On Sunday 25th June I participated in the Cooks River Fun Run which was located at Freshwater Park in Strathfield. It’s hard to imagine this time last year I hadn’t even participated in one single running event (my first event was in July 2016). There was also a 5km run and a 5km walk at Cooks River Fun Run. I was considering the 5km because it’s my best distance (as a result of racing it at Parkrun almost every week for a year and a half) and I don’t get many opportunities to race it at actual events. However, I went with the 10km because I hadn’t raced that distance since October 2016. I’ve done a lot of training since then so have an improved level of fitness. I knew I had the chance for a personal best time over 10km.
I had an ‘A’ goal and ‘B’ goal for the event. Plan A was to run 10km in under 50 minutes because that’s less than 5 minutes per kilometre. To me, under 5 minute kms has always been a magical number which signifies being a faster runner. I’ve been very comfortable with sub 5 minute kilometres for a 5km run since late last year and my best 5km time is down to 4 minutes 32 seconds per kilometre, so wondered how long I’d be able to hold the sub 5 minute pace. This was my longer term goal for a 10km. I knew I’d be close but thought I wouldn’t be there yet. Realistically, I thought I’d get there but later in the year. Plan B was to run a personal best time which wasn’t particularly difficult. I needed to improve on 52 minutes and 43 seconds which was 5 minutes 16 seconds per kilometre. I was expecting a time of 50 or 51 minutes for the event.
The course was along the Cook’s River, out for 2.5km, back the same way and then repeat. I decided to have an attempt at sub 50 minutes. In the end I exceed all my expectations by completing the 10km in 48 minutes and 24 seconds. I went out fast, possibly too fast. The last couple of kms hurt a lot but I kept telling myself how much I wanted this and to keep holding on. I’m pleased with myself for how I raced it. For that moment I was fearless and gave it everything. I split the first half in 23 minutes 48 seconds for 5km and came back in 24 minutes 36 seconds for the last 5km. I was worried at the half way point that I’d taken it out too hard so was very pleased to come back in under 25 minutes. It was the most incredible feeling to turn the final corner with less than 100m to go and see the clock had only just ticked over 48 minutes. I was speechless. I never ever thought I could do that.
This event was so much more than just a run for me. I’ve raced many events (swimming and running) over the course of my life but I’ve never experienced such an intense feeling before. It was absolutely overwhelming and I was on a high for many days afterwards. I simply never thought I could run a time like 48 minutes for a 10km. There is no better feeling in the world than completing something which previously seemed impossible. It was also such a shock because I don’t have much of a background in running. A year ago, when I realised I had a good fitness level from swimming training, I thought I’d give distance running a go. My 10km time was six minutes slower a year ago. I remember when I was a beginner runner and under an hour seemed like an achievement. For the past year I’ve viewed running as a ‘second’ sport, one which I do on the side of swimming. However, this event was a turning point for me; running is no longer just ‘on the side.’ I realised I can have a good go at running too in its own right. I actually enjoy running more than swimming at the moment and have a full calendar for running in the next few months.
The only slight disappointment was coming so close to receiving an age category medal. It was so unfortunate because Rio Olympics Gold Medalist, Chloe Esposito participated in the 10km and she’s in my age category! That knocked me back to 4th. I would have loved to win a bronze medal. However, it’s the time and the personal best which matters most. Nothing can detract from how I felt after this event.