Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 6 of 52: Crushing Cedar - 2014 Goal #2 Accomplished


My awesome bookshelf!
Most people hear that word and think of some lovely wooden furniture piece they have in their living room (like my awesome bookshelf!!) but to me it makes me think of a race. A 12k race I ran last year. A race that was an epic disaster. If you need a refresh read my post where I describe the awfulness in surprisingly scant detail (see Goal #2).

I don't want to get into too much detail about the race, mostly because I have seriously wasted too much time thinking about it for one lifetime. And to write about it just feels wrong on so many levels. But I guess I kind of have to otherwise you will not truly understand the scope of the accomplishment here.

Last year I thought it would be fun while I was training for my first half marathon to do all of the Vancouver Island Race Series races. All 8 of them. The first one was the Harriers 8k race (usually held one of the first Sundays in January). I thought, I will just run it for fun and see how I do. Well for someone not really trying all that hard, I did quite well. 40:40, almost a 5min/k pace. Not bad for doing an 8k time trial the day before the race.

Even though it was an awesome race I still found it too much mentally to race the next race, 10k Cobble Hill. So I skipped it and decided I would do every other race. So next up was Cedar 12k.

Despite some mad tappering the week before the race I was exhausted come race day. I slept well, I was well fed but I was exhausted. I thought once I got out of the car and did a warm up run I would get my energy back.


I was seriously exhausted. Every step felt heavy and like way too much work. "It is a hilly course," people rationalize, so of course it is hard but then those people don't really know me because if they did they would know how much I love running hills. How I am always the one to suggest we should throw in another hill to our run route for fun. Yes, I am that crazy person. And even if I found going up hills hard the going down part should be easier but it was not. Nothing was easy about this race. It was all hard and awful. I had to keep stopping to walk and that just pissed me off. But I was just too tired to keep running. I remember being so frustrated that I frequently thought about faking a heart attack just so the paramedics could take me back to the finish line because I was just so done with this race.

Turns out I was low iron. Unfortunately, I did not find this out until 6 months later so it gave my brain lots of time to obsess about everything that went wrong and then try to make sense out of it. I can't believe how much time I spent trying to find a pattern by monitoring my output and my energy levels, sleep hours, quality of sleep, diet, coffee consumption, hydration thankfully I have a coach that analyses my running for me because leaving that to me is exhausting.

Anyways, on to the present.

Well I ran the race today. I was not expecting great things. I haven't been feeling great this last while (see This, my life post if you need a recap on that) so I was not expecting to wake up suddenly happy and full of life. And I did not. I managed to get out of bed 20 minutes before Chris came to pick me up, threw some stuff in a bag, threw my run gear on and headed out the door.

Then Starbucks happened. Coffee always makes me happy. Bought a grande dark, bottle of water and a chocolate chunk cookie. The breakfast of champions clearly.

Then Starbucks happened again. Bought a tall dark. Yup, it was that kind of morning. You know the ones with the low hanging clouds the color of ash grey. I will say that this inspired an interesting car discussion about whether being burned alive was possibly one of the worst ways to go. I believe the consensus was yes. Yup, it was that kind of morning.

Then we got to Cedar. 45 minutes before race start. Which was good because it took me that long to get ready. No the race organizers were not inefficient. I'm just depressed where the simple act of getting ready to race is overwhelming.

I will say that my state of depression is pretty fun as an afterthought. And would be really fun as a tv show where I was not the star but someone else was, so it would be really funny because it wasn't me. Sigh.

The site of me walking into a gymnasium full of runners milling about was pretty hilarious. I mean I basically rolled out of bed, my hair is in the messiest lopsided ponytails ever, I'm clutching my starbucks as if somehow it is giving me strength to move through this mess of a life. Everyone around me is stretching, looking all serious and shit, eying me and my ill-placed starbucks. I march up to the race registration and announce "I'm here to sign up for this race thing that is happening."

The middle-aged couple stare at me a little shocked. The people in the long line adjacent to me turn and watch no doubt I am much more entertaining than their pre-race anxious thoughts.

I continue on, "how do we make that happen?!" Said, with probably, a little too much enthusiasm.

They point me to the table to fill out the registration form. I leave and come back 2 minutes later.

"Here I filled out my form!" I think some people may have clapped.

They go to give me my number then stop when they noticed I hadn't checked the waiver.

I will just say making jokes about suing people generally does not go over well.

Next, I make my way to the far left hand corner of the gym and just stand there. I don't know what to do. The decision between texting my friends to let them know where I am, going to the washroom and pinning my bib to my shirt feels perplexing. Is this depression or is this just me being a space cadet?

Then I start talking to myself. Thankfully I quickly realize that makes me look crazy so I turn to the people sitting near me and engage them in a conversation.

"I'm really nervous." I say.

The older woman, in street clothes, looks at me sympathetically. The old man, in race clothes, nods knowingly. 

"There are a lot of people here or this gym is really small." I continue.

"Where are you from?" She asks me.

"I came from Victoria."

"Us too."

"You're racing?"

"He is." She points to her husband who is staring out at the mass of runners with a look of serenity.

These are our people. These runners.

"He doesn't get nervous anymore."

I want to be older and wiser. I want his peace.

Me and the woman smile at each other. Her smile is warm. Like a mother's smile. Supportive.

"Awesome. Good luck!" I say to her and her husband.

She says thank you for him. He just smiles.

"I need to find a washroom."

"There is one right behind you." She says helpfully.

"Wow. I sure lucked out with this spot. Thanks!"
Not nearly as messed up as the field trip to the mass grave

I run the race. And I have fun. I chat with my friends Kim and Steven for the first few kilometers. Then I break away for a bit. I focus on my form. Mid-forefront strike, roll back, spring in step. Lean forward. Pick up knees. Keep shoulders down. Lower my arms. Glide. Peace.

I come across Katie, a woman who I'm training for the Oak Bay Half Marathon. She is walking. I get her to start running again and spend a kilometer with her. Then I break away again.

At the turn around I cheer my fellow runners as they pass me headed to the finish. I love their intensity and passion for the race. It is inspiring to watch. I do not have the fire within. Not this time. I'm not disappointed by this. I know it will come back. I made it out of bed, I am running. That is all that matters right now.

The next four kilometers are not as bad as last time. I'm tired but not exhausted. I can run the hills. It doesn't hurt. It's hard but it doesn't hurt. I run, I walk, I smile. I'm not running as fast as last time, and that is ok. 

For the last kilometer I run with one of my run peeps, Nancy. I try to motivate her by yelling words of encouragement to her. I tell her to follow me and I will run her in. I think it helps she finishes right behind me. Katie follows a close second. Kim and Steven are already waiting, their plates full of food. 

Chris comes in soon after, finishing strong on the sprint. I cheer him in. He's happy, he finished several minutes faster than last year.

I finished a good 6 minutes slower than last year. My average pace was at least 30 seconds slower than last year. I'm not disappointed. It's not the numbers that make me happy it is the experience. I was with my people, my runners. And that makes today's race a lovely, fun, run.


  1. And you got Pie afterwards. It's always better with pie.

  2. OMG! Best pie ever!!! The deserves its own blog entry :)