Racing and de-Racing: Boxing Day Ten Miler

If any race is going to sum up the kind of fall that I’ve had, this is it. My new teaching assignment (which I love but has me busy), changes at home, and injured running partners have led to low weekly mileage; to race distance, you need to train distance, and I simply don’t have a strong base right now.

In spite of everything, I was ready for the Boxing Day run. I had logged several 11+ mile runs and my speed has been good. I was not prepared, though, for a sick child on Christmas night. At 11:30 p.m., Little Ironman woke up crying; by 1:00, the tears had turned into screams and I knew he had an ear infection. He could not sleep and, as a result, neither could I. By 4:30, my eyes finally stayed shut with Little Ironman wrapped in my arms. Less than 4 hours later, I was getting into the shower for a 10 mile race.

Please, don’t be too quick to judge me. Little Ironman also jumped out of bed, happy as could be and eager to play with his Christmas treats. That’s when I was sure he had an ear infection – painful at night, as soon as you’re horizontal, but not during the day. LI remembered being awake and crying, but he claimed nothing hurt in the morning. Walk-in clinics were closed and he seemed fine so we just had to take the “wait and see” approach to a real diagnosis. Meanwhile, he was as happy as could be so I had no qualms about heading out to Hamilton to race.

Despite the lack of sleep, I was excited about running. My injured running partner, Shawn, was coming out with his brother, Dan, and my recovering-from-injury running partner, Delilah, was hoping to head to Hamilton to watch the race. Some new friends from Toronto Olympic were also going to run so, really, this race wasn’t about running or racing; it was about the social aspect that comes with it.

Hamilton’s 10-miler has a great route which is known for the hills in the second half of the course so I knew that I had to start slowly – about a 7:30 mile pace – so that I had some gas left in the tank. But I blew it from the start. My first mile was in 7:02 and I ran the first 5K in 21 minutes; I tried to push down the pace each time I realized that I was slightly out of control.

By the time, I got to the 5 mile mark, I was exactly where I wanted to be – at 36 minutes. But, sleep deprivation kicked in at this point and I was clearly not thinking. For whatever reason, I thought I was headed for a 76 minute race (not the 72-73 that the clock was pacing me at) when my goal was 73-75 minutes. I gave up.

Okay, I didn’t entirely give up; I just didn’t care about how I was running anymore. Men and women passed me and it didn’t bother me. I was just plain tired. I stopped fighting the circulating wind and stopped when I needed to. I walked the first hill because I felt like it. When I got to the second hill – the slow, gradual 1 mile climb that broke me last year – I took it conservatively and I stopped less than 100 metres from the top; I walked again, hands on my hips, with deep breaths in. Had I been thinking, I could have kept running because, truthfully, I wasn’t tired from running. I was just out of sorts.

Somehow, my drive kicked back in for the last two miles; perhaps, it was because I wasn’t feeling awful at the top of the hill and I realized that I had lots left to give. So, I decided to blast through the last two miles, running them at just over a 7 minute mile pace. I finished feeling strong, not spent, but ticked off with how I ran.

When I saw Shawn, the first thing I said was, “I ran like an idiot.” The next words out of my mouth were, “If anything sums up the kind of fall I had, this race is it.” And it wasn’t long before I finally said the words that I’ve been thinking for weeks, “I don’t know if I have Boston in me this year. I’m thinking of bailing.”

Today, I spent a good chunk of time looking at where I’ve been and deciding on where I’m heading. Right now, I think what I need most is a strong race – a quick confidence boost – and a good dose of patience. And meds kicking into Little Ironman (an ear infection was diagnosed today)and a good night’s sleep will help too.

6 Replies to “Racing and de-Racing: Boxing Day Ten Miler”

  1. I agree that you need one great run to get your head back on right, don't give up on Boston yet. The past two years, we've had sick kids at Christmas, it's almost a guarantee around here! Happy New Year Cynthia!

  2. I agree with everything said above!

    I did hear back from ATB. Apparently they don't have an elite program (despite what the website says) but I did get a comp entry (score!). So I'm all registered (Leo plans to run as well) and we've booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express. Everything closer to the start/finish appears to be booked.

  3. Don't bail!!! You raced a 76 minute 10 miler on NO sleep, NO sleep!! That is pretty darn impressive. Keep at it. That is always what you tell me (and what you have been telling me for the past 3 months while I've been out and injured) – to never give up, so now I am throwing it back at you! 🙂
    lots of love,

  4. Whoa girl, don't be so quick to bail. Let the dust settle, let little Ironman recover and listen to your heart of hearts. I'd hate for you to look back and kick yourself for not going to Boston. I guess what I'm saying is don't make an emotional decision you'll regret later. Hugs.

Leave a Reply