Race Day Recap

I always told myself that as soon as I was finished playing varsity field hockey I would run my first half marathon.  However, I knew that my body was not going to be able to handle the distance and training with the state it was in.  Now I know, I work out often, but the commitment to training and recovery is something that needed to be a priority in order for this race to be successful.  I raced my first 15km last June with Nike and although my time was great, my body felt anything but amazing throughout the race.  This time around, I knew things would have to be different as I added an additional 6km for this race.

I signed up in November, giving myself ample time to prepare for the race properly.  But, I have to admit, in late December I was struggling to complete 3km without pain because my IT bands were extremely tight and pulling on the outside of my knees.  On my Christmas break, I ran 3-5km only, running until I felt pain.  At the rate I was going, 21km was becoming intimidating.  Today I raced 21km, and only felt that knee pain minimally from 5-7km, feeling amazing throughout the rest of the race.  I know the biggest reason for my body feeling the way it did is because of the time I took into recognizing particular weaknesses in my glute med and VMO (inner part of quad) muscles and I needed to put in the work.  I committed to running only twice per week (at most), listening more to my body, and strengthening all that needed to.  I also signed up with a friend, who made me more accountable for my training.  As a group fitness instructor, I always encourage people to come together and I truly saw the benefits in my own life.  Even if we weren’t always able to run together, we checked in, encouraged one another, and pushed each other to stick to the training over the winter months.  The power of a great training partner is a wonderful thing.

As the week closed in and last night hit me, I was becoming nervous.  I don’t typically get nervous but I think I was more concerned with the unknown.  I had never run 21km before and I just didn’t know what to expect.  I took the time to refresh my memory on the tools I used to prepare for the 15km race (I am going to add the link back to it here), and I was instantly at ease.  I went in today planning on running at a 5min/km pace and I beat that.  I had no expectations but I am competitive and wanted to do my absolute best.  I was in shock at how my body was able to carry me through the race, and besides the minimalIT band/knee pain early on, I only felt one kilometre of struggle from the 18.5-19.5km mark when my legs started to tighten.  I know my hard work paid off with managing my body the way I knew I needed to in order to get to the finish line.

The past four months were anything but typical.  A breakup, added stress with finals, a sore foot that required x-rays and taking a few weeks off as a cold/sore throat took me over set back my training at times.  I only committed to running twice a week, knowing that with my teaching schedule I couldn’t manage much more.  I went in today with my competitive mindset to do the best I could, but remembering that my training journey is unique, like everyone else’s.  We all toed the line today, bringing what we had, forgetting what had happened over our months of training and believing in our abilities today.  I had the time of my life and know that this will be the first of many more races to come.

A huge congratulations to all of those who raced in all of the races that took place.  Whether it was your first 5km, or you are a seasoned marathon runner, we all committed to training and dedicated the last months to putting our bodies in a position for success.  Even if running isn’t your thing, remember that with proper training and planning, you can accomplish the fitness goals that once were far-off thoughts. You need the right attitude, a great training partner/group, and the commitment to bringing your best.

Be fierce.  Be strong.  Be vibrant.

Rachel

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