09 May 2006

International Trademarks Association 5K

This is the biggest event in my annual calendar, for a variety of reasons not much to do with running. It's because of the occasion and the friends I run with. Still, I had planned a good time, though with hidnsight starting going to parties on Saturday and continuing until Monday is not the best preparation for a run on Tuesday. Too much food and drink, much of it of the wrong sort, and little sleep combined to put me in quite the wrong state to run 5K, or any distance come to that.

Several of my old INTA running friends weren't taking part anyway. No Villu, no Rudi (though he was there to watch and cheer us on). Paul was there but talking down his chances - sandbagging, and American runner called it, and clearly the complete opposite of sledging!). Matt, his son, claimed to be a mere jogger but Paul warned me that this was bluff. I was confident - too confident - and telling everyone who would listen to me that I had run 20 minutes a week before, and that in the first half of a 10K. It wouldn't happen today!

From the start, I kept up with the leading pack but fairly quickly dropped back. They were serious runners, and I knew I wasn't in their league, but no-one sounded as if they were about to pass me. Glancing round, I could se that there were people close behind but they were staying there.

A kilometre or more into the race, which had started on the boardwalk by Lake Ontario five miles or so west from the centre of the city - a fabulous location - we made a 180 degree turn, and although I took it wide to avoid losing speed I simply found my will and ability to kepep going had evaporated. The many items of cocktail food, last night's dinner, and more beers than I have been used to for many years (save at INTA meetings!) came together to create what seemed like a giant weight in my lower body. Three nights with little sleep, and that not good sleep, also weighed in. My legs aere like lead. I stopped.

Not for long, though, and I started to walk again. Paul and Matt had come past. Mario and Miguel passed me too. Guy Heath came past, then another couple of male runners: as the second pulled away, I set aside thoughts of retiring and broke into a run again. It was more like marathon pace than 10K, but I was running. At the 2K mark, my time was under 9 minutes, so perhaps (I thought) I can salvage something.

The feeling that had brought me to a halt seemed to be passing, so I built up my speed again. I caught one runner, then another, and as we reached the turn at the other end with under a kilometre to go to home I was within reach of Guy. As I caught him I slowed to run alongside him, though (odd, this) he seemed in no particular mood for conversation, inviting me to press on at my own speed. As the finish line neared, I found I had plenty left (why didn't I use it earlier?), but a dash for the line didn't save the race.

So I can now add something else to what I have experienced in my running: I was furious with myself. But Paul won his age group, though Matt beat him, Charles Stewart (who had told me how relieved he was to learn that Paul was in the 50-59 group) won the 60-69 group. Sylvie got a trophy for being second woman in her age group.

20 minutes would not have secured me first or second in my age group, though I suspect the two who took those places were at the botom end of the age range - unlike me. If I can run 20 next year, though, I will win the over 50s: but in fact I will be second at best, behind Rudi. I wouldn't wish him not to be able to run it!

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