This past Saturday, I ran my first 8K race at the RememberRun that's part of the Waterloo Run series here in town.
Not only was it my first 8K race, it was actually my first race that's over the 5 km milestone.
It occurred to Tara and I that the Princess half-marathon weekend is fast approaching and nowhere did we schedule to run any longer distance races. Of course, by the time this occurred to us, it's November and racing season is coming to a close. I happened upon RememberRun after checking with a local running store about their group runs and I saw they had an advertisement that registration was still open for the run that weekend.
I signed up on the last day of registration and just like that, I was registered to run an 8K by myself. Chip timed and everything! Gah!
Packet pickup was at the local running store and it was super quick and easy. Just told the crew my last name and they had my chipped bib and tech shirt ready for me in a bag.
Let me just talk about this race shirt for a minute. I know I haven't done that many races, but I've already got my fair share of free tech shirts and they're not all that great. Se of them, I've never even worn to actually run in. But I love this shirt. Seeing as the run was in November, I would have loved it more if it was long sleeved, but that's nit-picking. The shirt came to the first 600 registrants and by the time I registered, I think there was already 500+ confirmed so all participants probably got a shirt, and it also came in men's and women's cuts which I liked - which was a surprise because I usually don't like women's cut as they always fit too small. This one was more loose-fitting and I could have fit comfortably in a medium as opposed to the large that I got.
First off, I liked how the run was scheduled for 10:02 am. No need to get up ridiculously early and rush around to gather gear, eat and then drive there. The extra two minutes was on account of the special Remebrance Day ceremony right before the race started.
It was a 20 minute drive for me so a quick kiss from my favourite nunchkin and I was off! I planned to get there half an hour early to take part in the warmup shenanigans (or at least get my own in) and to make sure I knew where I was going since the route was not at all familiar to me.
Even though I've been at races, they've always felt more like "fun runs" to me but I'm not sure if it was me being nervous at my first time flying solo, or if it was really the case, but this race seemed more like an actual race. I get to the parking lot and start heading over to the start line and I see runners zoom-zooming up and down the street sprinting, skipping, doing high knees, karaokes and other warmups. It's only because of my running coach that I even KNOW that people were doing karaokes and it wasn't singing to Abba's Dancing Queen.
I kind of stand around in front of the booth that the local running store has set up inside and I think about using the washroom but see the line snaking out of the building and decide I won't need to go if I just don't think about it. The run was hosted at the legion hall and I think there may have been two or three bathroom stalls and no port-a-potties.
I finally get too nervous just standing around doing nothing but half-hearted place jogging, so I head out to jog around with those serious people and I realize the start line is around at the side and it's packed and I missed the group warmup.
I thought the guy in front of me was slightly silly for only wearing his T-shirt. I'd remember and be jealous of him in about half an hour from when that photo was taken.
I always like to line up near the back of the pack so I don't get carried away with pack mentality and because, let's be honest, I wasn't exactly shooting for first place here or anything.
CONFESSION: Uuuumm, that's not exactly true. So when I was registering, I noticed that they had place awards. You could either choose to race according to age group or weight group. I thought about how many people would be there in the 30-35 group and somehow got this awesome brainchild to register for weight group (170+). I thought I was being sneaky and practically guaranteeing myself an award! BONUS CONFESSION: Okay, seriously, while I was running, I was kind of thinking that I hoped they wouldn't announce the weight group when they handed me my medal.
Bwahahaha, joke was totally on me, I came in dead last in that category! When I was telling Bart how my super awesome plan failed, he pointed out that I'm five foot nothing and anyone taller than me could easily be 170+ and fast. Boo. I forgot about tall people.
Aaaanywho, #shityouthinkwhilerunning, huh? Back to the race! I was REALLY nervous at the start because everyone who knows me knows that I'm directionally challenged. I was worried about getting lost and not being familiar with the route, but my worries were calmed almost right away. There were so many awesome volunteers and the entire race also had police/traffic police presence.
I think I got ahead myself a bit. Right before the gun (it feels weird for me to say that considering the run is about Remembrance Day and veterans and all) we sang O Canada which was pretty moving because of the event but also in light of recent events and many people indicating that they were running for Nathan. After that, bagpipes and then we were off! Just kidding. Right as the bag pipes died down, we heard a train whistle and yep - a train was coming through. We didn't have to wait too long, but they delayed the gun time until the train had passed and it was still enough time for me to think of someone had thought to check the train schedule. But quick as the thought came, it passed and we were really off. One massive crowd bobbing up and down as one. Beep beep beep of hundreds of GPS watches being turned on - mine among them.
We head out and the street is lined up with veterans (?) bearing flags and I really wanted to take a picture, but besides the fact that I was gloved up, I don't take pictures during races so I kind of just mentally snapped a pic by the time we were through, we were heading up a small incline and I'm thinking I must be screwed for the race if I'm already huffing and puffing up that hill.
We had full use of the roads as traffic cops were lined up holding traffic and waving us through and I thought that was pretty cool (you know, since I was part of it. If I was behind the wheel, might be a different story). Our first turn was into a local park/sports park where I play Ultimate Frisbee so it was familiar to me and I started to slow to an easy pace that I knew I could maintain while pushing it just ever so slightly. Volunteers at every little bend or curve in the route making sure to direct us and I felt safe letting my legs go on autopilot and just enjoying the run.
What I didn't know about the race that a majority of it - basically five out of the eight kms was trail. I was pretty happy about it at first since the ground was soft and cushiony (I tend to heel strike more than I'd like during races) but it got muddy fast. Being near the back of the pack, everyone had already trampled through so it was extra mucky by the time I got there. Slowing almost to a stop to squeal and tip toe around mud puddles is not conducive to PRs. Not sure if you knew that, but I'll go ahead and confirm that for you.
I hadn't planned on these babies getting dirty let alone muddy, y'all!
Once on the trail it was pretty much just me and my head. After my painful finish with a stitch in Niagara, I was focused on keeping my breathing nice and even and didn't have any problems with cramps or stitches. Just kept my gaze ahead and focused on whoever was in front of me and worked on narrowing the distance between us.
Passed by a guy running the eight wearing this huge backpack. Everyone was murmuring how impressed they were but to be honest, I'm carrying around 50 lbs of extra weight that also jiggles up and down and he can take his off in two seconds and rest it on the ground or leave it behind if he wanted. Okay, so...I don't think the nicest thoughts while I'm racing. Outwardly (and inwardly though it was under the inner thoughts) I cheered him on as well because one of the best parts of running races and events is the comraderie and general friendliness because you're among your running peeps!
We finally hit a clearing in the trail and there's a water station - at about the 3.5 km mark and shortly after that, more volunteers. They are standing at a fork in the bridge and one sign points to the right for the 5K runners and the other to the left for the 8K. It's at this time that I'm mentally kicking myself for not signing up for the 5K instead, but I smile bravely and thank the volunteers while I whimper onwards to the left.
Do you ever drive somewhere all the time and you see a road or path and you always wonder where that road is and how to get there and where it leads? I used to until this race. I finally emerge from the trail out onto a road and at first I have no idea where I am until I see the highway in front of me. I then realize that I am on the road that I always used to see from the highway while driving and used to wonder about. And now, here I am running it.
As my watch beeps 4K, I start to up my pace a bit. Im halfway through and my mind is now starting to urge me on - it's only 4K left! Anyone can do 4K! I slowly and steadily pass three ladies and I'm now looking forward to being able done as I hear the 5K beep.
Wait, what's this? The drink table again. Same one as before. Did I just do a loop?! Yup. Bypass the table and pull my own water bottle and try to gulp a few sips while now huffing and puffing. Hey, have you ever blown a snot bubble because you're trying to catch your breath and you're breathing through your mouth and your nose and then there goes the bubble and then pops? No? Yeah, me neither, I just heard about it from someone else once. I never did that during this race.
Come back to the same fork in the bridge but this time, the volunteers are telling me if I've done my first loop by going left, I can now head to the right for the home stretch. I am officially out of the woods now. Literally. I start pushing a little harder because I don't want to play catch up with anyone I've already passed. You know where at first you're in front of them and then they pass you and then you pass them, etc.? So awkward.
Last 2K, anyone can do 2K, right? My legs are going and I notice that they feel okay. Not heavy or dead or tired. Just doing their thang, putting one foot in front of the other. The same can not be said of my lungs. I am now grunting and I don't even care who's around to hear it. Since we're back out on the road, it's traffick cops as opposed to volunteers and they're cheering me on.
One stumble when I turn a corner and I see a police officer pointing behind me. I come to a dead stop thinking I've made a wrong turn and start to turn when he calls me back. Turns out there was a car trying to come through and he said he was making sure the car didn't come up behind me. I thanked him but kiiiinda secretly wondered how much he affected my time.
Take my last turn and there's the finish sign. People are cheering and I know it's for me because I'm the only one coming down and I see a photographer and totally slow a little to flash a pose (#PRproblems) and then I go. Hammer down. Pedal to the metal. All of those other phrases that mean the same thing. I told my legs to go and it was almost like I couldn't feel them but they were moving me. And then finally I was across and it was over.
Had to walk around quite a bit to catch my breath and then I stayed to cheer on everyone else coming in. The guy with the extra pack got a huge whoop of cheers and then it was over. The last person was crossing the finish line and it was not escaping my notice that it was pretty soon after I crossed.
There's a line up back into the building and I almost skip it until someone asks if this was the line for the food and someone else says yes. Standard post-race fare: bagels, cream cheese, bananas, electrolyte drink - totally blanking on which one it was - and water. On top of that, they also have hot dogs, hamburgers and chilli. I see a crowd in the corner and it's people checking the results. I wander over and wait until I realize it's also online.
209th out of 222 8K runners and 94th out of 104 ladies. Last in my chosen race category, but a new 8K PR for me as well as a 5K PR, beating out my Niagara time by seconds.
Heading out, I realize it's raining and happy that we outran it.
All jokes aside, I had a great time at the race as well as a great race for myself. The race was well-organized, well volunteered and the route was awesome (minus the mud LOL). I am already planning to PR next year though I don't think I'll be trying any sneaky weight shenanigans LOL