My first race

This year I’ve been doing pretty well at trying new things, and have even checked off a few “life list” items. This morning I completed another one.

When or why I got it into my head that I wanted to run a 5K I have no idea. I’ve never been a runner, and goodness knows in the past when I’ve tried running at the gym I got bored to tears very quickly. As I’ve told a few people, too, me running is a lot like bumblebees flying: highly improbable. And yet…

But with the advent of my thyroid medication giving me something resembling a metabolism and some energy, and my gall bladder surgery further improving things by vastly improving my digestive process (including how much I actually feel like I need to eat, and what I crave), I felt like it was time.

I forget from whom I originally heard about this program, but it seemed like something I could do. And it had a really good iPhone app, which helped. (I do loves me some concrete timing, instructions, and milestones.) The general idea is that by the time you’ve completed the 9 weeks of training, you’re able to run for 30 straight minutes, which should be about 5km. Not exactly, at my speed, but we won’t focus on that…

Of course, I should have known things wouldn’t go quite so smoothly. I actually started C25K back in January, at the gym… and then got derailed. Repeatedly. I got sick (twice, I think), I moved, I went away on vacation… By June I was at square one. Again. However, I also had two awesome things going for me: a) I didn’t have to run at the gym because it was summer, and b) I lived next to Waterloo Park, which is a great place to run (smooth trails and good people-watching). Even given the heat we frequently had this summer, I took advantage of the fact that sunset came after 9pm and ran in the evenings when it usually wasn’t too bad.

And when I passed week 3 (as far as I’d ever gotten), I was pretty jazzed. When I got to week 5 and realized I actually could run for eight minutes at a time, I was totally on board. I had to check myself from time to time — I have a tendency to run far faster than my body can maintain — but by the time I finished the program I was good at managing that, too. I’d also long since graduated to new scenery and regularly ran the Iron Horse Trail (from my place to Victoria street down Caroline and the Iron Horse is 6.6km).

I was mid-way through the C25K training when I finally put my money where my mouth was and signed up for a race: the Annual Oktoberfest 5K. I am not a competitive person, and I’m bad at setting goals and achieving them (yeah, typical curse of gifted children…), and even just completing the registration freaked me out a little bit. (Good.) But I also made sure to tell people I’d signed up. It’s a good way to keep you from chickening out of stuff. And it gave me a date on the calendar to work toward.

So yeah, I had absolutely no excuses not to do it.

What made it better is that my friend Colin was signed up to run the 10K. (His first, though he has 5Ks under his belt already.) My friend Cari was going to run that race, too, but ended up being in the Dominican for a wedding (tough life…) My other brother Jamie wanted to run with me, but I think had to work. (But hey, he cheered via Facebook, and he was saving lives, so it’s a good enough excuse…)

I finished the C25K program a week or so ago, but honestly by the end of it wasn’t paying that much attention. I knew where my warm-up walk would take me to, and from there it was just about running to Victoria St. and back with as few breaks as possible.

I was a tad concerned late this past week, as my last couple runs had been harder (just from pushing myself), and my calves tended to get a bit sore. They were hurting on my final pre-race run on Friday evening, so I cut it short and walked home. Unfortunately, the running was the only thing keeping me comfortable, and I damned near froze.

Got to the Rec Centre this morning just after 8am (conveniently I just had to traverse the boardwalk in the park and I was pretty much there), and headed up to the mall. Got my bib, shirt, chip, etc. and got properly outfitted. Eventually ran into Colin, as well as my ex-housemate, Peggy, from many moons ago. She was there running with her husband and two sons. Apparently her husband and younger son are avid runners. She goes for support, and apparently the elder son just wanted to get it over with and get to the eating of hot dogs. 🙂

Headed outside to hand over my bag to the folks who were taking stuff back to the Rec Centre, then went to find a patch of sunlight to stand in, since it was still chilly in the shade. Enjoyed the people-watching immensely. Though I gotta say, just because you’re ridiculously fit does not mean you’re going to be flattered by spandex… And good Lord are runners obsessive people. There was nowhere to hide from conversations about… running.

It was really cool seeing the fast folks out front heading onto King Street before I even got to the starting line. Basically, they would have been done by the time I finished my first kilometre (though I imagine most of them ran the 10K). Etiquette dictates slower runners stay near the back, and I was happy to do so. Plus it was fun having half of King St. to run on!

First kilometre was ridiculously fun. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, the mood was jovial, and I felt really good. And, hell, we were heading gently downhill! After that it got a bit harder, including a couple uphill areas — you never realize there’s any uphill between the mall and Bridgeport unless, as Andrew noted, you’re on foot or on a bike.

My time after the first mile was around 13 minutes (they called out times at one mile, for some reason, and had sign markers for each kilometre). I am no Roger Bannister. 🙂

I initially didn’t understand why the cups at the water station were barely half full… until I tried drinking while moving. I was even nice and tossed my first one in the garbage can, though I was past there after drinking the second, so threw it to the side of the road like everyone else.

I passed Colin some time between the 2nd and 3rd kilometre, I think. It would have been nice if I hadn’t had to walk at all, but I need a handful of short breaks. Something to improve on. From time to time I would go a bit faster just for a change of scenery. I don’t tend to like people around me while I exercise in general, and I got tired of seeing the same backs of heads or listening to the same breathing patterns.

It was impressive to see some of the folks running the 10K turning from Albert onto Bridgeport and joining the shared end part of the course. I saw two guys who were from Laurier’s cross country team, I think. They were machines. They were running faster at kilometre 9 than I did at any point in my race. Good on ’em.

And then there was my nemesis… An older gent, power-walker type, who kept ending up near me through much of the race. I got fed up in the home stretch and started sprinting. I was tired of his wiggly ass, and no way was he finishing before me. Plus, running fast felt good.

I felt great at the end of the race, though my legs will definitely need a day or two to recover. It was cool having Andrew and Melissa there, too. I think they were more proud of me than I was of myself. 🙂 (Sherry is, sadly, away on business.)

As I crossed the finish line, last time I saw on the clock was 38:59. I kinda hoped I’d made it in under 39 minutes. I went into the Rec Centre and got a drink and a bite to eat, then checked the results. Triumph! My actual time (from the timing chip) was 37:31. My gun time (from the start of the race til I crossed the finish line) was 39:01. I admit, had that second time been the “official” one, I’d have been a tad disappointed. As it was, I was totally jazzed at my results.

Will I do it again? Totally. The only way to go is up, right? That said, I think I will pass on the November and February races… We’ll see what’s what in the spring.

the finish line!

iPhone action shot courtesy of Andrew, and in front of me you can see my nemesis just before I passed him.

2 Replies to “My first race”

  1. Way to go Melle! Congrats on finishing your first race. Hope to see you at a race some time in the future. My next two races will probably be the Resolution Run on Jan 1, and the Endurrace some time in April.

    During the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I had a power walker myself to contend with. It really is disheartening seeing someone walking at the same pace you consider a hard run. Eventually I did lose him, though I'm sure he actually lost me (walked ahead of me).

  2. Thanks, Will. 🙂 There are local races next month and in February, too, but I imagine I'll pass on those and we'll see what's what in the spring. Who knows, maybe I'll be ready for 10K by then?

    The face that the guy was basically walking was bad. That he was older than my Dad was worse. BUT, he also had rather longer legs than I do, so good on him. I got passed by kids and people with strollers, too. Which is fine — the important thing is to be out there. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *