Monday, 17 June 2013

MEC Recap, the Pros, and Leaving My Comfort Zone

So I have decided to dub the 2013 Race Season - "The Year I Left My Comfort Zone". This weekend's Race was a HUGE eyeopener and the learning curve over the last few months has been steep.

With some nudging from my coach Michelle I decided to sign up last minute for the MEC Toronto 5km. This was a no fuss no muss race. No bling. No swag. But it had a price point of $15, it was in a parkland location, and it had a chip time - so I was game.

Comfort Zone Krysten - Would never sign-up for a short race.
Speed is not my forte. In fact it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. There is a reason I have focused on distance races. And that reason is my fear of speed. I find it very difficult to manage my heart rate while racing short and fast. It is also a fear that has gotten worse the more comfortable I have become with my nice even-paced long distance races.

But this year is about challenging myself. And Michelle has stressed the importance of my speed and tempo work. Admittedly it still makes me nervous. And I have a slight mental block when I see my heart rate climb out of my comfort zone (probably because of this), but I am working on it. I know both my body and heart are getting stronger - so I need to embrace speed.

Comfort Zone Krysten - Would never agree to race with people.
So one of the best things about being a runner is the community. The people are supportive and amazing. But I am always really nervous about running with other people. Especially with fast, professional, crazy, elite runners. I am secretly (not so secretly) insecure about my running ability. I try really damn hard, but I know that as a girl with a robot-ticker, I have some serious limitation. And the competitive side of me is deeply frustrated by this.

But this time I agreed to race with Michelle, her crazy amazing running friends, and Christina. So we all met up before the race to warm up and get ready.

Comfort Zone Krysten - Would never run before the race.
After getting our bibs and our chips Christina and I were just stretching, instagramming, and chatting. Until up popped Michelle informing us that we should actually do a 5km warm up run?! What!?! It has literally never occurred to me that I should run a significant distance before a race? I usually do some stretching. Maybe run to the bathrooms and back. And that's about it... (oops!)

So off we went for a 2km warm-up run. You know just me and my elite friends out for a leisurely jog!

We returned shortly to find out that there was a problem with the course. So the 5km would now only be a 4km. And the 10km and Half Marathon had been changed to an 8km and 20km race. It was a slight change in plans. But we were there, warmed up, and ready to run...so that is what we did!

We all lined up at the starting line, and off we went. I started out too fast - story of my life. I was excited. And I was trying to keep pace with all of amazing runners that surrounded me. After the first km I started to slow down. Michelle gave me some great tips about my posture and breathing - thing I need to work on in the coming months. And soon enough we were at the turn around point.

I was starting to panic a little about my pace. I was worried about my heart-rate, because it had steadily been climbing since the race began. Michelle encouraged me to pick it up. I ran an even pace for the next little bit and turned it on for the last 350 meters.

I crossed the finish line at 21:23.

I was happy with that. I think if it had been a 5km it would have been a PR for me. I also think with more practice I could definitely do better. I had more in the tank. I was just scared to push outside my comfort zone. (<---see its a theme)

Comfort Zone Krysten - Would never run after the race
I sprinted across the finish line and before I knew it Michelle and her crazy running bunch were herding me over the the road for a "Slow Down" run. I wanted water and mostly to sit down. But off we went for another 2km cool down. I was feeling a bit blah at this point, but I could definitely see the benefits of some extra kilometers. My legs felt good when we were done and my heart rate had returned to normal.
More than anything this weekend's race inspired me. Watching how these people train and seeing all they are capable of makes me want it even more. It takes a lot of hard work to train your body to run like they do. And while I know I still have a REALLY LONG way to go - the harder I push, the stronger I am gonna get.

So let's do this friends! This is where the magic happens!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten