shameless finish line selfie
Brrr! I’m back inside from the Refridgee-8er 8 mile race. I had a pretty good day today!
When I woke up I was a bit nervous about the race. One reason is that I had a really busy week, getting caught up on life and seeing friends after a whole lot of travelling. Another reason, as I’ve also mentioned before, is that I’m still not 100% sure about my nutrition before and on race day. But mostly, I was worried for this:
weather report from this morning
When I woke up, my weather app was showing me -13 deg C… with a low of -23. Remember when I was in Costa Rica enjoying 32 degree days? Less than a week ago? I don’t feel like my body has fully adjusted back to winter, and I don’t think it ever really likes winter, so I knew I’d be uncomfortable.
I figured there wasn’t much I could do except dress for the weather, so I started layering up.
just your friendly neighbourhood triathlete wearing base layers at 7 am
It was much too cold for my usual SOAS favourites, so I ended up wearing a tank top and tee (above, though you can’t see the tank underneath), and a long sleeve running shirt. On top of that I added my favourite lululemon down vest (similar one in the link… the one I have is less reflective and a bit more fitted). I added a hat, gaiter, and gloves, plus my standard winter running tights. At the last minute I also decided to wear socks (which I never do while running! #triathleteproblems).
Anyways, I always eat the same thing before a race: a tall coffee from starbucks (pike place roast, black) and a raisin bran muffin. This morning, I woke up pretty hungry at 6 am, and the race didn’t start till 10, so I ate a 1/2 mug of cereal and snoozed for a bit.
When I got to the start line, I just didn’t feel well. I had warmed up with a jog (~1.5 miles) and threw in some strides at the end, but I still had pre-race butterflies and was just generally feeling nauseous. Even though I only finished half my coffee more than an hour before, I still felt like my stomach was full of liquid and I felt that swooshy feeling whenever I moved – like being a human washing machine.
Race start time waits for no one, human washing machine or not, and at 10 am the gun went off. A few strides in I finally remembered to hit my Garmin, and spent the first 1/4 mile jockeying around and settling into a comfortable pace and position. As I pulled towards the front I heard my coach calling at me to not go out hard, and I was off. He ran the race as well, but we knew we would have different paces so we didn’t try to stick together. I was looking to hold 8:00 min/mi, and around the 1/2 mile I glanced down and saw 7:35. Time to reign it in a little.
I pulled back and settled next to another local runner who I don’t know very well but who I see at the Waterloo Running Series races. He was running the 8km. We chatted for a bit, but I can’t remember what about! lol – that’s my race brain for you. We came up to the 1 mile mark, and a volunteer called out “8:10”. I knew right away I had to get going, so I said bye and good luck and pulled ahead again.
For the next 3ish miles I just felt crappy. I was chasing a girl wearing a purple jacket, and another guy who looked like he was in his 40’s. That jacket reminded me so much of a grape for some reason, and I just kept thinking “go get that grape”. I didn’t take any water, mostly because of my stomach. It was snowing, my glasses were fogging, and I was finding alternately bad and ok footing.
I passed the girl around mile 5 and set my sights on the guy. The 8mi and 8km courses were along the same route, but the 8mi had an extra loop (with a hill!!) added in. As I was coming up that hill for the second time, I asked the volunteer if there were many girls ahead. He looked at me and said “oh yeah, tons”. I was so confused! I thought I hadn’t seen many other women, and the pack was pretty thin at that point, but I figured I’d give it some gas and see what I found ahead. Of course, the volunteer hadn’t understood what I meant, and there were not many girls ahead of me (running my race, at least!) at all.
Around mile 7 I passed the guy I’d been chasing and just told myself to get to the finish line. I’d been hanging on through miles 5-7, but I was getting cold and still couldn’t get my stomach to settle. I used a few running mantras to help take my mind off it, but as soon as I refocused on my body I’d feel a wave of nausea and my heart rate would spike like crazy. One of the things I like to repeat during a race is “chop wood carry water”. It’s a zen proverb that reminds you to focus on the task at hand, and break life into the simplest pieces.
I turned the corner into the last ~0.2 miles and started to open up my stride. I knew I couldn’t surge too early, but I also knew that I was ready to get inside. I crossed the finish line in 1:03:41, which I was happy with. My coach had put 1:00:00 in training peaks as a goal, but I knew that with the conditions and all the travel I would be lucky to go in 1:04:00.
Turns out, that was good enough for first in my age group! This was probably my last time racing in the F 20-24 category, since I’m going to “age up” in April, when I turn 25. I don’t have any races planned until then, so unless something comes up in March, that’s it! I was also the 8th female overall, which I was pretty happy about! #top10
splits for today from strava
I was productive all day after the race – I got groceries, cleaned, did laundry, finished food prep for the week and studied a bit, but I realized at about 9 pm that I was totally exhausted. Pretty much the whole day my stomach never got back to normal, and I did get two bottles of G2 into me. Hydration? Fatigue? Nerves? Who knows.
My biggest take-homes from this race were to focus on the moment and to be confident in my abilities. I’m a good runner. I don’t need to be afraid to go fast. I spend so much time and energy worrying about the pain that when I’m actually racing, I get surprised that it’s totally fine – I definitely could have run faster today, and I need to not let my mind keep me from doing that. We’re only a little over 4 months from Sweden!