My last minute registration for the vrPro Canada Day 5K sums up my whole year: busy! I forced myself to take a break from running over the winter, which ended up being 8 weeks instead of two, and re-building my mileage has gone slower than I expected. Throw in a hectic work schedule and life with boys, and it has been difficult to find time to train the way I want, let alone race. I have spent the past 5 weeks looking forward to increasing my training to the next level, writing about my running thoughts that are percolating, and start racing. Last week, after receiving the umpteenth email reminding me that online registration closes on Wednesday at 6:00, I looked at my watch and said, “It’s 5:40. I still have time.” Yes, the time was right so I registered. Easy as that.
I needed to throw myself back into the racing scene without putting much pressure on myself. The Canada Day 5K fit the bill. It was a low-key event on a quiet holiday, close to home and I have a history of running well there. Then, on Thursday night, I learned that there were 600 runners registered; suddenly it wasn’t a small event anymore.
On Friday morning, the oldest dude played “the good son card” and dragged his almost 16 year old behind out of bed to cheer me on at the race. (And, yes, he earned big brownie points as Hubs and the 10 yo were still sound asleep when we left.) I was nervous; my stomach was a mess and I wasn’t sure how I should pace myself, other than as fast as I can. I was glad to have my son’s calm presence, even if it was tired calm presence. We got to Burlington before 7:30, I got my bib and shirt, and ran into my friend, Beth, who is a significantly stronger runner.
By the time we were toeing the line, I realized that there were many other fast runners and a very competitive Masters group. In fact, I noticed more greying masters at the front of the line than I did sub-masters. I started to play with numbers. “Sub-22,” I told myself. “Go out at 4:20, you can do this.” I had my eye on Beth, who would run sub-20, two other women who were in my time range, and a handful of men whom I could pace off of.
The out and back course had everything from concrete, to stone and to sand. Within the first 5 minutes, the clouds opened and that meant we were running through wet sand between 2k and 3k. I don’t know how much it slowed me down, but it definitely did. Beth was out of sight before I hit 2K, I passed the women I was worried about by the 2K mark, and I’m not sure what happened to the men that I was following for a while; suddenly, they were – poof! – out of sight. In the last 2K, I chased two kids – around 12 years old, I think. After I passed one, I kept encouraging the second so that he wouldn’t slow down and I had someone to follow. In the last 200 metres, I was quickly reminded that kids are able to turn into the extra gear much more easily than I can; he jumped forward and finished about 15 seconds ahead of me.
But I was happy with my time. I was the 7th female (and Beth was first female!) and 1st in my age group (50-54). I wanted sub 22 and I got it – 21:24. And I won a sportswatch, which I was ready to give to my son until I saw it was pink. Sorry, kiddo!
I’m glad that I got this race out of the way. I got an accurate test of my fitness level, finished ahead of a few women whom I was sure would beat me, and a time that was exactly where I wanted to be. This has given me the confidence boost that I need and has already made it easier to set some running goals for the summer and move me into the fall.