Saturday, 19 September 2015

Toronto Zoo Run and Yorkville 5K Recap Karen's Comeback Run

Training for the upcoming marathon has been a tough go for me. I'm not sure if it is because I turned 40 or if it's all in my head. My legs don't seem to want to move when I lace up and try to go out for a run.

I decided last minute to pick up a bib for the Oasis Toronto Zoo Run. I ran it for the first time last year and had a blast. It is a challenging course through the Toronto Zoo with many undulating hills. A one hour aerobic run was scheduled for the Saturday, so I could use the race a training run.

It was pouring rain Saturday morning and I prayed that it would stop by the time the race was to start. I am fortunate to live fairly close to the zoo, so I was able to stay warm at home until heading out to the race. I arrived a little later than last year, so I was directed to park off site and walk over with my garbage bag rain coat to the event site.  Bag drop off was quick and efficient but had a time cut off as they bags had to be driven to the finish line area.

I got into my coral  and the gun went off shortly after. I had decided to run conservatively and use it as a training run since I was going to be racing again the next day. I was pretty miserable standing in the rain. My cousins wife was a course marshal and it was one of the few things that was motivating me get moving. The course is hilly and challenging, but running through the zoo and seeing the animals is definitely a bonus.

It was another tough race for me as I started to doubt myself. I was hitting the wall and hard. I have run many races, but this feeling of self doubt was really crazy. I had never felt this way ever and I was only 3km into the race. I kept telling myself that it was only 10km, but then I would think about the upcoming marathon and freak out. I started thinking about downgrading to the half marathon. I could barely run this 10km race, how in the world would I run 42.2 km? I battled these demons for almost the entirety of the race. As each person passed me, I would feel worse about myself. It was insane. I had never experience these thoughts before.

I trudged along and finally saw my cousin's wife at one a the last uphills. It was nice to see a familiar face, but I knew I still had about 2 km to go. I had never been so happy to see a finish line. There was no course PB for me today as I did worse than last year. I guess there will always be next year.

Posing with the Giraffes 
After the race, I headed back to the kids and headed out to pick up my buddy Gen who was flying in from Montreal to run the Yorkville 5K. She had run this race last year as her first ever road race with my run buddy.  My run buddy Karen had also registered for this race as her comeback race after her stroke last year. I had been anxiously nervous about this race for many reasons. I knew that Karen would do great as her recovery has been remarkable, but still weary and terrified that something would happen.

We got there early to see the elites run and was once again amazed by their athleticism. The first runner came through in 14:16 (Male), 15:57 (Female).  I ran a few kilometres to warm up and then bid adieu to my buddies to run the race. My buddies had made me promise them that I would race the race and I didn't want to let them down. I told myself that I would run as hard as I could but at the same time once I started running I was cautious and I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I'm afraid I won't have enough fuel to get me through the 5K. It's crazy as I write about it now and thinking back to the race. I always have regrets that I should have pushed harder. I knew the first few kilometres was a nice net downhill and the last few would be a slight uphill. Once I started the uphill, the winds also picked up. I kept thinking positive thoughts to get me to the finish. I finished 27:43. I am happy with the time considering I raced a 10k the day before.

I quickly collected my medal and ran back for my buddies. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I ran back. In my head, I was thinking that I would come up to Gen first or Gen and Karen together, but  I was pleasantly surprised that I found Karen running up to me. I ran up beside her and checked in with her. She said that she was doing good and for me to go back and find Gen. It is so Karen, to ask me to go back for others. She is so selfless. I ran with her for a little bit and went to find Gen who was not far behind. They had just over a kilometre left to run. I pushed Gen to keep on running and to catch up with Karen. We got into view of her and cheered her onto the finish. I ran Gen into the finish area and let her finish on her own. I am so proud of both my friends.

I'm totally losing it after Karen crossed the Finish

She did it!!!
Do you believe in miracles? I thank God everyday for my health and the ability to do what I love. Karen is a true testament to miracles. She had a stroke 9 months ago and was completely immobilized. I was afraid that she would never walk again, let alone run. But with her determination and a lot or prayers she has made and amazing recovery. I am so happy to have my run buddy back and looking forward to running some more races with this amazing woman.

Showing off our Medals

Do you have an amazing story to share?

How do you get yourself through the mental part of training ?

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