Shelly summed up the mood at Saturday’s 8K perfectly. “It sounds like an emotionally charged event,” she wrote. And that it was.
Or perhaps it was just me who was emotionally charged. The day before, November 11th, I broke down in tears watching a Youtube clip on Remembrance Day and I barely held it together while supervising my classes at our school assembly. So it is possible that the presence of Veterans at the Casablanca Classic, the singing of O Canada, and the tribute to Jerry Friesen simply got to me. And with little time to turn off these emotions, this may have had an impact on my race.
Skipper and Little Ironman were there to see Daddy and me take off at the start. The horn started and I immediately complained to myself about starting a bit too far back. Next time….
The course is flat but it is also notoriously windy. We ran into the wind for the first few kilometres, turned into the wind, had a bit of a reprieve, and ran into the wind again. It was one of those circulating winds that you just can’t escape. At 4K, I decided to pull back just a little so that I could put my effort into a stronger last 2-3 kilometres, which was bound to be easier with the wind on my back.
There were many women – and men – ahead of me and I worked to keep them in sight as long as I could. Then, once we passed the 5K marking, I started to increase my pace. By 6K, I felt that I would be able to catch some as long as I could hold my pace. I was driven; for the first time in months, I finally felt like I was racing (as opposed to simply running) hard.
The last 3 kilometres became “my race.” I dug deep and ran strong. With the wind pushing me from 7k on, it almost seemed easy – but it wasn’t. It was tough and hurt – the kind of hurt that feels good when it’s over.
I did catch up to and passed a lot of girls and I ran down several men, and that always feels great. But there was one gal whom I couldn’t quite catch, the one who finished one spot ahead of me. I was so close!
But not close enough. When results were posted, I learned that we were both 45-49; she was third, leaving me in the dreaded 4th place position. This was the first race in well over a year that I hadn’t placed as an overall or age group winner, and that felt strange. But it put things in perspective for me: I have less that 2 years to go before I run with the 50 year olds so if I want to keep up with these “kiddos”, I need to do more work – speedwork that is. That started tonight.
The dreaded fourth place, though, has become a story in itself. I finished 0.5 seconds behind the 3rd place winner. That’s a measly 1/16 of a second per kilometre. I have a bank of several teenage phrases that I can pull from to describe my feelings over this one, but I’ll let the 48 year old mother/teacher mind take over instead. But seriously? 0.5 seconds? I finished the race in 35:36, slower than a few weeks ago but on a much windier course – and with tired legs. I’ll take it.
Looking back, this has made me realize how important the start of a race is. From the time before I step into the gates, I have to be ready to run – to visualize and focus. This too has been missing from my races and, yes, this has become something else for me to work on. It took me 4 seconds to cross the start, but it only took the #3 gal ahead of me 2 seconds. Hmmfff!
At school, I tell my students that no matter what their marks, there is always something that they can do to improve. Running is the same. This race, while not my best, made me realize that I have to have plan in place if I’m going to achieve my goals. What are your next steps to help you achieve your goals?