Every summer, I sign myself up for a few races because if I don't, I do not run. I do not love running, or really even like it. What I do like is that it a challenge and allows me to set goals to strive for. I find this very motivating and when I meet the goal, I am pretty damn happy.
Since I started running in 2008, I have steadily improved and this year was kind of break through year for me.
Somewhere in April I discovered that if I warmed up before heading out on a run, I could run so much faster and it was easier. As in I didn't feel like dying after 2 km. Any fitness expert is saying well duh, but me, well I was of the idea that the warm up was wasting valuable energy that I could have been using for running.
For me, that is not true. When my heart has time to get used to the increased oxygen requirements, it adapts and keeps up with much less pain and agony. I can run faster and feel good, instead of like I am having a coronary? Sign me up.
In April, a team of three of us ran the Regina Police Service Half marathon in relay style. I had a really great run coming in at 36:36 for my 6.4km leg. I was pumped and ready for my next race, The Royal Road Race 10k on Mother's weekend in May.
I set the goal of running it in less than 60 min which would be about the same pace as the previous race but a longer distance. That wouldn't be a personal best (in May 2011 I did a 10k in 58:37 and just about lost my lunch and another 10k last fall in 59:47) but it was early in the season so I wanted an attainable goal
The day dawned sunny and hotter than it yet had been in Saskatchewan in early May. I started out without really warming up because I was a bit late. I also started at a pace much faster than my goal pace.
And by 3km the f word was frequently running through my head. As in, why the beep beep beep do you think signing up for these beep beep beep races is a good idea? The heat is my cryptonite and I was sloooooow. I felt like I was dying a slow, painful death. When I met Terry-Lyn as she passed me on her way back around, I may or may not have assaulted her with curses. That's what friends are for right?
I finished in 1:01:42 and was angry even though I knew I could not have done better that day. That was my best that day.
But it solidified that I need to train for these races if I want to attain my goals. So all summer I ran a 10k a week not really worrying about my pace. Just running how I felt that day and doing a proper warm up before each and every run. Some days were fabulous and some were horrid. A 10k in well over an hour one Sunday morning on a grid road out and back from my parent's acreage comes to mind.
But I pushed and trained and when the Queen City Marathon rolled around early this month, I was ready for my 10.5k leg. I wore shorts and a tank despite the cool fall morning and that was a good choice because I was perfectly comfortable. I checked my pace frequently and when I was slower than my goal, I had the energy to speed up.
I finished in 1:01:43, coincidentally the same time as the previous 10k and I ran further - yay me). And I felt great, the entire time.
Also, in 2009, I ran the exact same leg in 1:05:23. That's progress I would say.
THAT is why I sign up for these races. That right there, is really rewarding and worth every drop of sweat.
As a team, we had a personal best time, thanks to the rabbits who let me, the hare, join them.
So as I prepared for today's Flatlander's 10k, I was pessimistically optimistic (ha!). I was thinking there wasn't too much of a chance that I could do it again because having two amazing back to back races is rare, I am after all not a machine but a human. I was still kind of hoping so though you know. If I could, I would meet my 10k personal best time of 58:37 of over a year and half ago. But this time, without the losing lunch part.
I warmed up good and the day was looking warmish for this time of year so I dressed in my skimpiest tank and shorts. The more skin exposed, the more heat can escape and keep me from overheating. Ever had goose bumps when you are hot? It happens to me a lot when I am running in the heat and it's not a good thing.
The race started slow with a narrow path and too many racers so when I had the chance to pick it up, I did. I was feeling great. Every time I checked my pace I was well below my goal pace.
And then I hit about the 7 km mark and then I was way over my goal pace. Laying down in the middle of the path and resting was really appealing. But this is where I pulled up my panties and dug deep. I pep talked myself through and reminded myself that I was almost done and the pain of another 12 min or so was worth it for the feeling of accomplishment of meeting my goal. I wasn't going to lose all that time I had made up in the first part of the race. I was being stubborn.
As I ran through the last water station, I grabbed a cup of water without slowing (sorry to the volunteer that probably got wet!) and chugged and poured it over myself and kept going.
And I was able to finish in 58:44. Can I get a hell ya? Only 7 seconds off my best time and no hurling or walk breaks. I call that a win!
(Me, with Terry-Lyn and her friend Joline, who naturally both finished before me, but because I like to justify it, I am probably at least 5 years older than both of them. We will not speak of the grey haired lady that passed me mid-way, she is not relevant here.)
So next year, when I am cursing myself for signing up for yet another hour of torture, I will remember the satisfaction that I feel right now.
After the race. During the race, cursing (aka pep talks) is fair game.