I didn’t plan to run the 2017 Singelloop here in my hometown, Leiden. Actually, I had even forgotten the existence of this event until last week Monday, when I saw the warning signs about possible traffic congestion around the centre of town on Friday April 14, due to the event. And suddenly I thought: why not sign up for it? My 10K training is going well, I should be able to run 7km, even if I have to stop to walk a couple of times! And without further ado, I went to buy my bib number!
On race day, I was feeling so, so tired, and I woke up with a headache. I went to bed way too late the night before, and sleeping in didn’t help. I went down for a nap in the afternoon, and it did help give me back some energy. But then… the nerves hit me! GAWD I was nervous. This was going to be my first race in almost three years, and my anxious brain wouldn’t give me a break. Will I be able to run the distance? Will I injure myself? What if I finish last, or what if they have to pull me out of the race because I’m too slow? I had to work hard to calm myself down — using all the techniques my very patient therapist has taught me.
When it was time, I got dressed and walked to the start. This gave me a good 15 minutes of brisk walk and a great warm-up. I was also able to test my knees and my Achilles’ heels — all seemed good to go! I felt a bit alone waiting for the start of the race; I knew no one taking part! I kept a bit to myself, put my music on, and FIVE MINUTES EARLY (19:25 instead of 19:30!!) it was time to start running!
As always, I started way too fast. I held on for the first kilometre, but then I really had to slow down. I paced myself by following other runners, but they were still too fast for me. Then a man came running next to me, and offered some encouraging words. I suppose my struggling was written all over my face! We kept running together until close to the finish — he walked with me when I had to walk, and he ran with me when I picked up the pace again. He literally coached me throughout the race, and I am SO THANKFUL that he did! We saw each other again after the finish, and I gave him a very heartfelt thank you for his help. Honestly, I think I would have abandoned if it wasn’t for him keeping me going. I never got his name, but fate put this stranger on my path for a reason: I FINISHED MY FIRST RACE!!!!
My race stats really aren’t that impressive, I’m even a tad disappointed I couldn’t keep the pace of 7:00 min/km that I was aiming for. But hey… Not even two months ago, I was deeply depressed, and I was feeling like there was no way out of the nightmare I was in (work-related… it’s a long story!) And then I look at what I just achieved: I ran 7km, after a hiatus of almost 3 years. I deserve that medal!
My next race is the 10K of the Leiden Marathon. I’m sure I can cover the distance if I continue my training (I’m not aiming to break my record, I’m only aiming at finishing), and if I continue my cross-training with swimming and cycling to improve my general fitness level. Because I have a confession to make… I signed up for a super-sprint triathlon again, in June! Ha! I will never learn… 🙂