Pre-race checklist – 17 things to always check before your running race

There are a lot of things happening in the weeks before a running race, be it a marathon or a 5k only. Training, proper nutrition, tapering, preparing the clothes and shoes, preparing for the trip if the race is not in your city, etc. All of these might make everything seem overwhelming.

Pre-race checklist - 17 things to always check before your running race

Today I will share with you what I do to make sure every race is a success. I don’t know about you, but having everything in order helps me stay focus on the race and ultimately finish with a great time.

This is my checklist:

I make sure the BIB is attached to my running shirt.

I put on the racing clothes and I make sure I have an extra pair of shorts, t-shirt, socks and underwear in the bag for the way back from the race.

I make sure I use the same running shoes and gear I usually use.

I put in the bag a towel and a box of napkins.

I put in the bag a deodorant

I check the racing location on Google Maps one more time making sure I have the address right on my GPS.

I check on Google Maps for a parking close to the racing start and an additional one a bit further in case the closest one will be full.

I parked once by mistake on a disabled parking spot and I’ve got a $450 fine. Don’t rush when you park, take your time and make sure you pay if required and you don’t break any law. It’s easy to make mistakes when you are in a hurry and excited to get to the race start line. Believe me, you don’t want to see a yellow ticket on your windshield when you come back to your car with a big smile on your face.

I check the estimated time Google Maps is giving me to make sure I leave in time to be at the race location.

I prepare a sandwich and a couple of fruits for after the race if needed.

I make sure I put in a bottle of water in the bag.

Will check on the weather. The races are not postponing if it’s very hot, when it rains, snows or it’s very windy. However I always want to be mentally prepared if the weather worsens. I might take some extra clothing (tights under shorts) or use less clothing (tank top instead of a t-shirt) depending on the temperatures.

I will also make pace adjustments if the weather is announced to be very hot.

I check again the starting time for my race. Usually there are multiple distance races in the same event so I make sure I know exactly when mine starts.

I make sure the running watch and the phone are charged so I can track the time properly with both. It’s nothing worst than tracking with only a watch or a phone and notice at the end you either forgot to turn it on or it just failed. I rather track with 2 devices than having such surprises.

I make sure I have a pair of sunglasses with me and sunscream if the race is late in the day, when the race is mostly in the sun with no shades and more importantly when the race will go on for hours (marathons or ultra-marathons).

I don’t use Vaseline for nipples though my left nipple hurts sometimes and it even bled at a half marathon so if that’s your thing than don’t forget to put one in your bag, just in case you need it.

I make sure I have these documents with me: driver licence, the health card and a credit card. I never been asked to identify myself in any race but you never know. As a rule of thumb is great to have these always with you.

I never participated in a race in a different city but if this is the case, I would make sure I will leave in time, stay overnight if necessarily and make sure I have the flight and the hotel booked way ahead of time.

I won’t be concerned about protein bars, gels or vitamin water. The race organizers usually offer these for everyone participating in the race so you can grab a drink or something to eat at those stops. Also there are plenty of these at the end so feel free to reward yourself after or during the race.

It’s also recommended and a lot of athletes are doing it, eating plenty of carbs after the race like a burger with fries. Be generous with yourself, you’ve been though a lot of hard work to be here.

Congratulations for preparing for your race properly and for finishing! Good job!

How to prepare for a running race in 10 simple steps

No matter if you have a marathon coming up or perhaps a 5k running race, the following steps will help you get ready to kick some butt on the race day.

The week before the race:

1. The week before any race is considered tapering, meaning you take it easy, you don’t do, don’t eat and don’t drink anything unusual.
2. Low to moderate physical efforts. Keep your mind at ease and focused.
3. Try to get good sleep during the week. The sleep from 2 nights before the race counts a lot. E.g. if the race is Sat, the sleep from Thursday night will help you at the race day.

How to prepare for a running race in 10 steps

The day before the race:

4. In the morning of the day before the racing day eat some peanut butter. I like it with a toast but whatever works for you is OK. Carbing up before the race will increase the level of glycogen in your muscles so you will have more energy when on the race day.

5. The night before the race eat another peanut butter sandwich or toast around 7-8 PM and try to get in bed around 9, sleep by 10:30. If you are a morning person you should be asleep already by 11 and have no issues waking up early in the morning. We are all getting a bad sleep the day before of a race so don’t stress out if you do. The sleep from 2 nights before will help.

The day before the race try to eat and drink liquids as per usual. No alcohol because it will dehydrate you.

6. Attach the BIB on the front of the shirt.

The morning of the race:

7. If the race is at 8:30, try to wake up at 6 if not earlier and eat a peanut butter toast 2 hours before the race. 2-3 glasses of water and a banana should be enough.
8. Try to get at the race 1 hour in advance – this will give you enough time to find a parking spot, familiarize with the place, get into the mood, find the starting line, change, go to washroom and get ready to run.

9. Use the same shoes and the same clothes you usually use for running. If you’ve got a shirt from the race organizers, use it. Make sure you attached the BIB attached on the front – if you’ve been given with one. Without a BIB there will be no official time.

Before the race starts, do not eat or drink excesively or anything that you don’t usually eat or drink.

During the race:

10. Start at your normal pace as you would normally run and stay at that speed for 2-3 km. Then slowly increase towards the end. DO NOT start fast, you will burn out quick and might not have enough energy to finish the race. You want to enjoy it not feeling exhausted, not from the beginning anyway.

Good luck and moreover don’t forget to enjoy it! Being competitive can be fun but look out for injuries, don’t go nuts except if you are nuts. Alright, I guess we all are, so go nuts!

A change of pace

Two weeks ago I took a hard left turn without slowing down and my left knee didn’t feel right. I almost completely forgot about it until I went for a run two days later and I didn’t need to run more than 10k to come home limping.

I took 2 full weeks off from running and this Saturday I went to run again with the club. I was alright for the first 3-4k, then the pain started kicking in and I was all a mess after 6-7k. I still managed to get back to the starting point, running 13k but I was in a pretty bad shape at the end.

The pain is at the exterior of my left knee. I read on the internet and it seemed to be the IT Band which was actually confirmed today by the sports doctor. Next, physio and chiropractor for a couple of weeks and no running at all. I will also walk to work weather permits. Hopefully I will be back on my feet soon and do some good running afterwards.

Since I now have at hand 5-6 extra hours per week, because I’m not running, I’m looking into finding some great running shoes and I will be doing some online search and research which I will share with you soon. So, keep this web browser tab open.

Till then, lace up and run! Cheers, Vic

Knee pain when running

I hear people complaining about lower back pain when running, chest or hip pain. Some have calf or ankle pain but none of these are my thing. My problem are my knees, they hurt especially during and after my long distance runs. And man, they hurt like a bitch.

You might have heard of runner’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome). Studies say, at least half of the runners go through runner’s knee issues being also the first sports injury for runners. I think is safe to say that knee pain is the most common issue runners can experience. And believe me is not a good experience.

Talking about myself, pretty much every time I run over 15-20 kilometers my knees become painful and they will stay painful for a day or two. Since only half of the runners experiencing knee pain would have runner’s knee, it’s a 50/50 chance for me to have it too though I don’t think it’s my issue. It’s too temporary to treat it seriously so I’m not really concerned about it to consult a sports medic, not for now.

Anyway, because it’s the only thing that affects my running, I focused my attention to it over the last months and I found a couple of things that might help you as well. In my case there are four factors that appear to contribute to knee pain:

  1. Running uphill and downhill
  2. Running at a much faster than the regular pace
  3. Running consecutive days with no breaks
  4. Running over 20 kilometers or a combination of these factors

Running is hard on knees, no surprise there but you might wonder, like I do, why your knees still hurt even after hundreds of even thousands of kilometers of running? Shouldn’t be enough for your body to adapt to it? Well, apparently not.

Knee pain when running: a medical explanation

I’m not going to go into too much medical stuff since I’m not a doctor but in short the knee is a modified hinge joint also known as tibiofemoral joint. It joints together three bones, femur, tibia and patella. Simply said, the muscles from the front of your thigh called quadriceps extend your leg and control the kneecap while the muscles from the back of your thigh called hamstrings flex your leg.

Because running is a repetitive sport, bending and flexing the knee can irritate the nerves around your patella and strain your tendons causing knee pain. But the explanation I found more accurate and more specific to runners is that the leg muscles become more stronger with training than the knee articulation (basically the tendons and cartilages in your knee capsule fall behind becoming weaker than your leg muscles). This results in the kneecap being stretched more than usual being pulled by the strong muscles over the femur end which ultimately brings inflammation in the area. Add repetition to this and it’s the recipe to pretty much any sports injury.

A couple of possible fixes would be icing the area before and after long runs, doing some proper warm ups before and some stretching after running or/and using a knee sleeve.

What seems to work for me and I will continue doing it, is strengthening my knees with exercises like straight legs rises, hamstring curls and wall squats. If you go this path just be aware that the wall squats can do more harm than good if you don’t do it properly. I wouldn’t recommend any form of training if your knees are very painful for more than a day or two. Rather go see a doctor, get some checkup done and make sure you don’t aggravate your situation instead of improving it.

Does running burn fat?

If you think to lose some weight through running probably the first question coming to your mind is, does running burn fat? Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Is the same like asking does running build muscle or does running burn muscle. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this and see what running does to your body and if it can be used as a fitness exercise to lose weight.

First of all, running tones your legs and builds leg muscle. Running can also help lose belly fat and guess what, can also make you poop. Wait, what? This might sound funny but working out your legs do help ultimately with digestion too. It’s one of the reasons I don’t eat much before my runs. That’s why gels and vitamin drinks work very well with people on the run. Literally.

What muscles does running work?

Running strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system and because it’s a repetitive sport it builds endurance and legs muscles. The main groups of muscles engaged in running (the painful ones after your first runs) are the quads, the hamstrings, the calves and the shin.

The glutes are also involved too so if you wonder if running makes your butt bigger, there you go, you know the answer. Or do you? If you look at the female Olympics short distance sprint athletes you might have noticed, they have pretty prominent glutes, very strong legs and a well built physique. Now compare a sprinter (on the left) with a marathoner (on the right):

sprinter vs marathoner

Longer distances might not be the way to go if your running plan is to build great glutes.

From the time I started running at the beginning of this year, my Achilles tendons started making some cracking noises when I walk. Nothing to worry about but this make me think beside those muscles, running has an impact on the Achilles tendons as well.

How running helps you burn fat?

Running can be a great way to burn some fat but only when you run longer than 90 minutes. Body fat oxidizes (burns) over long runs. After your body depletes the calories it starts using the body fat as a fuel. You don’t need necessarily to run fast, a long run at a steady pace would do it. I don’t know about you but I don’t really like slacking even on long runs but if you can run slower and longer that should help you burn some fat.

Morning runs on an empty stomach can be also good because muscles are forced to rely on fat when glucose in unavailable. However running on low blood sugar will make you feel fatigue easily which will result in less exercise intensity, a shorter running distance and therefore less calories burned. Personally I don’t like morning runs, I’m definitely not a morning runner but for a different reason, I am quite stiff in the morning and it takes me a longer time to adjust to a decent running clip.

Lace on now and go get some of that fat burned 😉

How to start running

I started running seriously this spring but I had a couple of short runs, 3-4 km with my colleagues from work in the fall of 2016. I don’t wanna brag about the first ones (actually not the first because I had some failed attempts a couple of years ago when I was overweight) but I was decently fast even at that time. So while I don’t necessarily consider myself at the beginnings with running since is past already more than half a year, I still remember my humble beginnings. I can relate to your thoughts. I can still remember asking myself, how do I start running?

There are two major things that will hold you back from starting on running. One is your habits or your daily routine. The other is your lack of fitness. Or at least that was what kept me from starting running earlier. Let’s see how these two factors influence you and what can you do to start running.

It’s all about routine

For me, the worst enemy is the mind because a lot of what we do is routine. Everything else looks like additional effort and who wants work? I’m pretty sure you interrupted at least one thing in your life to which you tried to get back after some time without success. Isn’t it hard to start all over again? Or maybe you keep thinking to start something for some time but you just can start on it. Like learning a new language or learning a new software for work. The same happens with running, it’s hard to start. It’s the power of routine that makes us keep doing the things we do and resist the change. Friends come over, we come tired from work, we have groceries to do, dog needs walking, cat wants to be petted, we feel like watching a movie, etc, etc. Life happens. You’ve got to make running a habit. Running a couple of times each week, get you into a running routine and gets your body prepared for more and more miles.

Learn to walk before you run

The second factor that might keep you from running is your fitness level. I have colleagues at work that never ran but, when they came with me, they did just great. I tried running a couple of years ago and it was a complete failure. I tried for a number of times but my pace won’t go anywhere close to 6 minutes per kilometer. I was running and walking and trying to run again and so on. I was miserable. And obviously I stopped after a couple of tries. I just couldn’t do it because of the weight and the lack of exercise. If you are overweight and start running you won’t get far. It’s the reality. Happened to me, it will happen to you. Except if you are some sort of a super duper urban Batman. Believe me, you are not.

This is why I think, if you want to lose weight, start with food by eating healthier, watching the carbs and the sugar, then move gradually into running. And you will start running, eventually, not because someone will tell you to run but because you just get so much more energy when you are at your ideal weight. You just feel like running.

Lose some weight, then start running a little bit here and there. Run with friends or register for a club to feel more responsible and to keep at it. Say out loud to everyone you know that you started running. This will held you accountable, will motivate you and will also support you when you have your bad days.

Pain first, passion later

When I started running I just didn’t have the passion, just some energy excess that pushed me on my feet. It was lace up and go. It still is. Passion started later when I demonstrated to myself that I can do it.

My passion for running started when I first ran 10k. Until then was just exercise, fitness, breaking the routine, blowing off the steam. Once I realized I can run 10k, is not only that I started looking into pace and other running metrics but aiming for long distances too. One thing I struggle at this moment is putting in more weekly miles. Currently I run 1-2 times, one of these usually no longer than 13k. But sometimes like yesterday, I run longer. Yesterday I ran 22k. Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel like running myself to exhaustion.

Running is not easy but once you start it becomes a snowball, the more you roll it in the snow, the bigger it gets!

RACE REPORT: Toronto Beach Jazz Run – My 1st Half Marathon

The short story of how I ended up registering for my first halfmarathon

toronto beach jazz run half marathon route

My wife saw the Toronto Beach Jazz Run race about a month or so ago and asked me if I don’t want to register but she was talking about the 10k race and not the half marathon. I registered to half right away and by the time she came back at my desk I was all a smile. $70, take my money! She couldn’t believe her eyes and ears that I registered for a half marathon knowing that I never ran one in my entire life. Still I had a 20k run one night not long before I registered for this race so I kind of knew I can do it. My main concern was the time. Could I get a good time?

The problem was that after registration I needed to work late over the following days and there was also an unplanned vacation down south that happened and where it was very hot for running. I only managed to put in two runs each no longer than 8k in 30 plus Celsius. If there is something that I cannot stand is the heat and the hills. Both happen to start with letter H, no pun intended. So here I was, back from vacation with only 2 weeks remaining until my first half marathon ever. If you count in one week of tapering then basically I was left with only 7 days to train. And by the way I came back from vacation 2 pounds heavier. Sigh.

Training, what is that?

The only upside of my pre race weeks was that I found a running club, close to my home at Yonge & Eglinton, called Toronto Running Club (it couldn’t be more generic than this) and I actually pushed myself a bit more with the club than I usually do in my solo runs. In fact I pushed so much over a 11.5k run in one evening that the guy who I was running with (seasoned runner with 45 marathons under his belt) got some sort of an injury and couldn’t run for two weeks or so. Hardcore!

Despite the short time for training pre-half marathon, I squeezed in a couple of good runs but no longer than 12k. Even in the week of the race I managed to run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The guys at the club made some jokes, calling my tapering, “Vic’s tapering”.

Peanut butter champion

Just a couple of days before the race, I listened to a couple of interesting episodes from Run to the Top podcast, which I added recently to my ever growing podcasts list, about the best food to eat the night before the race and in the morning of the race. This is how I found out that peanut butter is great for runners because is increasing the glycogen levels before a race. I also learned that a calories rich dinner the night before a race can help tremendously. So what I did is having a peanut butter sandwich around 7PM and another one around 10PM and one more in the race day morning around 5AM. I don’t know if the peanut butter saved my day and helped me finish strong but certainly something did.

Ohhh my, the pre-running race sleep is always bad

I have a bad sleep usually before a race day but apparently all racers have it. What I need to pay attention to is to the sleep from 2 nights pior the racing day. It kind of makes sense and indeed I had a pretty good one, probably around 7 hours of good sleep. The night before the race I could only sleep for about 5 hours.

21℃ at 5AM. Wait, what?!?

The weather is always a hit or miss in Toronto. While at the beginning of the week, the temperature dropped so it was nice for running (15℃ or so Wednesday), it gradually increased so on the race day at 5 o’clock in the morning it was 21℃ with 60% humidity. 21℃ is not necessarily a bad temperature but by the time the race started at 7AM, it was 24℃ already. The best part was that the race happened mostly in the shade and to be honest the sun wasn’t that hot even when I finished.

Race on!

The gun went off at 7AM sharp and we were 437 runners at the starting line. I positioned myself somewhere in the first group just behind the pacers, on the right side of the path. I just wish now seeing the race pictures that I was at the front so I can get better pictures. It was sunny morning but it was great in the shade under the trees.

The running route was almost flat with the exception of some small hills with a total of 6 meters elevation gain. We started at Kew Balmy Beach 1 at the Woodbine beaches, on the Martin Goodman Trail, continued on it passing the Beaches Park, through Ashbridges Bay park, then a bit on the Lakeshore Blvd. E south sidewalk until we reached Leslie St. After that we turned right on Unwin Ave on which we turned back at the end. Then we went back on Leslie St. towards Tommy Thompson Park which we passed at km 6. We kept running on the trail to the end of it, then we came back. My Strava showed me 21.5K when I finished but my Fitbit Surge displayed 21.09k total running distance.

fitbit stats Toronto beach jazz run half marathon

I had a simple plan for the race, start at my pace and keep at it until the last kilometers, then gradually increase to finish with a negative split and hopefully in one piece plus a good time overall. But that is me before a race. Me in the race is something like “what? is it someone running in front of me? No way, I cannot let that happen!”. Jokes aside, we had a couple of official pacers running with us. I just don’t remember seeing pacers at the Sporting Life 10k I participated this year but I can tell you, if you ever see pacers they are godsend. Stick with them. Lucky me I had my friend and coach Adrian running with me at Sporting Life and he gave a great pace too.

So what I ended up doing is picking one of those pacers, the one holding the 1h50min sign and sticking to them for the first half of the race. Once I passed the mid point I started accelerating and running faster passing runner after runner. I’m always amazed of how many runners start very fast and then they get tired and start loosing ground in the second half. I think I easily passed 10 runners in the last 10k. My music helped as well. My Spotify running playlist to which I keep adding new great running tunes is invaluable. It holds a steady and fast beat that matches my strides and there are a couple of powerful songs in there that really settle me into a great pace. Check it out!

Hydration: when and what?

I had my first water at kilometer 9. I can run easily 12 or even more without water but I thought I needed to start earlier this time since I would be running close to 2 hours. At kilometer 11 I had the first Gatorade then another one after a couple more kilometers. This race I decided I would stop for drinks instead of running and drinking which didn’t really worked at the previous race for Sporting Life where I mostly poured water on me instead of drinking. So I stopped each time for a couple of seconds, gulped the liquids and back at it.

strava stats beach jazz run half marathon heart rate

I had lowered my pace to under 5 minutes per km in between kilometer 14 to 19 which felt great passing runners but I had a little bit of a struggle somewhere in between 19 and the end of the race. My energy started to run off rapidly but I was happy getting closer and closer to the finish line that I really didn’t care anymore. I kept powering through to get it done, hopefully alive.

Could I have pushed harder? I surely could. For the next half marathon I plan to start running faster around km 9. This should give me enough time to catch up with a much better pace and eventually finish in 1 hour and 45 minutes or even faster. Still the temperatures remains crucial so I will recalculate my speed base on that.

Official Race results

Finished 85th place out of 437
Gender Group 63rd place out of 232
Age Group 40-49 18th place out of 59
Start Time 06:59:32.6
5k 00:25:50.3
10k 00:51:37.7
11.1k 00:57:01.6
Elapsed 01:47:28.4
Pace 05:05 min/km

Running with a buddy or not?

I don’t necessarily mind having a conversation while running but a race is just too serious to not stay focused. Plus everyone has a different speed. I don’t like the idea of holding someone’s back and I certainly hate it being held back. For that reason I like racing alone. I also love running with music. It helps me keep my pace, keeps my mind busy with something else than the race and more important, I don’t hear myself breathing heavily which distracts me every time.

If you have a buddy to give you a great race pace, that is gold. Like I did with the official pacers, it helped me checking on my watch less and put mind at ease.

Plans for the future

I would like to continue running long distances and eventually start running marathons one day. However, I don’t like following scheduled training so what I plan to do is increasing the weekly mileage. For example right now I usually do 10-12k. I will increase to 15k for a while, then I will do 20k and so on until I get to marathon distances. There is also a problem of hydration and food. I don’t like the idea of running with water nor the idea of consuming protein gels or protein bars. Probably I can get along with an nutrition plan designed for running though even there it’s so much to plan and think about and I don’t like that part. I like lacing up my shoes and just go for a run.

But enough already about me, what’s your running plan?

Running in heath

I ran Saturday night in 27C heat a 10k and I almost gave up, that hot it was after 10PM! My legs were jelly way before finishing. It seems hot is not my friend. However I did the same route, another 10k yesterday and while it was still hot it wasn’t that bad like the day before so I almost beat my personal best time, with a pace of 4min 46sec per km. Not bad at all. My new shoes might have helped, experimenting these days with a pair with better cushion because of my plantar fasciitis.

One thing I noticed from the time it started being this hot is that I am really thirsty after my runs. Before, I didn’t even feel I wanted to drink water after a 10k but now all I do after getting home is gulping 2-3 glasses one after another. Also having a cold watermelon or Santa’s melon helps me cool down easily. I checked my heartbeat on my fitbit and it’s easily over 10 heartbeats over my regular, even close to 200 per minute which is insane. I was literally dropping sweat on the elevator floor last night. And I always thought winter is the worst. How do you cope with hot weather?

I ran 20 km for the first time. It’s savage

I was for the first time thirsty and for the first time my legs wouldn’t listen to me anymore. 20 km running is in these 2 ways so different than a 10k. I almost stumbled to finish the run. But hey, it’s been my first 20k run and it feels great!

I couldn’t wait to get home in bed and to drink 10 gallons of water. Despite everything, the weather was perfect with the cool wind blowing gently in the Forest Hill village where I run. It’s also the first time I started easy and being able to keep a steady pace a bit over 5 min per kilometer.

I usually run like a maniac always checking my pace and it’s just brutal. But, after all, it appears to me I enjoy more running further than faster. Not that I don’t care about pace anymore. I managed to get a great 5:21 min per km and it is good enough achievement to me.

20k running in Forest Hill, Toronto
20k running in Forest Hill, Toronto

I’m running like a caveman. Probably I will always do. I cannot follow any training. I basically jumped from 10k to 20k in one run. Forget about increasing gradually, it’s not for me. Now my only concern is to not get an injury.

I’m just too obsessed of putting my shoes on and just doing it. Sure, I’m reading books of famous athletes like Dean Karnazes, Charlie Engle or the one I’m onto it now, Chrissie Wellington, a world top Iron Man winner but it’s mostly for the motivation, for the shivers down my spine – they truly make me run more, no doubt about it. Following their advice? Heck no. In a way, listening to everyone and following no one is the way it should be, because we are all different. And after all, it’s not much advice in these books anyway. But boy, isn’t their stories a pure drug?!? I just cannot get enough of it!

The perfect weather last night was just too hard to miss. The cold brisk air was perfection. I knew it I will run longer because I thought for the whole weekend about it though I planned for Sunday morning and I ended up running in the evening after some walks with my wife, 2 steaks, one beer and a cheesecake plus some other stuff I don’t remember. But I knew it, when going out the door, that I am set for 20k. I had some thoughts about doing 21 so it was half marathon but by the time I was running the last kilometer I was on jelly legs so I ended up stopping at 20 which is not bad anyway.

When people say, running is hard on knees I never believed them until last night. Even today my knee caps are all painful. Well, I also walked to work as I usually do, so these 9k in the morning count as well. I never had issues with my knees while running but I do feel pain while on bicycle, especially uphill. It was all great for the first 15-16 km, then the pain started and for the last kilometer or so it’s a bit blurry. The music helped me keeping a steady pace. BTW, I will be creating soon a new playlist in Spotify with an increased tempo then the current one. Some really great songs.

Now put on your running shoes and go for a run. Just do it.

Toronto 10K Sporting Life: Running is War

toronto sporting life 10k
toronto sporting life 10k

3 weeks passed from the Toronto Sporting Life 10k as I felt like I needed to let this sink for a bit before saying anything.

It’s been my first official 10k, my first race and it felt like such an undertake at least for the time between registration and the race day. I felt nothing really during the event except my legs burning and my gasps for air hurting my lungs before the finish line. However, I was a bit mental the night before, waking up at 2 am and never been able to get back to sleep. I was tired, scared but excited. I ran 10k before but having my friend and couch running with me gave me the much needed confidence to register for the race in the first place.

So here I am, leaving my home at 6:30 am to be at the scheduled race start at 7:15. It was a delirious cold morning at close to 0℃ so I rode my mountain bike like a maniac to warm a bit in my shorts and t-shirt. The garbage bag I shove on my head must have had made of me just another clown. So good there wasn’t anyone that Sunday morning on the streets.

I arrived at the race start, met Adrian (my friend and coach) and his lovely Karin and off we went, slow at the beginning since I was literally rubbing shoulders with the pack, no shoulder room. However I was able to speed up a bit while still keeping a safe pace. Easy first two km, constant under five minutes per km after that and go as fast as you can for the last 2 km, said coach Adrian. So we did. The start of the race was at Roselawn St. and Yonge St., just north of Eglinton and there is not much uphill but mostly downhill. Now, I know for a fact, downhills are some little son of a bitches, at least for me but it wasn’t​ the case here. The map on the official race website is wrong and apparently it’s like this for some time since Adrian told me that we will turn right at Adelaide though the map says Wellington. Not that it makes much difference but just in case you are more of a control freak and want to know exactly where you will be running.

Strava stats – Sporting Life 10k Toronto

I saw kids and people of all ages running. Women and men. Running for different reasons, women for the fellowship, men because we are all scared of sickness and getting old. It’s true. At a point in the race I saw someone stumbling to the ground, getting back up and continuing.

My legs started hurting at the mid point but I continued relentlessly as my coach kept increasing the pace in the second half. He kept asking me to get water at the hydration areas and I tried 2 times but not with much success. I didn’t want to stop and most of the water from the little cups ended up on my shirt and shorts.

toronto sporting life 10k
toronto sporting life 10k

It’s always something with kilometer 7. It’s like a transition of some sort when my body tells itself, “Wait, this is serious business, we are indeed set for a run. Embrace yourself!”. It’s there when my mind starts its little games and I get to start telling myself, it’s only three km left. Then two. Then one. I always found the encouragements from the side a bit silly but you know something, they work. A little, go go go, goes a long way especially during the last kilometers.

Then like in a dream I heard someone calling my name, my son next to my wife! Once he saw me, he ran in parallel, on the other side of the fence towards the finish line. That was emotional. With the coach falling behind to let me finish, my son and wife cheering from my left, I finished the Toronto 10K Sporting Life race in 00:45:37 with a negative split (yeah I learned about negative splits right then, apparently a big deal for every athlete). Overall place 1121 out of 18501, category age 40 to 44, 86 out of 728 and place by gender, 906 out of 7928. To twist a bit a line we hear before the movie starts at the theater, you are faster than you think.

As you might have noticed, the stats are a bit different from Fitbit to Strava to the official race states. My official pace was 4:33, on my Fitbit Surge was 4:29 and my Strava one was 4:21. It’s like this because of the time when I started and when I stopped Fitbit and Strava. Anyway, Strava and Fitbit give me different times even when I start and stop both in the same time. Must be the geolocation or some calculation they do different.

Don’t get stacked in numbers. Put your shoes on and go for a run.

If running is a war, the mind is the big tough boss at the end. You know what I mean if you play video games. Races end, running continues.