Following three weeks of stretching, physio and massage since what I shall call the Great Aviemore Disaster, I have been feeling good to start some short runs again. What better way to make a comeback, then, than a local 5K event with the promise of a medal at the end for my ever-expanding collection!
The Resolution Run is a nationwide series of fundraising events organised by the Stroke Association, and as it happens my first event of this year was the Resolution Run in Dundee. That race was a wet, hilly, squelchy adventure in Camperdown Park, but I enjoyed the experience and found it to be well organised and friendly. When I heard that there was going to be an event in Perth, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to test my legs – after all, it was taking place at the very venue I would choose to run a flat 2 or 3 miles – The North Inch.
I was too late to sign up in advance this time, but knew there would be no problem in entering on the day. And so it was that I began Sunday with a leisurely breakfast then strolled over to the North Inch for when registration opened at 10am. The staff there were really friendly and delighted to see people turning up to run. I confirmed with them that it would indeed be 2 laps of the Inch (something I usually hate but after a few weeks off I was champing at the bit to run again!) then nipped home to enjoy the convenience of my own toilet since the race wouldn’t actually start until 11:30. This also meant I would be able to turn up ready to run and not have the inconvenience of a bag or anything since Steve was working and I wasn’t sure who I would know at the event to look after my things.
Returning to the Inch at about 11:15 we were first taken through the standard pre-race warm up that’s usually part of such events. Just as the warm up started I was joined by someone I knew so we were able to have a chat and it was nice to have some company for a few minutes. My friend had also had a few weeks out of running for various reasons so I expected our pace to be reasonably similar.
It had been quite a cold morning, but by the time the warm up was done I realised that my running jacket was going to be an unnecessary extra layer and opted to leave it at the registration desk during the race (they were running a system of cloakroom tickets so everything would be safe). I think a lot of people were unsure about the weather and layered up, as some of the staff later told me that many had been discarding gloves and extra layers as they came by the desk to begin their second lap!
There was a short race briefing (not much is needed for this particular route and it was well signposted with lots of marshals on duty) then it was time to line up. Sadly the field was very small, probably less than a hundred. That didn’t matter much to me as it would mean plenty of running room, but it’s a pity from the charity’s point of view that they didn’t have more participants.
And just like that we were off!
I started off alongside my friend, but as she picked up the pace early on I decided to hang back and see how my legs felt. I had thought that an average 8:30 per mile would be decent given my recent history, so didn’t want to overdo it at the start. I always forget that although short, racing a 5K is actually quite tough as you have to run quite hard and the race is over just as you begin to settle into your rhythm.
We were running clockwise around the Inch (which I always consider to be the “wrong way”!) and there was a rather strong wind. Somehow, that wind never seemed to be behind me! I tried to keep my pace steady and before I knew it my watch was bleeping to tell me I had finished the first mile: 8:27. Perfect!
The friendly Stroke Association staff were cheering everyone on and shouting encouragement as we passed by the start line to begin the second lap (a lap is about 1.5 miles). I was aware that I was starting to speed up a bit and tried to keep my pace in check so as to keep something back for the end of the race. I had been able to see my friend a little way in front of me throughout the first lap and now realised that she was slowing. It was only a fun run, but my competitive instinct kicked in and I knew I was going to try and pass her.
Rounding the bend on to the opposite side of the Inch, by the River Tay, I caught up with her. We exchanged a a couple of breathless words and she waved me on. Soon after, my watch alerted me to the completion of mile 2 in 8:20. I WAS running faster. Could I keep it up for the last mile?
I was breathing hard, but my legs were feeling good and I could feel I was speeding up even more. One thing about the Inch is that it’s completely flat so you can see right around. This meant I could see exactly how far I had left to run and I knew I could maintain a faster pace so simply kept on running.
For the remainder of that second lap I was gradually gaining on some of the people who had started really quickly and pulled away, but didn’t have enough time to catch them up. As I got closer to the finish, my friend’s husband arrived with their kids and it was great to see a friendly face to shout encouragement at the end. To my surprise, mile 3 had taken just 8:04 and as I passed the start line (the finish was slightly further ahead to ensure an accurate 5K) I was kicking into my “finishing” gear, running the last 0.1 at 7:55 pace.
Being a fun run, there was no official timing, but I had my Garmin and there was a clock at the finish, both of which suggest a time of about 25:30 which I’m very pleased with after shortened half marathon training and some time out. My friend finished just a few seconds behind me so it was a successful run for us both.
After the finish we were handed our medals and a goody bag containing a bottle of water, chocolate biscuit, apple and some leaflets. There had also been Tshirts given out at registration but I had missed mine (probably because I was rather sharp and they weren’t quite ready yet!) so I collected one when I reclaimed my jacket.
I didn’t hang around after that as I was keen to get home for a shower and some lunch (returning to exercise, especially Metafit, has been increasing my appetite again!) so I said my goodbyes and set off for home, calling encouragement to those still running and thanking staff as I left the Inch.
Despite the small turnout, I enjoyed my morning. The event was well organised and friendly, just like in Dundee earlier in the year, but a much more accessible course for newer runners or walkers (and without the danger of ruining a nice pair of running shoes!). I would certainly recommend this race series, particularly for someone looking for a friendly first race. As for me, this race showed me both that my recent treatments have been effective and that I haven’t lost too much fitness. In order to prevent further problems, I intend to rebuild my mileage sensibly from this point and avoid doing too much too soon (I do plan to run a couple more “seasonal” fun runs before the year is out though!).
As a final thought, I’d like to share this ecard I found which seems to sum up the event quite accurately for me!