Today was the 6 something K race at El Campello. As I thought it was on sand I was going to run barefoot but upon arrival they informed me that it was 50/50 sand and asphalt. Because of this I decided to choose the trainers - big mistake! The other mistake I made was to tie my chip around my wrist.
Sand drains your legs more than anything I´ve ever run on, including steep hills. I had set off quite fast but the first 1.5k was along the beach and it didn´t take long for the strength to turn my legs to nothing. I got overtaken by a few people along this stretch as I gamely battled on to keep my rhythm, but it was hard. I realise now it would have been easier without the trainers but that´s a lesson for another day. Then finally we moved onto the road to come back towards the start. By this point I was already quite tired and I got overtaken by more people. The sun was also beating down and I was feeling very dehydrated.
Eventually I got to the end of the first 3k lap but there was no water station in a race this short. Luckily my wife was there and she handed me a drink with a wry smile on her face. This must have been because I was sweating like I was in a shower and my face was redder than a lobster´s. Then it was back to the sand. Mentally I was doing fine and I just concentrated on keeping my pace as best I could while finding the best line on the beach to run along to ease the pressure on my legs. I kept going and was still getting overtaken now and again (a consequence of sprinting ahead of better runners than myself at the start) but I was ok. Then finally, I got back into the home stretch along the road neck and neck with another guy.
I noticed that he was trying to gently edge ahead of me by slightly increasing the pace but I kept with him. Then I tried to do the same and he kept with me. Suddenly realising I was in a battle, I remembered a cross-country race at school where I let someone go at the end when I had plenty left in the tank, and our team lost by one point. It was a funny thing to remember but it spurred me on. Then, with about 400m to go I kicked and pulled away from him. To my eternal satisfaction he couldn´t keep up. I crossed the line in about 28:30 which was pretty good for me considering the terrain.
But...because I wore the chip on my wrist it didn´t register when I crossed the line, so that guy got the podium finish for our category.
How do I feel about that? I had to remind myself why I go running as it isn´t for recognition. But...well, you know. Overall though, I´m really pleased as I felt I showed really good mental strength and that´s the best thing I can take forward from this.
Footnote - my kids also entered their first race!!! They both got medals as well for doing about 200m and they are made-up. So am I. They looked so happy.