Since I started training for the Ironman, my desire of running road races had to be curbed. After all, I am coming off a hip injury and I have to be careful. I have heard this from my coach countless times. When this race finally showed up in my calendar, he said that I can run it, but not race it. But... but... HOW am I going to put on the brakes on Yonge St.? With a few bumps here and there, it is a net downhill. Trust me, I've set my previous PR there 2 years ago. And, what about my "40 steps to 40" goals? I wanted to improve my 10K and 5K times this year. Will I even be able to run again after the Ironman? I may just DIE there!! Anyway, you can imagine all the scenarios playing in my head over and over again.
However, one thing for sure, I was calm. I went to pick up my race kit on Saturday and spent a total of 3 min at the expo since we were late for spectating a soccer game. I literally ran through the venue and didn't think too much about next day. When I went to bed that night I had yet to decide what to do. Woke up at 6am, and surprise surprise, I still had no clue. Seriously, the only strategy I had was to "put a foot in front of the other, don't step in a pothole or roll your ankle on the tram tracks, breathe, drink if you're thirsty, enjoy the sunshine and most important, stay alive". Also, not looking at the damn Garmin. That could only bring headaches with all the GPS bounce around.
The other "problem" was that I had to do 17km since it was a long run day, and no race was supposed to interfere with the schedule. I decided to run 3km before the race as a warm up and 4km after, then hop on the subway and go back to my car, then drive home.
I parked my car near the starting line, then went on a mission to find my friend Carol and the washrooms. It was still early, so I got to the port-a-potties first. No lineup, yay! No paper either, so I had to switch stalls because I needed to do both 1&2. Thankfully I noticed soon enough. Found Carol too, then we started our little run. Went back to the car and dropped my hoodie, took a sip of Gatorade and off I went on my own to continue warming up the legs, tired after the 3h30 trainer ride that I had done the day before. Of course legs felt like crap. By the time the warmup ended, I was convinced that I was going to suffer during the race and I should just take it easy. Rejoined Carol at the starting line, just behind the 50min pacer.
Then I saw a guy with a pink sign that said "Forget calm, run like hell". And it must have planted a little seed of doubt in my abilities to really stay calm. Shortly thereafter I ended passing the 50min pacer and my competitive spirit kicked in. I also noticed Carol about 100m in front of me. I had no plans to catch her at that moment, I was still a bit puzzled by the situation with the pacer. Should I stay or should I go? I wondered if I could stay ahead of him for a while... But then I noticed that I was also catching up with Carol. Uh oh. Was she slowing down? I told her she's not allowed to! With 2.5km to go I managed to get close enough to her to give her a slap on the butt and I said "told you not to let me catch you!" And she sped away from me. Attagirl!! I continued chasing her ponytail and before I knew it, I was over the Bathurst bridge and on the last stretch towards the finish line.
I wanted to finish strong, and of course, ahead of the 50min pacer. I did not let him catch me either and crossed the finish line in 49:03. I could not be happier that I beat both my 10K and 5K PRs, just as I wanted. Based on the official time set on this same course 2 years ago, I improved my 10K PR by 4min 47sec, and I even did a negative split. My fastest 5K is now 24:10. Two more items crossed off the list!! Wooohooo!
I'm pretty sure that my legs didn't agree with my definition of "fun" for that day, but eventually they stopped pouting and I could go back to my regular training schedule, all without a single Advil.
For not "racing" that day, I definitely blew it. But sometimes, you just have to follow your heart. I ran completely by feel, did not look once at my watch and I ended being pleasantly surprised. Of course, this would be quite irresponsible to do on longer distances, but since I've met all my time goals for this year, it should be much easier to keep myself in check from now on. That's all, folks!