Vaibhav Bhovarahan’s story
My preparation for the race consisted of training in longer intervals than what I would usually do, such as 4-km intervals. Additionally, on Thursday [Jan 5] which I felt was my last opportunity to run fast, I aimed to run quite quickly, just over my race pace of 8 km. I did this to roughly gauge how my body should feel when I run at this fast pace for the race. This was also a good way to check which stages during the run I had any issues in and if I could do something to prepare for it before race day.
On race day my day started early, taking the first train from Tung Chung to Tin Shui Wai. I took the 706 light rail line for the first time. I arrived at 7:05 to start at 7:45am and felt my heart start pumping. This left me with 30 minutes to warm up. I had never run a 10 km before and had a slight strain in my right Achilles tendon that had been bothering me for the past week, especially on the longer, faster runs.
I remember finishing my warm-up and walking to the starting line 5 minutes before the start time. Since I was classified as an elite runner, I had the privilege of being at the start line, but when I arrived 5 minutes before the start, almost all the runners were already lined up, so I spent those 5 minutes squeezing past people and trying to get as far ahead as possible.
I needed 39 seconds to cross the start line, so I spent a lot of energy in the first few hundred metres making my way through the pack and squeezing through the smallest gaps. Fortunately, the road widened and I was able to overtake many people before the first kilometre and was back among the other elite runners.
From then on, I continued my overtaking, trying to find the group of runners who were my pace or a little faster so I could go with them – it took me half the race to find that group.
But in hindsight, even though I didn’t have the perfect starting position, I honestly think it helped me to be further back from where I was supposed to be. I always felt like I was running faster when I was chasing someone, so it was an advantage for me to constantly have someone to catch up to.
As far as I remember, I wasn’t overtaken once, and I think especially in a 10k race, which for me was the longest race I’’ve ever done, I knew I was going to have mental struggles, but I was never passed and didn’t lose sight of anyone, which motivated me to keep running.
For kilometres 2-8 I was able to maintain a relatively comfortable pace of 3:45 – 3:50/km, which was well below what I had set for myself at the beginning of the race, which was 4:00/km, so I was happy, and to my surprise, I felt good! I didn’t feel like I was out of breath or struggling (even though some pictures said otherwise).
In the last 2 km I could see the finish from across the road and I got ready to push hard, but shockingly there was a slight hill that felt like forever. But I knew that eventually there would be a downhill portion, and so I kept pushing and I flew down the hill, probably because I didn’t have the energy to slow down.
For the last few hundred metres I had to go back up that same hill, and I gave it everything I had for that last kilometre and I crossed the line with a time of 37:34, with my last kilometre being the fastest of all at 3:33/km, but unlike the first 8 km, the last 2 km killed me and somehow I managed to stay on my feet.
For my debut 10 km at which I started in the middle and my goal was 40 minutes, I was very happy with my time even though I didn’t win.