"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy 5k Race Skopje - October 2022 - Macedonia

I arrived in Macedonia in reasonable race shape - not yet back to the times I was running in 2020 but certainly on the way back from the downtime I had with my knee injury and of course covid. The older I get the longer the come-back seems to take! But I guess everyone finds that. Whatever it takes, I'm determined to claw my way back to something like the shape I was in during lockdown, now that real rather than virtual races are back. 

We were staying only a stone's throw from the gorgeous riverside park that contains both the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile (where I raced a one-miler 5 years ago) and the incredible 1k race-loop that the local Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team uses for its races. I say incredible because it is a lane of tartan track, soft and bouncy, perfectly flat apart from one little ramp up and over a bridge, with nothing resembling a tight corner. A PB course if ever there was one, as Sadanand proved in the 2 miler on the Sunday.

Back to the Saturday, the day of the 5k - I warmed up for 20-30 minutes as per usual, first with slow jogging then some accelarations. When we lined up at the start for Race Prayer and a brief silence I felt like I should certainly be capable of sub-20, but there's always the chance you have miscalculated your fitness or underestimated your tiredness.


Early on I found myself chasing the fast guys, who in this case were Dima (in spikes!), Shamaliya, Sadanand then Abhinaba then Pradeep. I was able to stay in sight of the last 2 of that list, even as the short rise at the end of the straight came up for the first time and the top 3 accelarated away clear of the rest on the downslope and into the first bend. The course had gorgeous scenery, the morning sun lighting up the autumn colours and the bridges offering glimpses of reflected treescapes in the waterways and lakes that adorn the route.

I was running at what I thought was 5k effort but it was hard to know for sure - HR was varying between 160 and 170 and pace around 6.20-6.20 per mile. As I came through the lap I was still with Pradeep but the first 4 were way ahead. I tried to keep my mind clear and avoid going too deep into the red (which for me means avoiding going too far over 170bpm) but soon I was in the low to mid 170s and working pretty hard. In the final lap, with HR up at 176 I finally managed to overhaul Pradeep - I could feel him slowing slightly and the temptation as to do the same as the pace was taking its toll, but I somehow found the effort required to push on and maintain the pace which brought me home in a time of 19.48 and 5th place overall. 

I was more than happy with that and as the first 7 got their times called out and a small prize before prasad (energy bar or drink) I considered it a pretty decent outcome. Later Purnendu told me the course was around 50m long, so my time was closer to 19.30, but he may have just been wanting to make me feel good. He was a more than gracious host :)

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