So, the long awaited race day arrived. During these chaotic times of uncertainty, the concept of a race day lineup is certainly a very different thing. However, in the likely absence of any real races for the remainder of this year, a virtual offering shall be seized with both hands, willingly.
As crazy as it sounds, from the moment I woke up yesterday morning, I had a buzz about me. The same kind of feeling that I normally get when a target race is about to happen. We are so starved of meaningful running activity that the promise of any type of engagement is truly exciting.
The night previous I had an allergic reaction to something that resulted in a doctor’s visit first thing the next morning. My lip badly swollen, made breathing a little unnatural. I feared that the excitement of this virtual race day was not going to bare fruit. Thankfully some meds from the doctor, who is as always sharp as a pin in his judgments, took effect quickly and I was back in action.
I jogged to the start line much like I would on any given race day. The only difference was nobody else was there when I arrived. All the rules obeyed: 2km radius, social distancing, no teams, individual runner, etc. It’s a bit strange being your own starter for a race but at least you can’t be caught off-guard!
Participants could to pick any 5km route they wished for this challenge by the good folk of the #BVSC. It could be as advantageous as they wanted; downhill all the way if that worked. I however, couldn’t resist the opportunity to run it like a track race, on a short, quiet block near my house – 10 laps. An honest course I thought. Seeing the routes that came in from others, a stupid choice if I was planning on a competitive time! 😂
Still, when else would I get the opportunity to run a 5km race like it was on a track but wasn’t? I’ve never run a 5km track race and this is probably the closest I will ever get to doing so. After eight weeks on a treadmill, I was mentally prepared for the suffering of ten laps. However, physically, that was a different story.
Charts look good. Surprisingly good. There is a slight dip in the middle mile for the pace but it’s pretty steady overall to be fair. Elevation is as flat as a road gets, nothing more than 4-5 metres drop/gain over the course of the lap. Heart race rose steadily until the end. Precisely the kind of effort I expected to see and in some ways, thankful not to see the 170+ take firm hold until the last few minutes.
Considering I paced myself with nobody to chase, being about as race ready as somebody who just climbed out of bed, I’m bloody well delighted with those splits. I remember clocking the first mile and thinking this isn’t too bad. Then midway through the second mile I saw the pace had dropped to about 6:38 and I just couldn’t claw it back. I got the legs moving again for the last mile and powered home with a sprint finish, passing nobody, acknowledging no crowd. The people in the houses I was circling must have thought I had truly lost many a plot.
I don’t know what to say about this really. Eight weeks of treadmill running has obviously maintained a decent level of fitness. Speed obviously has not left me completely either, given the decent enough splits. Sure it’s not a sub-20 but honestly, I was wondering before the start if sub-21 was even an option. I think that there should have been more Zone 5 for a max effort, even over this distance. All I can think of is that I lacked the power to push myself to reach that zone until tiredness took over in the closing stages. (view Garmin data)
race day summary
What a blooming brilliant event this was. About 30 people in total took part; all spread across the county, doing their own thing, on their own specially selected routes. It has buzz, excitement, anticipation. Also, the new online camaraderie – a virtual pat on the back/handshake after the activities uploaded. Just what many of us badly needed – a normal race day – even if it was so far from normal.
Despite all the positive outcomes, there are a few things I need to consider from this unusual event. Running on meds for my allergic reaction did me no good at all. I wasn’t just dead after the effort, I struggled to hold my phone when I got home, couldn’t beat off the tiredness, and crashed out on the couch for a few hours. Very unpleasant indeed. I know it was the meds in retrospect having felt somewhat similar today after taking the second dose this morning but being relatively fresh beforehand.
The other thing I need to take from this is that there are no bends, uneven surfaces, slippy wetness, or curbs on a treadmill. Sure, that goes without saying but the lessen is that if you don’t run it, you’re not training for it. My legs are in bits today. I have a serious pain in my right shin and calf and my left side has been better. It’s nothing that won’t recover and roll out but it’s sore and I won’t be running for a couple of days because of it. Running on a treadmill is great to maintain some level of fitness but you do sacrifice many muscles and movements that you use on the road every day. Awakening these functions with a 5km run out of your skin is probably not a good idea!