Race report – SARRC Glenelg Classic 2016

This was ‘just’ a 5k race (and I lost count of the people who said to me incredulously “You’re just doing the 5k?”) but to me it was so much more than that.

Last year, in one of my earliest blog posts, I touched on my first EVER fun run, the 2012 Henley Classic, which was 4 years ago this week. You can read all about it here.

It’s a good time to reflect on this because last week I celebrated my 4 year ‘runniversary’. 4 years to the day after I entered said event! (I previously ‘celebrated’ my runniversary on the day I actually RAN my first fun run, but it seems appropriate to use the date I actually committed to running it)

Email proof of the plunge having been taken!

As a non-runner at that point, and with the event 8 days away, I went out during that week and ran 3 times. The first one was 2km non-stop and by the third run I made it to 5km and was confident I would be able to replicate that on race day.

I ran 26:29 at that first event, which I was super stoked with. 24th out of 99 females, and 7th out of 20 in my age group (bearing in mind that the top 3 women overall were ALL in that age group!)

I loved every minute of it, I don’t have very detailed memories but I do remember it was quite windy and my hat blew off at one stage. And I only got one race photo which I cringe a little when I see, but it does show just how far I have come both as a runner and as a fashion icon (joking about the second part!) since then!

henley classic 2012
I finished, OK? That’s all that matters!

Fast forward to one year later, with parkrun being a fixture in my weekends and having been running with the SARRC morning groups for around 6 months, I ran the Henley Classic again and was 9th female out of 195 in a time of 23:09. And I looked much more like a runner too!

That’s me on the right, circled. Looking a bit distracted at the start!
Finally got the knack of posing for the photographer!
Ahh, that’s better. Looking like a proper runner now! Note the outfit matches the shoes!

And then a few years passed. In 2014 I had the opportunity to go to Sydney for a conference. The conference started with a cocktail reception on Sunday night, so I could have still run Henley in the morning and flown out in the afternoon, but it seemed a waste of a trip to Sydney to not be there on the weekend and make a holiday out of it as well. So I made the decision to forego the race and make the most of my Sydney trip. By all accounts it was a pretty windy day so I wasn’t terribly disappointed to have missed it!

In 2015 I was all set to run but the event ended up getting cancelled due to major work being done in Henley Square.

Which brings me to 2016. The Henley Classic has now become the Glenelg Classic (it had been the Glenelg Classic some time in the past!). I was super pumped for this event, given that it was now 3 years since I’d run my last one!

Last weekend I did a ‘proper’ parkrun on the Saturday before racing at Kuitpo Forest on Sunday. My legs felt a bit heavy, and that was probably a lot to do with Heysen 105 only 3 weeks earlier, but I’m sure a fast parkrun didn’t help! So I decided to drag Mum along to parkrun to keep my legs fresh. We went to Lochiel, my local parkrun, where I have only been a handful of times. Mum commented that the concrete felt harder on the legs than the gravel at our regular parkrun at Torrens, but other than this the courses were of similar difficulty. (I really need to get her out to Mount Barker, a nice FLAT course!).

Saturday night the weather got a bit gnarly, with a lot of rain and strong winds. Being a coastal route, winds were bound to be a factor at Glenelg, as they had been in many of the coastal races I’d done in the past. I hoped it wouldn’t rain, after the absolutely revolting conditions at the Henley to Henley earlier in the year (heavy rain AND strong winds!)

On race morning I amazingly woke up 1 minute before my alarm! My race day outfit was my Indigenous Marathon Foundation singlet (if you’re interested in reading more about the Virtual Run for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, click here) and the only shorts I had other than boring black that coordinated with it, some nice royal blue ones. I went with royal blue calf sleeves too, probably more for looks than any compression benefit they were likely to give me! As it was a bit chilly I opted for arm warmers as well – again the only ones that coordinated with the IMF top, black and white!

Very excited to be rocking the awesome Virtual Run for the IMF top! My passenger – not so excited!

I had allowed myself plenty of time to get ready, and was out the door just before 7, arriving near the start just before 7:30. The 10k run started at 8 and the 5k started at 8:20, so I was very early, but it was a good thing I was, because I still had to park a fair way away! And as a result I got to experience the joy of the headwind that I would get to meet again in the second half of the race!

Surf’s up!

And from there I caught up with a whole lot of friends (as is always the case at running events), and as I said at the start of this report, pretty much ALL of them were asking me why I’d opted for the 5k over the 10k! Well, really there were 3 reasons for that.

  1. As my anniversary run, I always like to do the 5k because it shows me where I’m at. And that is really the main reason.
  2. I’m much more comfortable with the 5k distance. I actually don’t enjoy 10k races. I’ve done 2 this year – the Dolphin Run (which was my 10k debut in 2013, so again, I always do the 10k at the Dolphin Run) and the Parkland Loop run (as it was a week out from the Gold Coast Marathon, I went with the 10k run as part of a larger 20k training run – 5k from home and then back home again) but I really don’t enjoy the distance and find it much harder than a half marathon! Go figure!
  3. The competitor in me says that I’ve got a better chance of getting a placing in a 5k – partly because I’m better at it, and in no small part because the number of entrants in the 5k are always significantly less than in the 10.

After a portaloo stop and taking off my long-sleeved top, I watched the 10k runners start before heading off to do a short warmup.

The start of the 10k event – don’t let the blue sky fool you!

On the warmup I noticed headwinds in different directions, not just heading south along the coast. It was going to be a challenging run!

At the start I saw Nadene, who I’d met for the first time at the Victoria Park run in June, and who I knew would be there but had hoped might do the 10k! I was pretty sure she would be too good for me so if I had any thoughts of possibly winning the thing (I didn’t, really), they were gone when I saw her! I didn’t see many other females I recognised, not even any of the ubiquitous red and white Adelaide Harriers singlets (I guessed they would be mostly running the 10k) although as we were about to set off I saw Rebecca as the sole red and white rep in the 5k! Somehow I was at the front of the pack (it was a small field, well under 100).

We set off, and I got sucked into going out way too fast, trying to stick with Nadene for as long as possible. There was another girl in front of Nadene, who took off like a rocket! I later found out it was Chantel, a runner I hadn’t met before, but definitely a force to be reckoned with. Rebecca had also somehow found her way in front of me at the start, so as far as I could tell I was in 4th place with a bit of work to do to get onto the podium! But it was definitely doable!

I passed Rebecca in the first kilometre. Did I mention it was windy? Rebecca lost her hat! Of course there was no going back, but she has long hair so I’m sure it must have been annoying for her to do most of the race with her fringe blowing in her face!

The first kilometre was 4:10, much faster than I’m used to, certainly much faster than I have been doing in the past year! But it was wind-assisted. On a still day I think that would have been much too fast for me to sustain but with a strong tail wind it was manageable.

The second kilometre was 4:15 and still relatively comfortable. The course itself was pretty flat – a few minor undulations but no hills to speak of.

I’m not sure exactly what my time was at the halfway mark but I estimate it would have been around 10:30. Some of the faster 10k runners had already passed me on their way back to the finish – many of them in the red and white of the Harriers!

After the 2.5km turnaround point we not only lost our lovely tailwind but also got hit with a brick wall of a headwind! I had a look to see how far behind me the next girl was – Rebecca was still in 4th with another girl I didn’t know not far behind her, but there was a decent gap between 3rd and 4th so I thought I should hopefully be able to hang on.

To complicate matters slightly, we started to encounter more of the 10km runners. They had red bibs as opposed to our pink ones (don’t think I did the 5k just to get a pink bib!) but it was hard to see unless they were right alongside – once they’d passed there was no hope of being able to see the bib colour!

Photo courtesy of James. The girl behind me is a 10k runner – I wasn’t sure at the time!

My 3rd kilometre split was 4:29 – half of that being with the wind and the other half against it.

And then it just got slower from there – 4:41 for kilometre no. 4 and 4:46 for the final k! At some stage in the back half, I think probably in the 4th kilometre, I was passed by a girl who I hadn’t seen before – I was hoping she was a 10k runner, and I thought if she was a 5k runner she must have come home with a mighty rush because I hadn’t seen her at the turnaround. (It was the girl in the above picture so I needn’t have worried!)

As I approached the finish line I had a sneaky look behind me. I was pretty sure I was in 3rd (and if that girl was a 5k runner, she had a lot more left in her legs than I did and I was not going to be able to catch her) and I wanted to see if I needed to up the pace a bit. Looking over my shoulder I couldn’t see anyone so I went reasonably hard to the finish but I didn’t push it too hard. And as I crossed the line I was told I was 3rd female, although it took a while for that result to come up on the official results page, because due to the wind, my bib had blown up and therefore hadn’t scanned properly at the finish line! (This is because I opt to attach my bib to a belt with toggles at the top rather than pin it in all 4 corners to my top) My official time was 22:24 which was only 45 seconds faster than 3 years ago, but given the conditions, and given that it is similar to my parkrun time from last week, I was pretty happy! Plus, I got a podium finish which kind of makes time irrelevant!

Not long after we finished, the heavens opened! I happened to be near the first aid tent so I (along with a lot of other runners) ducked for cover! After the rain died down a bit I went to see about a trophy, and due to the appalling weather conditions the presentations had been cancelled, so I was about to head home when 10k runner Gary told me that a few of the Sunday SARRC runners were going for coffee nearby, so I went to join them – a perfect way to end a pretty good morning! (And really, the ONLY way to end ANY run!)

Once again a MASSIVE thankyou to all the volunteers. The conditions were bloody awful out there – much like at McLaren Vale and Henley to Henley, conditions were far worse for volunteering than for running! Thanks to everyone who made this event happen!

So, yes it was ‘just’ a 5k but it was a perfect way to mark 4 years of running, with another piece for my (as yet non-existent) trophy cabinet! There is no way I could have imagined that, 4 years ago, I would be standing on the (metaphorical) podium holding my (not-yet-received) trophy!

UPDATE: Got the trophy!