Racing Myself into Shape

On Sunday I ran the Unionville Festival 5k, a local race that I’ve run for the past three years. For years the race was known as the “Almost 5k,” since the course was about 4.7 or 4.8km. This year, the course was changed to make the race a full 5k. I have won the women’s overall title twice (it would have been a three-peat if it weren’t for multiple CIS champion and former Markham resident Beth Wightman showing up last year and denying me the win 😉 ). Even though my focus this summer is on the track, I wanted to run this race. To be truthful, it was still a last-minute decision to actually follow through with my plan to do so. The month of June is pretty busy for me, between my 3000m on Wednesday, the national qualifier on the 12th, and the 5000m in London on June 19th. I had decided a while ago that June would be when I would really go after a qualifying time nationals in the 5000m, thus fulfilling my goals of racing the event at nationals and breaking 17 minutes. A 5k on the roads (on a slow course, to boot) didn’t seem to be the wisest of options. I went ahead and ran this race for two reasons. The first is that I like to support local races. I know one of the organizers (I used to play house league hockey with his daughter), and he has always been happy to see me out at the race every year. The Unionville Festival race has always been good to me personally, and I appreciate the efforts of those in charge of the race who put on a great event every year. Secondly, I’ve been thinking that “racing myself into shape” this season won’t be a bad thing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some trouble with motivation, since I’m training on my own. One of the solutions I’ve devised for myself is simply to race a lot. This way, I can use my frequent races as workouts, and I will always have an immediate goal that will motivate me to train hard. It isn’t ideal, but it’s the best solution I have come up with thus far. I’m open to suggestions. Or, if anyone wants to move to Markham and train with me, I would love you forever if should choose to you do so. 😉 You can live in my sister’s room; it’s empty for the summer while she’s at camp. Sadly, I’m only half-joking.

But I digress. I think this blog was supposed to be about the race. Sunday morning brought pouring rain. I am ashamed to say that I debated going back to bed and skipping the thing entirely. You see, I had yet to register, and I absolutely hate running in the rain. I won’t go into too much of a rant here, but I will say this: running in the rain might be alright if you’re out for a leisurely twenty-minute jaunt, but looking out the window at the pouring rain, knowing that you need to pound out ninety minutes or more while soaked, cold, and suffering from chafing is enough to make me miserable and hate running. I will run in the rain, but I’m never happy about it. This attitude eventually prevailed on Sunday morning. I told myself that I had to race, but I didn’t have to like it.

My warm up was miserable, but by the time I was finished, it was only raining lightly. The rain stopped entirely just after the gun went off. However, the course was ridiculously slippery. The race goes through the paths near Toogood Pond in Unionville, which are a mix of paved and gravel surfaces. The bad spots were the many wooden bridges where the path crosses the water. These bridges can be treacherous when wet. Therefore, the course can be considered a slow one due to the many twists and turns, along with the slick surface in the rain. I went through the first kilometre in 3:37. I didn’t get sucked out with the insane first sprint of local kids (something that can happen in road races), but the first minute or two were still a bit of a shock to me. I ran in fourth place overall for the first mile or so. It was difficult to maintain a solid rhythm with the winding course, and I had to slow down every time I ran over a bridge for fear of wiping out. As a runner whose strength is grinding out a good rhythm mile after mile, this race was a struggle. I needed to keep pushing and make sure I didn’t slack off after slowing down over the bridges. After the first kilometre, the third place guy came into view, so I worked on reeling him in. After I passed him, I was on my own for the rest of the race. My splits were 3:37, 4:07, 3:37, 3:38, and 3:15 (heh). I’m guessing that the 2nd and final kilometres were off, since the average of the two works out to the pace I was running throughout the rest of the race. I placed third overall, first among the women, with a time of 18:13. I’m fairly pleased with this result. I ran a decent time considering the conditions. Furthermore, I ran about the same time as I did last year when the course was about 4.7k or so.

Also of note were the post-race snacks provided: bagels from Tim Horton’s! This made me a very happy person.

Next up is the National Qualifier at York University.

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