I had big plans for redemption this season after my spring marathon didn’t quite pan out how I wanted it to. Unfortunately I had to bail on Erie Marathon after dealing with a hamstring issue for a few weeks in the summer. I took it very easy with running for several weeks, having some triathlon fun to keep sane and fit in the meantime which helped with my ho-hum pity party. Thankfully I was feeling much better by late September and able to ramp up my running again just in time to set my sights on Hamilton Half.
We congregated with our Road Runners crew in the morning, exchanging good lucks, hugs and pics between bathroom visits. I was lucky to run into “internet friends” Irina [thank you for the photos!!!], Emma and Jonathan in the morning too!
I knew I wasn’t going to be in shape for a PB, but my training runs have been surprising me week after week as I gradually started clawing back fitness and getting closer to where I want to be. I settled on a goal and plan (hoping for sub-1:45 at worst and 1:40 at best) and, lucky for me, Andy decided to run with me too. It started pouring rain just before the start and we hid out inside the rec centre as long as we could, but soon enough we had to face the elements. Still smiling in a downpour!
Off we went in the rain and wind, using the first couple of kilometres to settle in and
get wet warm up. As the crowds thinned out, we dropped the pace gradually and got comfortable in the 4:40s. It was a huge boost seeing our “Frostmobile” crew waiting around 5K; our cheerleaders are the real stars of the day, being out in that miserable weather all morning and not even earning a medal for it! We carried on, chatting away as the kilometres ticked by. I was surprised at how easy it felt and Andy had to remind me a few times to calm down when I started surging ahead.
KM 1-6: 5:01, 4:54, 4:44, 4:43, 4:42, 4:47 (gel)
We ran conservatively all the way down, down, down the highway, maintaining pace and taking advantage of the reduced effort. People were passing us all over the place but it didn’t matter, we knew we’d catch them later. Before I knew it we were climbing up the ramp to exit the highway and got a nice surprise seeing friends Ana and Parastou cheering their heads off for us. We made our way toward the short trail section that would take us to the waterfront. I’m not a fan of this narrow, winding path with its short, steep ups and downs. It’s not long but gets me every time and I made the mistake of saying out loud that “this next part sucks.” Rookie mistake! I totally let it get in my head which inevitably made it suck more than it needed to. I felt myself slipping back from Andy, and even told him to go on ahead if he wanted to – hoping/knowing that he wouldn’t, of course.
KM 7-15: 4:50, 4:47, 4:44, 4:44, 4:47, 4:42, 4:45, 4:47 (gel), 4:55
With a bit of extra encouragement, I was able to get out of my head as we hit the waterfront path. Just one last “chunk” of race left and I quickly got my pace back. Phew! Still had some fight left and I was gonna need it.
The last 4-5K were tough, but let’s be honest – they’re supposed to be. I felt like I was slowing down so much so it was interesting to look back after and see that I didn’t actually slow down at all – I was just working a lot harder for it. It was amazing to see lots of NRR friends along the out-and-back for a big boost. Andy did an amazing job of pacing and bossing me all the way to the finish. He was yelling at me the whole time (in a nice way…) and making everyone around us laugh. He used every trick in the book, reminding me that this would hang over my head all winter if I let it go now, pointing out that it was okay to be tired (actually I think he said “I don’t care if you’re tired”), and distracting me
KM 16-21: 4:42, 4:47, 4:51, 4:46, 4:49, 4:44
Finally we were making the last turn (after which my phone fell out of my pocket and I had to turn around to pick it up! This is why I don’t carry my phone in races!) and finished together – he didn’t even throw me to the ground this time!
A few minutes off my PB but a well-executed race and one that I’m proud of as we close out the season. Sometimes I need to be reminded that progress doesn’t happen in a straight, steady line. Often we will achieve the most growth only by embracing the lows, facing some setbacks, falling down and getting back up, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. This season (/year) may not have played out how I thought it would or how I wanted it to but I think I made the most of it, learned a few things and started laying the groundwork for what comes next.