How My Worst Time Was Really My Best

Yesterday, I ran a 10k race.

I have run this road race for the last four years, with varying results. My first 10k was such an amazing experience. The course is fast, flat, and friendly. There are so many cheerful faces high-fiving along the way which is amazing, seeing as though I would definitely be sleeping at 7:30 on a Sunday morning if I wasn’t lacing up my running shoes. Last year, I managed to pull off a 4+ minute personal best, resulting in my first and only sub-60 minute 10k race.

This year, I definitely didn’t even come close.

While I may have ran my worst time for a 10k race, it really felt like my best race. Since my recent training schedule could be called sparse at best, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere near my personal best. I put those feelings of disappointment and thoughts of not being good enough on the back burner. I set a goal that was very achievable (a 1:10) race. I also decided to have fun.

Why would I call this my best race ever? Well…

I shared some words of wisdom to some newbie runners in the starting corral

If this is your first 10k, you are already guaranteed a personal best,” I found myself saying to the crowd around me. It garnered a few nervous laughs, but I really hope those ladies took it to heart. As I overheard racers afraid of hills on the course, I assured them it was a flat and speedy course. I regaled them with tales of sweet high-fives and the best cheerleaders along the way. I felt like a wise oracle. (twitter screenshot)
I ACTUALLY listened to some of my favourite songs

By putting less pressure on myself, I disengaged the mental block that never really lets me focus on anything but negative self-talk. I had my sweet running playlist blasting. I actually HEARD the songs and lyrics. I enjoyed the journey.

I stuck with a pacer, who shared his own story

(Photo from Edmonton Marathon)
These people are volunteering their time for one reason only – to help other people achieve their goals. I have run with many pacers over the years (self pacing is truly my weakness), but the gentleman leading the troops yesterday was in a league of his own. He shared with us that he was running the race in honour of his brother, who had passed away two days before from a heart attack. His brother, only 50, used to run regularly with him. The fact that this man – who was clearly suffering and grieving – was out there running, let alone leading a crew of struggling runners, reinforced the idea that life is too short. Take risks. Set challenges. Place one foot in front of the other. Laugh and love. Look outside of yourself and support those around you.

I encouraged and chatted up the runners around me

(Photo from Edmonton Marathon)
There was the loveliest lady who I was perpetually chasing. Since I really wasn’t sticking to a set pace or intervals, I was constantly passing then falling behind the same group of people. When I finally settled in with the pacer, this lovely lady and I began chatting. It was her first 10k and she was hoping for anything under 1:20. We were cruising well above that pace. She was so happy and excited to be in that moment – crushing her expectations and beating her goals. I lost her in the final few kilometres, but I am so glad I was a part of her first race.

I smiled and sprinted towards the finish line.

In the last kilometre, there were quite a few of us on the struggle bus. I had a bad cramp and had stopped to walk for a few steps. A couple who had been running around me peeped up “come on, girl, you got this!” I smiled and picked up the pace – sprinting towards the finish line with the biggest grin on my face. A few kilometers before, I had said the very same thing to them. Kindness is infectious. Supporting others on their journey is so simple and can have the biggest impact.

I am still on cloud nine from yesterday. I’m blissed out, albeit with some sore calves.

What’s up next for me? Two 5k fun runs. Do I have a goal in mind? Of course, I would love to run at least one sub-30 minute race. But I also hope to enjoy the run, the scenery, the laughter. I want to have fun and run happy. I want to keep riding on the positive vibes of what was my worst – and best – race ever.

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