The past few months of training for Chicago has been a personal journey. It hasn’t been about gaining bragging rights for finishing one of the world’s biggest marathons, nor has it been about chasing a BQ. For me, The Chicago Marathon has about mental health, my mental health.
When I registered for Chicago, I saw it as an escape from the previous twelve months: moving my parents into nursing care and closing the family home, watching my mother progress into the later stages of Alzheimer’s as my dad underwent rounds of chemotherapy; dealing with my own injury that resulted in a leave of absence for weeks; facing the inevitable in the early spring. In fact, I entered the lottery for Chicago after my dad passed as I knew that I would need the distraction of training over the summer. At the end of May, after barely catching our collective breath, my brothers and I buried my mother just seven weeks after my dad. I made it to the end of the school year knowing that I had something to look forward to: a summer of marathon training.
Going to Chicago has been about me – my recovery. It has given me the focus I needed – pardon the pun – to get my feet back on the ground. Through training, I have had to rebuild my fitness and my running mates have been instrumental in helping me do that. I watched my mileage climb further than I thought it ever would, found some speed that I had forgotten about and, through regular yoga workouts, rediscovered my abs. At the same time, I’ve spent the summer resting and catching up on months of lost sleep. I’ve hung out with my boys and watched their interest in my marathon grow. I’ve asked my husband for running advice (gasp!).
Today at lunch, a co-worker asked me what time I’m hoping to run in Chicago. “I don’t really have one,” I replied. Her jaw dropped. “You?” she asked. “I don’t believe you.”
“I haven’t done much speed work; I’ve really only focused on building distance. All of my long runs have been around 5 minute kilometres. But I’m not really worried about time. I mean, I think I’ll run around 3:30, maybe 3:45.” She raised her eyebrows again. “I don’t really know, but I’m feeling strong,” I told her. “Really strong. I’m feeling fit. I’m healthy again.”
And she added, “Cynthia, you’re smiling again. You’ve got that twinkle in your eye back.”
Since mid-June, I have had my eye on the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box: the Chicago Marathon. I’ve run hundreds of miles, added more morning runs to my routine (to get ready for the early rise on Marathon Sunday), stretched out the aches and pains at yoga, and made an effort to eat better and sleep more. Today, I put all of that training to the test at the Toronto Ten Miler, a race that is part of the Excel Running Series races.
I was a bit apprehensive about running this distance just two weeks before the marathon, but after missing the winter and spring racing seasons and only shorter races (5k and 10K’s) to pick from through the summer, I mentally needed to run a longer race. The Ten Miler was the obvious choice. It was close to home, the date worked well in my training plan, and the distance was a better choice so close to the marathon than one of the many half-marathons that were held today. The solid reputation of the race director, Michael Brennan, also meant that there would be many strong runners on the course, and a bit of competition is always a good thing.
Dave and I left headed to Cherry Beach in Toronto before sunrise as he had volunteered to help with the race (and was assigned to be the bike escort for the lead runner). I picked up my bib, Dave left for his volunteer duties and I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Leslie Street Spit. By 7:30, I was on the road to do a slow 4K warm-up for the race.
I was glad that I warmed up as far as I did. Cherry Beach and The Spit are very scenic, which draws many runners and cyclists to the area, but they are also closed to traffic and that means the roads are beat up; there were lots of pot-holes and cracks. The mix of shade and the sunrise made for poor lighting and that made me nervous. By the end of my warm-up, I had added a second goal to my morning: to not fall down.
My primary goal today, though, was to put the past 16 weeks of running to the test. I had on the shoes and skirt that I plan to wear in Chicago to make sure that both were comfortable and my skirt could indeed hold a few gels, my puffer and an ipod shuffle. I wanted to run slightly faster than my marathon pace but my competitive edge quickly threw that plan out the window. I ran my first kilometre at 4:42 and, despite common sense to bring it down to a 5:00 kilometre, I held onto it and ran the entire race “comfortably fast.” I only used one of the two GU’s, at 55 minutes into the race, just as I will at the marathon, and I took in fluids (water and Gatorade) at the same points I am likely to on Marathon Sunday. The best part of the morning: I didn’t need to poop while running (and I think that is from changing my diet a bit)!
The only problem I had was with my shoes. With about 5 kilometres left to go, the ball of my left foot started to hurt. I am fairly certain that this is from landing on some large stones on a few rockier parts of the course and it is something to keep an eye on over the next few days.
As soon as I saw 15K, I changed gears and started to push myself home. I remember thinking that I should hold my pace but I also knew that I was heading to a finish time around 75 minutes. Since I was already off-pace from an 80 minute finish anyway, I figured a few seconds faster at that point wouldn’t hurt. I was really glad that I had picked it up as I heard people cheering in “Judie” who was obviously right behind me; I turned it up another notch and finished ahead of her by 6 seconds, resulting in a second place age group finish.
As I headed back to the car, I realized that pushing harder than I needed to was not the best idea as my legs were starting to tighten. I did a slow cool-down, Kenyan style, to loosen them up and finished the day with a total of 25 kilometres.
And now I have just two weeks of easy running left. I have no races, no speed work and no more high mileage. All I need now is to focus on staying relaxed and healthy. Let Taper Week 2 begin….
Yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was almost at the end of my last week building up to the Chicago Marathon. Running-wise, I had hoped to make this my highest mileage week but, as a mom and a teacher, this was my busiest week outside of training. By Wednesday, it was obvious that I had to trust the training that I had done to this point; the goal for the week was just to keep running.
Monday was a planned rest day and I spent my after-school time fulfilling mom duties. On Tuesday, I got two runs in (5K in the morning and 8K at night) as planned, but I coached my first soccer practice on Wednesday night, leaving no time to run. Despite a busy Thursday, I was able to make it another double day (5K in the morning, 12K at night), followed by an easy 6K on Friday after school.
Friday’s miles were tough. My legs hurt – right behind the knees, both of them. Looking back, I think it was from falling asleep late at night on the couch and overstretching the ligaments. At the time, though, I was certain it was running-related so I did what most runners would do; I panicked. I couldn’t be injured, not this close to Chicago.
That night, I decided to go to a power yoga class where I could give my legs the stretch that they needed. I had been avoiding Friday night classes for weeks as I often end up dehydrated and that effects me the next day on my long run. But the fear of injury trumped the fear of dehydration. Fortunately, it did help but not enough. I went to bed exhausted from the week and frustrated by the pre-marathon aches and pains. On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling better but not quite healthy enough to run long.
This weekend, then, I flipped my long run with my recovery distance. Yesterday, I ran a gentle 15K, using the time to work on my form and stride. After 30 minutes into my run, my legs were starting to feel more normal and, by the time I got home, they were fine. I was ready for my long run.
This morning, I headed out the door while the dudes and hubby were sound asleep. I had 35K in the books and wanted a 20K tempo in the middle. An hour after heading out, I popped back home to grab some Gatorade before I started; the littlest dude was awake and happily watching television, seemingly oblivious to my presence. I wondered if his older brother was still going to get up, as promised, and ride with me through the last 10K of my tempo; I was counting on him for fuel. “He’s reliable,” I reminded myself. “He’ll find me on course.”
My tempo was on a 5K loop – into the wind for 1K, down a hill and into the wind, uphill, down another less windy hill, and into the wind again until the end of the loop. I had to run four of them. The first three were fine; pacing was exactly where I wanted to be, but I suddenly started to feel nauseous at 17K, probably from the lack of water/fluids; it was obvious that the Littlest Dude was still the only one awake at home. I pushed through the next kilometre but had to stop at 18K. I was done. I decided to cool down and head home, for a total of 33K instead of 35K. What was interesting is I ended up keeping my pace the same without thinking about it. Sure enough, by the time I got home, one long tempo and a cool-down later, the Littlest Dude was still the only one awake!
So, in my busy week with a birthday, a swimming lesson, soccer coaching (twice), another soccer game and countless driving commitments from here to there, and work, I ended up with a fairly successful week. With a bit of creativity and juggling things around, I finished the week with 83K and a tempo that had been a bit of a monkey on my back. Now I can put my feet up in the air and start to enjoy the taper.
As much as I love the marathon distance, I have never really entertained running a fall marathon. I have a classroom to set up, students to get to know, marking and assessments to complete, an open house, progress reports, cross-country coaching – and I also have the task of getting my own two boys back into their routines. In the fall, my family, teaching and running lives collide; building mileage towards a marathon has never been in the cards.
Until this year. I really don’t know what I was thinking back in April when I registered for the Chicago Marathon. I really must have been going through a period of insanity. At the beginning of April, I was just getting back to working out again and, at that point, I was only running two or three times a week (if that); my weekly mileage was barely at 20k. Breaking my jaw in the winter meant that I was missing out on the spring marathon season and I was bitter about that. I needed to fill that void. My dad had passed shortly after Easter, my mom wasn’t well and I needed something to focus on – something positive and something for me. Clearly, training for a marathon would fill my time even if my plan was simply to just finish. Training for Chicago was about to consume me.
Before that final click to registering, I did think about the September start-up. “You’ll be fine,” I told myself. “You’re an experienced teacher. You know what you’re doing.” Clearly, I was delusional as I clicked “submit”. Then, I started dreaming about chasing ponytails and distance goals and it wasn’t long before I was focussed on rebuilding mileage and fitness. If the first half of 2015 was a test of my inner strength, the summer was a test of my physical. By the end of August, I had caught those goals.
And, then, last week happened: back to school. Suddenly, late nights were filled with laundry and planning lessons while early mornings became even earlier with drop-offs at two different schools before I arrived at my own. And, somehow, I had also planned to make last week my second highest mileage week before heading to Chicago – second highest, over 90 kilometres of running during the first week of the school year. What was I thinking?
But I got it done. By planning 8 runs over 7 days, which included a double-run day on the holiday, a late night run and a very early morning jog, I was able to reach the weekly distance I wanted: 93K done!
Am I tired? Yes, I am justifiably exhausted. Running is going well, school is great, my kids are happy and my house is a mess to prove it. But I am feeling like a rock star.
This afternoon, after my 93K week, I suddenly started to feel really tired, more like a rock star who had partied way too much on the weekend. Monday morning is going to hurt. And, once again, I am asking myself “What was I thinking?”
The excitement of back to school is in the air. My boys have spent the past two weeks organizing their gear, trying to guess which teachers they will have, wondering which friends will be in their classes, and planning their morning routines. I have been busy setting up my classroom, planning with other teachers and getting ready to greet a new set of smiling faces. While I enter September with energy and excitement, this year I have also been carrying a bit of fear .
In January, I had a running accident, a freak accident if you will, when I fell on a particularly dark section of road and broke my jaw in four places. I spent 4 weeks recovering at home, 6 weeks on liquids and 8 weeks without any physical activity other than walking. I was lucky. I could have broken my neck, I could have been unconscious…the list of “could have’s” is endless. I only broke my jaw.
The one worry that I carried throughout my recovery, though, was about my teeth. When I hit the road, my bottom front teeth shifted. The sudden discolouration of some teeth made the oral surgeon think I would need a root canal or two. It looked like I had some cracked teeth at the back of my mouth. But I was told that teeth do repair themselves so there was no reason to worry. “Wait 6 months,” he said. “That will give your mouth the time that it needs to heal. Then, we’ll x-ray and see what work needs to be done.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. Of course, I worried – every time I looked in the mirror, brushed my teeth and ate. And I’ve worried about the time that I would need from work for any reconstructive work. And I worried about the cost. How could I not worry?
So at home, when the dudes have been excitedly in their back to school frame of minds, my fear of my follow-up exam was consuming me. I was glad that I had booked my appointment for the week before school so that I could eliminate my fear of the unknown; I had to have an idea of what lay ahead. At least, then I would know; then, I could plan.
Yesterday, I spent 40 minutes with my dentist who checked the top, front and back surfaces of every single tooth. He did the “percussion test” when he taps on the teeth to check for any sensitivity. Then he announced, “There is nothing wrong with your teeth. Nada. I can’t believe it. They have repaired themselves.”
“Don’t you want to x-ray them?” I asked.
“I don’t need to. You aren’t showing any signs of damage. When you come back for your regular check-up, we can x-ray then.”
I could not believe it. We – my husband and I – were certain that there was long-term dental damage. The oral surgeon was right. “Teeth have a way of repairing themselves.” I am still shocked that he was right; I am completely fine. The feelings that I had when I left the office were overwhelming – happiness, gratitude, relief. I don’t tend to be an emotional person but I almost wanted to cry. Almost.
When I left the dentist, I left my fear of the unknown behind me. The accident is now a thing of the past, a memory, an experience, a challenge that probably made me a little bit stronger. And now, as I head into a new school year, I can truly look forward to what lies ahead.
This week, I faced what was probably the biggest challenge of my marathon training of the summer: finding time for the long run. My schedule was busy enough with a few overnight shoots while prepping for back to school and keeping the boys busy in the second last week of summer. Throwing marathon training into the mix was simply another test in creativity and time management.
Yesterday, my run club, Lions Valley Athletics, volunteered to organize a training run over all or part of the Oakville Half-Marathon course for participants. It was a win-win for so many. Runners had an opportunity to run the course, we collected donations for the Oakville-Milton Humane Society, and Lions Valley Athletics had the opportunity to give back to the running community. While I wanted to focus on my own training – to run long on my own – it was a great opportunity for me support other runners in their personal goals. So I ran 18K on my own and finished at Coronation Park, where the group met. After that, I ran another 17K with them, finishing the day’s mileage with 35K.
I was thrilled with hitting that distance (which equates to 22 miles). It wasn’t just reaching it, though, that was important; it was what I learned along the way. Since the training run was with new runners, the pace was slower than what I normally train at. Knowing this, I made sure that my earlier run was at my marathon pace so that I could run like a Kenyan with the others. You see, Kenyans run really slowly on their easy days so that their bodies can recover from the speed workouts and hard running that they do on others. This is something that I’m not good at: mixing up the paces. Coach Kevin and my friends often tease me about being a metronome because I tend to lock into a pace and hold it; the problem is I run that pace through the warm-up, workout and cool down. Yesterday, I learned to slow my pace down. I had to because that is what the other runners needed. I learned how to “run like a Kenyan.”
Now I finally understand how much of a difference in variety of paces – from a marathon pace to an easier cool down pace – makes in how I feel the next day. Today, my legs feel fresh. I’m pleasantly tired, but I couldn’t wait to head out for an easy run this morning. And the best part? My feet don’t hurt – at all.
Yesterday, the ladies we coached through the route left feeling that they had a good run and are ready for their half-marathon in a few weeks. Me, I left with a better understanding of pacing, the success of the longest run yet in my marathon cycle and satisfaction of supporting other runners. It was truly a win-win.
We’ve all had it, a busy day when you plan to run or work out and – bam! – something gets in the way. When this happens to me, I end up feeling anxious because I have missed something important, well, something that is important to me.
In the past year, I’ve learned to have a back up plan for those days when life gets hectic. And let’s face it: with two boys and a full-time job, life is bound to get in the way of things that I want to do. Plan B might be something as simple as running later in the evening rather than right after work, but having it helps me make sure that I get my mileage in.
Over the past few days, we have had some “irregularities” at home. The Littlest Dude did some television extra work in Toronto and I did some background work on overnight shoots on Thursday and Friday. It’s fun and different but, the overnights it messed around with our routines. When I accepted the jobs, I was a tad worried that my training for Chicago would suffer, but I also had the peace of mind that this is a recovery week for me so my mileage is a bit lower. On Wednesday, when The Littlest Dude worked, Plan A was to run when I got home; Plan B was to not fret it because it is a recovery week anyway. When we got home after 9:00, Plan B came into effect.
Planning my weekend runs around the two overnight shoots, though, was stressful. Normally, I have a long tempo run on Saturday, followed by a solid recovery run on Sunday. But knowing that I was going to get home from filming around 6:00 a.m., I wasn’t exactly sure how to fit it in? Plan A: If I have the energy (and sometimes I do), run long when I get home. Plan B: If I need to sleep, run in the late afternoon. It seemed simple enough until the short term forecast was out: 25C, feels like 30C, on Saturday afternoon.
Plan A seemed crazy but Plan B suddenly became plain stupid due to the problems I’ve been having with running in the heat. To complicate things, I volunteered to lead a training group run for the Oakville Half-Marathon tomorrow morning so I had to get my distance in today. “Six weeks to Chicago. Six weeks to Chicago. You’re almost there,” kept going through my head. I couldn’t just skip my long run.
While on the set last night, and after bouncing text messages back and forth with my husband, I came up with something new: add a Plan C. I could run shorter in the afternoon and do my long run on Sunday morning, with the bulk of my mileage before the group training. Suddenly the stress of uncertainty was gone. I had a Plan A (a possibility), Plan B (best scenario), and Plan C (not ideal but got the job done).
This morning at 6:05, I put my head on the pillow and closed my eyes knowing that I had two options left. I woke up at noon and realized it was going to be a hot afternoon. Plan C made the most sense; having that Plan C completely removed the stress of not running long today.
I don’t know why I love training for the marathon distance. I’ve always been one to take on a challenge, as long as it’s reasonable; training for the 26.2 miles, for me, is reasonable. It lets me do a lot of something that I really enjoy. In fact, training for a marathon brings out that addictive side of my personality, the side that lets me eat, sleep and dream running for months. And it gives me a fantastic excuse to get out of the house and away from the dudes for an hour or two – or three. This summer, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve said “I have to go for a run” and the boys just nod and smile.
Last week, something different happened. My mileage increased, I felt the typical aches and pains and, without warning, I didn’t want to run. Shocking. It wasn’t so much that I did not want to run but I was afraid to run. Whether it has been my asthma reacting to the muggy weather, a bit of dehydration or both, I have had a few runs which just have not gone the way I wanted them to. On Thursday morning, I woke up and just didn’t feel like going to my Lions Valley Athletics practice that night; I felt like that would just be setting myself up for failure.
My reasons were simple. I didn’t want to run in the heat; I was tired of it. Nor did I want to push myself through a tempo in the heat, especially after ending a hot run a few kilometres early the night before. I had had it with feeling sick at the end of a workout. And I didn’t want to run with the guys and finish last – again. I needed to run on my own – no pressure. So I skipped practice.
My oldest had nothing planned that night and he offered to ride his bike with me in the last part of my run. So I headed out in the early evening and ran 11K on my own. When The Dude met me, he was ready with Gatorade and water. I only needed a bit of Gatorade; it was his company – silent but supportive – for the last 5 kilometres that lit a spark back under my feet.
He rode ahead most of the time, only stopping to take a few pictures. As I followed him, I found myself feeling like a runner again. I felt strong, I felt fast, and I was happy. And somewhere along the last 5K of my run, I found my confidence again.
Although I still don’t know exactly what it was, I needed to prove something to myself. Looking back, those 16 kilometres were a turning point in my marathon training. They made me realize that my training is going well, I’m stronger than I think, and I was indeed ready for a long tempo run on Saturday morning.
More importantly, though, it made me realize that I have the support of my family while I chase my Chicago dream. My boys aren’t just giving me the smile and nod when I tell them “I have to go for a run.” They get it. They have seen the time, sweat, dehydration, aches and all the challenges that come with marathon training. But they have also seen how important this goal is to me and my drive that has gone into reaching it. Now that I see that, I have different kind of energy and a new focus to carry me through the last 7 weeks of my training.
One of the joys of marathon training is watching your weekly mileage grow and grow and grow. There comes a point, though, when my body can only handle so much, when I start to feel aches and pains and worry about the potential for injury. For me, the magic number is 45 miles per week; as I get closer to and above 50 weekly miles, my body feels like it is starting to break.
A few years ago, my coach and I worked around my aches and pains by adding a few shorter runs to my week when I was in the late stages of the marathon cycle. This meant that once or twice a week, I would run in the morning for 20 to 30 minutes and, again, for my usual evening run. This let me add 3 to 6 miles to my weekly total without any extra stress – and it let me get use to the idea of running on tired legs. That year, I was able to reach 60 miles a week (twice).
My morning started with a run under blue skies. I loved the way the trees seemed to form a bridge over the evening clouds.
Last Wednesday was my first double run in my Chicago prep. In the morning, I ran an easy 5k when the sun was high. As I started, I was quickly reminded how tired my feet feel when they have less than 12 hours of rest. This forced me to run at an easier pace and work on my form. I thought about stretching my stride and how to land. By the end of the third kilometre, I felt that I had my rhythm back and ended my run feeling much more comfortable than when I left. In the evening, Monica and I hit the trails for another easy run. We finished 11K later, leaving me with a daily total of 16K.
This Wednesday, I looked forward to my double run. After a morning physio appointment, I ran a comfortable 5K and diligently did my calf exercises. Rather than do my heel drops inside on the stairs, this Canadian running mama grabbed one of the boy’s hockey stick for support. Standing on the curb, I slowly lowered my heels and raised them to stretch out the muscles in my lower legs. Like last week, I felt great when I finished my morning workout.
I headed out for my second run in the late afternoon which, due to family commitments, was the only time I was able to run. I felt fine when I started but when I got to 5K, I was starting to have trouble breathing. By 6K, every step was effort; soon after, I realized that I was overheating so I turned towards home. By 7K, I called it a day. My breathing was completely off as I was having trouble running for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. Home I walked.
I checked the temperature when I got home and was not surprised to see that the humidex had it at 35C. Finishing my run when I did was a smart decision, but it angered me that I didn’t hit my mileage goal. One side of me told me to let it go; the other told me that I had to make it up before the end of the week.
The only thing that I was certain of is my need to drink more water. Between the hot yoga classes and the runs in humid conditions, I need to make more of an effort to drink more water and make sure that I am replacing electrolytes with Gatorade.
Walking away positively, I was glad that I still managed to run twice in one day, even if my second run didn’t go as planned. Last year, when training for the Goodlife Marathon, I only had 2 weeks with double runs and I’m already at that point now. With 7 weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, I should be able to have a few more weeks to play this “daily double” game. And if things go well, I might even try it twice in one week.
Last week was one of the mentally toughest weeks that I have had in a long time. Running in a storm – okay, maybe that was fun. Getting sick on my long run – not fun at all. So when I headed to Whitby for the 10K on Sunday morning, I proceeded with caution.
Why did I pick Whitby? First, it is one of the few longer races (yes, this summer, a 10K race is a longer race) in the GTA. Almost all regular races have been cancelled in Toronto because of the PanAm Games and many race directors outside the GTA have dropped theirs because of the transportation difficulties that the Games have caused. It was a long drive but the Whitby race is one of the few road races in the Toronto area all summer. Secondly, one of my training partners, Darryl, was going and it is always more fun racing when you go with a friend. Finally, timing was key. The 10K in Whitby sets me up nicely for a 10 miler or half-marathon before the end of September in preparation for Chicago.
On Friday night, my coach advised against racing. He reminded me that it would take my body a few days to recover from my 30K long run on Friday. Finishing it as sick as I did and racing two days later was simply not a good idea. He was right, but I wasn’t about to walk away from it that easily. I was, though, prepared to walk away from the start line if I found that I really wasn’t up to par; if I felt dizzy or sick on the course, as hard as it would have been, I was mentally ready to DNA.
Darryl and I left town at 6:00 on Sunday morning and, after a major detour (yes, we got lost), we arrived at the venue shortly after 8:00, 90 minutes before the start. The low entry fee ($30) hinted that it was a low-key, no-frills event and it was. There were just over 100 runners for the 5k and 10K and our race kit was an OLG cotton t-shirt. After checking in, I headed out on my own for a short run before my actual warm-up to make sure that I was feeling okay. The out and back route was going to be beautiful – a paved path along the waterfront and lots of greenery. I noticed that the path was uneven at the edges and made a mental note to spend most of the race in the middle. About 20 minutes later, Darryl and I did a slow warm-up together and, then, did our drills on our own. I was feeling strong and race-ready.
Since numbers were low, the 5K and 10K started together. I watched Darryl quickly disappear into the curved paths and found myself chasing a group of ponytailed high school runners. I expected the course to be flat but it wasn’t; we were constantly rolling up and down hills, with a longer climb at the turn-around and another closer to the end. The hills were in my favour, though, as I passed each of the girls (and many men) on them before the 5K turned back and I continued on, thinking that I might have the women’s lead in the 10K.
I ran the rest of the way on my own. As I went further into the race, I found myself feeling more comfortable and picked up my pace. When I saw Darryl on his way back and saw that he was in the lead, with about 20 seconds to spare, I cheered him on and became very focussed on my own race. Three, four, five – only five people were ahead of me and they were all men; I was definitely in the lead of the women’s race.
After turning around, I saw that the second lady seemed to be only a minute behind me so I knew that I had to pick up the pace if I wanted to hold my position. Over the last half of the race, I was able to close the gap between the two men ahead of me and add more space between the second lady and me. It felt great being cheered on by runners who were still heading out. That was all anti-climatic, though, as I neared the finish area. I saw the photographer and worried about the drool and spit coming out of my mouth (yeah, I’m that runner), but he was only interested in drinking his water. “What the h—?” I actually thought. “You aren’t taking a picture? Beautiful scenery, great lighting, me – and only me; it would be a fabulous picture.” I quickly let my thoughts go, changed gears again (at least, I think I did), turned the corner and ran up a slight incline to finish. The little girl who handed me my finishing medal was amazed. “How do you run faster than the 5K’s? How do you run so fast?” Yes, even without the photo, this was the vanity race that I needed.
In the end, the course was a tad short – about 400 metres short. I finished in 42:08 but I think I would have finished under 44 minutes had it been an honest 10K. Given the way that I felt on Friday night, I was happy with that. Darryl opened the gap between him and the Number 2 Runner and was the overall winner, finishing a few minutes ahead of me. It was a good day for both of us.
After we crossed the finish line, we did a short cooldown along the waterfront and found a great training circuit. Of course, we had to stop and play. Then we headed back for the awards (another medal, a pair of gloves and a reflective clip-on light) and back home.
This race was the confidence boost that I needed. My race in Beamsville in July wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. My training has been going fairly well but Friday’s run did bring me down a bit. I was quite happy with my time in Whitby, especially since it was a C-race, and finishing first (even if it was a small turn-out) was a bonus.
With 9 weeks to go, I can continue to build mileage but, more importantly, build some tempo work into my long runs. After the past week of training and racing, I know I am ready for it.