Rachel is one of two guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.

By Rachel Crooks

May 29th marked the day of my first race of the program – the Calgary Marathon Jugo Juice 10k! As well as being my first 10k, it was also my first “big” race so far in my running history, having only done small 5k charity runs in the past. I didn’t really expect to be nervous beforehand, but I definitely developed some pre-race jitters. My plans for the day before the race were shot as I paced around my apartment worrying about how many carbs my morning oatmeal contained and exactly when and how much I should plan to hydrate (I even measured out my 500mL water in a measuring cup the night before). As it turned out, I would run a fantastic time and here is my hard-earned wisdom from my very first official 10K:

  1. Work out the logistics beforehand. I’m a worrier. I figured that running the 10k would be okay, but I was really stressed about how I would get to the race. I knew I didn’t want to deal with road closures and parking, so I did a trial run and took the train down to the Stampede Grounds to pick up my race package at the expo. That way, I knew exactly how much time it would take me to get there the morning of the race. It was definitely helpful and it made me smile boarding the C-train at 6:30 a.m. facing a horde of nervous-looking runners.
  2. Running a negative split is great. Coach Bill gave us some advice before the race started – try to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. I decided to test it out, but I was discouraged to see people flying by me for the first three kilometres. “Am I the slowest runner here?!” I thought. However, my patience paid off – at the 5km mark I picked up my pace and managed to pass tons of the people that had blown by me earlier. I even had enough energy to give ‘er during the last kilometer. When what I was expecting was to shuffle over the finish line, sprinting over it felt awesome.
  3. Dress for the race, not the waiting period beforehand. It was supposed to be cloudy and 7 degrees on the morning of the race. I was concerned I would be chilly taking the train down to the stampede grounds, so I opted for a long sleeve technical shirt and cropped leggings instead of the shorts and t-shirt I had planned for. HUGE mistake – the sun came out blazing about five minutes into the run and it turned out to be a beautiful day. I hate being overdressed while I run and wished I had toughed out the cold in the morning in favour of being comfortable while I ran.
  4. Don’t cut your wonky ingrown toenail the day before a race. Sounds really obvious, right? You’re not supposed to change your pre-run routine before a race, and apparently that wisdom extends to your toenails. This was a mistake I made and each step of my run was punctuated by “Ow… ow… ow…”. Not the end of the world but it was certainly preventable, and it was something I didn’t even think of beforehand. Don’t shake things up.
  5. Enjoy! I didn’t expect to enjoy running around so many other people, but it was actually fantastic. I loved the team outfits, the volunteers, and the spectators. My favourite sights included an Elvis impersonator singing his heart out and someone holding a sign saying “I’m still in my PJs!”. Matthew Inman, an ultramarathoner and the artist behind The Oatmeal, describes races as, “a massive crowd of strangers choosing to hurt themselves the exact same way. It’s wonderful. Or awful. It’s both, really.” It really made me think of the collective training every runner put in to be there, no matter what the distance – what a cool accomplishment for thousands of runners. It was an experience that I loved being a part of.

I crossed the finish line in 1:08:40. All-in-all, it felt great to see my training pay off. I had done a faster 10k before starting the program but it certainly didn’t feel easy. To me, it’s a good trade off to now have ease instead of speed, especially as we head into longer distances. Up next for me: Betty’s Run For ALS on June 12th (a cause I am so excited to support!) and the Stampede Half Marathon on July 10th.


Bring it on!