As a relatively new runner, I find that with each longer distance race, I sign up with the goal of just covering the distance. "Ooo, I signed up to run a 30K!" My training for Around the Bay had been largely focused on this mindset. I completed the distance required in each training session, even if that meant taking walk breaks. I did some speed training, but it wasn't my main focus. I was proud and impressed with the dedication and effort I had put in over the past months and harsh winter. All was good until a few days before the race when my running friends started talking about pace. I looked back at my running log as if seeing it for the first time. I was slow. And suddenly, I wanted fast. Here I was with mixed messages about what I wanted out of this race--and no time to do anything about it.
Thankfully after reflecting, reading and writing about speed not being the only gauge of success for a runner, I was able to redefine my goals for the race: complete the distance to the best of my ability and have fun.
The great part about the goal of having fun was that for this race, I was planning on meeting many of the awesome people I chatted with regularly in the running community. As soon as I arrived at the stadium the morning of the race, I saw smiling faces I recognized. I found myself having to constantly remember what we were all actually there for as we laughed and chatted.
The first 10K went well. It was warmer than anticipated, but I was able to unzip my jacket and put my gloves in my pocket and cool off enough. Penny and I were pacing each other well. This is the first race I've ever run with anyone for such a long stretch and I found it motivating. I started fuelling at around 5K in. I had done many fuel trials during my training since I had been finding many items sat in my stomach like a sloshing rock, especially when my pace increased. For the race I had dates, pretzel bits, chia gel and an emergency pack of honey stingers. Yeah. My pockets were full.
Penny and I continued catching up to one another playing tag, chatting along the way. The winds picked up as we turned onto York Boulevard, and I was extremely happy for my jacket and gloves. We passed the church with its cheering priest and choir. We passed Stan and his 'We Will Rock You' and finally, we reached the Grim Reaper(s) and paused to snap a photo. I found a little burst of energy with around 2K to go and pushed ahead, only to completely peter out again with the stadium in sight. Penny went ahead, realizing a PB was still within reach. The crowds cheering along the road were hard to resist and I managed to find a hidden bit of strength to speed along the final stretch, painfully down the ramp and into the stadium. Hearing your name across the stadium as you sprint to the finish is something I will never forget. I crossed the mats at 3:43:09. Under my guesstimated finish of 3:45.
I completed the distance to the best of my ability and really did have fun. I pushed through discomfort and got it done. I trained for months in a record breaking winter. I ran further than I ever had before. With a year and a half of running experience I chose a race considered challenging and finished.
On the flip side thinking back to my doubts before the race, of course I ultimately wanted a faster time. It's hard not to see the results of others and wish you could do the same. Would I have been able to go any faster during this race? Not enough to make much of a difference in my time or risk crashing even more. My race result pretty much reflected my long training runs. It was an example of using 'x' to train and get 'x' as a result.
So yes, I was happy with my result, plus, I really feel that I learned a lot in the days leading up to and the race itself.
I realized that it's important to always have a goal for your race and plan your training accordingly. I did have a goal, but at the last second I wanted something else and that wasn't being fair to myself or my training. In the end I managed to remember my goal and reach it, even with struggles. And instead of thinking 'what if' in regards to speed, I can use the desire to be faster as a goal for a future race and actually focus on it in training.
Running. Learning, evolving and dreaming every step of the way.