I’ve been on a bit of a good running streak lately, signing up for lots of races and getting a little faster along the way.
So when the Saint John Airport 10K came along on Saturday, I was like, I’ve got this.
The race is always a blast, as you take off with a throng of runners on a fast, flat course. My goal was to beat 55:17. I figured it was reasonable for a new mama, because it was my time for the same course three years ago, for my first 10K. (I ran it again in 2013 at 53:57).
So I strapped on my Garmin and told myself to keep a pace under 5:30 min/km.
It went pretty well for the first half. In fact, my pace was closer to 5:15. I was feeling very confident.
But then, after circling the airport runway once, I realized I was out of juice. All I had in me was 5K at that pace. I had to slow down. Suddenly I was way over 5:30. And I felt pretty downtrodden. I was about to clock in a personal worst for a 10K.
For the remainder of the race, I obsessively checked my watch. I made little goals to force myself to keep running. But I felt like I was going on fumes. It did not feel fun at all. My face was red hot and my mouth was dry.
I finished at 55:20, which is actually not bad, considering my pace for recent races. I placed 7/20 in my age group. But I still felt humbled – and exhausted. I realized I still have some work to do before I am as fit as I was pre-pregnancy.
Upon reflection, I’ve realized why I did not feel good about this race. I was too hung up on the numbers.
When I enjoy a run, I’m feeling the air, listening to the sounds, and finding my comfortable pace. I didn’t allow myself to do that on Saturday. Instead, I was a slave to the watch.
I know there are many other things I could have done to make this race better: get more sleep, drink more water. I should have had a little snack shortly before the race. I could have trained better.
But I’m not in this to win. I run because I enjoy it. And why bother if I’m going to get hung up on paces, numbers, seconds?
Lesson learned: for my next 10K in Halifax two weeks from now, I will not wear a watch. OK, I might wear it, but if I do, I will set my pace based on how I feel. I’ll enjoy the experience, and take it as it comes.