I am lucky enough to live in one of the 10 cities that participates in the Nike sponsored human race. It’s not a marathon, but a 10k race – and not a very competitive one. It is, however, the largest running event in Israel, and according to the Nike website there were 9,366 participants last year.
The race takes place at night on the streets of Tel Aviv and many of the runners are first timers. And, although it’s a giant Nike ad campaign, the race is great. It’s not because of the record breaking times – some parts are so crowded you actually have to stop for a few seconds, but because it is great fun and is a great recruiting event for health and running. Many people start running for this race and then go on to bigger and better things.
This is the fourth year the race has been held in Tel Aviv and I have participated in all four. As in all races, there is that side of you that wants to go all out and break your PR or beat last year’s time. Last year that was the decision I made while crossing the starting line – I went all out and ran an under 50 minute race (49.59). I was a bit of a disappointed because my actual pace was quicker but I’d had to slow down and even stop in a few places because of the crowd.
This year I thought I would take it easy since I’d run 16 miles the day before (less than 24 hours between runs) and I knew that the right thing to do was to run at a comfortable pace to allow my body to recuperate from a long run.
But as I was getting ready for the race I realized I didn’t have it in me. I have good self control (a prerequisite for a healthy type 1) when it comes to food and exercise but when it comes to holding back on a race, I just can’t do it. I’ve paid a price for this weakness a few times including a very bad marathon experience. So as I was waiting for the race to start I knew I was going to try and beat last year’s time or at least run a sub 50 (minutes) race.
There was one issue I needed to deal with – blood sugar levels. When I run at night I tend to have many lows during the first part of my runs. During my 16 mile run I caught myself dropping after 5 miles (from 120 at 3 miles to 82 at 5) and quickly ate a dried apricot and a halva. So my plan was to eat something before the run so I wouldn’t have to stop during the race (unless my BS levels were too high to begin with).
I checked my blood sugar 15 minutes before the race began and I was 112, I waited a few minutes and then ate some halva (14g carb). This, I thought, would keep me high enough through the race.
When I crossed the starting line (it took a while) I took off at a pace which was too fast. I realized this after a mile and slowed down just a bit. At the 5k mark I was under 24 minutes and feeling good. I decided to stick to the pace and see if I could speed up for the last kilometer.
My plan worked I ran the next 4k at a similar (a little quicker pace) and then had enough energy to go all out for the last kilometer. I finished strong and feeling good and I broke my personal record by 3 minutes – 46:52 (I don’t have the official time yet). My BS plan worked well too. I checked myself a half hour after the run – 112. Not bad at all (if I may say so myself).
Update: my official time is 46:46 — even better.