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.
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.
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.