Race Recap: Longest Day 5k

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Last night was the Longest Day 5k – I’m told it’s a Vancouver running tradition, but I’m just celebrating my first year in Van, and didn’t run it last year (I was in Croatia!). The race is held every year at the beginning of June. It’s an evening start with a big BBQ afterwards.

I haven’t raced a 5k in a longgg time (There was the Pride 5-ish km that I ran when I first moved here, and before that a 5k as part of the EndurRace series). My previous PB was 23:03, and I was definitely looking to improve that.

I met Jan after work and we took the bus to UBC, where the race is held. I totally had pre-race jitters… I don’t know why I get so nervous! It’s such a fun local race, and there is a very wide range of talent – I honestly don’t think anyone would notice if I ran 25 minutes! Anyway, we got our bibs, checked a backpack, and then did a tiny (seriously like 1 km) warmup. I wasn’t super warm at the start but I was so worked up I just wanted to line up.

Without any real announcement or fanfare, the gun suddenly went off! I looked at Jan and we both kind of shrugged and said ok, here we go. We had seeded ourselves too far back and spent the first 500m weaving through people. The second 500 m was downhill, and I knew we were moving fast when I heard Jan’s garmin beep the 1k. He looked at the pace and told me we had bought ourselves some time, and all I could think was that I would really need it.

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For the rest of the first mile I tried to settle into a hard but manageable rhythm. I felt my watch buzz the 1 mi, but knew that if I looked at the pace it would freak me out, so I just kept going. Around 2.5k, Jan told me to run ahead – he had burned a few too many matches helping me weave through the first bit and then chatting with me and other runners we came across. I felt crappy but manageably so, so I just carried on.

My watch buzzed 2 mi just after a short uphill and I was pretty sure that was it for the climbing. There ended up being one teeeny up around 2.3 mi, but it was mostly flat or gently down from there.

There was a sign for 4k, and although I was excited to see it, some nausea also kicked in. I thought about it, and said to myself, “ok, I can push hard and probably throw up, or I can hold on and not”. Knowing that this race was about having fun and the BBQ afterwards, I decided I’d try to not ruin any dinner experience and hang on without pushing myself over the edge.

In the last stretch there were lots of people (Jen and Winston, Fraser St. Run Club, and a few of Jan’s VFAC friends) cheering for me and yelling my name, which really helped. I looked at the finish line and just focused on it. I still had lots of legs left when I crossed, but my stomach was just at the edge.

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I finished in 20:32 – a huge PB for me! It was good for 17th girl overall (and 17th in my AG as well.. it was 16-39). Jan was just behind me at 20:59, laughing because this is the first time I’ve ever been able to drop the Belgian. We hung out, I ate a delicious veggie burger, and we headed home just as the sun was setting.

I’m happy with this race! I really do think I can crack 20:00 at some point if I just concentrate. I think the combination of tempos and long slow distance I’ve been doing are starting to get me results!