No matter how many times I do it, racing does not get any easier. I mean, I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to some of the associated challenges with racing, but the amount of effort I pour into each event seems to remain consistent. It’s always tough, and really that’s how it should be. Going in this time though, I knew early on that my race wouldn’t be that great. I’d been battling fatigue and exhaustion for a long time. A lot of my runs were suffering, and my CrossFit WODs were less-than-ideal. Even so, I knew that I couldn’t back out.
The past weekend in Ottawa was a fascinating one for me. I really had a great time there. Thing is, I think this is more a result of all of the socializing that took place. I drove over on Friday with two other passengers. I dropped them off at their hotel which was located right next to the starting line. From there I had to drive toward the airport. For some reason I chose to stay at a hotel far from all of the action. I regretted it at the time. When I got there though I changed my tune. The concierge informed me that I had booked the best suite in the hotel with a fireplace, king size bed, and a hot tub. The room itself was twice the size of a normal hotel room. Honestly I had no idea that that’s what I booked. All I know is that it was relatively cheap through one of the big-name travel websites. Hah. Suddenly I didn’t mind so much. After lounging for a bit I headed back to the city core to hang out with a lot of other Markham people. A lot of us had made the trek in for the race. It was awesome. God…I ate and drank so much over Friday and Saturday. Certainly, those weren’t conducive to good racing, but I had somehow consigned myself to the fact that race day wouldn’t be ideal anyway. I was determined to be social and enjoy myself. It’s a good thing I did, too, because the race itself left much to be desired.
While waiting around in the corrals, I must have had a look of concern. A friend of mine pointedly told me: “you’re too hard on yourself.” I agreed. I told her that I’m usually looking out for other people, and that I usually give myself lower priority. I stuffed that aside and said that yes, I was going to have fun. When the race started the skies were covered in clouds and there was a nice breeze. Unfortunately, those conditions didn’t hold. The sun was out quickly, causing us all to have to battle harder against the unwelcome heat. Knowing that my race wasn’t going to be the best, I opted to try to stick around with a slower pace rabbit. Unfortunately, the one I was running with seemed to be running faster than what was advertised on her sign. I ended up burning out quickly. After only 5K or so I was looking at myself and felt like I was lagging. I let the pace rabbit go. Somewhere along the guy I overheard a pair of people talking about the 2:30 bunny. I exclaimed out loud: “2:30 by butt! That’s faster than 2:30!” The pair ran on ahead in what I’ll assume was an attempt to get away from me. I was feeling it. I knew that I had to take it down because my body just wasn’t tolerating the conditions well. The saving grace here was that the crowds along this route were fantastic. There were a large amount of young kids standing on the sidelines holding their hands out for high-fives. I did my best to indulge each one. In my slower state the density of runners around me had diminished. That was all right. I had to tell myself that this is what I expected and that I had no choice but to continue on.
Somewhere past 10K we ran over a bridge and entered into Gatineau. As soon as I got on the road my first thought was “man…these roads aren’t well maintained.” Off to the side I spotted a shirtless guy smoking and strolling along. When I passed my nose found out that that was no ordinary cigarette. Québec! Running on that side of the border was slightly lonely, up until we reached the more populated stretch. Then there was a big-ass hill, then a descent, then another incline. ARGH. By around 16-17K I had to walk for longer periods. People were passing me left and right. What could I do? I had to rest where I could. I was starting to get emotional there. I knew that that would be a possibility so I was prepared for it. I always tell my group to be prepared for that happening. I’m no different. I ran through tears, and stifled sobs, but I pushed through, and everything dried up.
By the last few kilometres I could hear the roar of the finish line. Thing is, I was on the other side of the canal, so I couldn’t see what was going on. I was just looking for the damn turn which seemed to be far away. It eventually came. At one point I started walking when some random guy on the side cheered me on and told me to push through the walk. I started running again at which point he yelled back “Today, you’re my hero!” Oh man. Crazy. The crowds grew denser. The last stretch really was a blur. At some point I saw the finish line and just kept on moving. What else could I do? I eventually crossed with a chip time of 2:44.07. Not ideal in the least; my personal best is 25 minutes faster. That being said, I was done. That’s all that mattered.
As I walked through the chute, I was hobbling and feeling off. One of the medical staff came up to me and asked if I was all right. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember hesitating before I responded. He put his arm around me to make sure I had support and told me to eat and get fluids as soon as possible. After 50 metres or so I shook his hand and we parted ways. A little farther on I encountered a group of Markham people that I knew. They asked me how I did at which part I broke down again. Now, after the fact, I can tell how hard the race was for me based on how many tears I shed. They commented that I was shaking and that I should probably sit down in the shade for a bit. I agreed.
All in all, this race was a lot to process. There was so much good to have come out of the weekend despite the rough run. Not every race can be a personal best. Sometimes caca happens and you have to deal with it. A bad race is not necessarily an indication of poor training. God knows I worked my ass off this past season. All the same, there are some things simply out of your control. This summer, I’m going to train harder so that come next race I’ll be ready to do better. There are more personal bests to be achieved, you know?