On Saturday I ran in my first race ever. At least, it was what I would consider my first race ever. I have done a couple fun 5k events that I didn’t train for, most as fundraisers. I wouldn’t count them as “real” races. I didn’t track my time in them, and I didn’t even get a bib. The bib is what makes a race legit, am I right?
Anyways, on Saturday I ran my very first 10K race, and I am really happy with how it went. I will share my results with you, but first, here is a quick little recap of the race…
Josh and I drove down to stay at my parent’s house in Cochrane on Friday night. The race was in Calgary, about a half hour drive from my parents’ place, so we stayed there the night before for convenience. I packed dinner for myself to eat in the car, and Josh and Lochlyn got dinner on the way down. I was too scared to eat out the night before a race. I also wanted to treat my 10k as practice for my upcoming half marathon, and wanted to test out some pre-race fuel. I had pasta, with tomato sauce and ground turkey for anyone who is curious.
Anyways, we got to my parents’ house, put Lochlyn to bed, hung out with my parents for a bit, and then Josh and I both went to bed early. I thought that there was no way I would be able to sleep, but I actually slept really well. Int he morning I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm, excited and ready to go.
My pre-race routine included making a quick breakfast to eat in the car, getting dressed, and making sure the bag I packed the night before had everything that I needed in it. Breakfast was a blueberry bagel, with a little bit of peanut butter and jelly. I ate this an hour and 15 minutes before the race.
Josh and I arrived at the race location around 8:30 am. We wanted to be there early because we were worried about parking. Also, I wanted to make sure I was organized, and not arriving last minute.
The race as put on by a local MEC (one of my most favourite stores ever). There wasn’t a lot going on at the race location to distract me before the race. I guess that is what is expected when you only pay $15 for a race! As the starting time neared, I found myself getting intimidated, as I looked at the runners around me. They all looked so experienced, and were doing different activities to warm up. Most of them were decked out in really nice running gear and I found myself checking out everyone’s shoes. I love running shoes. I ended up walking around with Josh, as I usually just walk for a few minutes to warm up before a run.
One thing that the race location did have was porta-potties – yay! Before I knew it I was in line to hit them up and then I was watching the 15k racers leave for their race. I was surprised how not-nervous I actually was. I think it helped that I have ran 14k during training runs, so I knew that I could run 10K already.
When it was almost time for the 10k race to start, they gathered us all together, and walked us through some warm-up stretches. It was a small race. There was 171 people that participated in the 10k, and a total of 550 runners in all the events. The race ended up being completely sold out.
Hip circles anyone?
Before I knew it, they were counting us down, and we were off!
I started out in the middle of the pack, and was feeling pretty good. I ended up passing quite a few people at the beginning of the race, which may have been a mistake because the little hill at the start of the race turned into a big hill. Like a big, steep, 5k long hill. I should have known since the name of the race was “The Hill Climb”.
I looked at elevation charts before the race, but I didn’t think the hill was as steep or as long as it turned out to be. I was under the impression that after the first 2 miles, it would be pretty flat. We arrived at the 2.5 km water station, which served as a turnaround for the runners doing the 5k. I couldn’t believe that I had made it up the hill that far, I considered stopping to walk, but since I thought that the hill would flatten out shortly, I kept going … and going … and going. I have to admit I also had fantasies about turning around at the 5k mark and running 5k instead of 10. I was so tired, but I talked myself into going on.
The hill didn’t stop at 2 miles. I ended up having to slow my pace right down to make it up the massive hill. So many runners around me stopped for walking breaks, and I was so tempted, but I felt like if I stopped to walk, I would lose momentum, and probably wouldn’t give the race 100% of my effort.
I kept running, and boy was I relieved to see the 5k marker and turnaround point. I don’t know if I could have run much farther up that hill, let alone run the rest of the way back to the start. The one good thing about running uphill on “out and back” courses, is that it means that you get to run downhill after. I was so thankful for the downhill. There were a few dips in the course, and those small hills felt pretty painful after running that huge one!
My original goal was to start upping my pace after the 5k turnaround, but I had to change my plans since I was so exhausted from that huge hill. I used the declines to catch my breath and I did sprint down some of the bigger hills. At the 6k mark, I finally started feeling better, and upped my pace. At this point I was being passed by a lot of the 15k-ers, who were sprinting down the hills crazy fast. I don’t know how they had the energy to do it, but I soon found myself picking up the pace and sprinting down the hills too. I ran the last km as fast as I could, and I thought my lungs would burst. The race ended with a short stretch uphill. Since I knew the race was almost over, I didn’t slow down, but kept my pace just as fast as it had been running down the last stretch of hills. So hard.
As I was running to the finish line I could read the clock enough to see it said 56 .. something. I was so excited.
I darted into the finish line and immediately started searching for Josh. It was so awesome to have him there waiting for me. My parents were also watching with Lochlyn, and I loved seeing them all, after I caught my breath anyways!
We chatted for a bit, but I was so anxious to check my time. They had the results posted online, and used my phone to check the website. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I mean, I saw it on the clock as I was running across the finish line, but I was still really happy with how fast I ran: 56:06! My average pace was 9:04 minute miles. 13 seconds faster than my goal! I couldn’t believe I ran at that pace because of the monster hill I was faced with. That was intense.
There are a few things that I would change if I ran the race again. The biggest thing is that I would have started the race off a lot slower. That hill was crazy, and I didn’t realize how crazy it was until I was half way up it. I would have liked to run the second half of the race faster, and running the first part slower would have allowed me more energy to do so. I also would have pinned my bib lower down on my shirt. As I mentioned, this was my first time wearing a bib, and it kept smacking me in the face. So annoying! Another thing that was different about this race, was that I didn’t track it at all while I was running. I actually haven’t bothered to buy a garmin, and I have just been using an app on my phone to track my running. I have a pocket on my jacket that I can use to hold my phone, but when I am dressed lighter, I have no way of holding it other than in my hand. I decided to leave the phone behind and run by feel. That was hard. I think I may have been more motivated to pick up speed if I knew that I was actually making decent time. I also would have been more likely to slow down if I knew how fast I was actually running up that hill.
Other than that, I was really happy with how everything went. I know that I tried my very best, and that was what made finishing such a great feeling!
Runners – what was your first race ever? Do you like the race atmosphere, or do you prefer running solo/with a running buddy?