Matt’s family has a cottage in Minden. It’s lovely and wonderful and we don’t go there enough. This summer was a busy one, but I was so excited to book the August long weekend up north and get in some rest and relaxation (oh, and some Olympics watching too!).
But then, I got an email from Matt.
His mom (hi Debbie!) wanted to know if I wanted to run the local 10k — the Highland Yard — that just so happened to be on the Sunday morning of the long weekend. She was doing the 5k walk with her friend Shelley (hi Shelley!) and Shelley’s mom.
I couldn’t say no. Even though I didn’t feel race-ready, I was stuck in a corner. I needed to run anyway. What else was I supposed to do?
I said yes.
And then I stressed and stressed and stressed.
I didn’t want to embarrass myself. But it’s not like I totally stopped running. And FitStreets meant I was getting in something of a tempo workout once a week. But the Highland Yard 10k made me face the very problem I’ve been avoiding all summer.
I’m not running enough to be in race shape.
I would face all that at the Highland Yard. It would be my kick off to two intense training weeks for the Midsummer’s Night Run. There’d be no relaxing taper this time. I needed to boot up and boot up big.
The race was at 10am, which would have been a problem if the horrid heatwave hadn’t let up. But it thunderstormed the night before and the morning was gray and cooler than normal. Still humid, but it wasn’t a death trap. We headed downtown. It was the first year of new organizers, so Debbie wasn’t sure how the day would unfold. We were pleasantly surprised to find an excellently managed small race. The course was an out-and-back through the main stretch of town, then along the main roadway to and from town. The race kit had a dri-fit hat, coupons to pretty much every local business and anti-inflammatory meds — more than I’ve gotten in some big-time race kits. Way to go, Minden. There was about 100 people running the 10k, then 150 running or walking the 5k. There were no corrals, just a grouping at the start and an adorable man yelling instructions we couldn’t hear. (Someone eventually got him a microphone.) At 10am we were off! My race strategy was to hold on to a 5:30 pace as long as I could, then hang on for a sub-1:00 time. Scientific, I know. But it worked.
The first 2 kms were great. I ran them 5:35, 5:35. But then I got hot and tired and began to focus on how crappy I felt and not on my goal. An amateur mistake. The conditions weren’t brutal and I wasn’t hurting. I was just too aware of what I was doing and it was getting me down. Boo. The third kilometre I slowed brutally, unaware of how much time I’d lost. 6:30, I think, was my pace. Then, just as I was conceding that a sub-1:00 race wasn’t going to happen, Debbie’s friend Bink (hi Bink!) came up behind me. Bink is lovely and a strong runner, and I didn’t want to let her pass me. I picked it up and we ran the 4th and 5th kilometre together right on a 6 minute pace, not really talking. Thank you, Bink, for running with me and not taking off. I really appreciated that and it got me focused again.
At the turnaround point, there was a water station. Bink walked through it, I chose to keep on running. My thought was that if Bink caught up to me, we could run the rest of the race together. But if she didn’t, then my time would be a-okay. Kilometres 6 and 7 were good. During kilometre 8, my calf got tight. It’s happened to me before — never during a race though — but it wasn’t painful, just distracting. I chose to run through it and reassess if it got worse.
It didn’t get worse.
Then I passed Debbie, Shelley and Shelley’s mom, powering through the 5k like pros. Home stretch! I held on to my 6:00ish pace until the final curve into town and sprinted home, praying I’d be under 1:00.
Was I disappointed? A little bit. It’s my slowest-ever 10k time. But I ran the whole thing and learned a whole lot about my running. My base fitness is much, much higher than it was a year ago. But I’m going to need to work much, much harder if I want to see that “getting faster” goal become a reality.
I had a lot of fun at the Highland Yard. Minden came out and truly impressed me. It made me want to run more small town races, and made me feel proud to support a local event. Thanks, Debbie, for asking if I wanted to do this.
I might even do it again next year.
The race: 1:00
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