Race report – B&O Yorkville 5k

Race date: September 13, 2015

This is by far my favourite local race, and with the addition of the Canadian 5k Road Race Championship race being added to the event last year, it’s even better.

Going into the race this year, I had set 2 goals. My A goal was to finish under 35 minutes. My B goal was have a faster finish than I had at the Pride Run in June which was a personal worst for me at 36:39.

I have spent the last 2 and a half months coming back from that hammy injury. Slowly increasing my long run in accordance with a half marathon training schedule but only running 3 times a week. Basically taking it easy.

The course has a 2 km downhill at the start, turns flat and then makes another turn back up for 2 km before turning towards the finish line. It’s known to be a fast course, but that stretch of 2km up, up, up at 2.5 – 4.5 km is one of my least favourite stretches to run. I don’t know what it is, but I have a real mental block about it. It’s not really steep, it’s just a gradual, non-stop incline and it breaks me every time.

My race strategy was to run 15 minutes and take a 1 minute walk break to take a bit of a breather before heading up that incline. I thought that at some point along that stretch, I would need to take another bit of a walk to catch my breath and collect myself before turning to the finish stretch.

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The start of the Championship Race

I headed out early to take in the Championship race. A couple of people in my run community were brave enough (and fast enough) to enter and I love watching the elites tear it up on a fast 5k race. It’s really something to see and this year did not disappoint.

After being inspired by that race, I got myself ready for my race. I checked my bag, walked to the start line, caught up with Mike and wished him luck, set my iPod playlist to “Race Pace” and waited for the sound of the horn to start the race. There were no markers for people to line up according to their expected times, so everyone was mixed together depending on when they made it to the corral.

As I crossed the line to start the race, the crowds were pretty thick. It’s a small race of about 1,000 people but as with a lot of small local races, the field includes kids and a fair number of inexperienced people. I spent the first few minutes weaving past a lot of people who were walking, but running downhill made up for it.

The first 2km was even better than I had expected. orig-BOAD1079My leg wasn’t hurting and I wasn’t feeling that sluggish feeling I’ve grown to expect on most of my runs in the past few months. I was feeling great – Energized, stronger than I have in a long time. A glance at my Garmin confirmed that I was running quite well. About where I expected. Maybe a little faster. When I turned onto the short, flat section of the course I checked again and determined the timing was perfect.

By the time I hit the uphill, I would be at 15 minutes, I could take a walk break to recharge and psych myself up. But, when I turned onto University Ave., I didn’t feel the hill. orig-BOAE1843I thought to myself maybe the incline starts a little further up. So I decided to keep running until I felt myself slowing down on the hill and I actually needed a breather. Just past 3km, there was a water station. I walked through the water station, but decided not to take the full minute. I took a few sips and started up again. Another 1.5km of this incline to go. I still had it in my mind to take a walk before I made the final turn but I caught myself. I was feeling really great. Why did I need to stop at all? So I didn’t.

orig-BOAC1920I turned into the final 400m or so of the race, saw the finish line and kicked it up. As I approached the finish line, the time on the clock was 34:45. I knew then that I had broken 35 minutes. My A goal achieved. I was so happy.

When I looked at my Garmin, I saw that my chip time would be around 33:44. That’s not even close to my 5k PB of 30:47 which I earned in this race 3 years ago, but it’s well under my A goal, and after all my challenges over the past 6 months I’m really happy with this result. 
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I’m still reeling with fact that I didn’t feel that incline during the race. It didn’t wear me down. Mentally or physically. This is HUGE for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve run that stretch, and I’ve hated every second of it. Every. Single. Second.

For me, that was the best part of the day.

Official time: 33:41.3

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Pride and Remembrace 5k race and injury update

Race date: June 27, 2015

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since the Ottawa Marathon, trying to recover from this stubborn right hamstring injury. I took a full 4 weeks off, and then, just to get my legs moving and test them out before the Pride and Remembrance 5k run, I did two very short runs. Both were slow and sluggish.

The day before the race, I saw my physiotherapist for my weekly appointment. I was sore and achy and starting to believe that this stupid hamstring is never going to get better. It’s been almost 5 weeks of total rest and I feel like it’s not getting any better at all… Well, except that I don’t have to sit on a pillow at work anymore, so I guess that’s something. My physio applied some kinesiology tape to my leg, showed me how to do it myself and gave me instructions to stretch my quads and hip flexors before I run.

Within a few hours of leaving her office, the pain in my leg was almost gone, but I wasn’t holding out much hope that it would lessen the pain that I felt on both of my short runs the week before because I had tape on my leg for those runs as well.

So, I’ve been looking forward to this race for months! I went out last year to spectate and it looked like so much fun I couldn’t wait for registration to open this year. This is a small race with a maximum of 1500 entries and they were all Me and the girls at pridespoken for. It’s also known for its amazing after party with a fantastic atmosphere, great music, food and cake from Dufflet Bakery. Mike and my daughters were going to come and join the fun as well. Neither of my daughters had ever been out to a race before so I was looking forward to them experiencing the excitement.

Because of my injury, the plan going in was to run easy and just have fun. No pressure. Based on the two runs I did in the last week (both were painful, slow and I found out just how much cardio I’ve lost in 4 weeks),Me and Julie I thought I would probably come in around 38 – 40 minutes. We met up with Julie and a couple other friends at the start line, took a few photos and then Mike and the girls went to find a good place to watch the race and we headed into the corral to wait until the confetti flew and the race was on!

We went out nice and easy, Julie letting me set the pace. The course is flat along Wellesley with a couple of small inclines as you circle around Queen’s Park (twice) before heading back along Wellesley to the finish. Julie and I chatted the whole way getting caught up with each other and enjoying the costumes of runners and the marching band along the course. I was really happy when I realized that I wasn’t feeling any of that familiar leg fatigue, ache or pain I’ve grown accustomed to. From beginning to end I was pretty much pain-free! Just a small niggling at the top of the right leg but that was it. I was also happy to be able to run for 21 minutes before taking a 1 minute walk break. That was the longest I’ve run continuous since the marathon over a month ago and nowhere near how I did earlier in the week. I didn’t bring any water and it was warmer than I thought so I did need to take advantage of the water station, and we took one other mini walk break before turning towards the home stretch.

1-_DSC6522 (2) I saw a lot of familiar faces along the final stretch. Friends who had already finished their race, or who had come out just to cheer. I crossed the line and was pleasantly surprised with the time I saw.

This race was both a PW (personal worst) and a PV (personal victory). It produced my slowest 5k race result to date, but it was also a victory because I ran it comfortably, pain-free and faster than anticipated. In fact, I couldn’t believe how great I felt!

Five days later, as I write this, I’m cautiously excited to share that I have had about 85-90% less pain in these 5 days, than at any time, in the past 5 months. I have to wonder what it was that caused such a drastic change. Did the weeks of rest I’d had finally kick in, was it the taping of my leg, or was it the magic that is the Pride and Remembrance run? Whatever the reason, I cross my fingers (and my toes) that the momentum keeps going.

My short term plan is to increase mileage and number of runs slowly over the next few week and hope that I’ll be back to regular training for my fall half marathon soon.

Official time: 36:39

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Race Report – MEC 5k Take Two

Race Date: October 27, 2013

This report is late coming. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  Fighting with myself about whether I should write it or not. I’ve decided to do it because I need to keep things real. Accountability is important to me. So here goes.

This was my third attempt at a 5k race and the second attempt at this course for the season. After four months of hard work, I was hoping to end off on a high note. Reap the rewards of a successful training cycle in which I achieved weekly goals I had never even dreamed possible. 

About a week before the race, it was decided that Mike would pace me through it. A few times that week we discussed what the approach would be. Mike was suggesting a negative split. Go out a bit slower at a 6:05 pace and then speed up to about 5:50 or so for the second half. Not being totally convinced that I would be able to increase my speed I decided I wanted to do even splits at a 5:57 pace. That would bring me in at about 29:45. Based on my training, I thought that with someone there to pace me through it, I would be able to maintain that speed.

Race morning was sunny but pretty chilly calling for 2 ayers on top and capri length leggings on bottom. Mike and I walked to the start together. It was nice to see some of our friends there. Miguel, Andrew and Wing had all decided to run this small community race last minute.

I got off to a fantastic start. Mike’s pacing for the first km was a bit faster than the 5:57 we had discussed but I was feeling great. As the second km started I was a little bit behind Mike, but keeping up. And then around 1.75k, as we passed a water station, a girl that was running in front of me decided to come to a complete stop. I had to stop to avoid crashing into her and the few seconds I lost, increased the distance between Mike and I considerably. I was a little shaken up and it took me more time than it should have to shake off the near collision and Mike just kept getting further and further ahead of me. By the time I got to the turnaround point at 2.5k, he was nowhere in sight. I had lost my pacer.

I couldn’t understand why he kept going. Why he didn’t come back or wait for me and help get me back on track. I felt totally defeated and I started walking. I walked for about 60 seconds or so, put my iPod on and spent the time considering quitting. Cutting my losses and calling it a day. But, I couldn’t do it. I don’t quit anything. So, I started to run again, but my head was just all over the place. I was really rattled. Confused by why Mike didn’t stop and wait for me. His sole purpose for being in this race was to pace me and I couldn’t even see him any more. I walked again. 45 – 60 seconds. I’m not exactly sure.

Around 3.5k I thought “pull it together, you’ve worked too hard”. So, with new found strength, I picked it up a bit and carried forward. Somewhere around 4k I saw Miguel on the side of the route. He had finished his race and come back out on the course. He ran with me to the finish. Pushing me, encouraging me, the way Miguel does. I played leap frog with another runner back and forth for that km and was back up to the 5:55 pace I had targeted for. The last 100m or so I had Mike on the left and Miguel on the right shouting at me and I saw the leap frogger coming up on me again. No way was he going to pass me. I dug deep giving it everything I had and left him behind. MEC 5k Take 2As I ran to the finish I recall hearing Andrew and Wing cheering for me. What a great feeling to have such amazing, supportive friends. Crossed the finish, stopped my Garmin. Mission not accomplished.

Going through my Garmin track I can see exactly where the break was and when I picked it up again and I am confident that had I not gotten rattled, concentrated on the task at hand (after all it was my race to win or lose) I would have achieved my 30 minute goal.

After speaking with Mike, I found out that we had a disconnect. I had not been clear as to what I expected of him. I told him to run a 5:57 pace and that’s what he did. He thought if I fell behind I would work harder to catch back up in order to achieve my goal. I had assumed he would stick with me regardless of what was happening. No blame on Mike. My fault. Disconnect or not, I should have been able to stay focused and I didn’t.

The 5k race is a tough one. You have to be focused and push hard for the full distance in order to succeed. There can be no mistakes. A lot of people don’t like running them for that very reason.

As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed training specifically for the 5k races. Doing the speed work, the challenge of each week’s intervals. Loved it. And at the end of each 5k race, when I’m doubled over because my stomach is turning and I can’t catch my breath, I feel like I’ve done something really great. I’ve pushed myself as far as I could.

I haven’t hit my 30 minute goal yet, but when I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll be setting my sights on 25 minutes…

Official time: 31:01

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