Yesterday I ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10k race and I believe the Running Gods took pity on me and decided to help me out. As I have mentioned before I took the fall off from running and then started back up in February co-instructing a small 10k running clinic group. The clinic was only 10 weeks in length and called for no speed work, although we fit in one speed work-out a couple of weeks ago. I ran 3x max per week with an average mileage of 25km and our average pace was a lot slower than my usual past training of about 6:15-6:30/km for most runs. Having said that I really enjoyed the process especially since it involved providing guidance to 3 clinic members who were training for their first 10k race.
Regardless of what training I did or didn’t do, I was going to give this race everything I had and see where the chips fall but wouldn’t you know it I got sick a week ago with a terrible head cold that is still with me. I ran on Wednesday despite the cold and felt like someone who smoked a couple of packs a day. We were all suffering from something so our pace was brutally slow and I didn’t know what to expect for this upcoming race. Even leading up to Race Day I found walking up the stairs left me winded so I resigned to the fact that this race might be a PW (Personal Worst).
On Race Day, four of us drove down together and arrived a little early but found warm relief in the Running Room as it was only 0 degrees celsius out at the time. Although I wasn’t at my best I wanted to do an easy 2k before hand to work out stiff muscles and get everything flowing so I would have some chance of finding some running groove, no matter how slow of a pace that might be, during the race. I try to do a pre-race run whenever possible but not every race is conducive for this depending on how things are organized and the number of people in the race and the need to get into your corral extra early, etc. The times that I can do this though I find I almost always have a better race and yesterday was no exception.
When I embarked on this pre-race warm-up with one of my friends I felt horrible and wondered if I should start back at the last corral and just take it real easy. I would be lying to say I didn’t feel deflated and frustrated that once again one of my races would be hampered due to illness. Given that I was with my clinic group member I had to suck up the pity party and try to set a good example and continued to line up with everyone in the same corral.
Despite not feeling great, when I first crossed the start line I set a 1 hour goal not knowing how realistic even that might be and made a conscious effort of taking it easy the first couple of kilometers and then going from there. Much to my surprise and delight the first two kilometers felt like a walk in the park and by the 2k mark my time was 11:10. I thought my watch was wrong and checked in with how I was feeling which was great. I honestly didn’t know what to make of this change in body/breathing/everything and decided to literally run with it as long as my body would keep up and that it did. By the 5k mark I set a new finishing time of 55 minutes.
In the end I finished in 53:52, definitely not a PB. I truly believe that the running gods were with me yesterday morning and envisioned one on each foot carrying some of the weight forward with each step. I honestly felt awesome the entire run but then reality hit when I stopped after the finish line. My lungs seized and felt like they were on fire. I have asthma and worried that it would get worse and my head cold would turn into something more sinister but eventually my lungs loosened up and that feeling was a distant memory. I honestly don’t know how I managed this time given everything but I will take it and use that as motivation to improve it further in a healthy state.
Anyway the medal was great and overall the race was well organized. There were only a couple of bands en route so I relied on my ipod to keep me entertained and motivated throughout. The other helpful thing I did was carry my own water. Most people relied on the water stations which I find can really take you out of your running groove and sometimes it can get a little dicey knocking into people so I made a point of simply taking a sip every kilometer marking.