fitness · race report · racing · running

Tracy’s 10K without prep: “Woo hoo! I wasn’t in the bottom 10!”

Image description: Tracy in running tights, a t-shirt, ballcap and sunglasses, long-sleeved run top around waist, race bib on front, smiling and holding a paper cup in her right hand, people, grass, trees, and inflatable race arch in background.
Image description: Tracy in running tights, a t-shirt, ballcap and sunglasses, long-sleeved run top around waist, race bib on front, smiling and holding a paper cup in her right hand, people, grass, trees, and inflatable race arch in background.

Like I said last week in “Would you run a 10K with no prep?”, I went into Saturday’s MEC 10K with no expectations because I had done virtually no training for it. It was just a way to get back into things, at my own easy pace. I actually didn’t want to hook up with anyone to run it with me this time. My feminist playlist and Coach Linda’s voice in my head were all I needed to keep me moving forward this time.

It turns out that a lot of the participants in the MEC series are pretty speedy folks. So I soon realized that I was really near the back of the pack. There were a lot of people doing all sorts of different distances — 5K, 10K, 15K with trail and road options. We had staggered start times, by distance, but for the roadsters, there was just one 5K out and back loop that we had to repeat (twice for the 10K, three times for the 15K). Thank goodness it wasn’t on a part of the pathway system that I frequently run or that would have been almost unbearable. It was never lonely but I could tell from the bib colours (blue for 10K!) that for my distance there weren’t that many people behind me.

Despite going in with an “I’ll take what I can get” attitude, I have to say that there is a certain sort of psychological battle that ensues and I had to (and did) overcome it. There is a voice in my head that messes with me sometimes and tells me it’s a waste of time (I’m not sure whose time is being wasted, since clearly I benefit from physical activity) for me to be out there.

I watch people powering past, and think wow. Mostly I’m impressed. Like when Spencer, who works down the hall from me and won the men’s 5K distance with an astonishing 17:19, blew past me (the 5K started later lol) and said “Hey Tracy!” I just felt good. Because I really don’t compare myself to Spencer and can be simply amazed by him instead.

The psychological battle this time wasn’t quite the same. Yes, I had a bit of “what the heck are you doing out there with all these real runners?” Even after all this time, I still sometimes doubt my runner-cred. But the voice didn’t take me down. There was some push back, “hey! I’m a feminist fitness blogger and author, so shut up!” And also, “I’m doing 10K because I can!” which happens to be the truth of the matter. I can. And I did.

There was a great moment in the race when I women who obviously reads the blog (I only saw her back as she ran past) said something along the lines of “10K without prep! Yay you!” And I was like, “yes, yay me!” It put a huge smile on my face — so to the mystery woman who said that to me, thank you because I loved that moment.

I used a few things my running coach, Linda had taught me. She’s the ultimate positive person. She has all sorts of cool tricks for keeping that forward momentum. The two I used this time were: “fast feet, fast feet” and “touch lift, touch lift.” These little mantras are gold when I need something more than my feminist playlist to keep me going. I just pick on and repeat it, focusing on my feet.

I also used Linda’s trick of setting myself little goals to get to — the next bench, that tree, the water station, the bridge…

I didn’t go in with much strategy. I set my Garmin to 10-1 intervals with no intention of taking the walk-breaks unless absolutely needed. In the end, I only took two of them for about 30 seconds each time, walked through two water stations for about 15 seconds each, and took one additional walk break to remove my long sleeved top when it got too hot.

When I got to the last 2K I decided to try picking up my pace a bit, knowing that it was not so far to the finish line and I didn’t need to have anything left by the time I got there. I consistently upped my pace every 500m or so until the end, powering up to the finish line, crossing at 1:09:20 at a 6:29 pace, which was faster than my average 6:56 pace over the 10K. I liked that feeling of pushing myself towards the finishing arch.

I didn’t look up my official result until much later that day. I fully expected to be in the bottom 10 of the entire race. Now, I’m not usually one to feel good at someone else’s expense because I know we all run our own race and someone has to be in the bottom 10 (10 people, in fact). But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t in the bottom 10 that day, and that’s even ruling out the people who didn’t finish or show up.

My new goal for this 10K training commitment that I’m doing for the next few months is to get that time down to 65 minutes or less. I’m not sure I can do that by the May MEC race, which is May 26th (but I just remembered my photography course starts that day — may need to find a different event or do a 10K on my own). But it’s my summer goal. And I’m excited about it because that would be a personal best for me and I feel confident I can do it, especially with Linda’s guidance.

I’m all for the 10K distance right now. It’s far enough that it helps satisfy the endurance athlete in me, but it’s not so far that training feels like it’s dominating my life. And I can even do the events without prep — not that I recommend that, actually. I confess I felt pretty stiff the next day when I went out for an easy 5K with Julie to run it off.

Do you have an easy or difficult time “running your own race”?


5 thoughts on “Tracy’s 10K without prep: “Woo hoo! I wasn’t in the bottom 10!”

  1. Love the race report Tracy. Every race has a story and reading yours is an inspiration. Quite the amazing mental process that happens during a race. I hope your post helps others realize that they too can do it. Congratulations on your excellent ’10K without prep’.

  2. Every time I run a race, no matter how much I tell myself before the race that “I’m running for me”, “It doesn’t matter how fast, just that you finish it”, “this is my goal, and the other people there have their own goals” … I invariably start comparing myself to other runners. Since I like running 10-1’s even during the race, I will end up leap frogging with one/two/five runners and then well, it turns into a competition. I also end up wishing I was faster, nevermind that I don’t have the ideal runner’s physique and I only started running in my 30’s. I’m not proud of it, and I blame the extra adrenaline.
    Yay for finishing the 10K! And congrats to fighting through all the thoughts in your head!

  3. Yay, Tracy! It was good to read about the internal processes you went through during the race. I go through a lot of these when cycling, and it’s good to know I’m not alone. Another good thing you reminded me of is that this is not a waste of time– it’s time we want to spend at activities we enjoy. So I’ll be keeping this in mind as I ride my own rides for the charity and event rides I’m doing this summer. Thanks!

  4. You go! Sounds like you had a nice race. I love that you were able to focus on your own run! I’m running a 10k on Sunday, so I’ll be reporting next week. I’ve only run one other 10k race and considering that I’m usually quite competitive I found it surprisingly easy to just go at my own pace. Let’s see how it goes on Sunday – I’m running as part of a team this time so there will be other people around me to compare myself to… here’s to hoping I can get into the zone and just focus on my own goal!

    Also I absolutely second you on the idea that 10k is the perfect distance. It’s long enough so you really feel it but short enough not to need insane amounts of training. I think I do want to try a half marathon at some point but for now 10k is a great distance.

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