Day two of the awesome Maritime Race Weekend began well before the crack of dawn. The evening before was filled with surprises as my daughter, Rebecca, participated in her first race at the 5 KM Sunset race. You can read all about our adventures here!
The biggest surprise for me was discovering that my 8 year old cares nothing about pacing oneself in a race event. Our fun easy evening turned into a fun ‘catch me if you can’ game of sprinting FULL out and then walking enough for this Mama to recover her breath. Many may call this speed training and it is certainly not recommended for the night before a 10 KM race where you are hoping to get a new personal record!!
Her surprise change to my plan was totally worth it to see her smiling face but it left me restless with achy legs and unable to sleep with my head swirling with “What do I do for my 10 KM race now?”. I woke at 5 am well before the alarm and decided to just get up and get the day going. I was still filled with anxiousness over the game plan for the day and was feeling the drain from the evening before.
After some breakfast, organizing my stuff and getting out in the crisp morning air, my commitment plan returned. There was something about sitting in the just barely lit sky of a beautiful fall morning. I sat staring at the pen markings on my arm. The plan to beat my 10 KM personal record and a slower plan B for to achieve a new course personal record. I worked hard for this race and wasn’t going to miss out on it because I was feeling a little tired and my legs were a bit stiff.
The energy was again contagious once we arrived at Fisherman’s Cove. Even though the vibe on Saturday morning is different from the fun party atmosphere of the Friday Sunset event, it’s far from a somber seriousness. I chatted with friends (and took Michelle and I’s now traditional race thumbs up photo!) before heading into the start line corral which was set up differently this year. Usually, there are signs along the fence labelled with your predicted finish time so you know where to situate yourself in the crowd. This year there were only colors that coordinated with your bib color. When we registered, we submitted an estimated finish time and this generated our colors. I couldn’t remember what I predicted and wasn’t 100% sure of this idea but lined up at the start of my appointment blue section. Nerves set in when I saw the Pace Bunnies join the crowd and realized that the 1:05 bunny was about 8 to 10 people deep ahead of me! I wanted to be situated ahead of him and behind the 1:00 bunny. At this point, it was too late to adjust my location without jostling through the now thick crowd which is something I’m totally not brave enough to do.
I took some deep centering breathes to try to calm the nerves but I was rattled. We started moving and the crowd was thick. I couldn’t understand why it felt so tight and why I felt so claustrophobic. Racing is usually so freeing for me and I was getting really frustrated so I got up on the sidewalk to try to find room but was met with another crowd that was trying the same tactic. I realized that if I was where I should be in the pack based on pace that I wouldn’t feel so stuck. I started weaving through people to get into pockets of space where ever I could to move ahead. While doing this, my silly brain kept telling me that weaving and darting ahead was not a smart use of energy but at this point I felt I had no other choice.
At the 2.5 KM mark, the 5 KM runners turned around leaving a little bit more elbow room, I fell into a good pace and was feeling strong when I started the climb of the only hill on the 10 KM route. I was nearly to the top when my breathing told me I was pushing a bit too hard this early in the race. I took a 15 second walk break to finish off the hill and allow my breathing to settle. Once I started again, my legs kicked into that autopilot feeling and I was enjoying the ride.
The top of the hill turns runners onto and through a short crescent. At the end of this crescent, the 10 KM runners turn right and head back down the hill while the half and full marathoner’s turn left and continue on their route. At that intersection, I was prepared to be flooded with regret for not being able to turn left with the half marathoners but the day was getting hot fast and I realized that I was exactly where I was suppose to be. I happily made the right turn and cruised down the hill.
Along the descent, I picked up some great tips that a Pace Bunny was sharing as I passed him by. The little tweaks made a difference and forced me to let go a little. I giggled at how fun it was to run down that hill. At the bottom of the hill we turned left and continue out AWAY from the finish line for a kilometer and a bit before making a u-turn to head straight back to the finish line. The course truly has the most beautiful scenery ever!
It’s a bit of a mental game to have done a “turn around” at the top of the hill and then have to still run further away from the start line when you complete the hill. It also was getting so hot! I felt a little hint of fatigue threatening to settle in and made the decision to eat a Sport Bean, pour some water over me and go for it since my pace was hard but still manageable. I still felt good overall.
When I hit the 5 KM marker, I took a peak at my time and was pumped. To beat my personal best time, I knew I needed to be close to a 29:46 time but my watch was displaying a beautiful 29:09. I had banked time! Whoot Whoot!!
I soon after hit the actual turn around point and started heading to the finish line. The great thing about a turn around point is that you get to watch the other runners coming towards you. Scanning the crowd for familiar faces shuts the constant blabbing that the mind does all race.
I was able to keep my pace and before I knew it I was back on the final few kilometers. I could picture my daughter giggling along the route as I passed familiar points from the previous evening. It was all I needed to beat the heat that was starting to become a challenge. Well, that and the kind home owner who had his sprinkler going – THANK YOU!!! I tried not to keep looking at my watch every few seconds to check pace but rather run by feel of bringing myself to that edge and staying there. At 9 KM though, when my Garmin buzzed and gave an update, I looked and was overwhelmed. I needed to be at 53:35 with a just shy of 6 pace if I was going to beat my Blue Nose 10 KM personal record. I was over a minute faster at 52:25 and had been maintaining a 5:51 pace. So unless I just completely and suddenly ran out of juice or tripped and fell, the descending final kilometer was taking me right to a new personal record. It was hard not to speed up at that point but that would have been an unwise decision a full kilometer out. Once the Cove came into sight, I could no longer contain the excitement and gave into the urge to speed up. It felt amazing to round that final bend and give everything I had to take me to the finish line as fast as I could get there. Those last ten seconds are such a rush and celebration!
I totally did it. Despite the adventure race the evening before with Rebecca, the sleepless night, forgetting my ear buds and having to run without music, the heat, and the crowd of the first kilometer – I did it. I have a new 10 KM personal record of 58:22! A whole 1 minute and 11 seconds faster than my previous record.
It is amazing how many hours of training, resisting tempting treats, pain and soreness, frustration and celebrations went into that 1 minute and 11 seconds.
What a weekend! I have been fueled with strength and my passion for this sport has been found again. I can not wait to see what my next running adventure will be!