After the success of Cultus Lake triathlon, I set about timidly increasing my running frequency and distance. I say timidly because I can only describe the process as absolutely terrifying! Every little twinge in my ankle sends my brain spinning into a wild ‘what if’ analysis:
What if it isn’t healed properly?
What if I’m breaking it again?
What if I go too fast and end up unable to run for months again?
What if the doctor was right and I can never run any significant distance again?
What if the world implodes tomorrow?
OK, that last one might not be directly related to my bone health, but the truth is, it might have the same probability of happening…
I had planned on increasing my mileage over the summer and fall leading up to a half marathon in November (stay tuned for more on that). But now I had been reduced to volunteering at events and watching everyone else have all the fun.
Or promoted to volunteering – which can also be fun.
I decided to try a 5km run. I chose the annual Canadian Cancer Foundation Run for the Cure, a no pressure 5km event where I could test things out.
Eagle eyed viewers will probably note that I have already completed a 5km run at Cultus Lake, however, that was mostly on flat trails and beach which are rather more forgiving on the body than the concrete paths of City Park. I had also been very conservative during the run as my ankle was clearly barely healed, and was hoping to feel some significant improvement.
I got there in time to watch the inspiring, traditional parade of Survivors across the stage. Then it was a quick warm-up (which ironically turned out to be harder on the ankle than the run, lateral movements being more painful) and we were off.
The Run for the Cure is not a competitive event, with many people walking the distance. This helped me to pace myself at the start. I forced myself to keep running, trying to quash the aforementioned ‘what if’ analysis going on in my head. I told myself I would stop if any pain presented itself.
“Yeah, of course you will!”
About half way around, I began to believe that I could do this, around 3.5km I saw a friend cheering (Maybe not specifically for me, but it still made me smile). As I came back into the park, about 500m to go I wondered if I could speed up into the finish.
”What’s the worst that could happen?”
No, don’t answer that.
I gave it a try. Just a little faster.
I crossed the line in 30.47
By only 2 seconds, I admit, but still the fastest 5km I have ever run.
Two weeks later was the Okanagan Marathon, which has a number of shorter races attached for those of us not quite fit enough or crazy enough for 42km. I had planned to do 10km, but on reflection, I decided it would be smarter to stick to 5km at this stage in the game.
Smart, yes, that’s me.
Some might question, since I was being so smart, why I then entered into a bet to try and crack 30 minutes.
Under 30minutes = buy breakfast
No we do not need to analyze why winning the bet left me liable for the post race meal, contrary to usual betting practice – I was obviously blinded by the excitement.
I admit that I made this bet fairly safe in the knowledge that it couldn’t happen, but as my mother always said, “It’s the thought that counts”, and I was thinking fast. I’m sure she also shared many other wisdoms over the years that may have been useful here such as:
“It’s not the winning it’s the taking part” or perhaps “Maybe you should give this more thought…”
In the event everything went remarkably well. Almost boringly so in fact, you definitely don’t need a running commentary (awesome pun – sorry about that). The pain in my leg wasn’t particularly worrisome and I felt strong throughout.
This time I knew I could make a fast finish.
So I did.
When I turned into the finish straight, my eyes immediately sought out the clock.
What did it say? It starts with 29
“You can’t get there before 30”
“Run faster anyway”
Take into account the seconds before I crossed the start line in this non chip timed event and my GPS confirmed, I missed the 30 minute mark by 6 seconds!
It’s funny how knocking 40 seconds (yes, 40 seconds!) off your PB can somehow be negated by coming in at 30:06. – Runners are weird like that.
Hey did I just call myself a runner?
Oh and sorry about breakfast Don, I will definitely buy when I crack 30min, can’t be long now, next time…