A funny thing happened…
on the way to the Sporting Life 10K finish line.
I ran slower than last year (by almost two minutes!) And I had a blast doing so.
Who knew? Certainly not me.
In the beginning, I started running just to see if I could. After having determined that, yes, I could in fact run without going into cardiac arrest it became something entirely different. It became a constant competition, a constant comparison. I continuously looked at what I was doing and discounted it as unworthy when someone else finished faster or I didn’t better my time compared with my last run.
Now, let’s just look at things in perspective shall we? I’m not a 21-year-old former high-school all-star who’s carried the ideal body fat to muscle ratio her entire life. Not even close. So odds are (even if we flip into some crazy red-tinted alternate Fringe reality) I’m not likely to finish with the first 10 (or even 100) folks crossing the finish line. So, then, why bother?
Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I frakkin’ well CAN.
See, this year, during the 12-week training lead up to the Sporting Life 10k I got ill (not get-your-affairs-in-order ill or anything; just your bog standard flu.) And because of that flu, I was knocked on my arse for almost the entire week before the race. But I just couldn’t see bailing on a race I’d paid & registered for.
So, I girded my loins (I’m not entirely certain how, exactly, one girds one’s loins… but it sounds dramatic, no?), dragged my butt out of bed before the sun saw fit to rise and strapped on my trusty Asics Gels. I think the universe was in agreement with my decision because as I was hailing a taxi, I stumbled upon two total strangers willing to split with me cab fare to the start line.
The night before was a first for me, in that I felt no nerves or anxiety about this event. I wasn’t racing around in a tizzy making sure that my running gear was all perfectly laid out before I went to bed (in fairness: it was still in the pile of clean clothes that had yet to make it’s way out of the laundry basket, so I think, subconsciously, I actually knew exactly where everything was; hence the lack of tizzy.) I knew that I’d been sick and still wasn’t feeling topnotch, so I’d decided that just finishing was goal enough. And, for once, it actually was. I went to bed and fell soundly asleep without the usual tossing, turning & frantic checking that my alarm clock was properly set.
The morning was no different. The usual ball of nerves wasn’t there. I wasn’t looking to PB with this run. I simply hoped to finish. And it’s incredible how much pressure that resignation took from my shoulders. As a result, I ran with as much strength and determination as I could muster. And I enjoyed each and every step of it.
So, my time was almost 2 minutes slower than it was last year. It was also 6 minutes faster than my last official 10k. Granted the Island Girl Toronto 10k lacks the downhill magic that the Sporting Life 10k has, but – if I may borrow a phrase from The Lonely Island – STILL COUNTS!
Last year, the skies saw fit to spit upon my efforts. This year, they held off. I’m taking it as a sign to continue with my efforts toward improvement. Besides, I still have that half marathon in October… already registered for & paid-in-full.
If you’ve never entered a race but have ever toyed with notion, I highly recommend the Sporting Life 10k. There’s something so incredibly visceral about running with 15,000 other lunatics (really, can you think of a better word for anyone willingly out of bed and active that early on a Sunday?) straight down the middle of Yonge Street. We’re talkin’ Longest Street in the World, here, people. And the traffic is diverted elsewhere for the sole purpose of allowing you to run right along that yellow line. It’s delightfully awesome, if you ask me. And, did I mention, almost the entire course is downhill?
And you know what else? No matter who you are or what you do… there will ALWAYS be someone who can best you. Even if you did place first in the Boston Marathon this year (if you did, incidentally, I’m totally stoked that you’re reading this; also: Hi-Five, Geoffrey!) You might not take it next year. But the thing of it is… it doesn’t matter. The only person you need to impress is you.
Celebrate the small victories. They’re more than worth it.