Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 km trail race - DONE!

I need to back up a little because I didn't just get up off the couch and decide to enter a race and run 10 km!

Without going into details, 2010 wasn't a stellar year. I needed to do something physical to relieve the immense stress. It just so happened that my new MM (main man) was big into running. And I mean big - as in insanely long races. He's an ultra-marathon trail runner - meaning a nice training run is about 20-40km. I had always enjoyed running and did it on and off over the years but never had anyone to run with so I never stuck with it.

By January, this past year, I was finally ready to start training and do it right. I invested in the right shoes (and no they were not Christian Louboutin but it would be so cool if a high-end designer would create running shoes...but I digress), got a pass to the indoor running track near my home, and had the support of my MM who believed (and still does) that I can do anything.

It was a slow, painful, discouraging process at first. I had no idea how out of shape I was. I persisted at it though, even when all I wanted to do was anything but run. Even vacuuming seemed better at times and for those who know me, I hate vacuuming with a passion. By the the middle of March I was running for about 4kms with 2 min breaks every two or three minutes. Doesn't seem like a huge event but to me it was enormous. By Easter weekend, I had ran 10km twice and I knew I could at least participate in a race.

Along came the Sulphur Springs Trail Race - a long running (pardon the pun) race just north of Hamilton. My MM planned to run the 100-mile race (no, I didn't make a typing error - that says 100) as well as one of his running buddies and a new running friend was going to run 50 miles. Somehow my 10km goal seemed rather insignificant but I decided to enter the 10km race.

Now my MM, in his wisdom, told me that the race trail was virtually "flat". I'd been training on paved trails but he reported to me that the trails were good and well-packed so not to worry about things like tree roots. By the time we arrived at the race site the night before, there were rumours of this "crazy" hill to climb at the end of the start/finish line. "No problem", I thought to myself, "I'll just walk it - that's what the insane ultra-people do so that's what I will do". Remember that thought....

Race day the next morning was very cool and foggy. I didn't sleep well but I did get some sleep. My MM and friends started their trek at 6 a.m. I got another 1 1/2 hours of sleep; I didn't start until 8:15 - another good reason not to do ultras! I was anxious but really excited. I was on the precipice of achieving my goal - all I had to do was cross the finish line. I didn't care about the time. I just wanted to finish.

The race started without incident. All 200 of us making our way down the "crazy" hill...down down and around a corner and then down and around another corner and down again. I didn't think much about it at the time. I just knew I was going to be walking back up. I started out too fast which isn't surprising as a newbie and the first four kilometers felt like I was moving through a battle zone. The mud and puddles went up to my ankles, there were tree roots to navigate, HILLS to climb (flat...right....), and then other runners from the 100 miler, 50 miler, 50km, 25 mile and 25 km races were passing by. Then the negativity hit me. "Am I an idiot? Why did I think I was ready to run 10 km? I can't finish this! I should just DNF and take my sorry ass back home!!"

After that 4 kms though, I got my stride and my breath back at the same time. One of MM's running buddies passed me and yelled "Way to go!" and all of a sudden I was OK. I was enjoying my run. I reminded myself that I wasn't out here to win. I was out here to prove I could finish a running race.  I started to smile. I was feeling good. Then that damn crazy hill appeared. I knew I was close to the finish/start line but to get to it, I was going to have to get to the top of that hill. All of a sudden it was like I was climbing Mount Everest or Kilimanjaro or whatever major mountain you'd like to insert. I was hoping for a Sherpa to pass and perhaps carry me, but no luck. I kept telling myself - one step at a time. My thighs were yelling profanities at me. My heart was racing and if I had run at the pace it was pumping, I probably would have broken a few records. Half way up the hill I was contemplating just sitting down. You know, take a break. Have some water. Take in the view....but a very wise woman standing at the side yelled at us "only 400 m left". 400 meters? That was it? To hell with stopping I was going to get this race finished so I could collapse properly!

And one hour and sixteen minutes after I started the race, I crossed the finish line. It certainly wasn't a blazing speed but I didn't have to crawl either! I grinned for about an hour afterwards. And once I finished smiling, I did collapse back into bed.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to my next race. I learned a lot training and running my first race and I'm going to work on hill training over the next six weeks. MM and I still haven't talked about his definition of "flat" but that is for another blog. Goal Number Two is set now; no turning back!! Limberlost here I come!

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