This is the story about how I accidentally (on purpose) ran my first two (proper) races a week apart from each other. Before last week my only ‘race’ experience consisted of a 5k fun run over a year ago called the Electro-Dash, which turned out to be an excuse for high school students to get high and drunk while pretending to run. After training consistently through spring and summer I decided I wanted to run a proper, serious race for real runners: a half marathon. My aim was to go for the big one in Toronto, The ScotiaBank Marathon, but unfortunately, due to all of life’s distractions, I forgot to actually sign up. Instead, I registered for MEC’s series run #7. It’s a 15k in late October.
So training began. I signed up for the race in the middle of September and even though I ran all the miles during the summer months, September wasn’t looking so hot. I had run a 15k before so I wasn’t overly worried. A month before the race, I gave up drinking (so I wouldn’t be distracted with hangovers) and planned to pick up my running, but all of a sudden it was October.
Oct. 1: I’m helping my sister and her roommate, Taylor, move today. I have what will likely be a 10 hour shift at the bar later tonight, so this will be a long day. I’m slightly cursing myself for not getting up earlier enough to run like I had planned, and yet glad I got the extra hour or two of sleep and rest before today. I’m lying down in the back of the moving van, Robyn and Taylor are sitting in the front seats. The conversation somehow turns to running. Taylor (also a runner, she’s completed two half marathons already) is going to race in the Scotiabank Marathon (she’s doing a half) and just remembered a friend of hers is injured and unable to use her bib and wants to sell. The only problem is that it’s less than 3 weeks away and I haven’t been training properly, but I wanted to run it… I tell her I’ll think about it, but I already know that I’m going to say yes.
Oct. 2: I messaged Taylor late last night and I told her I would do it! Some regulars at my work who used to run have given me some tips: I’m supposed to run two 10k a week and one longer run (15k, 17k and 19k) leading up to the race. I wake up sore from the move and a 10 hour shift on my feet and do nothing in terms of running or working out.
Oct. 3: I wake up planning to do a 10k, but it’s been while since I ran and I’m not feeling it today. I get dressed and go out for four miles instead. I surprise myself and set a new personal best for a 5k.
Oct. 4: Go out for a longer run: 9.5 miles. Felt pretty good, minus some blisters and chafing. Need water!
Oct. 5: Yoga class. I haven’t been in a month or two and I’m tight in more than a few places.
Oct. 6: Very sore in the shoulders and glutes from yoga. 10km run today.
Oct. 7: Ran 4 miles after work, still sore from yoga. I do a nice long stretch afterwards.
Oct. 9: 10k, I think. My phone died when I was nearly finished. I had to estimate the rest… stupid IOS update. Need to figure out how to keep my phone alive for the longer runs.
Oct. 10: Ran 11 miles today. The run was good, easy, but legs and feet are sore as soon as I stop.
Oct. 11: My families thanksgiving- Rest day. I eat way too much and my legs are still a bit sore from yesterday. I only just realize that the half marathon I’ve signed up for is a week away. So I guess I’m not doing 19k, have to re-adjust my training schedule… Ha, no big deal, I tell myself.
Oct. 13: 10k in the rain. Message Taylor to confirm that I definitely have the bib.
Oct. 15: Another 10k. I go out first thing in the morning (I’m usually an evening runner). I’m very slow today and for some reason there is a weird burning in my lungs for the first two miles, not sure what that’s about? Nervous about running the race in the early AM.
Oct. 17: Day Before race. 3.5 miles: a short run, at an easy pace to keep my legs warm for tomorrow (whatever that means). I get a message from Taylor later that night: the woman I’m suppose to buy my bib from never picked hers up and it’s too late now. Taylor apologizes profusely and even offers her bib to me. I sit back for two minutes trying to decided if I’m relieved or disappointed. Disappointment wins, so I go straight to KIJIJI. Lucky for me there are a couple of people who are selling bibs. One girl gets back to me 15 minutes later, we pick a place to meet and I’m back in the race! However, this detour has put me slightly off track. Now it’s late and I had things that had to get done tonight. I don’t even open the kit, and get straight to work. It’s passed 2am when I finally go to bed.
Oct. 18: RACE DAY: my first half marathon. I wake up at 6:30am after hitting the snooze button a few times. I immediately chug a bottle of water while cutting up an orange to eat with my molasses (a vegan iron trick and a great way to start your morning). I make a small smoothie and get dressed. I warm up my body with some sun salutations. And before I know it it’s time to go, the race starts at 8:45am. I’m out the door at 8:20. The sheer amount of people is intimidating. I’m supposed to meet Taylor and her friend but I’m running late (they’ve already started the clock) so we make a plan to meet up after. I get in line with my corral colour and slowly join the herd making our way up to the start line. They sound the horn and we start running.
I’m immediately annoyed with all the people. I’m not concentrating on my speed or breathing or anything, just trying to get out of the mass to a place where the herd is thinner. I make it out of the pack (sort of) to place where I can run in a straight line for at least a few minutes with out having to zig zag through others. My time is good and I think I should probably slow down or I’ll be very burnt out later, but I’m feeling good and the adrenaline is going, so I keep it up. My goal is to complete in under 2 hours.
Feeling really good up until mile 8. I hit a wall and I’m trying to convince myself not to stop and walk. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, or the fact that I didn’t train enough, or maybe it’s because I’ve had no water yet. I can only fix one of those things at the moment so I grab a cup from a smiling volunteer at the next water station and attempt to drink and run. Most of the water spills down my shirt but a couple of mouthfuls actually make it down my throat. Unfortunately it doesn’t help with the fatigue. Luckily I’m stubborn and, while my pace has slowed way down, I haven’t stopped yet. Not stopping becomes my new goal, fuck finishing in under two hours.
I have two miles to go and I’m exhausted. But it’s just two miles. The crowd of people cheering is beginning to thicken with every step. Even through my headphones I can hear people cheering the name Valerie (what my bib says), I can’t decide if it’s distracting or motivating.
Somewhere during the last mile my app tells me that I’ve completed my target distance (a half marathon) and my time is under 2 hours. Yay. This perks me up a little but the last 500m is hell. So many people cheering and the constant reminder each 100m is annoying. I want to go faster, break out into a sprint (I feel like that’s what the crowd is expecting from us) but my body won’t listen. I cross the finish line and can feel my legs sigh with relief. My official time is 1h 57 minutes. The fatigue gets lifted and I feel I can do anything. I find a quiet patch of grass to stretch and contact friends and my bf.
I’m walking through the crowd to meet my boyfriend, I laugh at all the people taking the tinfoil blankets, what are they for anyway? 10 minutes later I’m freezing in my own sweat and realize that I should have gotten one or at least ran in something that wicks sweat. Luckily my boyfriend brought me my coat. He congratulates me and we go for brunch. I take a much need nap in the afternoon.
Oct. 19: The day after. No run today, even though I have another race in less then a week. My legs are a bit tight so I do a good stretch but nothings as sore as I thought it would be (or as I was told I would be). I reward myself by buying some new running clothes; a jacket and long sleeved shirt so I won’t be freezing or covered in sweat like yesterday.
Oct. 20: First run after the race. I do an easy 10k; I don’t pay attention to my pace, I just run.
Oct. 22: I’m suppose to go for another 10k. But work is still really busy and I’m exhausted. Co-workers who didn’t just run a half marathon are complaining about being tired and burnt out, so I decided to listen to my body instead of pushing it and take a nap instead.
Oct. 23: I pick up my race kit from MEC. Apparently, the trail we run is still open to the public (other runners, cyclists, people walking their dogs). I’m annoyed already just thinking about it.
Oct. 24: Do a short 3 mile run. This time I get an earlier night (bed and lights off by midnight). The race starts at 9:00 am and I’m going to have to leave much earlier this time. My goal is to complete in under an 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Oct. 25: RACE DAY: 15km MEC series race 7. I wake up at just before my alarm goes off. It sounds like there is a spaceship outside my window playing bass music really loudly. It flies off before I get out of bed. I consume the same as last time: bottle of water, small smoothie, black molasses and orange juice. I get back into bed. I seriously contemplate going back to sleep. I’m very nervous for some reason, perhaps it was the lack of runs/energy this week. I take a deep breathe and get dressed.
I’m biking to the race and it’s slightly raining, I’m feeling a little better. I arrive about ten minutes before the race starts, there are a lot of people here but nothing compared to last weeks race. I get line up with the rest of the 15km runners. They count down and I start running. The adrenaline I felt last week isn’t there…my head is screaming ‘ugh I don’t want to be running right now, you should have stayed in bed’. I push through and, all of a sudden, I’ve ran 5k already.
The last 10k is not as bad. I even get a little sprint on for the finishing line. I finish in 1h 18 minutes. This time I have no one meeting or greeting me afterwards. I grab some water, a free banana, and jump on the bike. I start to feel the tension and soreness in legs but I’m home in no time. I do a quick stretch and jump in a hot shower. I contemplate what I would do differently: give myself more time to train and not run two long distances races back to back. Beers and pedicures tomorrow.
– Get Fit AVEC LUI – KL