I felt like the decision to stick to the 5k and 10k distances this year was an easy one to make. 2017 left me feeling burnt out, defeated, and not excited about racing. I love running, but was tired of my race results not being a true reflection of the training I had done. I knew I was capable of more, but it wasn’t translating on race day.
The last race I ran was the New York City marathon on November 5th, 2017. At that point, I knew I was going to be taking a marathon hiatus. Not a running hiatus, just a marathon one. I registered for a variety of 5k and 10k races in Ottawa for 2018. The first race was Emilie’s Run, which is a 5k organized by Run Ottawa in honour of Émilie Mondor, the first female Canadian to run a sub 15 minute 5k.
Over the course of the winter, I was averaging 80km/week, and took an entire week off when we went to Barbados on a vacation. The last time I took that much time off of running was when I sprained my SI joint in 2016, ahead of the Ottawa Marathon. My body needed a break, and I was doing my best to listen.
Leading up to the race, I focused on speed work and my body was feeling better. I wasn’t worn out from weekly long runs. The aches and pains that I had gotten use to had disappeared. I was committed to, and regularly going to my chiropractor and massage therapist. I was taking care of myself better.
I hadn’t trained specifically for a 5k in a long time. In 2017 I ran 3 5ks, with the fastest being 19:10, which happened twice. This was a PB for me, but I wondered what I would be capable of if I wasn’t in the thick of marathon training when racing a 5k.
I showed up to the race and collected my bib. My bib number was 123. I’m a bit funny when it comes to bib numbers. The bib for my first marathon was 2602. Replace the 0 with a decimal and you have the mileage of a marathon. I ran a BQ that day. When I saw 123, I thought, “easy as 123”. Although I knew the race wouldn’t necessarily be easy, I felt that the number was a positive sign.
I didn’t have time to warm up properly, which was alright with me. I didn’t let it get to me. I lined up at the front when we made our way to the timing mats. My mind was clear, I didn’t feel nervous and I was dialed into the task ahead. Emilie’s parents were present and wished the runners good luck. We were off.
The mistake I almost always make is going out too fast. I didn’t chase down the fastest person. I hung onto a group of a few runners and stuck with them.
3:39 – feeling good, not being risky
3:41 – stuck with a pack of runners, didn’t get ahead of myself
3:40 – I think there was a hill, I surged ahead a bit, but my lungs started burning (thanks, asthma)
3:42 – I wasn’t really paying attention to my watch, only looking when it beeped. I also realized I hadn’t been thinking much about the race, I just kept moving and trying to stay consistent. My splits at this point were possibly the most consistent ones I’d ever run.
3:51 – we turned a corner and were running north, into the wind. My lungs burned more than my legs, and I was having a hard time breathing. I knew I was already in for a PR, but I wanted to keep pushing, to finish in the top 5. Two runners caught up to me and passed me. I tried to move ahead, but breathing was a struggle. I finished in 6th place overall.
I saw the clock – 18:32. A PB by almost 40 seconds. That’s a big chunk of time when it comes to a 5k. I didn’t run a single PB in 2017 (I know I won’t always run a PB, and eventually, my PB days will be behind me), so this was a confidence boost – and a relief – to have my result reflect my training.
Next up, I have a 10k race in 3 weeks, and then a 10k 2 weeks after that. The second of those is my goal race. My 10k PB is 37:54, and I would love to run a 36:59. I’m not sure if it will happen this year, but I feel confident in my training and am moving in the right direction.