Warmer weather and longer days definitely has a positive effect on most people. For runners, it causes a condition I’ve previously discussed here – “race fever”. Less than a week after finishing my second full marathon in Fredericton, I was on the road once more with my family, this time to the wonderful city of Halifax to check out the Bluenose Marathon.
I’m not actually foolish enough (yet) to consider running marathons over back to back weekends, but I did figure I could sign up for a 5 km event and even if my legs were still aching from the marathon, I could get through it. I had also heard a lot of positive things about the event itself. Factor in the 5 km race being moved to a very convenient (for me) 3 pm on Saturday afternoon and I couldn’t resist!
I’m still in the process of figuring out my complete racing schedule for the summer, so I knew at least a couple days of rest were in order after Fredericton. I didn’t run at all during the week, but did get to the gym to do a few miles on the stationary bike and some elliptical. Those workouts seemed to really help as by Thursday, my legs were feeling pretty recovered. I could tell they were still tired, but the soreness was gone which was excellent.
Diet wise, the week was just absolute chaos. I allowed myself a fair amount of junk and even had fast food a couple of times, including on Friday – barely 24 hours ahead of the 5 km. To top it off on Friday night we had a delicious, but not so race friendly sausage bake. Lots of fat, lots of flavour. I think I ate some veggies, but it was mainly a blur of yummy, yummy grease. Ugh.
We had actually planned a light and responsible lunch for Saturday, packing the cooler with healthy stuff (I swear!!) to munch on pre-race. Even that got sidelined, however, as it was such an ordeal getting in and out of the parking garage. (It dawns on me how much the previous sentence identifies me as a small town fella). We decided to forego trying to make lunch and just ate out…again. This time it was Boston Pizza. I was semi-sensible and had some soup but I was still curious about how it was all going to pan out.
I made sure to stay well hydrated throughout the day as I knew I wouldn’t take any fluids during the race itself. The sun was out and I made sure to remember the sunscreen this time. I did take some Energy Bits about twenty minutes before the start of the race and did my usual warm up run and stretching/loosening up. With the mass of pink race shirts, I think the fact that I tried to get close to the front of the crowd to start combined with my bright orange BibRave singlet and ProCompression socks made me a little easier to spot.
I really had no idea how I would feel once the race started, but I figured I should just see how things went. Once the gun went off (fired by a Citadel guard in full regalia), I didn’t have time to think – it was time to giv’er!
As is often the case, especially in shorter races, adrenaline is hard to fight at the start. I knew less than a kilometer in that I was likely going to hard, but figured I should just go with it and see how I held up. When I hit the first km marker, I was under 4 minutes which was well under any 5 km pace I’ve had since I returned to running. It helped that the start was a slight downhill and that I wasn’t pinned in by the throngs of people as well. By two kilometres, I was at 8 minutes, meaning I was slowing but this came as no shock at all.
The rest of the race consisted of a low grade uphill, followed by a steeper pitch, a downhill and then the final stretch which was also uphill (so many races have a hill at the end!!). By my Garmin, the course measured at just under 5.2 km but I still finished with my best 5km since I resumed running – a time of 22:30 – for a pace of 4:30/km on the button. By my watch, I hit 5 km at 21:49 – but I’m happy either way.
Taking part in the Bluenose Weekend was definitely worthwhile and the organizers should be proud of themselves. Combine an excellent expo with a fun course and piles of amazing athletes and volunteers and I’m already trying to figure out which distance to sign up for next year!