“Were you coming here to stand?” A guy in yellow Adidas jacket asked and we all moved closer together, towards the middle of the road. Apparently, in the presence world’s big marathon winners in the group, no one wanted to be the first to speak and give out instructions regarding the program for the morning.
Another guy suggested that we should take the tarmac road because it had rained the previous night and the other roads would be muddy. The majority agreed, and so we were going to go out for ten kilometers and come back the same route making it a twenty kilometer run. No one spoke about the pace, but everyone knew that it was Monday, and as usual it was to be a hard run.
The first kilometer, as expected started out moderately. I took the opportunity to count the number of runners in the group. About thirty runners were ahead of me. I slowed down intentionally and let other runners pass by as I kept counting until I was behind the group. They were about seventy in total. I took my time behind the pack and could even manage to have a conversation with some guys. I had my GPS watch and I decided to stay behind for as long as the pace remained under 3:40 per kilometer.
The pace suddenly got down to 3:20 per kilometer in the second kilometer and no one was talking anymore. It remained there for a while. There was still one female athlete in the group. Soon, after about four kilometers, one guy running next to me glanced at his watch and laughed alone. I checked mine. The pace was down to 3:08 per kilometer. I also shook my head, the pace was crazy. Behind, other athletes were already stretched so far. The fastest paces I can remember during my training runs in other groups were ranging between 3:30-3:40 per kilometer. This was completely a race.
After about six kilometers, I got burned out and my pace slowed down as I helplessly dropped out from the leading pack. I was at 9.8 kilometers in 33 minutes as the leaders turned back at the 10km point ahead.
The journey back was more grueling in that the course was slightly tougher. It is a story for another day!