Well I did it, I actually ran a real race – one fully equipped with a running kit and everything. I got a shirt, a bib number, a real finish time, and even a medal to show for it. And, no, this race was not done wearing my swimsuit. I almost consider myself a runner now. Although runners to me will always be those crazy people who run marathons for fun. I don’t think I will ever be one of those people. But maybe, just maybe. This past weekend does have me reconsidering this persona.
The week before the Harry Spring Run-off Erin’s running group were exchanging emails about the next monthly running route and brunch spot. I was included on these emails and felt more and more like I could enjoy the thought of going for runs, but I wasn’t quite there yet. Then the question came up of who’s running on Saturday in High Park. I wanted to consider doing this. “Wanted to” being the emphasis. My plan was to go for a run in High Park. Why did I have to join a race to do that? But Erin’s words of excitement — “races are fun” — tied with the invitation to join her and Matt at Matt’s family cottage for the weekend, and the guilt that races raise money for charity, left me re-thinking this race. And I do have the Toronto Yonge Street 10k coming up, which I may want to start thinking more seriously about. So I signed up (knowing full well lots of beer would be waiting for me at the cottage, no matter the outcome).
There were a number of reasons for running this race: 1) Erin would be there with me. Running your first real race requires lots of support and a fan club. I had Erin! This made all the difference in the world. 2) I’ve ran 5k in High Park before. I was a little more relaxed knowing I wasn’t going into this race completely blind, I sort of knew what to expect (minus how terrible the end hill was going to be). 3) 5k is a distance I can do – I’ve ran further than this, I knew 5k was not an impossible distance to complete. That was a good thing.
After watching Erin take off on her 8k, I soaked in the racing scene. Okay, real runners are intense and make running look good. If you can look good while running fast, props to you. Those pictures you get from the random photographers after the race are not pleasing at all! I would quit running to never see those facial expressions of mine ever again. I was intrigued by these runners and felt myself wanting to be more like them. Running that fast would be awesome. I caught a glimpse of Erin a few times along her route, and then at the end. I was ready for my race after watching Erin and these running models.
Erin had 3 important pieces of advice for me: 1) high-five any kid who wants to high-five you during the race. It is weirdly awesome how strangers cheering for you can boost your moral and pace! 2) Run up the hill at the end. The last 400m were straight up hill and I was dreading it for the entire race. I knew it was coming and that was all I could think about the whole time! But I did it, I ran up that hill, just as Erin said to do. 3) Sprint to the finish. Thank goodness the finish was literally steps after the awful hill. Somehow I managed to give’er at the end and boy sprinting (if that’s what I actually did) felt great.
I gave myself one goal for this race – to run under 30 minutes. This was something I could do, not too much to think about, and not unrealistic by any means. Being my first race, I didn’t want to stress too much about it, but having 1 goal I figured was important. With a time of 26.07, I crushed 30 minutes (you could save the world in just 4 minutes). I was both impressed and excited by this and have something to strive for, for my next race.
It was even quite possible Erin was more excited than I was about my finish time and the fact I placed 14th in my age group. Okay, I was a little excited by this too. So I eat my words, races are fun!