April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

My first race

… was supposed to be the 1/2M in Leiden but short time ago we came across a folder with the (much shorter) Singelloop in Leiden: it is a nice 6.6 km loop following the canal around the medieval part of the city. Since I’ve been living in Leiden for several years now, I decided to use this ‘back garden’ charity run to spice up my training a bit. V was happy to join (“Otherwise I have to go running tonight anyway…”)

I worked all week and had little time to google more information on the race. Also, we have friends from Prague visiting us this week so I was not really focused to get ready – enjoying long evenings with wine, chatting, eating and more wine.

The start of the race was scheduled at 19.30. At the end of the afternoon with still a lot of work related stuff to address, I quickly googled the report from the last year race: 5000 runners, major regional sports event,… hmm – it looked like the start line would be rather busy. Luckily, the start was at a walking distance from our house. I geared up our guests with 2 huge umbrellas (the weather forecast promised heavy showers) and a heavy back pack with warm dry clothes and we all walked towards the town. On our way, we could already see many runners – some on bikes, some already warming up by jogging.

Of course it was cold (wearing our Team AprilRuns t-shirts). And of course I had to go to the WC. And of course there were only 3 (three!) of them for the whole crowd. Luckily we were nice on time and queuing among other runners allowed me to calm down. I knew that 6.6 km was an easy distance and I had nothing to worry about. Yet my legs were shaking and I could hear my heart beating in my ears. I haven’t been feeling like this for the past 20 years. I haven’t been RACING since I was 18.

We did not hear the start shot, we just heard the crowd getting louder as it started moving towards the start gate. And then, several minutes later, V smiled at me and said it was our time to get going. The euphoria of that moment, the first hundred meters when you somehow feel united with that crowd, is hard to describe.

Young and old, slow and fast, fat and thin – all the people who exchanged the comfort of Friday night in front of their TV for the experience we were going through as well. The course brought us along the nicest parts of Leiden: 2 windmills (one of them used to belong to Rembrandt’s family), the old university buildings, botanical gardens, both city gates. I knew all the places, I have passed them many times by bike, by car or just walking – but never before I saw them from the perspective of a runner.

The crowd on the road and alongside the course was wonderful – people waving at us from their balconies, from the pubs and parks. Kids offering us water and snacks, students yelling at us. And so we ran. We ran as if there was no tomorrow. The atmosphere was too good to think about a slower pace. Soon we were half way and guess what: we were not at the tail, quite the contrary – we started passing many runners and as I quickly checked the watch, I knew this would be our fastest run so far.

At the finish line, our Czech guests were waiting so we even attempted to speed up for the finish photo. I guess we succeeded as they told us we were too fast for their cameras. And then, at the end, after crossing the finish line, we got our first running medals.

With the real time of 37:28, we managed to maintain the pace above 10 km p/h and that is a good sign that we can do the 1/2M in a month time. And it is a major achievement for me. Remember, several months ago I was not running at all. And I was 30 kg heavier…

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13 thoughts on “My first race

  1. Cool! Absolutely cool! … I still remember those feelings of my first races and I think that I can totally relate! And I applaud to you for just signing up on such a short notice without hesitation., and I really feel very happy for you that you enjoyed it with all those people cheering you up as well as being able to pass other runners in the second half … and I think you totally deserve it!
    Big congrats to both you and V … I am sure it’s just the beginning 😉

    • Thanks. I think you are right – this short race was just a test and there is definitely more to come. The feeling was beyond my expectation and just like your blog (and other bloggers), it motivated me hugely to get ready for the 1/2M. And yes, I admit I hung my shiny medal in the living room so that I could look at it all evening yesterday.

  2. barborkas on said:

    Congratulations! Great job with your race, you will ROCK that half marathon! Races are fun, especially when you have someone to share the experience with. It is amazing how much energy you get from the crowd 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

    • Thanks. Of course I stopped by – I wouldn’t miss the chance to check the best pink blog there is. Besides, you are dog a lover too, haha.

      • barborkas on said:

        Thank you for the compliment!!! Yep, the doggie is bragging to go out – yet again. He cannot be tired, even 20 km runs don’t help 😮

  3. Absolutely superb! So fast that finish camera of your friend cannot catch you.. wow! 🙂
    BTW, yo have my great congratulation for your finish time..3+7=2+8, 10=10, and as you know in football number 10 stands for the team best player! D10s=dios.
    Congrats and enjoy!!! Cheers, 12:)

    • Of course you’ll never know if the failed finish-shot was due to our sprint speed or their slow reactions haha. Nevertheless, I am happy to receive all congratulations and your number games. Off to the dunes to do some propper running today. MSF!

  4. Well done, that’s a fantastic time for your first race! Nothing beats the feeling when running with a large group, it definitely spurs you on faster!
    You’ve inspired me before I head out for my run today 🙂
    Just found out is was Earth Day today so looking forward to celebrating it with a 10k and some skipping later! You off to the dunes? Sounds interesting, try and catch a pic or two on your phone! x

    • It is funny, isn’t it – I am usually not a ‘crowd’ person, quite the contrary. But this racing thing is so very different!
      As for the pictures: I took 2 for you – see the Sunday post. Good running!

  5. I am with you on the crowd thing at races – I love being part of a running crowd and being watched and cheered by a crowd! WEll done on your time and you =r weight loss – 30kg in a few month swow – how did you do it?

    • I am sure the VLM crowd must have been completely mad-making. As I commented on your post (my other nick is ‘zellamseeholiday’), you are a marathoner now and that is just amazing. How I lost the weight? The usual method: more sports, less food (and beer). After I lost the initial 15 kg or so (cross training 5x week), I started looking for something a bit more interesting and competitive and I came across Janathon. The remaining 15 kg went off by running.
      As for Janathon: Little did I know that it would change my life (so far). I am addicted to running now. So thanks also to you and your blog! I hope you are doing Juneathon??

      • The VLM crowd was amazing – especially at the end when it was torrential rain and they still stood there cheering us on. I know what you mean about the weight loss – it should be as simple as less in + more out = weight loss. I think I need to do more exercise – and I’ll definately be doing Juneathon to help me out. I am considering another marathon in November (in my home town) so I would need to start training June 3rd whih fits in nicely…

  6. Great, see you at Juneathon then! Marathon distance seems sooooo long to me….

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