Woke up feeling pretty well rested and ready to race. I had about 4 days of recovery since my big training camp in Delray, Florida (460km of cycling, 80km of running and over 15km of swimming in 7 days). Unfortunately we lost an hour of sleep last night AND I forgot to pick up my race kit on Saturday so that meant getting to the race site about 1 1/2 hours before race start. However, we stayed warm inside the Steam Whistle brewery on this frigid March morning. About 45 minutes before my race I went and did an easy run of the race course (only 5km so perfect for warm-up), followed by 4 x 20 second sprints and then 2 x 1 minute sprints to get my heart rate going and the blood flowing. I felt pretty light on my feet so I knew that I was going to have an OK race.
I lined up at the start line as close to the front as possible, I easily picked out some of girls who looked liked they would be the fastest runners. I decided I should get behind them since the first 800m would be into the wind and I could use someone fast blocking it for me.
The horn blew and 3 seconds later I crossed the start line. We were off. Ah-and there was Papa cheering me on! At first I was stuck behind some slower runners as I watched several of the faster girls take off. No worries, I knew I would not slow down, so I could still catch them. At the end of 1K I was running with about 5 other girls and still feeling good. I started to push the pace and by 2km the other girls had fallen back. At 2.5km I ran past the second place female. The rest of the run my confidence was high as I had people shouting out “first place woman! go go!” ...apparently they either missed the actual first place Kenyan female because she was running too fast...or....well....not sure ;)
500m away from the finish line I could tell that the third place woman was close behind me. I was feeling quite hungry at this point and the emptiness of my stomach was actually causing me to cramp a bit. I though to myself “mind over matter” - a phrase my swim coach would say constantly during hard sets in the pool - and pushed myself to the finish line only 3 seconds in front of the third place girl. Ran right into the arms of my biggest fans, my parents, and waited for my husband to cross the finish line.
My first race of 2011 was a success - my first race as a Bharadwaj, my best 5K time ever of 19:24 and the best part, I got to do it with Rikki :)