Well, I did it, I ran 15k on Sunday. After 10 weeks of training with the Rainbow Run Club and a lot of ups and downs, the weekend approached with a whirlwind of activity and excitement, which served to somewhat overshadow the building fear I had of the race itself. As per usual, Nike went above and beyond, creating an entire Nike Women's Village down by the waterfront, including a custom built barge that floated in lake Ontario and hosted 33 NTC classes, a pavilion that showcased the latest and greatest products and featured special talks and panels over the course of the weekend, and a number of other special events and runs throughout the city. One of the biggest surprises was a last minute invitation to stay at The Trump Hotel for the weekend, which I gladly excepted. Because really, how many opportunities do I get to stay in a fancy hotel in my own city (or any city, really)?
It was a busy few days leading up to the race, both with Nike activities and "real life" engagements, and by Friday evening I must admit, I was already pretty exhausted and starting to feel the old pain in my hips surface again. I attribute this primarily to the few NTC classes I squeezed in on Thursday and Friday, as well as a ridiculous amount of walking that I somehow thought was a good idea. Seriously, I calculated that I probably walked for over three hours on Thursday alone, a little crazy. So after Saturday morning's shake out run (a slow, 4k run meant to prep your body for the race the following day without overdoing it), I was pretty intent on taking it easy and relaxing as much as possible, which is not too hard to do when you're staying in a beautiful hotel. Since I don't have a bathtub at home, that was one thing I was especially excited to take advantage of, stocking up on Lush bath bombs and attempting to soak my aches and fears away.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it, I was pretty nervous waking up bright and early on Sunday morning before the race. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hips when I walked, and had fears of the run aggravating it to the point of not being able to run. And then there was the fact that though I had spent a lot of time training and building up my pace and distances, I had never actually run 15k, which I was suddenly cursing myself for not doing at least once.
But by the time Sunday rolled around, I had also realized an important lesson through my experience with the Rainbow Run Club and taking on this challenge: it's important to step back and enjoy the experience. I found myself repeating this to the other girls in the group a number of times, and it became a bit of a personal mantra for myself as well. Running 15k at all is such a huge accomplishment, and when it comes down to it, it's really not about your pace, or overall time, or any other measurement that you place on yourself. For me, running has become a social activity, an experience that I can share with other women, and it goes way beyond the physical accomplishment and is just as much a psychological one. I love the community that's formed around the run club, and receiving emails and texts after the race asking if we were going to keep it going is a pretty great feeling. So with all this being said, sure I was nervous on the day of, but I was also extremely excited, knowing that regardless of the outcome, at the end of it, I was going to be able to say that I ran 15k.
I did set some minor goals for myself. I was very conscious of listening to my body and not forcing anything depending on how the pain played out, but the running didn't actually aggravate my hip, and I was able to fall into a good rhythm. I really wanted to run the whole thing without stopping or walking. When you train downtown, you begin to really appreciate red lights at intersections, giving you that brief break to pause and catch your breathe, but we didn't have that luxury on the island. And I did it. No walking, no stopping, and I kept a consistent pace over the full 15k. I also wanted to run it in under an hour and a half, and my time was 1:27:36, so I was pretty proud of that.
And a few things I learned for next time? (Because yes, there will be a next time!)... I opted for podcasts instead of music for the majority of the run, which kept me engaged and entertained, taking my mind off of the pain and exhaustion that started to creep in around the 11/12 km mark. I really love running to music, but I think this worked to my advantage and kept me from getting inside my head too much. That being said, when I started to hear the cheering crowd as I neared the finish line, I quickly switched to music as I rounded the corner for that final stretch. And wow, is that ever an amazing feeling. Everything melted away for those final minutes as I dashed towards the end, and it's amazing what your body is capable of when it's filled with adrenaline. I finally understand the runner's high.
So, who wants to run a half marathon with me?