I ran a race this weekend! It’s been a while and I loved going through the pre-race routine again: sitting in the car beforehand trying to settle my nerves, making sure I had everything I needed (socks and Garmin — important!), pinning on my bib.
You know what I didn’t love? Actually running the race. But that’s just a minor detail.
I decided to sign up for this race because my 10K training schedule called for it. I have four weeks done of my plan and only four weeks to go. Legs for Literacy is my last goal race of the year and I’m really hoping for a PR.
I was also hoping for a PR at this weekend’s 5K, but it wasn’t in the forecast.
I drove down to Nova Scotia on Friday night. I stayed the night with my husband (he works in the area) and then woke up early to make the 20-minute drive to Amherst. It was my first time ever showing up to a race alone.
I did a small warm-up and tried to shake my nerves out. For some reason I was extremely nervous about this race. I really wanted to go all-out and I think I was afraid of the pain. I get nauseous really easily when running “fast” so it’s not exactly enjoyable for me.
The beeper went off and we all surged ahead. There weren’t many people participating, and everyone was running different distances: 5K, 10K and half.
The first few hundred metres were pavement, including a steep downhill that I had not noticed during my warm-up. My heart sunk because I knew I would have to climb that hill at the very end since the race was an out-and-back course.
At the bottom of the hill we hit a flat dirt road that stretched out over the Tantramar marsh. The view was beautiful! I loved running beside the cows grazing in the marsh.
The terrain was challenging. I feel fastest on pavement. Even a gravel path makes me feel like I’m getting sucked down into the earth because of the extra friction. This dirt path had a lot of big rocks so the footing was tricky for me. It definitely slowed me down.
I knew I wasn’t hitting anywhere near my goal pace so it quickly became a mental battle to stay positive. I had so much negativity running through my head and I wanted to walk several times.
… I felt nauseated from about the first 100 metres on.
… I decided around the 1K mark that I was never racing a 5K again.
Despite all those negative thoughts, I persevered. At the 2.5K turnaround I dumped some cold water on my head — it was hot! — and started to ask the volunteers I saw for some cheers to keep me motivated. I hit the hill at the end and slowed right down, but kept running.
Toward the top I really felt woozy and was dry heaving a little bit. I usually don’t do that until after the finish line but my body just wanted nothing to do with running anymore. It was a slight downhill to the finish so I tried to push it so I could finish under 29 minutes.
This my angry face:
My chip time was 28:52, more than a minute slower than my personal best.
I had to stumble over to a bench right away and the first-aid people came over to give me some ice and Gatorade. I felt so embarrassed about what a toll a simple 5K had taken on me. Honestly, I felt worse than I did after my marathon.
I originally felt really disappointed in my performance but after some reflection this weekend I decided I’m tired of making excuses or talking about being “slow.”
I’ve seen a ton of improvement since I started running three years ago. Back then, a 5K was a huge deal. My first 5K time was 37:44 and I was very proud of it — as I should be of this one.
Here are some of my takeaway lessons learned:
1. I didn’t taper for this race, and that took a toll on me.
2. I was really tired. Friday I woke up for a 6:15 a.m. swim practice. After work I drove to Nova Scotia and stayed up too late instead of relaxing and calming myself down.
3. I went out too fast, hoping to bank some time.
4. If I want to get faster, I need to do more speedwork. I only returned to regular running four weeks ago and I rarely look at my pace when I’m running. This is fine, but I shouldn’t expect a dream race day based on that type of training.
5. Get back to running hills!
A bright spot in the day was the fact that I placed 2/17 women and received an extra medal. Despite it being a small race, I will cherish that award because it’s the first non-participation medal I’ve received for running.