I promised myself I would keep this short. 1,000 words later … here you go.
In late August I started a training plan with the goal of completing the Legs for Literacy 10K race in Moncton. I thought it would be a good way to find my “running mojo” that I had lost quite dramatically over the summer.
And it was! I enjoyed running only three times a week and doing cross and strength training on the other days. I stayed injury free and never felt like training was taking over my life.
As things progressed, I started to become more competitive with myself and switched my goal from “fall in love with running again” to “get a 10K personal best.”
In the last few weeks before the race I tried to pick up the pace on each of my training runs. For the year before my marathon I had really focused on going farther, not faster. As a result, I got slower and more lazy on my runs. They were pretty much all junk runs — I only completed them in order to be able to put a check mark on my schedule.
So as race day approached, I tried to push out of my comfort zone with varying degrees of success.
When I raced a 5K halfway through this training plan, I knew I was close to my old PR times but not quite there yet. I was having problems on training runs with feeling nauseated every time I ran a 5:xx minute kilometre. I’ve had issues with this in the past and it really flared up again. I started dry heaving while running and not just after. I tried different diet techniques but in the end I just felt like my body was allergic to running at any speed other than “leisurely.”
In the week leading up to the race I decided to practice what I preach on this blog — to think positively and believe in myself. When I PRed in the 10K in Ottawa in 2013 with a time of 58:41, I had been training around the same paces that I was leading up to Legs for Literacy. At the time, my result really surprised me.
I decided to stick with my goal of a personal best and not back away even though I knew it would be an uncomfortable ride. I hoped I would surprise myself again.
I enlisted my Dad as a pace bunny, and my parents and I drove down to Moncton on Saturday afternoon. We enjoyed the expo, bought some swag, and listened to a motivational speaker.
We lucked out with picking a great local restaurant called Rossano’s for our traditional pasta supper, and we were in bed early.
I had a great sleep and felt ready to go on race morning. It was colder than expected but the rain held off.
My running buddies smiling in the crowd.
I ran to the start line from the hotel and did some strides to warm up.That’s something I’ve never really done before and I think it helped out a lot in the beginning.
The timer started and we crossed the mat. Dad had a plan to give us negative splits because I felt like that might keep my nausea at bay. I felt pretty good in the beginning — until we hit a small climb and I thought “Hey, no one told me there would be hills!” I needn’t have worried about that small hill — we soon hit Vaughan Harvey Blvd., which was essentially 1.4 kilometres of climbing. The good news was we got to run some of it downhill on the way back.
But by then, I was toast. I felt toast before we even hit 5K. I tried everything to get my heart rate down while still maintaining the pace that Dad was setting. I said a bunch of mantras in my head. I thought about floating in the ocean. I closed my eyes! (Not recommended.) My heart was pounding so much that I felt like bursting into tears.
Dad said we were doing great and the pace was perfect. Meanwhile, I was heaving, choking, thinking about quitting, and telling him I thought I was dying. I took two very brief walk breaks to try to calm down. (These will factor in later.)
With about 800 metres to go, the finish line seemed so far away and I told Dad to stop providing updates. (I probably shouldn’t have done that.)
Somehow I was able to turn on a bit of gas toward the finish, and I passed a few people on the way to the line. I promised myself I would keep walking through the chute (I always seem to collapse right away and then first aid always comes over and embarrasses me) so I kept walking, but didn’t make it very far. Dad helped me over to a cement block to sit down and I felt really gross. He broke the news to me that we hadn’t made my goal. My watch said 59:01, but I had stopped it a little bit late.
I was sitting on a cement block in this photo, feeling like death. I had to psych myself up to smile for the photo.
In the end my chip time was 58:48 — 8 seconds off a PR. I felt like eight weeks of training had been sent down the drain and, even though I felt like a poor sport, I was pretty disappointed. I started playing the comparison game and feeling frustrated with the amount of work I put into running only to end up with very mediocre results compared to most other runners.
Our tradition after every race: tiny bottles of champagne!
I thought about the walk breaks. Did they make up those 8 seconds? Honestly, I think they probably helped me rather than hindered me. And if I hadn’t been running with my Dad, I know I would have given up and finished much slower. So there are some silver linings.
A post-race lunch with my run club.
Judging by how terrible I felt when I woke up this morning, I know I pushed my capability to the edge. My back is completely shot.
What did I learn? I don’t enjoy trying to get faster. I like going farther. But if I do want to do better at shorter distance races, I need to do more targeted speed workouts so I can get comfortable with race pace. It’s just a choice I need to make.
Did you race this weekend?