The Haltern City Lauf is a small local race, made smaller this year because of a clash with another local event for the kids, the Lippe triathlon. But for me it was a big event. For me it celebrates a year of running, a year when a lot has happened to me personally, where the rythem and structure of training has provided the stability needed to helped me work through things.
I had set some pretty lofty goals for this race, and then faced a big set-back in achieving them when i injured myself, and pretty much all of the speed training id been planning to do had to be missed. The weekend before i did manage to run a warmup 5k and slashed five mnutes off last years time. So i went into the race not sure of achieving my original goals but knowing id do OK.
On race day the weather gods half smiled on us, the temperatures were great it was cooler than it had been in a while, but it was pretty windy. Compared to the weekend before however it was much better conditions, so i knew that baring a real problem id set a new PB. The question was, did i really have a sub 20 in me.
Strangely enough i hadnt spent a great deal of time considering what pace i should try and run at. I was hoping to be able to run at about 4 min per k... and see if i couldnt hold on an get as close to 20 mins as possible.
But first things first my kids were up again, this time racing over 1.2km, my youngest and my oldest both took out a 3rd place in their respective age groups, whilst my daughter came home middle of her race, she later told me she took it easy because she was a little bit tired from doing the afore mentioned triathlon earlier in the day.
I started my warmup with 15 mins to go to the start, some dynamic stretches a bit of jogging, some pace changeups etc, then with 5 mins to go i stopped to allow the breathing to get back to normal. I lined up on the startline with the other runners the field was a little bit smaller than last year, but this time l lined up in the front row, instead of right at the back.
The gun went off and I started out pretty quick, I wasnt sure of the pace at that point but i knew i couldnt hold with the guys ahead of me so i tried to settle into something comfortable as quickly as possible. I didnt actually look at the pace until we had the first half of four laps behind us. I was surprised to see that i was running fairly comfortably at 3:45 pace. I was pretty certain that it was too fast but decided on the spot to give it a go and see if i couldnt maintain it.
The next lap and half was pretty un-eventfull, I did pull back a two runners that obviously had blown up after going out too fast, but i was able to hold my pace. The buildings in the town centere seemed to funnel the wind so that for much of the course we had a head wind, I ad no wind shodow, and by the third lap it was begining to tell and i started to fell uncomfortable, about half way through i could tell that i was starting to drop on my pace a little, the garmin showed i was slowing down.
But then i got the pickup i needed, I had caught up to the vanguard bycycle, and then started to lap the slower runners. I allways like to have a target to chase, and i wasnt able to close the gap on the runner ahead of me, but i could reel in the runners i was lapping Then i noticed something else, footsteps closing in on me from behind...The shdowed me into the wind and then pulled past, it turned out to be a small group of 3 runners. They were apparently able to maintain the pace that id slipped off, I considered trying to latch onto them but by then i knew i was on for something good If i could just run 1 more lap without blowing to pieces.
So i let them ease ahead, and concentrated on not letting the pace slip above 4 mins / km. ... the final lap was tough. I was really starting to breath heavily, the head wind was sapping my strength fast, and i could feel my legs starting to burn, then I was pulled back by yet another runner, this time an old guy, I couldnt hold him but a look behind told me that there was no-one else close enough to overtake me... now i just had to run it into the finish and run it in i did. there was nothing left in the tank to put in a final sprint, but neither did i let the pace slip any more.
I crossed the line, and then looked at the garmin not really sure if i was good for a sub 20... and then i saw my time... 19:35, To say that i was over the moon would be an exageration, i was too buggered just at that point to be too happy. I needed to get a drink and catch my breath... then i could enjoy my time.
The sub 20 5k was great and just what id wanted for this event, but you can imagine my surprise when the 5k race results were eventually pinned up to see that id also taken first place in my age group. I have never placed in the top three in my Age group before, and had secretly hoped that maybe with luck id get 3rd, actually last year my 19:35 would have only got me 4th, So i was completely blown away with the age group win. Whats more it was really great to have the kids there to watch me have to go up and stand on the stage and get presented with my certificate.
Man what a year its been, Ive gone from just starting out jogging, to training through the winter, running a marathon, and now to breaking one of those key time barriers, the sub 20 5k!