I ran 56:44 net (56:49 gross) in the 11 km at this year's Thesinge Run on Saturday, finishing 18th out of 49. I'm very satisfied with this result. Prior to the event, I didn't feel ready for it - I'd come out of trainings feeling like I couldn't keep up with my training-mates and on the day itself, I had some mild asthma problems. I was also worried that I'd knock myself out in the first few kilometers, because I'd never run an 11K or even a 10K before.
In the end, the asthma concern actually helped me, because I had another motivation to slow down at the start. My breathing was irregular during the first half but stabilized during the second. I was able to talk throughout the event. At the 1K point, the guy running next to me clocked us at 4:50, at which I slowed down a bit more. I passed the 4 Mile mark (official length of the 4 Mijl van Groningen) at a little over 33 minutes, and could speed up a bit during the last 2 kilometers, catching up again with the guy with the stopwatch before finishing.
Wilma de Vries, winner of the women's 11K, told me she'd seen me finish and that I was looking pretty good at the finish line. In short, I ran the race by the book and finished with energy to spare. Good. Next year, if I'm still in the Netherlands, I'll knock a few minutes off that time.
I love the Thesinge Run. It's only in its second year, but it's well-organized, with many of the teething problems from last year dealt with. The start was earlier in the day so no one had to run in the dark, and there were real dressing/showering facilities and a pasta meal after the run this year (I didn't go to the pasta meal, preferring to drop by at my parents, who live nearby and hit them up for food instead). Because the community center had been renovated, partly with the takings from last year's run, there was a bar as well, so when I fancied a beer after the race, I could have one. That drew some comments from people in the audience as I was drinking beer while still in my running clothes. Also, this year's weather was fantastic.
What hadn't changed was the inclusive atmosphere, with the entire village turning out to help out, encourage runners, take photographs and have a good time with the event and make everyone feel a winner. The different categories were also set up to allow everyone to take part, with special kids' runs for the very youngest (though young children who felt up to it could also take part in the adult events and the women's 4K was in fact won by a nine-year-old girl) and generous time limits allowing people to walk the 4K and 4M. It's the camaraderie that makes the Thesinge Run so much fun - that and running on gravel and shell paths running through farmland. I didn't notice quite as many cowpats as last year, which I'm grateful for.