After months of watching friends and strangers race while I was sidelined, and consequently dealing with a bad case of FOMO, I was able to finally toe the line at the Hamilton 10K. I had kept quiet about this as it wasn’t really suppose to be a race. I wanted a fast paced run, faster than I had been doing on my own but not at a true race pace. I wasn’t ready for that yet. I hadn’t done any kind of speedwork at all and I wasn’t physically or emotionally ready to put myself out there.
But psychologically, I needed to start racing. I needed to see where I was at in terms of my own fitness – to establish a baseline to build on – and I needed to rebuild some confidence in my running again.
On the morning of the race, Dave was about to put Zeda on a leash when I asked him to stop. “Can’t we just leave her at home this time?” “Well, what I am suppose to do when you’re running?” “Wait for me. Cheer me on. Socialize. This is my first race in over a year and a half. It’s my first race since I’ve been injured. I just want you there for me. I need you to look after me today.” And he did. We got to Confederation Park and Dave kept me company while I warmed up, walked me to the start line, held my bag and gave me a good luck hug. The rest was up to me.
I had what I thought was the perfect race strategy. I was going to start at an 8 minute/mile pace, bring it down to 7:50 for miles 2 and 3, and push towards a 7:40 pace or whatever felt right for the last half of the course. Based on my training, I figured that I could run 10K around 48 minutes so that was my goal. If I could get between 47 and 48 minutes, I would be happy; if I could go under 47, I would be really happy. As luck would have it, the wind picked up in the days leading up to the race, resulting in a particularly chilly and windy morning. Regardless, I still felt that a 48 minute finish was a reasonable goal.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I ran my first mile in 7:11. “Slow down, Cynthia. That’s too fast. You’ve got to fight the wind for the last half.” So I did -by a whole second; I ran my second mile in 7:12. I wasn’t tired; I felt good. But I knew it was too fast and I didn’t want to blow up in the last half of the race. I was able to pull the pace down to 7:21, then to a 7:23 for miles 3 and 4. Perfect. I knew that I had lots left to give for the last two miles, even with the wind. Mile 5 was my slowest (7:33), exactly as I expected, but I changed gears again and ran mile six at a 7:25 pace, finishing the last 0.2 miles in 6:54. Pacing was all over the place but I was thrilled with my result – 45:26 for a 12th place finish on the women’s side and 1st in my 50-59 age group. I did not expect that at all.
Thirteen months ago, after tearing my hamstring, I didn’t think I would ever be able to run or race again. But I wasn’t going to give up easily. Instead, I spent hours each week cross-training, mostly cycling and yoga, to keep my cardio strong and develop different groups of muscles. In the summer, when I started running again, everything came together and now I feel fit, really fit. I feel ready to set some goals. But the logical side of my brain takes over and tells me “Wait! You’ve been through a lot. You need to slow down a little. You need more recovery time. You need….”
So I listen. But the bar has been set and I am physically and psychologically ready to lower it a bit more, even if it means doing so slowly and cautiously. I have everything in place – a solid level of fitness, time to take a deliberate and cautious approach, help from my coach, chiropractor and physiotherapist and, most importantly, support and encouragement from my husband. I am not just going to chase my dreams; I am going to catch them.
One Reply to “Not A Race Plan”
I’m so so so so so happy for you! For the amazing results of this race, yes, but for having the patience and dedication to keep trekking, keep hoping and keep dreaming even when things looked dismal. Kudos.