On Sunday I “reluctantly” sacrificed my long run to take part in my first 5km race. This is a lovely distance I have run many times over the past couple of years or so. It has been part of my recovery and speed runs. Strangely enough, it has also been part of my long runs – you can’t run a marathon without running the first 5km. [Sometimes my running insights surprise even me – their little heads pop up from behind fences and hedges when I’m running, or out of the tops of beer or wine bottles when I’m relaxing].
While the race was not as daunting as my first half-marathon and marathon, it presented some unique challenges. It felt as though I was testing myself against other runners, putting myself on the line, as it were. With marathon running, it felt as though I was just testing myself, trying to conquer the distance with half an eye on the clock.
This was of course an evening run, the aim being to finish before the sun set. With a start time of 18.00 hrs and sunset at 18.57 hrs, there was enough time to achieve this over 5km. Being used to morning runs, this necessitated a change in routine – when to eat and drink, and when to rest? I have a well-established morning routine, so this was new territory.
With the long runs, I use the first mile or two to warm up and settle into a good rhythm. The challenge for the 5km was to set off at a fast pace, so I needed to warm up before the start. This meant some serious-looking little runs in the vicinity of the starting area. It was also quite chilly, so timing was important – I didn’t want to warm up and then hang around cooling down, and I didn’t want to burn off so much energy in warming up that there was little left for the race itself. Oh, the calculations and mental tortures we elite runners have to endure!
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the race and the sunset was a lovely surprise, especially because the day had begun very overcast with the threat of heavy rain and winds. The
course was a loop around country roads, starting and ending at the West Lodge Rural Centre in Desborough. It was hard work trying to keep up a good pace, but in the end I achieved personal bests for 1 mile and 5km, so I was very pleased. With regard to testing myself against others, well, there are some good runners out there! I have nothing to be ashamed of, but it opened my eyes to the fact that there is room for much improvement! It is a battle against the passing of the years, hence….
I think “Beat the Sunset” is a metaphor for all my running. It is one of the ways in which I am trying to fight against the inevitability of ageing, of slowing, of stopping. I am reminded of the words of Dylan Thomas:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light”
I would not dare to presume I could improve on the work of Dylan Thomas, but “Run, run against the dying of the light” should be on my next t-shirt.