This past Sunday, I ran the Toronto Goodlife Half-Marathon. Since I’m still new to the world of running, I always learn at least one new thing in each race that I run. Today, I learned several things.
- I do too much. Thinking that I could work the way I do, exercise the way I do, and eat the foods I want to eat (meaning taking the time to cook on a regular basis) was wearing me out. Something had to give, and for the first two months of my training, it was running.
- Taking a two week hiatus in the middle of the training cycle doesn’t have to be detrimental to my training. Yes, I didn’t run much during those two weeks — but I still managed a PB even if I didn’t hit my ultimate goal. Did I mention daily beers, pastries, and vegetables bathed in olive oil during said vacation? Would you take that back?
- Yoga is awesome (especially Jock Yoga – if you’re in the Toronto area, I insist you check out his classes). Sure, I experienced some running-related soreness here and there, but overall, no serious injuries and no emergency trips filled with panic to my physiotherapist. Bad for her business, good for my wallet and mental happiness.
- Goal-setting may be a bit easier if you actually sign up for a race….. earlier than two weeks before the race itself. Setting a goal at that time may result in disappointment and trying to place blame on other factors for your “failure” (see #2.)
- Deciding on a new breakfast routine a few weeks before the actual race may not be the best idea. Going from a hearty bowl of oatmeal to a green smoothie and a mini piece of toast may result in running out of steam 3/4 of the way into the race.
- Forgetting to take your running fuel as planned may also contribute to burn-out.
- Running 5 seconds ahead of a pace bunny who is actually running slower than planned pace may result in disaster when said pace bunny decides to speed up during the last leg of the race to make up for lost time. Caution, this could result in watching the pace bunny swan away and make you feel like a weakling for not being able to keep up.
- Weaving around people throughout the entire race (except at the end when everyone is passing you because you’ve been reduced to shuffling towards the end) takes up way more energy than you’d think. That one took me completely by surprise.
- Feeling like you’re on a Sunday LSD for 3/4 of the race means nothing when you suddenly try to accelerate your speed to keep up with the pace bunny and your legs feel like lead.
- Learning that it’s possible to misinterpret km markers for the full marathon as the half-marathon ones.
- Learning that it’s possible to do this several times throughout the race – especially the 20km one that was placed right around the 18km mark (and when you speed up and try to keep up with the pace bunny).
- Deciding the morning off to run with only 2 water bottles when you’re used to running with 4, because, you know… they’re heavy?
- Only integrating gels back into your LSD runs a month before race day (in my defense, this was because the thought of gels since Chicago have made me gag).
- Running 10k on a trail when your shins are already feeling a little sore may result in loss of confidence during taper week.
- The last circle around Queen’s Park at the end of the race is evil. Pure evil.
- Goal-setting is important, but not losing sight of the bigger picture is even more so. I spent almost an entire day feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t meet what I thought was a conservative goal for myself. Judging by how sore I’ve felt the days following the race, I gave a pretty honest effort in trying to meet my goal and I’m humbled once again by the distance, and the time-goal that I set for myself. I have to remember that I only ran my first half-marathon in Sept 2009, and my first 10k in May 2009. My physio always tells me that it takes time for my body to get used to running, and I constantly need to remind myself of that because I’m impatient by nature.
There’s always a next time, there’s always a silver lining, and there’s so much more to life than losing sleep over a missed time-goal.
Everyone tells me that I’m too hard on myself, so this is me trying to work through and see the positive.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
~Alexander Graham Bell