On Sunday April 27, I ran my fourth 5K of the year, the Bum Run.
It’s a really well-organized race that takes you on a nice loop around Queen’s Park and Bloor street. I signed up for it in a spurt of motivation after my last 5K (ATB) at the end of March. After that last 5K, I had finally run a strong 5K (for me) and I could feel myself getting close to PBing at the distance. I was really excited to run another 5K to keep the momentum going, but then my Yonge Street 10K “goal race” came up and I shifted my focus to that. While I had a great run at the TYS10K, I kind of felt like I had some unfinished business with 5Ks. The problem was that I started to lose focus and kind of felt myself slacking a little after my 10K. By the time the Bum Run 5K came up, I found myself feeling really unprepared and I concluded that I wasn’t really in the mood to run another mediocre 5K race. Yes, yes…. I know that not every race can be a PB, but I after running 3 in Feb & March, I was getting a little impatient!
I spent the week leading up to the 5K deciding whether I wanted to run it or not. I even tried to sell my bib to a friend the day before, but she convinced me to stick with it since I had already registered for it and to incorporate it into a long run instead. She suggested I do 10K before hand, the 5K race and then another 5K afterwards. I liked the idea! I just wasn’t sure if I was actually going to be able to do it, since I had also committed to a friend’s birthday celebration the night before as well. I would have felt really lame skipping out on celebrating my friend’s birthday for a 5K low-priority race, so I decided to just throw out any expectations for the 5K out the window and to do what my friend suggested.
Mike and I were out later than I expected (not really that surprising), and I also had trouble sleeping on Saturday night, so I woke up on Sunday morning feeling a little hungover and exhausted. It took us longer than planned to get out the door (also not really that surprising) so our 10k warm up turned into an 8k-ish warm up. The warm up was hard. I felt winded almost from the start and was breathing pretty heavily the entire time. It really messed with my head and I kept thinking about backing out of the 5K because I didn’t want to “embarrass” myself. Isn’t it funny how our ego gets in the way sometimes?
But, we made it to the start and miraculously, I started to feel better. I really think the extra warm up worked in my favour at this point. I’ve always got to remind myself that I won’t run out of steam if I do a long warm up with a shorter distance race like a 5K. But getting that “crappy” feeling out of my system before the race starts is always worth it.
I did a couple of strides before the race started (I always feel silly doing those at races… when will that feeling go away?) and then it was time to start! I bumped into a friend at the start who encouraged me to move closer to the front. In hindsight, I think it was a bit of a mistake because there were a lot of fast runners racing this year, and it made me second guess my pace.
Mike and I briefly discussed a race strategy the night before. He advised me to go hard in the 1st km, take it easy on the 2nd km because it was slightly uphill, and then continue picking up speed at each kilometre until I crossed the finish line. We didn’t really talk about pace too much since I wasn’t expecting a PB. I just wanted to focus on racing by feel, rather than staring at my watch.
I ran pretty much according to plan, aside from the 2nd and 3rd kms. I didn’t pick up my pace again fast enough after the “slight” uphill (which really wasn’t much of a hill at all) and I think I lost a lot of time there. By the time I crossed the finish line, I knew I had a run a strong race, but was pleasantly surprised to look at my watch and realize that I had PB-d! Even though, it was a very minor one – 23:51 (my PB from last year was 23:59), I was really happy to finally break free of my 24:00+ times that I kept hitting this year. And the key difference to me was the fact that I finished my 23:59 effort last year feeling really rough, and I finished this year’s race feeling great with energy to spare.
My initial goal was to get down to 22:xx by the Spring, but the reality is that I’m not there yet. It’s okay. I’ve learned that my body has its limitations and I HAVE to be patient and stop hoping for massive PBs that are unrealistic for me.
Overall, I was happy with the race. Of course, in hindsight, I wish I had run harder. A little more with my heart, a little less with my head. But I’ve got something to work with, and I’ll continue working on until I get it right. I really want to learn how to run outside of my comfort zone. To finish a race feeling like I really pushed myself to my limit. Right now, I’m still running within my comfort zone. I’m still backing off and doubting myself as soon as I feel the first sign of fatigue. It’s not that I want to run through all pain, I just want to learn how to differentiate between “I’m running hard” pain and “I am injured and need to stop for my health” pain. My mind always jumps to the second conclusion, and I really want to work on changing that. Baby steps!