May 2014 Recap
May was a fun and exciting month for me. In January had you asked me if I was going to be competing again this spring the answer was, ‘No.’ I was intending on a transition year, on having fun on my bike and on my feet, but with the intention of racing less. But something changed, I’m having the most fun I’ve had in years at the track and it seems to be going really well. Here are some of the highlights from May.
The Sporting Life 10k is held in support of Camp Oochigeas, a camp where kids with cancer get to go be kids. Nestled on the top end of Lake Rosseau the camp offer kids the opportunity to participate in all the fun camp activities, swimming, water skiing, arts and crafts… but it also has a full treatment centre on site. I have several friends who volunteer as staff every summer and they rave about the experience the campers have. How could I not do this race!?
I went into this race as defending champion and felt like there was a lot of pressure on me. This year the race organizers ensured a competitive field and brought in some of the GTA’s top female runners. Luckily I had my friend and training partner at my side to keep me calm though the warm-up and over to the start line. My goal was to run my own race, to stay focused on my pacing and ignore what was going on around me.
My tactic worked. I ran within myself and ticked the kilometers off. I went through just under 16:40 for 5k (it is the most downhill part of the course) and came back in just over 17 minutes. Unfortunately at about the 7k mark someone said, ‘hey there is no one around you, you can just relax.’ Wish I hadn’t listened to that! And although I kept going I think mentally I checked out a little at that point (note: for next time, always think there is a bear chasing you!). In the end I won by over a minute and had ran a personal best (34:19).
TUESDAY TWILIGHTS @ VARSITY
The University of Toronto Track Club is hosting a series of twilight track and field meets this summer. As one of the best facilities in Toronto, accessible by bike, transit, and automobile, Varsity Stadium is trying to host a series of elite meets for all of us who train and live in Toronto.
On May 20th I opened up my track season with a 3000m. 3000m!?! I had not run one since 1st year university down in Michigan (I won’t actually say how long ago that was!). It was a really cool twilight, my training partner and friend, Gabriella was trying to qualify for the World Junior Championships this summer. In an effort to help her local running hero Kate van Buskirk came out to help rabbit the race. I told Gabriella I would sit in behind her so she could be sandwiched between Kate and me.
It was an amazing to see Gabriella qualify for world championships. Even more impressive was her last kilometer, which she ran in 2:57! She dropped the hammer with 1k to go and just took off on me. While I was cursing myself for not going with her, I still ran an impressive time and had a very strong opening to my season. I ran a 9:32, a 28 second personal best.
The following Tuesday was a shorter speed night at U of T and I was entered in the 1500m. It was a very small field and my friend and training partner, Gill, offered to rabbit the race. The plan was to go out in 70s to try and run a sub 4:20 1500m.
The plan didn’t exactly work and we went out in 75s for the first 400. I can still picture my coach’s face as I came through 400 looking panicked and him yelling ‘you gotta go!’ I didn’t have a watch on but it definitely felt slow going through 400. I stepped on the gas and passed the pace bunny. I am not very good at running negative splits and often have trouble staying focused from about the 60 to 75% stage of the race. I had my best mentally strong race, had a negative split and finished with another personal best of 4:24 (a 3 second PB!).
TORONTO WOMEN’S ONLY 5K AND HALF-MARATHON
On Sunday May 25th it was the opening event to my favourite Toronto running series, the TO Women’s series. Needing to get a long run in, I told race Organizer, Cory Freedman, that I would come out to participate in the half marathon. I was super fortunate because one of my very good bike friends was also competing in the half marathon that day.
I usually do my long runs with a basic Timex watch, I have no idea how fast my kilometers are. I spoke with my coach before and he said just do to it like any Sunday long run. So I headed out with the intention of running between 4:30 and 4:45 per kilometer.
In the end my pace was about 4:15 per km and I felt really strong and smooth through the whole race. But more importantly I got to run the race with my friend I normally bike with. For her this was a tune-up event before her 70.3, which she plans to compete in this June. My friend gave it her all and bonked. She kept telling me to leave and run on without her, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I set out that morning to do a long run, and when I saw I could run with her, there was no way I was leaving her side. She bonked with about 15m to go and actually fell down her legs were so weak. I was determined to get her across the line, and with the help of some volunteers, we walked her across the line.
Her determination taught me a lot. It also reminded me how important it is to have friends like that and to always be there for them.
The beginning of June is going to be dedicated to some hard workouts. From about the middle onward it will be time to get back on the track and back into racing.