As many of you may know, my love for fitness began with running. I started running as a no-excuses way to get my butt off the couch and in 2008 decided to sign up for a 5k as a goal to work towards and keep me motivated and consistent. In the 3 years proceeding I wound up running several races including 8k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s and even a half-marathon. I took 2012 off from running after a sprained toe and subsequent pulled calf muscle made me decide to cross-train for a bit. Although I’ve discovered that I love my at-home workouts more than running, I do love to race and wanted to race at least once this year and so, two days ago I did just that and ran the Toronto Yonge St 10k!
I woke up bright and early Sunday morning to get ready. In my racing days of yore I’d make sure to have everything I needed laid out on the couch for me but due to April being so bi-polar I had no idea what to wear until I woke up! It was super sunny but the wind was COLD so I opted for long pants, a long-sleeved top and my zip-up hoodie so I could control my body temperature (note to future runners: dress for 15 degrees warmer than the temperature you’re going out in). Thankfully this combo ended up being perfect for my race!
My goal for the race was just to have fun since I had been out of the running loop for so long and although I trained with a friend, our hearts weren’t in training and, admittedly, there were a few weeks with some missed runs and bad excuses! But I was also curious to see how, or if, my running would improve after a year worth of solid cross-training and strength training so I was a bit torn over just racing to have fun or to see how well I could do!
Apparently there was a moment of silence for those who suffered at the Boston Marathon before the start of the race but there were no speakers back in my corral and I missed the whole thing while waiting in line for the port-a-potty (I always have to pee before a race… ). Oh well, I was running for Boston anyway and attached a bib saying so on the back of my hoodie just as many others racing that day did!
At 9:15am our corral was ushered over the start line and it was on! I cranked up my tunage and off I went! This was the third time doing this course so I knew what to expect and I always just go with it for the first few km to warm up my body. There were a few people out on the sidelines cheering us on (and MANY well-wishers for Boston which was nice to see). This course is famous for it’s downhills and any seasoned runner knows to take advantage of them so I sped down each and every one and was feeling absolutely awesome!
At this point I was racing for fun but then at the 5k mark, my Nike+ Running app informed me of my time and I realized that this was my fastest 5k EVER. At that point I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could KILL my previous best time and decided to see what I was made of!
My strategy was simple, give ‘er when the music playing was upbeat and fast and recover when the songs slowed down! Ha!
8k rolls around and I’m also killing my best 8k time so this is it, I know I’m going to see what I can do. Unfortunately, at this point I hadn’t really paced myself very well and was quickly starting to run out of steam but I knew I only had 2k left which would be less than 15 minutes left of running! I took 2 smaller 30 second breaks but by the time I got to 500m to the finish I was dying but I wouldn’t give up, not at seeing the finish line so I dug as deeply as I could, kept going even though my lungs were on fire and crossed the finish line four minutes faster than my best 10k!
I think this was probably my favourite race so far. I had fun running it, didn’t feel any pressure but still decided to see what I was made of and came out with a personal best two years having run my last race (coincidentally enough, it was the same route)!
I may not love training for races but I do love racing. I love that regardless of how fast you are or often you walked or if you walked the whole damn thing, you get rewarded for doing something most people don’t do. I love seeing thousands of other people running with me and am so grateful and thankful for all the volunteers and cheerleaders who cheer us on. Road races are one of the few things anyone can do that makes you feel like an athlete and continually builds my confidence and pride in what my body can do!
Also? I love medals! This one in particular. Why? Because if you zoom in closely on their shirts, they actually say: “Live Long”, “& Prosper”! Ha!
This may be the only race I do this year but if that’s the case, I’m a happy woman! Sunny skies, strong body, fast race, cheeky medal and post-race pint over brunch means I can’t complain!