237th US Army Birthday 5K Run

I had an opportunity to participate in a 5km race in conjunction with the 237th US Army Birthday at As-Sayliyah Camp here this morning. I must be one of the lucky few to get this opportunity, because this was a closed event and there was only 10 spots available for Doha Bay Running Club.

We met at the giant shopping cart at Hyatt Plaza for a 3.45AM pick up.You must be thinking that I was crazy waking up that early to run. But I must tell you that, it was not hard to wake up in that wee hour to do the thing you love. We were invited to join this race through Nick and Richard who are also members of DBRC.
DBRC Contingent. From Left: David Thompson, Paul Smith, Me, Nicholas Soroka, Richard, Tee Morgan, Mark Brandone, Hisham and Wendy Fitzmaurice. Picture courtesy of Tee Morgan

It took forever to get to the start area as we had to go through a series of security check points. But everything went smoothly. We finally arrived at the start area 15 minutes before flag off at 5.00AM.  There was quite a fair number of participants, I am guessing around 300 already at the start area at that time. I took that little time to warm up and stretch a little with Tee and Wendy. My left knee was still a little uncomfortable from the strain I picked up when running on the Corniche last Sunday. It felt weird though running with a knee guard for the first time.

I did't know what to expect from this race. I was only thinking of one thing, I don't want to come out last. Majority of these service men and women are looking very fit, as you would expect from an army personnel. They would probably run every day as part of their daily routine too. I am on the other hand was probably the smallest person in the race today, and with less than a year of running experience.

The race was flagged off after a brief opening/welcoming speech by the camp's commandant. I was near the front at the starting line up. This is something new to me as I usually started from the back among the slower runners. Since I have been training for half marathon, I thought this should be a walk in a park. Maybe my mind was too pre-occupied, I really did not hear any siren or pistol or a simple 'On Your Mark, Get Set, Go'. I just sprinted out when everybody started running.

I went way too fast, at a low 4 minutes / km pace with an intention to keep up with the 'elites'. That was something that I should've learned by now, to take it easy at the beginning. Maybe because I was inexperience running in this distance. I always thought 5KM as a sprint event. I was drained at KM 2 and settling into my normal marathon pace. I was overtaken one by one and overtook none. The 3KM to the finishing line seemed so far. At times I felt like walking, but was too embarrassed as I was wearing my club's jersey with a bold 'Doha Bay RUNNING Club' at the back. I would have been a laughing stock if I did. Doha Bay WALKING Club should be more appropriate then I am afraid. So I just kept going with whatever energy left. Surprisingly though my left knee was fine. I supposed that knee guard did its job well.
I finally finished the race with a new personal record of 26:12. Yes I did not come last. Today was a great day for DBRC. Everybody had a great run especially our  hero and heroin Paul Smith and Wendy. Paul was the runner up in male category while Wendy won the female.

They did not give away finisher medals. Medals were reserved for the top 3 of each category, male and female, but they did not let you go empty handed. They gave out commemorative T-Shirt to all the finishers which is cool enough. Many of my friends from DBRC would be so jealous when I wear it this Friday for our weekly run.

The US Army especially Nic and Richard were very hospitable towards us. We were provided with nice shower facilities by the camp's swimming pool before being led to the camp's mess hall for breakfast. I must say the buffet spread looks really good. They have everything, in short 'meal fit for a battle'. I was tempted to stuffed myself with a bit of everything, but I mind was quick to stop that. I was happy with just scrambled egg, hash brown potato, fruit salad and a glass of pineapple juice.

Nic and Richard took us back to Hyatt Plaza where we bid farewell. There will be another race on the 4th of July, but I wont be here. Richard will be leaving Qatar next month. So I guess I wont see you again before you leave. I wish you all the best and I am sure you cannot wait to be reunited with your family. To Nic, thanks for organising our participation and hope to see you running with us on Fridays.

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