Thursday was a big day. Larry had heats of the 400 and my 5k. Damn wind was blowing hard again. Larry warmed up with his knee brace, “the bionic knee” as I like to call it. It takes the pressure of his bone on bone but it sure looks awkward. I’m amazed he can run with it. Bill Collins spotted Larry in it and said, “Our prayers are with you”.
Sans the brace Larry looked smooth as his won his 400 heat. He didn’t feel that confident about getting around in one piece so it was relief. Lined up at first aid for ice and Phil Raschker told us “just be aggressive and get it”. Phil’s should know. I’ve seen her icing after each event, trying to hold her body together.
The 5k’s were out at the warm up track not the main stadium. It was good to hear that the events were running on time. Was approached by my Russian competitor, Irina Lyamina as I warmed up. Irina had won bronze in our 1500 and had a seed time of 18.30. In broken English (but better than my Russian) she asked if the 5k was really at this track. I assured her it was. We saw each other again in the women’s toilets and I told her that it was time to go to the call room. Then Irina asked, “What time will you run?” Around 19, what about you? Irina just smiled and feigned a language problem. I was laughing to myself as we headed to the call room. The woman was foxing. Let the race begin.
13 starters on the W40 5k race line. Irina was slapping her face hard, then her legs as we got last minute instructions. Gun off and it was a tight group running together. I settled in and tucked out of the wind. As the laps went by the main group got smaller. Larry’s yelling, “Good position.” Irina’s coach or partner is barking instructions and sounded pretty demanding. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t saying, “relax and you look good”. Nancy Newsome had plenty of support from her family. “Go Mum and you can do it” was the chant from her 3 boys.
Main pack was down to five and I’m still there. With a mile to go my friend Julie Norney takes the lead just like she did in the 1500. Julie surges and I drop off the back. So it’s now a race of four. I’m working hard to get back on but they pull further away. Irina takes the lead and is a real fight to the finish. Aussie Lisa Harrison (19:00.2) runs over Irina (19:02.5) in the last few strides. Nancy gets the bronze in 19:05.7 and brave Julie has to settle for 4th again (19:08.8).
I come across the line in 5th in 19.40. Pretty good effort but of course I can’t help wondering. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve…. But loved being out there and enjoyed hanging with the girls after the race. It’s a shame I don’t speak any Russian, as I’d have liked to chat with Irina. But she was already doing her warm down and wasn’t joining in the post-race banter.
The only other non Aussie was South African Heather Kappmeier winner of the 8k cross country. Heather has run 10 Comrades (90k) so 5k was a little short for her although she set the early pace. She was hoping to run sub 20 but as they pushed us out to finish in lane 4 Heather just missed it with her 20:00.6. Everyone’s got a story. Who knows I might discover Irina’s one day.