(More) Thoughts On Running a 10K

Shoes

Today on the podcast Laura and I are discussing our experiences running a 10K race. I know I covered the topic fairly thoroughly already but in case you missed it/were curious/want to learn more, it was a lot of fun to discuss on the show. The episode doesn’t have a lot of practical tips (I’m working on pulling together a post full of my tips and lessons learned soon!) but it shows two different approaches to running the same length of race.

We also talk about our fitness goals for the fall – I first shared mine for October here. I’m failing at the running distance goal, but my nightly walks are becoming a lovely part of my daily routine. Every time I start to feel too hunched over and anxious in the evenings at my computer, I go out to finish my 10,000 steps for the day and I always feel better when I get home. It’s a goal I think I’m going to roll over to next month for sure.

You can find the episode here or subscribe to us on iTunes here. Thanks for listening!

24 Before 24: Run a 10K Race!

Photo by race photographers
Photo by race photographers

You may remember that a while ago, I announced that I was going to be doing the Busan Half Marathon this fall. I started out that journey feeling really motivated and positively, but unfortunately my body had other plans. After about a week of running high mileage days every day, my knee started complaining and eventually went on strike one morning and I could barely put weight on it, let alone run, without it screaming in pain. I am very stubborn and did not want to give up, especially since I only had 3K more to go to meet my training goal for the day (…) but finally I was forced to listen to what my body was trying to tell me: “too much”. Having started my training a bit late, I wasn’t able to take rest days or chip away at it over a longer stretch – it was all in or nothing, and my body had decided for me. I went to see a specialist at the hospital who didn’t speak much English and told me, in essence, not to run. Ever.

Busan 10K View

After that, I decided not to be an idiot – a surprisingly difficult thing for me to do. I knew I could run 10K, since I’ve been happily working on my 10K endurance this whole running season, and so I could give myself a break in training and still do the race. Also, considering the fact that I’ve never run a 10K race before it should have been my logical first choice for my birthday list goal in the first place. So I amended my goal to be a 10K race instead of a half-marathon. This sucked for me because I really hate changing goals and because I had just announced I was going to do the half here on the blog so suddenly I was embarrassed as well as disappointed. Thanks to some good friends telling me (in kind words) not to be an idiot (I need constant reminding), I got over it. I took some weeks off and then went back to my normal running schedule of about 2-3 times a week. And then this Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and ran one of the most beautiful runs of my life with a seriously great personal best time.

Busan is home to the Diamond Bridge, a beautiful suspension bridge that stretches across the water connecting two parts of the city. Along one length of the bridge is Gwangalli beach and the mountains, along the other side is ocean as far as you can see. It’s absolutely stunning from the mainland, especially at night, but it turns out it’s just as beautiful of a view when you’re actually on it with thousands of other people on an impossibly beautiful, blue-skied, windy day.

Busan 10K

Due to a strange flaw in the registration system for the race, our alien card numbers weren’t accepted and our registration was rejected after the deadline so we couldn’t try to register again. We’d heard from friends that in years past it’s the easiest thing to run it without registering but I was still nervous about not being a registered runner. Up until we were on the bridge I felt sure someone was going to pull me off to the side and tell me no. I needn’t have worried! It was easy to get in (really, no sneaking of any kind was required as there were no barriers or blocks) and nobody was checking.

The race itself was funny, as so many things in Korea are: there was no security at any stage of the race, people walking in totally normal clothes carrying shopping bags, little kids walking along with their mothers, selfie sticks everywhere, and people stopping smack in the middle of the bridge to take photos of each other from every angle. At the water stations they were giving out water and….wait for it….choco pies. Yeah. I also saw a mom and son walking the wrong way up the very narrow shoulder into oncoming running traffic just as the route had narrowed for the final burst to the finish line, presumably to try and cheer the father on from the least ideal spot imaginable. The bridge speakers loudly played some seriously bizarre music, it sounded like the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic action movie. And so on and so forth.

Busan 10K

Walking up to the start and for the first kilometer we were moving slowly, shuffling basically, in an enormous crowd of people of all shapes and sizes. Many people were using the race as an opportunity to just walk across the bridge and I don’t blame them, it was beautiful – I only wish there had been more division of lanes so that the people walking wouldn’t have stretched out so much across the wide bridge that the race, at certain parts, was an endless dodge of people walking or pushing the occasional baby stroller. That being said, there were great volunteers clearly showing people where to turn back for the 5K (it went halfway over the bridge and back) or which lanes to stay in for the 10K.

After the first kilometer, it opened up a lot and I was able to run, albeit sometimes needing to dodge people like I said. Having never done another 10K race I don’t know if this is normal or not! I almost instantly lost my friends after agreeing on a spot to meet up at afterwards, but it was for the better anyways, I prefer to run alone. I turned on my music and my training app and just enjoyed myself, the breeze, the beautiful view and the blue sky. I’m so used to running alone that it was bizarre to be around so many other people. I had to remind myself to just try for my own personal best, to dig deep when I needed to and appreciate myself for trying when I needed to.

Busan 10K

I only stopped once for a split second to take a picture, and the rest I ran at a steady pace. Within the last 3K, two of the half marathoners passed me – the half marathon did an 11K loop before running our same 10K route – and I marvelled. They were so beautiful – two African runners with the most effortless gait I’ve ever seen up close. And they flew past me and everyone else, practically catching up with the car that drove slowly ahead showing their time. They had run literally double what I had in the same amount of time and it really fired me up. I dug deeper and ran the last 3K much faster than the previous 7, in the end shaving close to 30s off my average time per kilometer! I had started my tracker about 0.2 km into the start of the race, but I ended up running 9.79 km in 1:03. I trust my app measurements, and that means I ran at a pace of 6’26”, which is a personal best for me.

At the end I felt amazing. It had been like a wind tunnel on the way back, and my ankles were a touch sore, but I sprinted to the finish line and felt totally incredible. I got a little medal saying I did the 10K race and I am still so proud of myself. It would have been foolish to try and run the half marathon, I know now that the 10K was absolutely the perfect goal for this stage in my life. After the race, I found my friends and we were all feeling great. We stepped around picnics spread out everywhere on the pavement with tons of bottles of makgeolli (rice alcohol) and beer and lots of Korean food – all at 10 in the morning! We hopped on the subway and treated ourself to some delicious, well deserved brunch before heading home.

Busan 10K

I’m so excited I did this race, and it only inspires me to try to do more scenic races in different beautiful locations in the world. I’m so happy to call this one crossed off my birthday list.

24 Before 24: Try Acro Yoga

Acro Yoga

For the past month, I’ve been taking an acro yoga workshop at a studio near me. It has been so awesome.

Acro yoga is a combination of acrobatics and yoga, and in some cases massage and restorative poses. The teacher I learned from, Mindy, studied at AcroYoga Montreal – which I wish I had known about back when I actually lived in Montreal! I am officially putting their teacher training on my wishlist of workshops I want to take, because after only a month I can already tell I would absolutely love to teach acro.

There’s something both beautiful and frustrating about an activity like this, which you can only do with a partner. I’ve found it beautiful in that I am able to totally trust a complete stranger to support my weight or that someone totally trusts me to support them. Not only that, it’s beautiful because it’s collaboration in its purest form. I’ve learned that acro works best not when you’re awkwardly trying to guess what your partner is feeling or wanting to do next, but when you’re talking the entire time about small adjustments and how you’re both doing. I don’t think I have enough of that kind of collaboration in my life, but it really does make me feel connected and happy.

The frustrating part, of course, is that as incredibly fun as it is, it’s not something you can practice on your own. After the class, all I want to do is come home and keep practicing!! Back before my dear friend Dylan left, he good naturedly put up with my demands to practice (even though the button on his favourite shorts was once an accidental casualty) but most of my other friends aren’t yoga people so I can only really practice during class time. I’m not used to this, since most of my favourite activities are solitary ones, but I think that makes acro kind of special.

My work schedule means that I’m probably not going to be able to participate in future higher-level acro workshops until January, but I might just keep going to the beginner’s level to continue learning and having fun. Acro makes me feel awesome: strong and light and giddy and in awe of both my own body and what other people can do with their bodies. It’s just so much fun and a really great workout too!

Ps. I actually did get that mermaid bind I was going for in the last photo, but no photo because very soon after we fell out of it. So, action shot it is! Thanks to the ladies at Kaizen for snapping these photos, and both basing me and flying with me!

Training for a Half Marathon!

They say being held accountable makes things happen, so here I am, making it official: I will be running the Busan Half Marathon on October 5, 2014!

Or let’s put it this way: at the very least, if all goes wrong, I am running the Busan 10K on October 5th, 2014!

For whatever reason, a half marathon lately hasn’t felt like A Big Deal as much as it quite honestly should. I should be terrified or something but for whatever reason, I’m not. I’m going for the low and slow, don’t get hurt, try your best school of philosophy. I’m channeling my fave blogger, Elise (see her race reports from her two half marathons here and here) who trained but didn’t panic for one, and didn’t train as much for the second.

Barring injuries (which despite my seemingly casual attitude, I am planning to be very careful about), the very worst that happens is that I don’t finish the race, but probably run further than I ever have before and am in better shape than I am currently. The best case is that I achieve an exciting goal, run further than I ever have before and am in better shape than I am currently. I believe this is what they call a win/win.

I’ve said it before, but this is why I love goal setting so much. It inspires me to try things I’ve never tried before and push myself further. If it hadn’t been patiently sitting on my goals list for so long, slowly convincing me that running a half marathon is just as approachable as having a beautiful picnic, I’m sure I’d be panicking a lot more right now. But as it is? I’m fine, even though my app is currently angry at me for officially starting my training so late to the game.

I’m using the Coach program on my favourite app Nike+ to train for this half. It’s prescribing me about 4-5 runs a week until the race, plus a rest day and a cross training day. It’s a lot, of course, but I’m just trying my best. Already it’s been such a great motivation to know I have an official race to train for – much more so than a vague goal like “get in shape” or “run further”.

I think I’m feeling calm because I know exactly what I have to do and exactly how much time I have to do it in. Specificity rules. Also, I’m not hanging expectations on this race – ideally, I just want to finish. Stay tuned and wish me luck!