Race Day

Yesterday was a great day! It started out strong at 5am when I got up to watch the Formula 1 race with my roommate. The race was in Monaco, a notoriously winding and slightly boring track, because usually it's too hard to overtake and the starting grid positions end up being the results. It was raining at the beginning though, which set the stage for some exciting racing. Unfortunately they sent the safety car out for the first 7 laps because it was too wet, and the start was quite boring. The rest of the race was typical, there were some crashes and some heroic driving, and in the end Lewis Hamilton took first, which is a bit disappointing. My roommate and I both like Niko Rosberg, so seeing him come in a disappointing 7th after some brake problems was sad. 

After watching the F1 race I headed off to a race of my own. Not in some of the fastest cars on the planet though, just on foot. If you follow my instagram you'll know that I've been running a lot recently. My sister has been a runner for a long time and got me to sign up for the Blackwell Dairy Race which she has done four times before. I'm not quite at the point of doing the 15km race yet, so I just did the 3k. That's right around what I've been running recently so I thought it was pretty great timing. 

So we left the house nice and early to drive about 20 minutes out of Kamloops to the beautiful hills of Barnhartvale. There were tons of cars parked along the streets and in the lots already (the race had something like 200 participants for the 15k and 3k together) but we eventually found a spot and made our way inside to get our bibs. Mine had a beer ticket on me which was exciting until I realized that it was for the pancake breakfast afterward, and not for a cold one. My disappointment was quickly abated though when I picked up my shirt. It was an extra $20 at checkout when I was registering and I thought why the hell not. I wasn't expecting the terrific quality of shirt I got for 20 bucks. It's made out of that light, spandex type material which is fantastic. The last shirt I got made from that material was like $38, so I think this was pretty much a steal. 

My sister introduced me to some of her friends that she ran with in Kamloops, we had some terrible coffee, and then in no time at all the 15k was starting. I walked up to the start line and cheered on all those insane people as they set off for 15 kilometres of what I can only imagine as sheer torture.

I mulled around at the start line, setting up my Runkeeper workout and my music playlist while I waited for the 3k to start fifteen minutes after the 15k. Eventually the man with the megaphone came out again and got us all lined up. It was really great to see all the kids out to do the 3k, getting into running and fitness at a nice early age. We were counted down, I hit the start button on Runkeeper, and off we went. 

They started us out by spoiling us with a long downhill section. Seriously, the first 1.5ish km were all downhill. It was great to get off to a fast pace. My goal was 30 minutes, which I thought was pretty reasonable for the amount of hills I knew we would have. I had been running around 7min/km on flat ground recently, so 10min/km seemed totally doable. I, however, underestimated the power of running in a group. 

After 10ish minutes of downhill running we flattened out for about 30 seconds then started out climb. Starting us at the top of the hill is just cruel, really, but it certainly made the rest of the race far more interesting. I started the hill strong, and luckily it worked out that my slow interval started right at the bottom of the hill. I was used to interval running, so I set it out to have me go steady, slow, steady, slow, etc all the way to the end. On hills, that goes out the window a bit, because if you're going downhill during a slow section, you best not be wasting that time plodding along at a leisurely pace. 

So when I was a little way up the hill and I heard a dinging in my ear that said "Next interval, .5 kilometres, steady" I was determine to ramp it up and get my ass up the hill. And I did. For about 45 seconds. After that I had to bring it back down to a slow pace. I'm happy to say that I only ended up walking twice in the whole race for about 2 minutes total. The hill proved to be too much for me to keep up a jog so I had to slow it down to a walk just after the 2km mark. 

I had recently listened to an "Art of Manliness" podcast episode about pushing your body to it's absolute limits, and how the wall for endurance athletes is all in your head. Obvious stuff, I know, but it kept coming up in my mind while I was running this race, and I'm glad it did because I really think it helped me set the time that I did. As soon as I started walking my body felt so much better and I was mad at myself for slowing down. Since I had already done it though, I decided to take the next 30 seconds or so and walk it out so that when I picked it up again I could go to the end. 

Eventually that time came where I had to push on, and I brought my heels up and pushed forward into a slow jog again. The hill was relentless, but I knew I would make it to the top out of sheer determination, even if I had to run on bloody stumps. When I got to the final turn there were some traffic controllers clapping and urging everyone on. As cheesy or corny as saying things like "you can do it" or "keep it up" or "good work, runner" sound, they really do help when you are just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and making your way to the finish line. So I powered on past them but very quickly had to slow down to a walk again. My heart was pounding ferociously, threatening to break a rib or two. I was hot form the sweater I was wearing so I quickly stripped it off and carried it the rest of the way. 

After a bit more walking I looked up and saw the fence the surrounded the school which was our starting point. I could see some people near the entrance in the distance and my motivation kicked in again. I slung my sweater over a shoulder and pumped my leg muscles, willing them to move me faster. When I finally crested the hill to the claps and cheers of the audience and saw that giant, black, inflatable finish line I kicked it into overdrive. I ran faster than I had the entire race, even the downhill, and crossed to a flood of relief from my body and mind. Quickly I pulled my phone out of my pocket to get an accurate time on my Runkeeper app. My spirits lifted so high when I hit stop and saw the final time. 21 minutes on the dot. My pace was 6 minutes, 33 seconds per kilometer. I had absolutely crushed my goal. 

After drinking 12 cups of water and lying on the grass for several minutes I stretched it out and went to watch the rest of the runners come in, cheering them on. An hour and 41 minutes after the start of the 15k my sister came trotting up that cursed last hill and crossed the finish line. All in all it was a really fun race and a great first impression for me on the racing world. Amber and I got our positively delicious pancake breakfast with strawberries, whip cream, and two sausages, devouring it within minutes. We ended the race with some Blackwell Dairy ice cream before getting into the car and driving home. 

The rest of the day was nice and relaxing. We went to see X-Men Apocalypse, which I think was pretty great and undeserving of all the criticism it's getting. Then we watched Game of Thrones in the evening which was bloody brilliant! I really love the way this season is turning out. Anyone who hasn't watched the series yet really should, and of course the books fantastic. 

I'll definitely be signing up for more races in the future. I've really enjoyed running these past couple months and getting up nice and early to do it. It's great to wake up early, work out so you feel good for the rest of the day, then have so much more time during the day because you didn't sleep in until 1pm. If I can just get my diet under control now I'll be shedding this extra weight and getting into my ideal shape in no time.