My first race report of 2017!

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!

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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!!!!

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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!

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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… 🙂

Race report – CPC Loop Den Haag 10 km

My first race report of 2014! 😀

And to be honest, I came very close to not having to write this report, as I came very close to not racing at all. The week before the race was filled with pain and disappointments. I started having pain in my left knee last week Tuesday, to the point that I could barely stand, walk or sit without pain. I cancelled all my training sessions, rested my leg as much as possible, but I was already mentally prepared to not race on Sunday — even though I was extremely disappointed. This would mean cancelling a second race in a row (last time was December, when I got a really bad cold the day before my first 15K race). Add to that the fear of not being able to run anytime soon, of having to back out of my half-marathon in May, etc. I was really not a happy camper. The CPC Loop in The Hague is special to me. My first ever race, a 5K back in 2008, was during this event. And not being able to take part was even more disappointing!

On Saturday, my knee was doing better, but then I got struck by a migraine that never really left me all day, despite pain killers. I was starting to be hopeful though, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to race the day after, after a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately, I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday with an even more painful migraine than the day before. Popped some painkillers, went back to bed, slept a few more hours, but alas, my pain level was unchanged. The irony was that my knee was feeling absolutely fine. I apologized to my husband, I said I wasn’t going to be able to go to the race to cheer him on (he was going to race his first ever 10K!) and I went back to bed. A couple of hours later, I was starting to feel a bit better — my head was still pounding, but I decided to just man up and go to the race to cheer for my hubby. I put my running gear on, just in case. As we arrived, my headache was definitely feeling better, still not gone completely, but I decided — what the heck, let’s just run this 10K, enjoy the GORGEOUS weather (16°C! in March!) and do my best.

And we were off! I had no racing plan, besides beating my personal record of 1:17:06. Anything below that would be fantastic! But I wasn’t too hopeful, considering the pounding in my head and the threat of knee pain…

I started pretty quick, way below my usual fast 10K pace of 7:00 min/km. I was curious to see how long I was going to be able to hold that pace! The pounding in my head slowly went away around the 3rd kilometer. What a relief! Around the 4th kilometer, I somehow managed to catch up with the 1:05 pacer guy. I tried to keep up with him, and I managed to keep a relative constant pace until about the 7th kilometer, but I was getting really tired by now, so I slowed down a bit and let him go his merry way. But looking at the splits, I did accelerate and ran faster in the 2nd 5K than in the 1st. I really didn’t expect that!

Split Time Moving Time Distance Avg Pace Best Pace Avg HR Max HR
1 6:41.0 06:40 1 06:41 05:15 151 158
2 6:47.3 06:49 1 06:47 05:57 158 162
3 6:49.3 06:48 1 06:49 05:51 159 161
4 6:52.1 06:52 1 06:52 06:14 160 163
5 6:37.3 06:39 1 06:37 05:43 164 166
6 7:00.6 07:00 1 07:01 05:18 163 166
7 6:55.3 06:56 1 06:55 05:44 164 168
8 6:38.0 06:37 1 06:38 05:12 164 167
9 6:36.4 06:37 1 06:36 05:15 165 167
10 6:25.5 06:25 1 06:26 04:56 167 169
11 :55.9 :56 0,17 05:28 04:13 168 172
 Summary 1:08:19.0 1:08:19.0 10,17 06:44 04:12 162 172

Around the 8th kilometer, that’s when the knee pain struck, this time in the shape of cramping/pain of the ITB. I slowed down, stretched my quads a bit (with my heels touching my bum at each step), and the pain went away almost instantly. Pfew! Crisis aborted! I cranked up the pace again, with the finish soon in sight, I just wanted to get this over with!

And FINALLY, the finish. I sprinted like a mad woman and crossed the line after 1:08:19 — more than 8 minutes faster than my earlier PR! I seriously didn’t expect such a result! I’m chuffed!

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And I couldn’t help but make a parallel between my first race 5 years ago, and Sunday’s race. What a difference 5 years make. My weight ballooned during those 5 years, and I had to resort to WLS in 2012 to finally lose weight and get back into running, but I’m now fitter and leaner than I ever was.

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Now, back to our regular programming of swimming, running, strength training and occasionally biking. My next race is early April, another 10K, but I’m not sure about that one. I have another 10K the weekend right after, a more prestigious (!) one, and I think I prefer to keep my energy for that race. We’ll see!

Looking back at 2013, and my goals for 2014

2012 was the year when I made an important decision to save my life: I had gastric bypass surgery.

2013 was the year when I built the foundations for my new lifestyle. Eat better, exercise more. I started from zero fitness to finishing my first triathlon. Oh, I’m still far from an athlete, but I like to think I made giant leaps of progress to become an awesome version of myself.

I started by hiring a personal trainer to keep me motivated, to keep me in check (nothing like having to answer the question “How often did you train this week and what did you do?” to actually make you go train on your own and keep going!), to teach me how to train, and to get a jump-start towards an active lifestyle. I owe him a lot. Even if we’ve now parted ways, the effect he had on me still hasn’t worn off 😉 I can still hear his voice in my head shouting COME ON!! when I want to give up, and I can still hear him ask me the dreaded question every week! And when I see him at the gym, he actually makes sure to ask how I’ve been doing and how my training is going…

Then, there were my goals. One in particular, a dream, a fantasy of mine for several years already: finishing a triathlon. Looking back, I know I didn’t train sufficiently when it comes to swimming, and I was still not very fit, but I did cross that finish line. I finished dead last, but I finished. Instead of demotivating me, it only encouraged me to get fitter and get better.

So, what did I do in 2013? Let’s see…

  • 8 x 5K races
  • 2 x 10K races
  • 2 x obstacle/mud races
  • 1 x super-sprint triathlon

Not bad for a first year!

And what are my goals for 2014?

  • Finish a half-marathon in May
  • Finish a sprint triathlon in August
  • Focus on 10K races instead of 5K races*
  • Learn how to swim the front crawl

* I choose to focus on 10K races this year rather than 5K’s, mostly as an extra challenge to myself. And not to sound like a snob (because really, I’m not!), but I noticed I’m taking this racing thing way too seriously now to genuinely enjoy doing 5K’s (generally more crowded and family oriented), and I just hate having to slalom around people walking, even though I’m not running much faster than them, and feeling stressed about how this slaloming will affect my end time. I’m not saying I’ll never do 5K’s ever again, but I will choose them carefully, i.e. smaller-scaled events.

Today is Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year, with our New Year’s resolutions slowly fading away. Apparently. Because I’m happy to report I’ve been going to the swimming pool 2 to 3 times per week since the beginning of the year, I’ve officially started my half-marathon preparation, and I’ve also stepped on my bike a few times already. Things are going smoothly! And do you know what helps? Getting new gear to keep you motivated. Look at what the hubs gave me for my birthday! 😀

5595_10151949104842585_134587233_nYes!! A beautiful Forerunner 910XT. I am SO happy. I’m tracking everything on Garmin Connect and I love seeing my progress! I already owned a Forerunner 305 and I was really happy with it, but I was really missing the swimming training tracking component the 910XT has to offer. My dad is going to inherit of my 305, I know he’ll give it a good home!

I think I’m well on my way to a fantastic 2014. If I can stay injury-free and if I can manage to keep my iron-deficiency anemia under control, I should be able to achieve my goals.

Wish me luck! 😉