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.
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. My 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. I 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.
I 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.
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