I ran another little race.

Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people.  I ran this one before, back in 2015.  It was a half-marathon.

My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage.  When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me.  The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race.  I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.

The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.

Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck.  I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post).  See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.  Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run.  Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.

I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon.  He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did.  We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.

In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km.  All of that was expected.  Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.

I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit.  I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.

I was almost in tears when I finished.  I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.

I ran for my dad.  He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free.  I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.

I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband.   I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral.  I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted.  My friend was a runner.  She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.


 

 

 

21.1

(or 13.1 for my U.S. Readers)

Race nerves were an all-time high this time around. Earlier in the week I was plagued with migraine headaches and tummy issues and generally I felt like crap. By the weekend I was starting to feel better but couldn’t shake this feeling of a large pit in my stomach. Saturday night I ate turkey with all the fixings – mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and stuffing. My husband surprised me with a present.  He was going to give it to me after the race but thought it would be better if I wore it while running, which I did and I absolutely adore it.

IMG_0429I went to bed around 10pm but had a hard time falling asleep. Eventually I must have because when I opened my eyes is was 6:10am. I kissed hubby and crawled out of bed.

Coffee. Bathroom break. Toast with peanut butter and honey. Glass of water. Yogurt. Dressed. My neighbor offered me a ride as he was racing too, and we headed out at 7:45am.

By the time I made it through the lineup to use the port-a-potties it was time to head to the start line.  I found two friends who were running together and we started together but they quickly pulled away from me which was totally fine. They were doing 10:1s and I had my own plan.

0-5 km – this flew by. I was doing a lot of people watching and enjoying the crisp morning air. I was dressed perfectly. The leg warmers on my calves were a godsend. Nothing hurt. No shin splints, no groin pain, nothing. I stuck to my 1km run, 100m walk intervals and my legs felt good. I forgot to take sips of water but took some Gatorade at the 3km water station. I was wearing gloves and had to take them off by this point. The gravity of what I was doing kinda suddenly hit me. Jesus Christ I was trying to run a half f&#*ing marathon. What is wrong with me?

IMG_04595-10 km. This part of the course was fun. I was in a good groove and kept to my intervals. I took a photo of the downtown skyline as it appeared on my left, just before making the turn to run along the waterfront.  I started feeling a bit sluggish as I approached the 9 km mark, so so I ate a few of my GU electrolyte Chews.  As I made my way along the waterfront and saw all the other runners running back towards downtown I started to feel like a fish out of water. Like a poser, if you will. I was trying to push that thought away when something else caught my attention.

IMG_0460IMG_046110-15 km. Chest pain. What? It wasn’t time to walk but the sharp pain in my left upper chest wasn’t going away. I slowed down and started walking and evaluated. “I’m not going to be that runner who has a f&#*ing heart attack.”It’s just a muscle spasm, a stitch; I drank that water at the last station too fast.” I focused on my breathing and as it settled down I started running again. I had to laugh at myself a bit. Stupid doctor. That’s when I had to start taking more frequent walk breaks. I was losing steam. I ate some more chews and sipped water. Suddenly it was 14 km. Only 7 km more to go. I can do this.

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I felt a little burst of energy around 16 km. My legs suddenly felt light. I kinda felt like I was floating above the ground as I ran. I briefly thought, “this is the moment you pass out.”

17 km. Only 4 more to go.

1 km. WHat the actual f—?! Oh, that was the for the 5 km run. lol! I literally laughed out loud.

I was taking more walk breaks. Probably every 400 m now but only for about 15-30 seconds.

18km. I grabbed my phone and texted my friend who was volunteering for the marathon and who asked me to let her know when I was close.

IMG_046319 km. “What street am I on? Why can’t I see the finish line? Is that my name on that sign?” It was! It was my friend and I ran over to her and gave her a high-five. I wanted to stop right there. I didn’t want to go on. I ran some more, I walked some more. The cheers got louder. I saw a sign that said 500 m to go. Seriously?  Then 400 m. I walked for about 15 seconds but then felt embarrassed. 300 m. “Just start running. Don’t stop“. And I didn’t. 200 m. I want to die. 100 m. Is that the finish? Don’t trip. Watch the ground. Don’t look up. I think I just crossed the finish line. Thank f#&$ing Christ.

IMG_0464I walked. I felt dizzy. I grabbed a solar blanket thing. I got my medal. I was surprised now heavy it felt. I just kept walking. In a daze. I forgot to drink water. I texted my husband. Took a really bad selfie and sent it to him. I went to go find my other friend who was waiting for me with a coffee. (Bad idea, by the way, the coffee).

We found each other. I could barely talk. She hugged me. She looked like she’d been crying. She took a few pictures. I found the food line. I ate my banana. I ate the yogurt. I forgot to drink water.

Home. Nauseated. Stomach hurt. Wanted to puke. Never, ever want to feel that way again. What have I done to my body?

I wrote on my FB running group.  They were really supportive throughout my training.  I wrote how I was feeling.  Several women responded suggesting I was dehydrated and needed to start drinking fluids, electrolytes. I was in such a daze it never occurred to me that I was dehydrated. It was a scary experience. After I drank an electrolyte mix I felt a lot better. I am starting to feel better today and my body hurts in places I didn’t expect. I am exhausted beyond anything I have experience before. I’m not sure I ever want to run again.

Oh, but at the very beginning of the race I realized I turn 42 next August.

42.

Hmm ….

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Nightmares

I dreamt last night about my first half-marathon race. I had a good start, the legs were feeling great and at 10 km my time was 1:14. Couldn’t have asked for a better start.  Then I turned a corner and in front of me was a suspension bridge. Runners had to climb stairs to the very top and run across the bridge on the cables.


Um, excuse me? You can’t be serious!

I turned around and abandoned the race.  I didn’t want the medal that badly.

Everything Hurts.

In that good way though.

I ran my first 10K race yesterday.  I loved every minute of it.  More than the 5K, I have to admit.  Much, much more.  This race was in my city and the weather was perfect, albeit a bit on the humid side, but after the winter we had I am NOT going to complain.

My neighbor offered me a ride early so I took it and spent two hours alone, watching the crowds build and taking in all the sights. It was glorious, really, to be alone with my thoughts as I watched other runners preparing for their race.  At atmosphere was friendly and cordial. Everyone had smiles on their faces.

As my start time loomed, I felt the familiar grumblings of nerves in my stomach but I was also just happy to be running again.  I had taken the previous three days off to rest my legs and it was the smartest move I made.  As I crossed the start line and started running, I could tell within a few minutes that my legs were happy and this was going to be a great run.  I kept to a comfortable pace and at the first kilometer marker I decided to keep running and made a split-second decision to alter my plain.  Normally I would have run intervals of 1 km running to 100 m walking but my legs felt strong, so I pushed myself and took walk breaks every 2 km.

1-3km.  There was a beautiful cool breeze and as I found my pace, I just took everything in and watched others ahead of me.  I had to weave a bit as I passed slower runners and a few walkers.

3-7km.  I was starting to get hot.  The breeze died and the air was thick.  At the 4 km water station I saw a fire hydrant had been turned on and other runners were going through it.  YES!  I ran over to it and cooled down instantly. It was a glorious feeling.  I got some water, drank some of my own Gatorade from my belt and kept going.

7-10km.  Starting to get a bit tired.  I kept my walk intervals consistent every 2 km and knew that if I kept it up I would finish strong.  As I approached the 9km marker I honestly started looking for the finish shoot but it was out of my line of sight.  My legs were tired but I knew I had a little more in them to push on and I went through the finish line with my arms up high and felt stronger than ever.  What a great feeling!!!

I found my family and got big hugs and kisses and we walked over to the medal area.  I frantically searched for my chip time and was thrilled.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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I woke up today with very sore quads and calves.  Sore in that way you know you went out and gave it your all.  I will take a few days off to rest and consider what’s next.  15k? 21.1?  It all seems more possible now.

A Race Virgin No More.

Well for someone who swore they would never run a race, I popped that cherry today and then some!

It was a beautiful winter day, one of the warmest I’ve run in fact, a balmy -6°C (-10°C with wind chill).  I met up with L and her friends at the designated area inside the performing arts center. Honestly I felt a bit weird being among all those runners. They looked all way more qualified than me to be running a race.

After a few quick bathroom visits (only one for me!),  it was time to walk to the start line. There were several of the half-ers doing some warming up and I saw one with something like a tube coming out of their shirt and asked L what the heck that was – apparently it was a camelback! Brilliant!

We got to the start line and there were a few hundred ahead of us. Next to where we were standing was a mom and her son. I asked the boy how old he was as he looked like my daughter’s age.  He said he was six and this wasn’t his first race.  Um … okay.  Mom said he would finish under 45 minutes, maybe 40 minutes.  Finally, we heard the countdown and started walking up towards the start and off we went. Before the race, L and her friend said I was going to set the pace and by the end of the first kilometer we were under well under 7:00/km which was just fine with me though it was a bit faster than I wanted so I deliberately slowed my pace a bit and ran most of the time just a few strides behind them. There was a bit of chatting but by 2 km I stopped talking and just focused on the road and my breathing. L asked if I wanted to walk and I said no. And then we saw the leader of the 5 km race running towards us on the other side of the road.  I looked up his time – he finished the run in 15 minutes.

Suddenly we reached that the halfway point, made our turn and headed back.  Already I was sensing this was going to feel like the fastest 5 km I’d ever run even if my time didn’t reflect it.  At 3 km I was asked again if I was walking and I said no. I did slow down a bit as the girls got ahead of me a little but they slowed for me so we were still running together. Then we saw the 6-year-old running just ahead of us as the 4 km marker approached and he stopped to walk with his mom. As we made our turn, about 200 meters from the finish L said “We are gonna beat that 6-year-old. Let’s go!!!!” And we hauled ass to the finish.  I tried to look for my husband and kids but realized I needed to focus on not falling over my feet.  I crossed the finish line just a second or two after my friend.  A minute later, I heard my daughter calling for me and turned towards the sidewalk and found her.  I ran over to her and hugged her across the barriers and then she gave me the medal she made for me.  It was a special moment I will never forget.  A few minutes later we picked up our real medals.

The official time of 33:33.9. A personal best for sure (especially since there weren’t any walk breaks!)

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Seeing my daughter at the end.

 

The two medals.

The two medals.

My yummy post-run dinner. Baked chicken with pesto and grilled veggies.

My yummy post-run dinner. Baked chicken with pesto and grilled veggies.

No Going Back Now.

Um…   Shit just got real, yo!

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve run 5km, but suddenly I feel like “Oh my God, what if I can’t finish?”

I never ran track or took part in any group/team sports.  I did some dance and ballet as a kid and played the piano, that’s about it.  I remember getting really nervous before a piano recital or exam (I made it to grade 11 Royal Conservatory).  Before most exams in university and medical school I would need a bathroom visit at least once or twice before walking into the examination room.  My running friends say they have “tummy” issues all the time before a race and I’ve suggested they take an Immodium the night before a race to calm the nervous bowel.  I have no idea if that’s going to happen to me. Should I take one just in case?

I’ve been getting emails daily, sometimes twice a day, from the race coordinators and every time I see it in my inbox, my heart skips a beat.  Why am I doing this?!  I’ve got nothing to prove.  Is it going to be fun or am I going to be a ball of nerves? I have no idea what to expect!

Gah!

I just want to wake up and have it be March 2.

Done and Done.

Day 30. National Blog Posting Month.

The FB running group I am a part of held a virtual race this weekend to end the month of November. It’s been a pretty crappy month of running for me. One of the worst this year. I’ve been feeling like a sloth all month and with how busy it’s been at work and the multiple illnesses I’ve been plagued with, it’s really no wonder I haven’t been able to run.

But all that changed today. On this final day of November I made a deal with myself that I would get out there today and just do it. And I did. I managed a pretty decent 5 km run to share with my running group. It was a solo run, all my runs are, and it felt great. I suppose actually that this was my first race though the entire time I was running I kept telling myself it wasn’t. Yet by the time I was about 500 meters from the finish (aka home) I found a burst of energy and ran home as if I were crossing a finish line.

Ah, that felt good.

And with that, another NaBloPoMo Is done. Thank you all for all the comments and encouragement. It’s been fun.