Well the culmination of my training occurred this weekend when I took part in the Jugo Juice 10k portion of the Calgary Marathon. Though I had raced sprints as a high school student, I had never, ever run in a distance event. I have been "training" since February for this race. I had run on my treadmill prior and the first 10k I ran was at one hour four minutes and change. Through my training, my treadmill runs had only gotten down to 58 minutes as my fastest. I then tried running indoors at the Energy Centre track. I ran the 10k in 55 mins and change. I ran outside 3 or so times with my fastest being around the 54 minute mark. My goal at the start of the training was to run 10K in one hour. As I progressed, I registered for the 10K and put as my goal time of 55:00.
The night before the race I went out with some great friends and my family. I ordered prime rib and it was darn good, but I thought, "this can't be good for me."
I had difficulty sleeping that night as my nerves started getting to me. I was very nervous about 2 things.
1) Falling and 2) Not finishing in the time I wanted.
The next morning I wake up at 5:30 AM for the 7:30AM race. I did not have anything to eat during the morning. I do not like to run on a full stomach, and I was not about to pay 10 bucks for Westin Oatmeal. When we all got to the race area, I was in shock. I had never seen so many people in one spot getting ready for one race. Early numbers put the total people running the 10K at 2267. The course record holder had run this 10K in 30:09 last year. Put this in persepective...I run 5k at about 25 mins at this time. He is done when I am halfway. Funny enough is last name is Kangogo and man Kan he GO GO! He broke his record this year by running a 30:07.
I knew I had 0 chance of "winning" this race but I said to myself I was going to run my race and make everyone I knew proud of me.
Now I learned a lot in this very first race. #1 - Start at the start line. Even if you know you have no chance of winning, start at the start line. I was about 1 minute behind the start line. With over 2000 people, it is bound to happen. Final race placings are set by gun time. This means when the horn goes, your time starts, if you are a minute back of the startline, you have to try to make that minute up somewhere. I will elaborate later on this.
#2 - Run your race. When you are racing people, there are people who will finish in 30 mins and people who will finish in 1 hour 30 mins or more. It becomes very easy and seductive to run faster that you are able to. I hate to be a gimmick guy, but I never trusted my ipod to be accurate. I bought the Garmin Forerunner 405. It beeps every KM and tells me my pace time. With a built in gps it is fricken sweet. The watch really made me stay within myself by knowing my splits. Some people will say have a stopwatch, but the race markers stopped at 3km and didn't start up again till the 7th Km.
#3 Be aggressive. I was not nearly aggressive enough on the finish. I later saw people finishing the half marathon and marathon by almost plowing people down in the final 200m sprint to the finish. I had just maintained my pace. Mistake that cost me positions, and made me angry with myself.
#4 You become emotional. I left my family prior to the start. I was alone with my thoughts and with what I was about to do. Little did I know that my wonderful family, and my friends were walking to the Starbucks nearby about 1KM into the race waiting for me. The horn sounded, and I took off. At around the 1Km mark, I hear "I love you so much Ryan and Go DADDY!" I turn my head and I see my wife, son and daughter on the corner cheering for me. I was a little taken back. I began to tear up, but was able to channel that emotion into positive adrenal energy. As I was running I kept replaying that moment over and over in my mind. Sometimes I would get misty, other times I used it to push myself further. On the last Km, as I came up the final hill towards the final stretch I began to get goosebumps from the cheering crowd. I knew they weren't cheering for me, but they were cheering for everyone. Again out of the noise, I heard " Run Ryan you can do it, I love you." I picked up my pace another shot of adrenaline. I crossed the finish line. I was not really tired from the run, but I did begin to cry. A few things went through my mind. 1) I had run and finished a 10k race. 2) This was a culmination of losing over 50 pounds since Feb 2011 and over 103 pounds since 2004. I had beaten some pretty big obstacles to get to this point. 3) I thought of my mom, she has been gone since 1996, and on that race I was running for her. I had raised money for cancer and this was a tribute to my mom. 4) I ran this for my wife. She is so very amazing and I wanted to make her proud. 5) I ran this for my children. One thing was Aidan wanted me to win him a medal (we all got one for finishing...shhh) and two I wanted my children to see their dad healthy and active.
One last thing I learned is no one is a loser in this. Sure there are winners. They finish first, but everyone who runs the race wins. Everyone has their reason for running. In that, everyone who ran that day was a winner to me. So what place did I win? Well its not as simple as crossing the finish. There is the gun time placing. I was 346th out of all 2267 people who ran. From 12 year olds, to 60 yr olds+, men and women, that was my position. (I believe the 4th place finisher was in the 55 - 59 yr range.) Out of all the men aged 35 - 39, I placed 39th out of 117. Out of all the males who ran, I finished 255th out of 888. So did I win, sure I finished, I beat my former best time which was 55:17. My final gun time was 52:28 which means when the gun went off, it took my bib 52:29 secs to cross. However my NET running time, which is the time when I crossed the start line, to the time I crossed the finish was 51:28. SO in my mind I ran the race in 51:28 secs and thus my lesson learned about starting at the start when the gun goes off. (Would have moved me up a few places)
My next race will likely be a 5K in Cold Lake, with a 10K or half-marathon in Edmonton in August and a possible 10K run in Medicine Hat in September.
The running bug has bit me, and just think a few short months ago I thought running was boring!
That's the world as I see it.