The RUNdamentals – One “Noob’s” Running Saga
Training for my First 5km Run – Part 2
Becel Ride/Stride for Heart
While I didn’t sleep well, I also didn’t feel anxious or nervous. Not even tired, really, despite only sleeping 5 hours the night before. This was, after all, primarily a charity/fun run, so there wasn’t that aura of competition surrounding the event. No game faces. No intense looks of focus. No pressure. Just get out there, run and have fun.
I ate my typical bowl of oatmeal, with organic honey, hemp and flax seed for my pre-run fuel. I added an apple and black coffee to boot. During my run, I felt mild cramping in my right side, over my liver, which leads me to believe I wasn’t pre-hydrated enough. I’m still learning about proper nutrition, so I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me for pre-run fuel. But, I digress.
I went down to my condo gym to warm up. My usual routine consists of several dynamic warm up exercises for the hips and thoracic spine, A & B skips, and Active-Isolated-Stretching (my usual routine), to help my body loosen up. Consistency and routine would be the formula for a comfortable run for me.
Luckily the race started on Exhibition grounds, which is close to where I live so I walked down there with my girlfriend, Jess. As we approached the Exhibition grounds, the amount of people started to grow, collecting in their friendly circles. I could see all the recognizable Ride/Stride for Heart Red jerseys amidst a slew of colourful cycling jerseys. I walked past a handful of groups, clearly running as part of team with a loved ones name on their backs… a lovely sentiment to run in honour of someone who has passed due to heart disease. I liked it. I smiled.
Jess and I agreed to meet around the finish line once I was done and broke away from Jess to search for Dr. Moran, our “run Ambassador”, in order to get my bib. I lightly jogged through a large number of cyclists who had already completed their portion of the Ride Event, and were already gobbling down some Becel covered corn. It smelled delicious.
I found Dr. Moran holding my race kit, quickly pinned my bib to my shirt and we met up with everyone else (Her fiancé Mike, her friend Emily, and co-owners of The Runner’s Academy, Janie and Dr. Sheppard, while Annette, the other Massage Therapist @ The Runner’s Academy would do the 5km walk with her super cute daughter, Trin). Then the group decided to do a light jog to that shoot leading to the start line. Dr. Moran, Janie, and Dr. Sheppard are the experienced runners out of the bunch, so I thought I’d see how I would fair during their “light” warm up jog. So I kept up with them for the short time it took us to get to the end of the shoot, and… OMFG… if this was “light” I’d hate to see what their race-pace would feel like. Got to the end of the shoot, and, well… more waiting. We all were doing our best to stay warm. I was bouncing around on my feet side-to-side, and slapping my legs to get some local circulation going – Massage Therapists would have recognized this as tapotement. Simultaneously, I kept repeating my goals in my head just to keep me in the right headspace and mindset.
Goals for Race:
- Don’t’ stop. Ever. No walking. Ever.
- Don’t alter the run gait – Fast or slow, I still wanted to focus on picking up my knees, as if I was progressing from a march and dropping my foot down as if I was squashing a bug, utilizing a mid-foot drop.
- Run Sub – 30mins.
- Sprint at least the last 200m across the finish line.
- Don’t throw up – seriously folks… this may always be a race goal of mine.
As I was bouncing around, the shoot started moving and before I knew it, it was…
We walked down the on ramp onto the Gardiner Expressway, I crossed the start line pads/sensors and we were off. Dr. Moran, Janie, and Dr. Sheppard flew through the sea of people slowly starting off. Literally 10 seconds had passed, and I could no longer see them. I felt cramped among all the people conservatively starting, so I parted ways with Mike and Emily, semi-sprinting passed people in search of an open space. It was a bit difficult since the beginning portion of the race had a slow, gradual uphill. An uphill I’ve commuted through a ton of times in my car… not once did I realize this section of the Gardiner was an incline. Sprinting up this hill, I could feel myself gassing quickly, so I figured my next step as the Gardiner/terrain leveled off was to find someone to pace. A tall, slender couple passed me, but then sustained a pace about 15-20m ahead of me, so I kept up with them for the next 2 kilometers successfully.
As I approached the mid-way/turnaround point, I could see the numerous empty cups scattered across the road and the volunteers working diligently to fill enough cups of water as a slew of runners stampeded towards them. I always thought it looked cool when marathon runners blow past water tables while simultaneously picking up cups of water, splashing it on their face or head to cool down. So when I saw the water tables at the halfway point, I did my best impression of a marathoner and splashed water over my face, into my hat, and downed one cup for good measure. Truthfully, this was highly unnecessary. I was feeling comfortable, and not too hot… but damnit all to hell if I wasn’t going to do what I always wanted to do on a run. I wanted to look cool. I wanted to be cool. I don’t have a clue how I looked, but I felt damn good… I was even chuckling to myself about what just went down. I must of looked like a bit of a freak to the runners around me, laughing at what I’m sure looked like nothing to them. I should have added this as a 6th race goal…
As I continued on, I could feel my pace start to level off. I passed the 3km mark and although feeling tired, I still felt good. I just didn’t have enough pop in my legs to push myself when I wanted to. I was coasting. I figured I could keep this “coasting” pace until I saw the 4km marker. Except… Where the hell was that 4km marker? With no Strava politely telling where I was in my run, I had no idea when or where to let loose. I was tired and coasting, but knew I had a little something left in my tank to pick up the pace in the last 400m… except, I couldn’t gauge where 400m was in the course. So, I just played it conservatively, watched a few people run past me (including Mike, who even had to stop and tie his shoe… only to blow past me one more time), and kept my pace. It wasn’t until the downward slope on the Gardiner kicked in, the people on the bridge above ringing cowbells and triangles that I decided to kick it into a higher gear. It was probably only 100m, but I still sprinted.
I’ll be honest here… I needed some mental motivation to help leap out of this conservative pace I was cruising at. I knew I had some reserve in me, but I needed to tap into it. Because I was coasting, I noticed one speedy looking guy, a father and his really young son pass me (the son looked like he was 8), and an older lady who looked like she was in her 50’s all pass me. So in my head, I was like, “Ain’t no way I’m about to let a kid and an old lady beat me. Gotta go get ‘em.” The kid had to tie his shoe lace, much like Mike did, so I took the opportunity to speed past him and gain some distance between me and him and make sure he didn’t pass me like Mike did. And he didn’t… take that speedy 8-year-old. Next, I had to run down the “speedy looking guy” and the “50-year-old woman”. As I approached the underpass, hearing cowbells, triangles, and the nice cheers coming from the spectators above, I hit my sprinting stride and just blew past the older lady and the speedy looking guy right before the finish line. Boom.
All that nonsense that was going on in my head… worked… as motivation… to push harder. Clearly I had no genuine animosity towards an 8-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman… That’s just ridiculous. In fact, I was quite envious of how easy they made their strides look. But I needed something to give me that boost, so tapping into the absurd… something hilariously absurd, worked for me. I caught up with the rest of The Runner’s Academy team and we all walked up back to festivities. All that was left to do was see what time I ran this in.
As we walked back up the on ramp, and entered the grounds we all began to disperse and go our separate ways. I followed Dr. Moran, Mike and Emily to pick up my first piece of hardware, and then broke away to look for Jess. Surprisingly, among the hundreds of people munching on bananas, apples, and Becel slathered corn, I found her almost immediately. She came with me as I grabbed some fruit and water for myself, and we walked over to the time-chip tent. I scanned my chip… 29:37.2. Sub-30… I did it 🙂
The Becel Ride/Stride for Heart was a great event and a great way to introduce me to running. I got to modestly raise just over $260 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation… a cause very near and dear to my heart. It felt amazing running in memory of my Grandmother and Grandfather, and for my parents. It was also very cool to run with the fun people from The Runner’s Academy. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to running. Tons of fun.
Photo Cred: Brittany Moran
All in all I was happy with how it all went down. At the start of all this, I really couldn’t fathom running 5km straight through. From not wanting to barf in the beginning, to resting and being confused about the adaptation injuries I was going through with very little run volume, to getting comfortable with my head space while racing, I really do feel like I achieved something here. I feel like I can comfortably run 5km now, and am confident I can build strength and become faster in running 5km. In the near future I’d like to run sub – 25 minutes and, (I thought I’d ever say this but…), I look forward to the next race and achieving this next goal.
On to the next…