2011 Running Season Is Off And Running

2 Apr

From left: Dave, Penny, me, Kim

It’s official! My 2011 racing season is underway! I kicked it off today with Harry’s Spring Run-Off – an 8km run in the hills of High Park. It’s a gorgeous run, really. You’d be hard-pressed to beat it for scenicness (yes, that is a word – doesn’t matter that I just made it up thirty seconds ago), but oh dear Lord, it’s hard. Especially if you’ve just emerged from a winter lean of runs, and it’s been mere days since you recovered from a bad cold.

What made this race different to most others that I have taken part in is that I ran with some fellow members of my running club, Kim and Penny, along with Penny’s boyfriend David, who is not technically a member of the club but is part of the furniture enough for us to regard him as such.

We all started together, but we separated fairly early in the race. Although I really enjoyed the fact that my running friends were there with me, I felt a need to run the actual race by myself. Running with someone else, I would have felt obligated to match their pace. Having just recovered from a cold, and in view of the fact that I need to do some work to regain form and speed, I wanted to run my own race, following a pacing strategy that would make sense to me.

I ran fairly easy for the first three kilometres, aided by a long downhill stretch. The downhill was followed fairly quickly by an uphill, which was not long as the downhill had been, but the gradient was steeper. After getting to the top of the hill, I was utterly spent – and I still had 5km to go.

Cripes, how was I going to do this?

Sheer grit and determination, same way I’ve completed many other races I’ve struggled in. I took it fairly easy for the next kilometre, and then I reached the magical halfway mark, which is a psychological wonder in any race. From this point forward, every step I took meant that the distance remaining was that much shorter than the distance elapsed. For the next 3km, the hills were rolling (up and down) but manageable.

Then…

1km to go…

The first half of the last kilometre started well enough, but then, with a mere 500 metres left, there was another hill to tackle. A nasty, NASTY one. You know the long downhill stretch I mentioned at the beginning of the race? It was the same hill. Only instead of going down, I had to go up. After having run for 7.5km. It was not pretty.

I made it up the hill (Determination? Stupidity? Act of God?), and as I reached the top I was about to stop and take a breather when I saw the finish line around the corner, maybe fifty metres away. Those fifty metres felt like about fifty miles, and when I crossed the finish line, I was never more grateful to be able to stop running.

I received my medal with gratitude, went to the food station and inhaled a banana, and went to a predetermined meeting spot to meet up with the others.

We finished the race with varying times, and happily made our way out of the park with our medals hanging around our necks – our badges of honour that proved to the world that we had earned the right to have aching legs and look like crap.

Was this race my best one? Not by a long shot. With a time of almost 57 minutes, my average pace was slower than it had been in over a year.

But I FINISHED, damnit! It was a hard race and I finished it!

And that, my friends, is good enough for me.

 

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4 Responses to “2011 Running Season Is Off And Running”

  1. Amy April 2, 2011 at 6:53 PM #

    YEAH!!! I’ve been waiting to hear how it went! Good job!

    I hope I can say I at least finished come October!!!

  2. Malindi Elmore April 5, 2011 at 12:09 PM #

    Great recount of the race…echoed many of my experiences racing, especially the half way point. I often have that thought when I get there too, thinking of every step as a repeat of one already taken. But usually I am working much harder by that point! I laughed out loud on a few of your entries – thanks for that!

    • runningforautism April 5, 2011 at 4:30 PM #

      It’s true – as runners we do tend to push ourselves harder in the second half, so it seems harder. But the beckon of the finish cannot be resisted! Thanks for reading!

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