Trepidation. If there was one word to describe my state of mind going into this year’s race, that would be it.
I’d lost two and a half months last summer due to injury; the fall, was spent basically trying to find my running legs again. All in all, I’d had about five solid weeks of training. I had no doubts I would finish the race. However, I couldn’t say much more.
I was trying to take a long term view, in approaching this race. l knew it would take time and mileage to regain my pre – injury speed, and strength, and to go from there. For me, this race was a building block, and a stepping stone.
A euphemism for: a pb was not happening. Realistically, I know that every race can’t be a pb, and there is no point comparing. But compare we do. For last year’s first half, I was in shape. I had run NYC the preceding November, and I guess I never really missed a beat.
This year, I didn’t have the same mileage, or same confidence going into the race. Pre – race, part of me was regretting having signed up. I struggled to find the motivation. I reminded myself, that 6 month’s earlier, I couldn’t run a step, and so being able to run a half marathon was a big deal. This morning pre – race, I heard an announcement about how we were all winners regardless of our time. Uh huh. I heard a racer beside me laugh – “how inspirational,” were her words.
Not to take anything away from anyone – but just finishing wasn’t really going to do it for me. I thought if I could match the 1:45 I ran in 2011 – it wouldn’t be a disaster. I thought if I ran sub 1:40, it would be a miracle:p.
I saw lots of familiar faces race morning, which was encouraging but did little to assuage my anxieties. I’d made it to the race with plenty of time to spare, enough time, to line up for the washrooms x 2 (no small feat on race morning). I did a warm up. Legs felt okay. I was cautiously optimistic.
I positioned myself towards the back, in a sea of strangers. Anonymity is good. And the national anthem was sung, the gun went off, and off we went. I saw my friend David ahead, but I wasn’t going to catch him today. And seconds later, Pargol came flying by. But today, I had to run my own race, whatever that was.
I deliberately tried to keep the first few km slow – didn’t help that my garmin was registering ridiculous times. Just before entering the seawall, I saw Britt, which cheered me up greatly. And then Alan comes by – “just jogging, ” he tells me. And for him, it was jogging. As a parting encouragement, he reminded me of the infamous Gully Run we had both run. Soon, he too was gone in a sea of racers.
Run your own race, I told myself. Find your own pace. I counted off km markers, stopped for water and got passed by tons of people. At one point, pushed, barreled into? – without a word of warning by a girl wearing a VFAC bib. Don’t know if it was on purpose, but heck pushed back, took off, ran my race, and never saw her again. A small consolation.
I heard my name screamed out multiple times on course, and that was awesome. Benefit of having your running club host the race.
I kept my pace steady, and was happy that I hit the half way point, only a couple of minutes slower. This race wasn’t going as terribly as I had feared. I thought sub 1:45 was in reach. I was trying to do math as I ran.
Up ahead, I saw the Lions Gate Bridge – but not as close as it seemed. One bend after another. And then, I almost forgot we had to run the lagoon. My stomach dropped. This was around the time, I got a side stitch. I slowed down my pace, and continued to run. I told myself this trip around the lagoon was not nearly as horrible as last week’s 15km run. And it wasn’t. As I made my way around, I read the signs, drank in the cheers of the spectator, and tried to focus on holding steady. With 3km to go, I let myself pick it up a bit…but not too much. I knew the lovely little 10 meter “hill” was yet to come.
As I climbed the not so little “incline” I finally let myself believe I was nearly home. As I ran down Pacific, I left myself fly – all the the way to the finish line. Lots of familiar faces were at the finish line. I was happy.
No, not a pb – but a really decent run all things considering, and a heck of a lot better than I thought I would do coming into today’s race. Best part was – I was still upright at the finish – didn’t feel like death, or puking. And considering this was my first race in eight months, I can’t be too unhappy with the results. Just a little.