If you had asked me my perspective on running races last week, I would have certainly told you racing = pain. Me, I’ve been shying away from voluntarily submitting myself to large doses of self-induced pain for “fun”.
Yet after running the Great Trek 8km race on Saturday morning, fun!, awesome! and great! were the first words that were jumping from my mouth when talking to people about the experience. After a two year hiatus from a race in any shape or form, I was joining 97 other runners who were tackling the 8k or running as part of 4 x 2km relay team. The photo gallery from the event is below!
In a former life, I used to take the whole running thing fairly seriously. Regular practices involved things like tempo runs, hill repeats, long runs, intervals and fartleks, (which while all sounding fun, are actually all members of the pain train). Races were regular tests to check (hopefully), how all that hard work was making me faster. Fast forward a couple of years. I would describe my approach to running these days as leisurely. I’ll head out for a little spin, stretch the legs, enjoy the weather. Running these days is pleasant. Races? Definitely NOT in the picture.
Since September, my gym buddy and I have both been trying to get back on the band wagon with this exercising thing. We’d been mulling over doing a race together as a little something extra to motivate us to put in some hard work, when along comes Great Trek. Perfect! A low-key goal, 8km seemed like a manageable distance to tackle on fairly short notice. A nice, inexpensive race around a UBC campus blooming with fabulous fall colours, it sounded like a great idea. We took the plunge and signed up.
Come race morning, I was certainly a little nervous. I was breaking a rather long “no-racing” dry spell after all. Pre-race prep had been less than ideal, unless you consider Halloween house parties and a short night’s sleep as prime. My partner-in-crime Leslie, was similarly suffering from the after effects Friday night shenanigans. Memories of previous races were floating back, fueling the pre-race jitters. All my fears came to nought. I was put at ease upon arrival by greetings from friendly REC staffers who were also up bright and early, and started getting pumped up by the tunes that were bumping along in the background. The atmosphere was friendly and laid-back, with a feeling in the air that this was going to be more of a run being shared among friends, rather than a competitive race.
We toed the start line anxiously, and then before we knew it we were off – flying forward, running like the wind! Well I expect that’s how the leaders started off. Leslie and I kept things a little more conservative, we were going to try and “pace” this thing. Off we trundled down Main Mall. Consisting of a 2-lap 4km route, we were led down Main Mall, past Thunderbird Stadium and around the sports fields by 16th Avenue before heading back along East Mall to the start line in front on the Great Trek Cairn. Four years at UBC and I was still seeing new places that I had never been by on campus before. We got down to business and the kilometer marks kept on ticking by. It was a tough go, but Leslie and I held it together and ran a very consistent pace and managed to finish under our goal time of 42min! Victory was ours!
Afterwards, over a delightful pancake breakfast, we chatted with other runners and volunteers, swapping stories and sharing the general post-race rush that I had forgotten how much I missed, all the while being entertained by those taking part in the festival activities like bobbing for apples and jenga. Looks like I might have had this whole racing business pegged all wrong. At least in the case of Great Trek, racing might just be fun after all.