefully still managing to stay under 35 minutes, the goal I set for myself 13 weeks ago when I started my Garmin Coach training. I am sure the scenery was beautiful, but I didn’t see much of it. I was too busy making sure I kept setting one foot in front of the other. Another thing that may have been clear for others, but wasn’t for me is that most of the race was on dirt roads or paths. I’ve done some of my trainings on dirt roads, but definitely not enough. 

Most of the route went through the woods with almost no supporters, but as I’m approaching the finish line again I see more and more people cheering us on from the side of the road. At about 2 minutes before the finish I spot two friends cheering me on. I manage to tell them it’s gonna be really close if I manage my goal time or not and they yell and cheer to mentally push me a little further. I’m getting closer and closer to the finish line and I manage to speed up a little while the commentator is trying to motivate me as well, I think he said something about suffering… 

And then the moment is finally there, I finished! My Garmin already stopped about 20 meters before the finish as I had reached 5K a little before the finish line. My time: 34:59 minutes! I made it!! 

Unfortunately I was not able to locate any of the race photo’s yet. Hopefully they are still coming, because that finish photo must be… memorable! 


All in all this was an awesome experience and I learned a lot. I had never participated in an organised run before and I even though I suffered, I did enjoy the entire experience and I’m super motivated to fix my mistakes and improve my time for the next race! 

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