Doha College 5K

I have not run any 5 km races for a while now, so it was about time for me to test if I have made any improvement in that distance. So I registered for the 5 km instead of the more popular 10 km in the annual Doha College 5/10K race after consulted with my coach. I will be doing the 10 km race in the forthcoming Standard Chartered Doha 10K on 14 December 2013 anyway. As a marathon runner, 5 km is not my favourite and 10 km is even worse, but i need these shorter distances to build up my speed. Most of my training has been about speed and core strength after I came back from Munich.

This was the 3rd edition of Doha College Race, and the 5 km category was held for the very first time this year. The event has grown by leap and bound. It has become one of the largest road races in Qatar with the event being a sell out to its maximum capacity. It was organised by David Thompson (a member of DBRC) and his army of volunteers and support crews. I also volunteered before the start to distribute the bib numbers. It was an experience in itself and I would not mind to do it again in the future. I left the bib distribution table 30 minutes before the start.

I did 20 minutes warm up running up and down the hill near the start line and quickly went into the near front of the pen together with the elite. The starting pen was very narrow and crowded with an unusual J shaped funnel. It didn't help when the 5k and 10k were flagged off together in a mass start.    I had problem finding the GPS signal on my Garmin until 400 meters into the race. Being with the elite runners I was being dragged into their blistering pace, and I was clueless about how fast I ran without the pace info from the watch. But I know that it was way faster than I had intended for as I was already struggling with my breathing and I can feel that my heart rate beating above the threshold. The hill near the start make it worse too. That's right I found out that I was running at 3'30"/km pace when I finally received the GPS signal. I slowed down and try to maintain 4' pace but the damaged was done. It was so hard and I already tuckered out after just 2 km.

The image of despair and frustration already in my mind. Our speedy runner, Hisham Aka Rock Triathlete was just in front. Clearly he was getting tired too. I increased my cadence and managed to catch him. We ran side by side from km 3. I was so thankful that I caught him. He continued pushing even though I knew he was suffering as bad (or worse). He did not let me over taking him. I got very tired of trying to step up the pace, so I just tag alongside him. We were both getting slower though. But suddenly I heard a familiar voice. It was my coach, Sarah who was running in the 10 k. She was shouting at the top of her lung something like 'Don't quit now, you better not let me catch you', 'Run! you doing great, it is supposed to hurt' among other thing. I saw Rock got jumpy when he heard Sarah's yelling. She was getting closer and closer. I was not panic though, I knew I cant afford to let her down again. I must prove to her and to myself that I am not weak. That I am a champion. I somehow found a reserve energy and sped up leaving Rock and Sarah at about km 4. Then she shouted 'Good you are leaving me now' 'dig deep'. I was panting and heaving. My legs, my hands, my whole body felt so heavy as if the earth's gravity has suddenly intensified. I kept pounding the hard brick pavement we were running on until I entered the J shaped funnel of the Start/Finish pen again.

And then it was over. It was a great feeling. I did not know what my time was because I only started my Garmin 400 m into the race. Sarah told me, based on her 1st 5km split, I should be clocking around 20 minutes. My friend Otmane who was volunteering as a race marshal congratulated me and said I was among the top finishers. I only found out that I came 1st in my age group (Sub Veteran Men) and a joint 10th overall with a time of 20:22 when the result was published on the website as I got home. I was so thrilled with the result. All the hard work doing the speed intervals, core strength training, and the swim have paid off. I just missed a sub 20 by 23 seconds. Not too far now until I join the legion of sub 20 5k elites. Let me just enjoy this achievement, this victory just for today, because the hard training will resume tomorrow for my next race, the Standard Chartered Doha 10 K in 3 weeks.

On the side notes, this race has seen the largest Malaysia contingent as well. Other than all the PSY Qatar runners (Pelari Stylo Yo!!) who were on their training for Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon and Dubai Marathon, we also had few others who were total virgins and just started running for few weeks. That was very encouraging. Most of PSY runners did well and scored personal bests but generally we have seen a lot of improvement since they started their training 2 months ago. Hani did really well too for finishing a sub 60 min for 10k for the first time. I believe they all going to do well in Dubai.

Top L: Volunteering at the bib distribution desk; Top R: The Malaysian Contingent, Bottom L: With my coach, Sarah Whittington; Bottom R: The medal 

Male Sub-Veteran Winner

Race Statistics
Bib No: 514
Nett Time: 20:22
Gross Time: 20:22
Rank Overall: 10/283 (Finisher)
Rank Age Group (SVM5): 1st
Shoe: Adidas Energy Boost   


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