As most of you know, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I like to spend a few of my December weeks here every year to catch up on family time, good food, heat, sun, and some mileage.
I spent the first days of my trip in Mar del Plata, a seaside town 250 miles from downtown Buenos Aires, great for running and churros. Trust me, either one of those two are worth the trip. Look:
YUM YUM YUMMMMMIE
So after a whole week of eating like a pig, you can imagine how I felt by the weekend. Fat and greasy. Oh well, that’s what vacations are for (and the rest of MY year too).
I had signed up for this 5K a week before and, on a whim, my mom decided to sign up too. My dad has been walking and jogging for about four years now but my mom just started walking this year. They had both done a 3K walk the week before so she felt that was good enough training for a 5k. Of course I agreed. Insert evil grin right here.
We picked up our packets on Friday which included our bib numbers and a really nice T-shirt. And a Spanish running magazine called O2.
On race morning they had predicted rain and it was a little gloomy but it was mostly hot and very humid and about 75°.
We had a few minutes to walk around, soak the race atmosphere in, and settle at the start.
There were no corrals so I placed myself about six deep and my mom was about a minute behind. She had found a few of her friends that she walks with and they were all having the time of their lives.
Soon enough at 8:30 am we get moving, the gun goes off, there’s a little bit of congestion at the start line with everybody starting their watches, but about five seconds later it was quite open. I noticed a lot of people sprinted and about 200 m later they were all going backwards.
I didn’t see too many women around but half of us were doing the 5K and many others were doing the 10k, so you could never really know who you were competing against until the turnaround. The 5K course was shaped like a candy cane with us starting at the shorter end. As soon as we got to the first turn, I noticed I was about 100 m behind the leaders which was surprising; I would have expected to be a lot further back.
I saw a few women ahead but decided it was too early to worry and chase anyone. Also, my GPS had no idea in what continent it was and I didn’t turn it on early enough to grab signal on time. I had no idea what pace I was doing but I knew my heart rate would keep me honest. Hello Photographer!
I was working hard and feeling really thirsty. Soon enough we were at the turnaround point and I focused on counting the women ahead making the turn ahead of me for the 5K return. I counted eight, and they were all quite very young. I made the turn and soon enough I caught up one of them, got on her side and told her to go together, she said something that I couldn’t understand and fell back really fast. So I kept going and soon enough I had caught up and passed another one. I saw my dad again taking pictures and told him I would be right back (when I finished!).
Then I just knew I had about a mile to go and I noticed there was a girl running with a very tall man about 100 meters ahead of me. Or 150 meters. That seemed like a really far way to go to catch someone. Quite impossible.
On the other hand, what else was I supposed to be doing there for the next four minutes? Of course I feared that a soon as I took out my fifth gear, and caught her, I will die there and she would pass me again. Or that I would not even catch her and suffer even more to the finish. But the will to overtake her overtook me and I, slowly but surely, started to claw in her space. The tall man that was running with her kept looking backwards at me and pushing her to the point where he was running for or five steps ahead of her, urging her to speed up. She was not pressing forward though and I passed her sooner than I had calculated: she just stayed there, even though her tall pacer got really frustrated. I bet my pennies that he pushed her too fast out of the gates, and that’s why she was paying for it. It is my experience that it is very hard to pass a woman in the later stages (even though I always negative split) as we (women) are better gauging our speed than men: and I tend to pass a lot of man in the last miles.
I had no idea what pace I was going at so seeing a 21:40 at the finish was quite a shock. I had done a 5K and a four miler two weeks before and I thought I was going to be around 22 minutes flat. I had been eating like a pig all week and the weather was quite humid and gross. But, Buenos Aires is as flat as pancake..!
Pace was 6:58 per mile (or a ridiculous 4:20 in kilometers: so freaking fast sounding). I was the sixth woman, thirtieth overall and FIRST in my category. Not a PR, but happy to keep getting closer!!!
I grabbed a Gatorade, chugged it urgently, and grabbed another one instantly. I was so thirsty. I rolled back to where my dad was to see in which direction my mom was going so I could catch up with her.
As soon as I saw my dad
and he took those pictures I felt these horrible cramps on my left calf. I could barely stand up and grabbed it in pain. Crap it hurt!! Wtf is that? I have never had any cramps in my life. I shook it and run back in the race to find my mom.
She was running behind a group of about 30 Santa Clauses and on her last mile. She looked great and way ahead of the 50 minutes we had estimated. She was walking and jogging at her will but I made her focus on passing the Santa Clauses because “you need a decent finish line photo of your first race!”.
That is Fidel Felipe Esperrino, my sister’s pup who, I hope, will be doing the 5k next year (there’s a 5k for doggies) just like the rest of the family!
The calf cramp turned my calf into a painful contracted knot for two full days and then it went away as fast and mysteriously as it popped up. So weird and awful. Anyway, back to the carbo/protein-loading again.