Yesterday I read an article in The New York Times about the effects coffee drinking has on your performance. So I made myself a nice espresso doppio just before I left home. I’m not sure if it was the coffee or just a placebo effect but my confidence was really high while I waited for the starting shot.
I had a great position at the starting line, I had learned my lesson from last race of last season there I had to run in the grass for the first k to pass hundreds of slower runners. So today I didn’t care at all that I had to elbow my way to a good place at the starting line. After the shot it only took a 20-30 meters before I could run in whatever pace I wanted. Unfortunaly I chose to take off really quick with the leading bunch.
During races I try to find someone to have as sort of a landmark to help me find a good pace. And in bigger crowds that person has to stand out in some sort of way to make it easier to find him/her. After a couple of hundred meters I saw someone with long blond hair dyed dark at the ends, wearing a black cap and a black jacket with a Jamaica print. To find something to occupy my mind I started to think that it might be the former long jumping star Erica Johansson.
I knew that the pace was rather quick because I didn’t have many in front of me, but it still didn’t feel impossible to go on in that speed. Before the race I thought about running for as long as possible around the 40th position. But when we aproached the 1 k mark I was even able to count the people in front of me and i took the mark in the 20th position at the time 3.50. And I knew that was to fast. Had I’ve been able to keep that pace I would have finished at second place at 38.20. Three minutes faster than my best.
An other runner that had started to quick was “Erica Johansson” whom I passed short after the 1 k mark, and now I saw that Erica actually was a bearded man who more looked like a Poodle.
I tried to slow down a little and the second k was more at the right pace for me (around 4.10). But with 80% of the race I started to feel the quick start in my legs and when the path changed from asphalt to wet mud at the third k the level of lactic acid rose alarmingly and the race from this point was only about struggle.
I had to struggle to keep the bad thoughts away: “Whats worse the bitter taste of not finishing or the pain in my legs?” I run the third and fourth k in over 4.30 min/km and a modest pace or not I was exhausted and was passed by runner after runner and knew that it would even be dificult to go sub 45. My friend Staffan whom i hadn’t seen at all (neither during the race or at the start) came up by my side and we run side by side for a kilometer. But when we lapped after 5 k i couldn’t follow in his pace anymore. I lost over 10 secs in less than a k and even “Erica Johansson” passed me. My goal now was to keep Staffan in sight but the gap kept opening up. At 7,5 there was a pit stop (I never drink when I run 10 ks) and I stopped for some energy drink just to get some sugar in my veins.
I always try to step up the pace when I’ve got around 2 ks left of a race. I think that it doesen’t matter how tired you are you can always push yourself a little more if you only decide to. This time it was a fight between my mind and the legs. I have to say that the result was a draw. My thoughts were: “Only 2 ks left and I’m closing the gap to Staffan” for five seconds then “damned five meter slope kils my legs I’ve got no power left at all” and then “If I can make a quick last k around 4 min I’ll go around 44 min” and then “I’ve got to stop, the legs aren’t carrying me anymore”….
Turning towards the finishing straight I got a little push from a guy in dreadlocks who passed me and I thought to myself: “You can’t loose to a reclaim the city-guy” and started to rush. I passed him but the finish was a little to far away and I didn’t have enough strength to rush al the way and with 20 meters left i saw some dreadlocks passing me on my right but pretending that we battle over an olympic gold metal I found enough power to pass him with just a couple of inches.
Trying to catch my breath I saw that I finished just short of 45 minutes, so I think it was an OK start of the season.
Positive: 3.50 min/km actually didn’t feel that quick.
Negative: Even 10-15 meters uphill running builds up a high level of lactic acid in my legs. (maybe not that surprisningly because I have only trained distance and no intervals or hills during the winter).