Tag Archives: finish

The Thrill of the Chase

As another race day comes and goes, another start line is approaching in the distance.

After a sub- par performance at a 5k race last May resulting in a 25:45 finish, I was not particularly impressed with my time. Neither were two of my friends, K and S, who I used to run against back in the day. The days when we absolutely flew with unappreciated athleticism. Once they had finished reminding me how slow I had gotten (as all good friends should do), I challenged them to test their current cardiac output.

So today we raced.

The course was flat, the sun was out, and the light breeze against us on the way out was a fresh reminder that we would have the wind at our backs to the finish. We started close to the front because I will never again zig- zag a 6 minute kilometer trying to hurdle children, sidestep strollers, and be called “too aggressive” for a race (The Pace to Race). When the gun went off, there were only a few mild swerves needed to get onto a clear path and I was good to go.

Beyond the start line I didn’t know where K or S was, but just nearing the 1km mark I saw some waving arms beside me and looked over to see K settle in at my side. We ran in silence, knowing we had both set goal times that were not achievable with wasted breaths. At the first kilometer marker, my watch blinked 4:52 to which I clapped and gave K a big thumbs up. She had headphones in and I didn’t catch her attention so I just settled back in and rejoined her in “the zone”.

We continued on in silence, other than a “Well, that’s pleasant” comment from K when we got hit with a wall of animal droppings/ sewage/ nuclear waste odor. Kilometer 2 came at 9:57.

Approaching the turnaround, K said she was going to have to slow down but she didn’t seem to drop off so I thought it was more of a warning than a factual statement. We rounded the halfway pylon at 12:36 but I wasn’t panicking, yet.

K slowly started to fade back and I kept moving with increased fear of one of them catching me, now that I had put some space between us. There is absolutely a mental advantage to running with your competition. It is much scarier to not know where they are and to have to set the pace rather than hold a pace. Ego is on the line, here.

The next kilometer was my slowest; I think I got a little too comfortable which would have be great if it was a race longer than only 5 kilometers. But it was 5 kilometers. You don’t get comfortable.

I hit the 4 kilometer mark solo with a sloshing sound echoing from my stomach and cheesy motivational sayings starting to cycle through my head. I tucked in behind a woman with a blue tank top and an indistinguishable tattoo on her shoulder and just wheezed annoyingly behind her. There is no bodily sound that is embarrassing enough to deter you when you put your “fastest” reputation from a decade ago on the line.

The 4 kilometer sign coming and going meant that I had to run a 4:45/km pace to get me to the line in time. I ended up passing the tattooed blue tank top wearer and crossing the finish line with what felt like an optimal combination of strength and fatigue. The woman I passed actually came and found me as I was wandering and panting in the finish area and gave me a solid high five. Bam. No words needed. I love the running community.

My chip time was 25:03, which was four seconds slower than my goal of 24:59. That stings a little but I now have the confidence that I can run a sub 25 minute race; I just didn’t do it today.

Today’s run was a full 42 seconds faster than my last race and I’m absolutely on track to get some great times under my belt by the end of this racing season.

The summer of the 5k continues!

MEC

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Round 2

Last you heard from me, I had upgraded my comeback to ‘quest’ status. And I take my questing very seriously. So, I am throwing myself back into it. I am registered to race next Sunday. Eight days to get things together is potentially not my best idea but the race payment has gone through so let’s see what happens.

Race photos from last weekend were finally posted so I could witness the pain all over again, as well as experience it from a new angle. My impatient wait for photos was rewarded with pictures I have no recollection of. That is the funny thing about finish line photos; our brains are half dead and half on speed. I swore I was alone but it turns out there are three women right behind me.

And nothing breaks your confidence like seeing someone you perceive as “unfit” in your finish line photo. Is that a terrible thing to say?

My mom has a finish line photo featuring a white haired, frail looking man right behind her, and I remember her pointing that out a few times. The problem is that several races can finish at the same time so you just don’t know who will photobomb your memories. The cropping feature was invented for finish line photos.

Maybe my goal for Sunday will be to make sure I finish with lots of space around me. Who knows, maybe I can photoshop in a Kenyan or two.

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Ready or Not

I race in less than 2 months and today I had the thought that I wasn’t ready. The “butterflies in my stomach” that feel more like cement mixers. Of course I shouldn’t be ready yet, but my brain had me convinced I wouldn’t be ready in time. All that means to me is that I am nervous which is good because it means I want it.

Ready is such an interesting concept. I don’t know what the weather will be like, who the other runners will be, or how my legs will feel during the race. So can’t you only determine readiness in hindsight? Why do people always ask you if you’re ready when you clearly don’t know the answer?! Do they want you to call after the race: “Nope, turned out I wasn’t ready yet”.

If I have only learned one thing from this world it is that you are never ready- and that’s not a bad thing. Life would be dull and uneventful like a movie watched over and over again. We don’t know what is coming and sometimes we don’t even know how we will react. Half of them time I feel like my emotions are doing one thing while my brain is saying “I thought we were ready”. Luckily, I can remind everyone I am female and be excused for any emotional explosions.

So rather than convince myself I am ready, I can acknowledge with ease that I will never reach my optimal performance level, particularly because I like wine and chocolate too much. I think racing is more about who can get to the start line injury free and who can tailor their training to be able to be the best on that given day. Also, it is about getting to the finish line first… minor detail…

Who wants to be prepared for everything anyways; that takes the fun out of everything! And accepting that you aren’t ever going to be completely ready comes with an contented feeling that could be mistaken for readiness…

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