Sunday, March 16, 1997

Running a 5k Down Under

When I found out I was definitely going to be taking a business trip to Sydney, I decided to try to find a road race to run in while I was there. I found the Sydney Striders runner's club home page on the Internet. Their race calender didn't list any events for the weekend that I would have free, so I e-mailed them, asking if they knew of any 5k races scheduled for the weekend of March 15th/16th. The next day I had a reply, telling me about a 5K in the Roseville suburb and giving me the e-mail address of the race director. I then e-mailed the race director and received a response giving me information about the run and directions for finding it.

I have never been a fast runner. Hmm, let me qualify that... I was very fast when I was a kid, but I have not been a fast runner as an adult. And now I am quite a bit slower than I was, say, ten years ago. I suppose that if I were to train more, I could get my times down, but I will never be mistaken for someone who poses much of a threat to the more elite runners in a race. Still, I enjoy running and I enjoy running in races. Given my work schedule and New England winter weather (although this winter has been especially mild), I've not gotten in very much mileage, and although I did enjoy running a 5k race with my daughter in Mystic, CT, at the beginning of March, that had been my first race since before Christmas.

On Sunday morning, I was up and out of the hotel before six, strolling over to the MacDonald's just a few blocks away. I got a breakfast of hotcakes, orange juice and coffee, which I ate seated at a sidewalk table. There were many young people, mostly college age I would guess, just leaving some popular rock clubs in the area. Lots of interestingly colored hair, very short skirts, jewelry hanging from pierced navels, etc. Made me feel ancient.

I successfully navigated my way through the tunnel and out to Roseville. It was actually not that far, perhaps fifteen kilometers from my hotel. This was the Fun Run and Community Walk, put on by the Linfield Rotary. There was a 10.2 k run as well the 5k run and a 5k walk. The start and finish were at Roseville Park. Things looked pretty much the way they might at a local run in the states. Folding tables and chairs for the registration activities, water and Gatorade, runners lined up at a pair of port-a-johns... The 10.2 run started first. After they were started I searched out Max Elliott to thank him for his directions and then got ready for the 5k.

The first kilometer felt good. Five minutes even. That indicated that I could do this in 25 minutes, perhaps less if I could pick up the pace toward the finish. Hmmm. I passed the second kilometer mark at 9:45. I was feeling good, nice and loose, beginning to get a little sweaty, but really feeling good. There had been a few short, gentle grades... now we began to encounter steeper hills... and the summer heat began to get to me. A few two or three mile runs before dawn does little to prepare a winter adjusted body to run in summer heat. I came to a water stop and I stopped and drank a cup of water. Then I drank another one and poured a little over my head. I started running again. More uphill work. Then the course got really steep. I may be slow, but I am not stupid. I was not used to summer running and there was no sense pushing on in the heat, so I walked almost a block of the steepest grade before resuming running. I was very happy to see the finish line ahead and (I think) I was running well as I finished. I drank several cups of water before I began to feel replenished. At races back home there would often be refreshments for runners at the finish: fruit, bagels, yogurt, etc. Here they were providing what is apparently an Australian favorite: breakfast sizzle. That's a fried sausage sandwich. It was delicious but definitely not the kind of food I would have expected to be served at a road race.

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