I have a love-hate relationship with running. I love running because I feel so good after a run, and sometimes even during the run itself. However, running is hard for me. Maybe that's because I only have one speed and I always push too much, so I end up hurting all over when I do it. Regardless of my feelings for running, I'm grateful that I am able to run and because I love the Ottawa Race Weekend, I decided to register for the 10K again this year.
I can't say that I followed a training plan. Following the events of the past months, I've learned to respect my body more than I did before. There were days when I experienced debilitating concussion symptoms and, on those days, I learned not to push it and get some rest. On the good days, though, I have been out exercising as much as I could to keep the dark beast of depression at a distance. You see, I've felt pretty useless in the past months. I don't contribute anything to society because my full time job is to get better. I have been limited in what I can do and it has been really hard for me to commit to activities because I never knew if they would happen on a good day or a crappy one. Socializing has been difficult - it required too much attention, focus and energy and I could only be around people for a limited amount of time. So yeah, my FB activity does not tell the whole story of my dealings with post-concussion syndrome and I feel the need to set the record straight here to illustrate what made me the runner I was when I got to that start line on Saturday. That runner has developed a huge amount of self-control and mental strength at the same time as she built strength and endurance in her body. She learned to take things one at a time and not to look too far into the future. She knows she can handle physical and mental pain. She has finally fully comprehended that she is capable of more than she thinks. Limits exist for a reason, but she learned not to pay more attention to them than what is needed.
The day before the race, I felt a stabbing pain in my right calf while going down the stairs. This freaked me out because it felt the same as when I injured my psoas years ago and was benched for many months. Sure, I was worried about my 10K race, but I was even more worried about everything else I want to do this summer. I decided that this 10K race was not my priority and that I would DNS if needed to protect my longer-term goals. Thankfully, it didn't come to that, but I was at peace with this decision.
The race itself went well. I am still making my way through a modified Learn to Run program and on race day, I was up to running 5 minutes, walking 1 minute. I have been running really fast lately during my running intervals and I can't seem to slow myself down for the life of me. My plan for the race was to do 3:1s and I followed it for 80% of the race. I ran my 3 minutes intervals at a 6:20 to 6:40 pace and the kilometres flew by so fast! It was hard but totally manageable. When I got near the 5K mark, I knew a 5K PB was possible and I kept pushing despite having to go up a small hill. My Garmin says 35:38 for the 5K and the Sportstats mats say 36:26. I guess my new official 5K PB is 36:26, but I'll have to enter a 5K race later this summer to officialize it. Following the run to the 5K mat, I developed a side stitch that refused to go way for over 6 minutes. I walked for that long, trying to lose the stitch without success. I was also starting to feel a blister forming on the left arch of my foot. I also got passed by the 75:00 pace bunny, which I was very disappointed about, so I thought maybe running would rid me of the stitch and it did! So I got back to my 3:1s and got it done. By the time I reached the finish line, everything was hurting and the tank was empty. I'm very happy because I left everything out on the course and I completed the race 5 minutes faster than last year, and only about 35 seconds off my 10K PB.
I'm so proud of myself! Running, I love you again for now. :)