Tag Archives: racing

Check.

Run a smart race: debatable, but overall successful.
Don’t get hurt: assuming no new injuries counts as successful.
Get a sub 25 minute 5km: check.

This past Saturday was another planned 5km race on a fairly flat, paved route through Sunnybrook Park. The weather was ideal, my knees were feeling good, and I was rolling into the park on a good night’s sleep. It was a perfect storm of racing conditions by my standards. My friend S and I only had to hit the porta potties about 6 times before we could consider ourselves officially ready to go. I just don’t know where women find the time to squeeze in a pre-race warm- up.

My chase pack was down to one, but in a race of over 400 people, it is hard to feel like you only have one person to stay ahead of. Our missing friend (who joined us in an earlier race) opted out after a crazy work schedule and a lack of training convinced her that she shouldn’t spend the money to run a subpar performance. I know how that goes, and up until this current streak I am on, getting to the starting line was a huge challenge in itself.

I had some tightness in my left calf and as of today it is shooting down my heel, and it feels like the rumblings of a little plantar fasciitis. I’m really looking forward to taking on this extra challenge…

Either way, I’m still the reigning leader of the pack.

A race really breaks up a training program and helps re-frame your perspective and gives you a fresh start without ever having to break. I’m excited to get back to work and improve on my time again. I would love to take another 13 seconds off my time but three weeks isn’t really that long. And 13 seconds is pretty long.

I actually only have two weeks to train because the week prior to racing isn’t meant to be much more than rest and maintenance. It is a week meant for staying safe and avoiding people who may push shopping carts into you or may wander into your path without warning and force you to dive around them on sidewalks. The week before is for wearing a crossing guard vest and screaming when people come too close to your bubble. … Oh, that’s just me?

It has been a long time coming to get me to where I am now. It was a year and a half off running followed by a triumphant return to running which was quickly dismissed by a dislocated kneecap and accompanying torn ligament. That was eventually followed by a painfully gradual and much less triumphant return to running (again) which turned into this streak I’m on now.

Just because the process isn’t glamorous, doesn’t mean the result can’t be glorious.

Strategize for next race: check.
Celebrate the little victories: check.
Appreciate every step: check.

TOWR

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Stormin Norman

22 days until the first race of the three left for me this season.

This is approaching the time when my body starts red lining, kneecaps start dislocating, and tendons start popping. Historically speaking.

My chase pack has somewhat decided to keep coming along for the journey and I have one enlisted in at least the upcoming August race. They must know my training is going well, so I don’t blame them…

For once, I actually feel quite prepared and I’m three weeks out. I only have to take 3 seconds off my last race time to get sub 25, and I am absolutely 3 seconds stronger than I was in June. Three times less stressed, and with three times more free time. Still warped, and still asymmetrical, but maybe I’m finally making it work for me.

And now I have a secret weapon.

One of my super generous friends gave me a steep discount on a GPS watch and I am now the proud running partner of a TomTom. In the setup process, the first step is to name the watch, which I assume is to write “My name‘s Watch” so you can claim some sort of ownership or some return to sender information. Or to rush through to the fun part where you actually get to use it.

In line with none of those strategies, I named my watch Norman because that was my stereotyped name of someone who is as excellent a mathematician as this little guy.

Running with instant feedback is such a luxury, like having a coach that will tell you how you’re doing but only if you care to know. So you can verify when you actually are running as slow as you feel, or you can confirm when you are going at a pace that you really can’t maintain.

Onward and upward, overthinking it the whole way!

Me and Stormin’ Norman are on it.

Run

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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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Hitting My Stride

Eye of the Tiger playing on repeat didn’t work last time so I tried a new strategy today… which was just being normal.

I signed up for a race this weekend after my dreams were crushed in last weekend’s attempt. Well, that is an exaggeration but I had wanted a better result. I had my mind set on beating 25 minutes, but my body didn’t follow through. So I set up a plan to try again.

I came to my parents house this weekend for a visit and of course, for another race. Luckily for me, all conditions were in my favour, especially compared to my last race. The weather was as close to perfect as it ever gets for races, and it was the opposite of the hurricane- like scene of last weekend. I had a ride to the race which also meant I had a warm up buddy (thanks mom) and I could strip down my layers at the last minute. My dad made sure to weave through the women at the start line to give me a firm handshake and yell “Give ’em shit!” which did a great job of clearing me some space.

Due to lots of rain over the past week, the original course was flooded and the new route was much flatter. Like I said, things were turning up in my favour.  We were running an out and back course on a flat bike path, I had a great starting position, my laces were double knotted, and my cheering section was waiting for 25 minutes (as they specified).

The first kilometre was the hardest but at the 1k mark, I was running a 4:50 pace and that was a good feeling. As we ran through the park I saw some old co-workers and after yelling a friendly greeting, I almost forgot I was racing. The bonus to running in my hometown is that I know that park inside and out, and it is easy to get comfortable. As comfortable as racing can be.

Beyond the turnaround, I found I had a new cheering section in the runners behind me. Some friends from old soccer teams or people I knew from the running community hollered my name and yelled encouragement as I headed back to the finish. That felt great and I found more motivation to get myself across the finish line even faster.

Turning the last corner before the finish was when I really started gasping for air… but then I saw the clock. I could roll to the finish line and cross this goal off of my list. Not only did I beat my last time, but I beat my goal time. I really beat it. I happily crossed the finish line at 24:32, high fiving strangers and looking for my parents’ excited faces in the crowd.

As a kid, running races with my family was just an average weekend. It’s funny, though; 15 years later and there is still no feeling that matches seeing your proud parents cheering you on from the sidelines.

Another good feeling is having to set another goal.

training

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