My third race of the season has ended and this one was probably the toughest one. I knew the race was a big one, but in all honesty I had NO idea just how big that meant.
We decided to take the train down to the location rather than fight the throngs of traffic we were expecting, however once we got there, we realized we could have parked pretty much right there and have no issues. Lesson learned.
By the time we got to the warm up area, we had about 25 minutes to go to the washroom, check our bag and then get in line. Somehow I have the worlds worst radar when it comes to picking bathroom lines....How is it that people can spent more than 5 minutes sitting in a porta potty??? 15 minutes later, we were finally able to check our bags and get ready to go.
Waiting for the start!
In line, waiting to go.
We finally got the start and the slow walk to the actual starting line began. Once we finally crossed, we were able to run with the masses and off we went.
It was quite amazing being surrounded by that many people all doing the same thing. I'm not a claustrophobic type of person, but there were times at the very beginning where I felt uncomfortable being around that many people, that close!
Before we knew it, we were on the backside of the mall and the line of runners in front of us was incredible. I had noticed that I was already having trouble breathing, and I felt worn out already. I looked at my pace on my watch, and I was shocked to see it registerring around a 7.28/km pace. That is about 1 minute faster than I normally run! Obviously being around all of these other runners pushed my pace well beyond where I should have been. I backed off as soon as I realized and tried to keep a slower pace. However that proved to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated. At the end of our first Km, I was running a 7.35 pace.
I tried to just enjoy the run and people watch at the same time, but it was hard. The sun was bearing down on us and even though it was only a little after 9am, it felt like it was 20+ degrees already. I had trouble keeping my sunglasses on my face due to the sweat pouring down from it:)
At the end of the second Km, my pace slowed a little to 8.02/km. Still faster than I usually run.. I was definitely feeling the burnout already, having pushed way too hard at the beginning. I knew if I did not stop myself and take a walk break, I was not going to finish this race in a decent time, possibly not at all. So the smart thing to do took over, and I stopped. I think that first walk was about 15 seconds, which also coincided with the water station. I grabbed a glass, quickly tried to take a sip or two and then off we went again.
The hoards of runners ahead of us
Over the next three Km, I slowed myself down and took that walk break if I needed it. I think it ended up being 4 breaks throughout the whole race, something that killed me to do. Km 3 had clocked in at 8.20/km, Km 4 was 8.28/km and the 5th and last clocked in at 8.47/km. So the walk breaks helped, but even with them, while running I found I could not slow my pace down enough to not run with the masses around us.
By the time my watch marked the 5th kilometer, I was beyond beat. Yet we were still too far from the finish line to be done. I was pretty sure my watch's GPS was not off its mark at all, but I couldnt see the race being that far off from its distance either.
It wasn't until I thought more about our race that I realized the error in our race.
By the time we got to the end, I had used everything left in me to cross that line running. A final official time was 44.53.. well beyond any training run I had ever done.
But I looked down at my watch. I stopped my timer when we crossed what I thought was the timing mat.. seems I was wrong. I dont know why I didn't stop it when we actually crossed the big inflatable finish, but in any case, my time was registering 43.54 in 5.35km.
So why was I so off in my distance?
I realized it at the end, that while running, we had actually run on the outside of the path, not the inside. So especially when we hit any turns, we were actually running "wide" and therefore running further than we needed to be. I suppose this is a hazard of road races with 18,000 people involved. There was just no space to run on the "inside" and we were forced to the outside, causing us to run longer.
So when I look at what my overall pace was according to my Garmin, I was showing a 8.12/km pace.. even with 4 walks in there, we were actually running about 6 seconds faster than we normally run in training.
So with that, I was happy. It wasn't an "official" time, but it made more sense given the facts I had.
Post race redness!
I learned a lot about myself in this race. Things that will help push me in whatever my next race is.
1. Pace is everything. Know your pace.
I hadnt realized just how easy it was to get caught up in what everyone else was doing and not know how fast I was going. I burned myself out way too early and was unable to hold my pace beyond that. However I did learn I could run a full kilometer about a minute faster!
2. Walk breaks are not the devil.
I don't know why but I almost feel like a failure if I walk. Stupid, isnt it. Many runners stop at some point in their race for whatever their reasons, and the vast majority run faster than me, so why am I a failure? I have to let go of that stupidity and allow myself to walk if I need it. I can do more damage in the long term by not walking, than if I took that 10 or 30 seconds to slow down.
3. I do not like running with 18,000 people.
This was likely my first and last time running this race. I found it was just too many people to be comfortable doing what I was doing and I felt it was too overcrowded for my liking. I like smaller races... a LOT smaller:)
4. I enjoy a massage after I run..
It was an experience, and I am glad I did it. It was still a Sunday Run for me, and I learned more about myself as a runner. I didn't get the overall results I wanted, but it doesn't matter. It was still worth it.