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I enjoy tracking and sharing runs on Strava and, this month, the site has mounted a 5K Virtual Race challenge that I thought I would try out. Essentially you take a run for 5K and tag it as a race, and then earn a virtual badge for your profile. Nothing too fancy, but a nice bit of fun. As most of my runs are longer than 5K, I thought I’d choose one of the run commutes into the office as the ‘race’ for me. The route I normally run is usually around that distance, give or take a few hundred meters, so I wouldn’t have to do anything different to fit it in. The only potential negative? Tagging something as a ‘race’ on Strava means any pauses during the effort for crossing roads or slowing down to climb stairs are going to count against your time. I should be able to run a 22:xx 5K if I was going for it, but going into it I figured I count anything under 25:00 as a reasonable effort considering I had to get out of the second arrondissement, cross the river, go down some steps, up some steps, and across another road – and that would be if the lights were mainly in my favor!

I took off as normal after getting the Ultraboy onto the bus, and headed towards the river, virtually crossing my fingers that the traffic lights would be friendly. I hit some pedestrian traffic as I approached the Rhone but the lights were in my favor and I didn’t lose any speed crossing the bridge. I bought myself a little time (or so I figured…) as I descended the stairs to the berges and then shot along the river at a steady pace. I had run a 4:31 first kilometer which – doing the math – said I was likely going to run a 22:30 5K, which was about where I thought it would be. Still, I kept the pressure on, passing a couple of other runners getting their workout in early and heading towards Gerland.

Kilometer two was 4:24, and kilometer three was 4:23. I was running well even with a backpack on and a 22 minute flat 5K was looking possible. The traffic lights at the Halle Tony Garnier, though, are a killer and if I got caught there then the time would be out another minute or so. Pushing through the fourth kilometer in 4:19 I knew I had a shot at the 22 minute time, and so when I turned the corner to see the lights turning red at the Halle, I turned to the right to keep my momentum up. A few hundred meters down the path there was another set of lights that was mostly green when I got to them so I shot across the road, turned for work, and put in what I could for the last few hundred meters. I watched the watch tick over to 5K as I pulled into the car park at the office, and the official time for the 5K was 21:59.

I had snuck in under 22 minutes which, considering the backpack, the traffic, the stairs, the lack of warm up, and the stress of trying to be first to the work shower (!) was not bad. Another Strava Challenge completed!

Distance: 5km
Elevation: 15m
Time: 21:59
Pace: 4:24/km