Sunday, June 24, 2007

My first real 5k race!

Shortly after the Ottawa marathon, TB asked me if I'd be interested in running a 5k race with him north of Montreal in Laval.

I've got wheels. He doesn't. He's got fast legs. I don't.

Obvious answer: "I'll go out and support you but I won't run it."

Wrong answer: "I'll go out and support you but I won't run it."

TB signed me up online right there and then and told me that I'd be running it with him and chuckled heartedly ... sigh. What had he gotten me into?!?

I've never run a race shorter than a half marathon (well, a 5k once with my kids, but that was to pace them) and to tell you the truth, fast races give me the heebie-jeebies! I can handle the long periods of pain a body experiences from the wear-and-tear of endurance races but there is something about knowing I am supposed to run as fast as I can that puts too much pressure on me. Besides, I hate feeling all huffy-puffy like I want to pass out or puke or both.

So race day came. I had been dreading this and felt nervous.

I had been psyching myself up for this for a while, not through training 'cause you and I know I ain't any good in that department but at least I was mentally prepared to hurt. The mental part of racing is my forté. I ain't got any real running talent. I fake it all the time and today, I knew I wouldn't be able to fake it anymore. The moment of truth had arrived.

We arrived at at the address on the race info pages TB had printed out from the internet at 9:00 am with enough time to spare. WHAT?!?!

Our hearts and stomachs dropped. Where were the other cars? The runners, race tent, timing mats, and all that other great race excitement stuff? The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am!! Something was very very wrong and we didn't know what to do.

After a good 10 minutes of disbelief and disheartenment, we drove off to check out the 10k start, perhaps we would find everyone there. No one, nada. We went back to the 5k start. Yup, right address. Yup, right start time. No one except us.

Could it have been the wrong date on the internet pages? No ... there would be other runners in the same position as us, driving around aimlessly, hoping to find a race. Accepting our disappointment, we called it a day and headed back home. Several kilometres west, we had seen people setting up pylons and on our way back, we decided to stop and ask one of the volunteers for which event that was ... It was OUR RACE! We quickly drove further west in search for our precious 5k start line and after a few minutes, saw a bunch of souls in running gear huddled by a house, but there were no other signs of a race.

"Excuse me, is this the 5k start?"

Luckily, the race was starting late. Parking, parking, we had to find parking.

I quickly put on my running shoes and TB and I both made potty stops in the nearby field as there were no port-o-lets at this tiny race! Then we started jogging to the start line over a 100 m away. But the little pack of people weren't getting any closer - the race had already started! There had been no gun or audible start signal. We ran quicker and arrived at the start line. I was already out of breath, which was not a good sign. TB looked at me and said, "This will be our race time," then started the chronometer on his watch and we were off!

Not the ideal conditions to start a race ... a semi-sprint to the start line with no warm up nor stretching nor time to mentally prepare for a strong start. TB quickly caught up to the rest of the runners. I tried to pace myself but the tail end of the runners being so far away was daunting. I knew I was running too fast and wouldn't be able to keep that pace for the entire race, but I needed to feel a part of the race, and call it ego, but I especially needed to pass the children and the runners with strollers.

I tried to concentrate on keeping even breathing, but it already hurt and I could feel my asthma wanting to kick in. I also tried to keep a quicker turn-over than what I'm used to when I run long distance, but I knew that with the bad start and no warm-up, I wouldn't be able to open up my stride and find something comfortable. I felt tight and heavy and slow and forced my pace but I succeeded in passing some more runners.

Where were the mile markers? I needed to figure out my pacing to try to salvage the race but hadn't a clue where I was ... The last 2km dragged out and I could feel my legs getting even heavier. My turn-over got slower and I started feeling tingly in my arms and shoulder and a little dizzy. I could feel my blood pressure dropping and this was not a good sign. I am not used to exerting myself like this and had to slow down just a tad to avoid passing out.

TB, having finished the race, ran back and joined me for the last 500 m or so ... He bounding with energy and I felt so slow and weak. He called out words of encouragement ... "We're coming up the the final stretch ... blah, blah, blah ..." and I put up my hand to stop him from speaking. I didn't have enough energy to do anything but focus on pushing forward and breathing and keep from passing out and TB's well-intentioned call-outs were distracting me from the task I had at hand.

FINISHED!!! Finally!

A volunteer handed me my finisher's medal and another one removed my timing chip. I leaned over a barrier and the blood rushed back to my head as I caught my breath. This is why I don't like fast races.

It was only then did I notice that hey, here was where all the "race excitement" was ... look at that tent and the tables and banners and the all those colourful plates full of fruit waiting to be gobbled down.

We ran into one of TB's race buddies, Christine, who recognized me from having read my blog (COOL!). What a lovely person ... we shared race stories and jokes as we awaited the awards ceremony and prize draws. Nope, we didn't win the airplane tickets. Shucks.

Would I do this race again? You bet your bottom dollar. Would I be able to get used to the kind of torture a fast race elicits on my body? No, but the post-race excitement and socializing was so much fun! And the best part was I wasn't hurting or completely spent, like I am after a marathon, meaning I could still go out and have a full day.

TB and I walked the several kilometres back to my car while our shoulders fried in the sun. We stumbled upon the 5 k start line on the bicycle path ... yup, folks, that is gaffer tape.

Then we headed back to Montreal and celebrated our race with some DQ (Dairy Queen).

Policemen in police vehicles stop for doughnuts. Policemen on horses stop for ice cream.

Chip time: 28:41 (we started 1:10 behind everyone)

TB's watch time: 27:31 (about an 8:50/mile pace)

Admittedly not as fast as I would have liked. I would have run much faster if I could have paced myself properly and had had a proper warm-up and start. I think training for this race would have helped me get a better time ... but hey, I did good for a girl who's got no speed and has only run all of 18 or 19 k in the last three weeks :-)

I came in 21st out of 42 runners, meaning I passed 21 people. TB came in 8th. We both would have moved up in ranking by 2 spots had we started with everyone else ... but we didn't. The race was what it was and it was worth it!

What an incredible day! Thanks TB!!

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Anonymous Yvonne said...

Congrats Silly! Wait a sec, they had ice cream cones for the post-race food???!!!

On a hot humid day, that may be better than duck!

See you tonight.

8:11 a.m.  

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