You might already know (from my previous post) that I participated in The Mater heart run on May 21st (last Saturday). This is an annual event that aims to assist children from families that cannot afford the cost of cardiac surgery. Yet another noble cause that am privileged to have been part of. This year the run was held simultaneously in Nairobi, Mombasa, Machakos, Mumias, Kisumu and Nyeri.
*Long post alert*
Before the race
Seeing that I had just celebrated my birthday the day before, race day didn’t start out like it usually does for me. For starters, I didn’t get out of bed till 5:20 even though my alarm started going off at 10 to 4! I’d had less than 5 hours of sleep and wanted more. The race had been slated to commence at 7am and though i had a feeling it would start later, i still wanted to get there in time.
I showered, picked out my running gear, got dressed and packed my bag. Normally, I’d have my clothes already laid out and my bag packed but everything seemed to be amiss that morning. I didn’t even have breakfast. My stomach felt uneasy, probably from the previous days’ meals. But i did drink a little water.
I left home at 6:15 and got to town at 6:40. I’ve learnt that it takes me 30 minutes to walk from town to Nyayo Stadium (race venue). With 20 minutes left to 7am, i knew I’d be late. All along I had planned to walk there (like I did last time). It didn’t occur to me that the roads had not been closed off! I could have grabbed a ride! Oh well, I realized this 20 minutes later and decided to just keep on walking.
I didn’t come across any other participant and that made me really nervous because I figured everyone got there early and i was super late. But as i was turning into Uhuru Highway, i saw another participant (we had similar race shirts on). He was behind me and after a while he caught up to me. We exchanged pleasantries and he said that he’d been trying to catch up with me for a while…that i was walking fast (am a fast walker by the way 🙂 random fact about me there). We walked together thereon and he assured me that the race would most likely start at 8. He knew that because he had attended the last 7 Mater heart runs…this was my first! I was glad for the chit-chat and it somewhat put me at ease. Up until then, i hadn’t realized how tense I was.
We got to the stadium at 7:10 and security there was tight! There were so many people present and the warm up session was ongoing. I Picked a spot and joined in and I have to say that was a lot of fun 🙂 . I noticed that some of the moves the instructors were taking us through were the same ones i do during Insanity workouts. For some reason that made me very happy.
After a wile, i decided to head to the loo (didn’t need to but you know…) and so i did that and then went looking for a luggage drop off point. I couldn’t find it. I figured i could race with my tiny backpack again (like i did in my last race).
I went back to the main area and got there in time to hear from some of the Mater heart run beneficiaries. It was beautiful. Seeing them up on the stage well and ready to take on the race so as to help other kids awaiting the surgery was…for lack of a better word, very inspiring…not really the word i was going for but you get it. I have to admit that when i go into these races, my thoughts are mostly on hitting my goals. Finishing the race, and within a given time frame, running throughout the course with no walk-breaks, etc etc. But seeing what comes of the race…the second chance offered to beneficiaries…that was something.
These races have offered me a chance too. A chance to challenge myself. A platform to do what i have worked for. Am doing things I couldn’t do a year ago. Remember the one thing i wanted to do on May 20th of last year…on my 30th birthday? To run a 5k? I couldn’t do that, but here i am 3 10K’s and a half marathon later, getting ready to start training for the next one and actually toying with the idea of running a full marathon! All thanks to these charity races. I seem to have digressed but that had to be said. Back to race day
While race announcements and info were going on, i moved to one of the the stadium’s exit where the race would begin. From past experiences, I know its better to be at the front of the pack than to be stuck in the middle. I found a spot about 3 meters behind the band parade that was at the very front. After the National anthem, the race started at 8:08. I did a bit of shuffling for 2 minutes and at 8:10 i started the actual running.
Wile on Aerodrome road (just past the start), i dropped my earphones and a piece of it came off. I
could have should have picked it up but i was so pumped and didn’t want to stop. I really should have just stopped and picked it up because now i need new earphones
A kilometer in, we came upon a band parade performing for the participants. I felt so special at that moment 😀 We turned into the road leading to Railways golf club and it was an incline. The same incline that really challenged me during my first 10K race last year. I ran all the way up until the first water point which i assumed was about 2km in. I grabbed some water and did a walk through at that point. I usually need water at the 5km point but my throat was really dry.
From that point till the start of Mbagathi way, i employed the walk-run method. I hadn’t planned to do so. But i felt like i needed to. I also wanted to save my strength for Mbagathi way. I however made sure to keep my walks short…like 30 seconds
short long. I didn’t want to lose my momentum like i did when i ran the half marathon.
Once i got onto Mbagathi way, i knew it was time to run again. And so run i did. I have mentioned before that this is a fun course for me to run. The slight decline at the beginning somehow forces you to pick up speed…but with ease. That coupled with the cool breeze made me feel like i was flying. It was the best i have ever felt while running!
I came up on an older man, also running, he had to have been over 65…maybe in his 70’s! I can tell you that no one behind him up to the point where i was was walking. I mean, how could they? Everyone felt that if he could run so could they…picked up on that from a conversation behind me. I felt like that too. I never did catch up to him.
Traffic on most of the roads leading to the course or near the course had come to a halt. I don’t know if any notices had been served about that situation…i guess not because then the smart thing to do would be to avoid those routes. I felt bad for the motorists stuck on the road. I even felt guilty whenever i decided to walk because that would mean I’d be on the road longer and consequently, so would they. Yet another reason for my short walk-breaks. There was one guy (looked like a tourist to me) who was filming the race on his phone. At one point, he got out of the passenger side of one vehicle and joined the race! He looked really excited 😀
I really wanted to run the entire way (Mbagathi) but towards the end i slowed down then walked again as i grabbed more water from the volunteers. I continued with my run-walk method but once i got near the stadium i started running again…for real 🙂 I wanted to finish strong. I went through security check again before re-entering the stadium (had to momentarily stop for that). Once inside, i got redirected onto the track.
There were a few people on the track well on their way to the finish and at that moment…being on the track…i felt like a real runner! I kept running and towards the end, i was handed a bottle of water and a blank certificate. Now that was orderly. I checked the time and it was 9:04am. I had finished the race in 56minutes! In less than an hour! 19 minutes faster than when i ran the StanChart 10K!
Okay, after the excitement i was skeptical. I figured they must have not measured the course properly. My girl Em told me to stop doubting myself and own my achievement. I didn’t really. And then i remembered something i read about how taking walk-breaks/slowing down can actually speed you up (sometimes). It helps one momentarily recover and come back faster, prevents cramping and fatigue, allows the upper body to relax so one can run more comfortably and more efficiently. This is what am holding on to because, 56 minutes?! Thats quite a feat for me! Note to self: I really need to track these races myself – Distance, duration, pace,…all that.
After the race
I had a calligrapher write my name on the cert and then i headed onto the field where i laid down and then i later stretched. I tend to get light headed after races and i read that lying on your back helps with that. This time however, i felt fine but i didn’t want to take chances and collapse at a very odd moment. I also took some glucose that i had brought with me…figured my blood sugar levels needed a boost seeing that i hadn’t had anything to eat since i woke up.
Another runner came up to me for a little chit-chat. He said that he had seen me on the course several times. That we seemed to have been running at the same pace. I hadn’t noticed him but…oh well. Anyway, up until then my body was really heated despite the chilly weather we had that morning. It was a cold day in general but i wasn’t feel it. The back of my shirt was drenched in sweat which was drying up! After a while, I started to feel cold. It got so bad (goosebumps and all – i was shivering) that i had to wear the jacket that i had packed (lesson learnt from that time i was left freezing in my last race…always carry warm clothing).
An hour or so after finishing the race, i decided it was best to leave. I was so cold all i wanted was to curl up somewhere and sleep. It also looked like it was about to rain though that never happened. I took some post race pictures, changed into a pair of jeans and left the venue. I didn’t even bother eating even though there was some really good food on sale. I just had no appetite really. I had packed chocolate milk and a slice of my leftover birthday cake but didn’t get to have any of it.
There was almost no transportation available back to town so i decided to walk (again). I drunk the chocolate milk at that time because i figured my body needed something. I later boarded a bus and got home at 11 something. Well before noon. And then hunger hit. I had…cake. I also finally got to properly toast my 31st birthday with some wine i had gotten for my birthday. Clearly not what i should have post race but you know how it is 😀 After that i showered and slept for the rest of the day. I woke up at around 6:30 to cook supper then stayed up for a better part of the night binge-watching some tv series.
I had actually planned to miss this event due to prior engagements but those got cancelled and then i decided that if it rained that morning, i’d skip the race. In the end, everything worked out beautifully and i can not imagine not having raced! It was a lot of fun thats for sure in spite of me missing out on the post race entertainment by our local artistes. I really wanted to watch Size 8 perform.
I later watched media coverage of the event and realized that so many people chose to walk (which is fine by the way) – there were many small children along with their parents. Being that i started at the front and chose to run, there wasn’t much crowding on the course for me so i didn’t need to shuffle past and weave through other runners, which is what i’d have had to do had i gotten myself caught up in the crowds i saw on TV. Starting out early was definitely a good call on my part.
I had fun and God willing i’ll be there again next year. I still feel that the distance was shorter than stipulated but that doesn’t really matter now. All that matters is my half marathon training that starts in less than 2 weeks!
Praying for rain-free mornings 🙂