Sunday, April 12, 2015

Race Report: BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run - April 12, 2015

Today was the 38th Annual BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run - my 4th time running the event and 2nd year in a row as blog ambassador. I was a fool this time around and didn't snap any photos for my blog post.

As always, it was a great time out there today. I can't think of any other race of it's scale that's so flawlessly planned. And despite the front of the field being quite competitive, the race has a very unique small town feel and family environment. Offering a half marathon, half marathon relay, an early start for walkers, and a kids run, every member of the family can participate, no matter the fitness level. For me what really stood out today was the friendliness of not just the spectators and volunteers all over the course (who were SO encouraging and awesome) but also fellow athletes. Even with running hard, there were so many empowering remarks made on the course. I passed a group of ladies who were early start walkers all wearing matching outfits. I called out "way to go team and awesome colours" and they commented that my form was strong and inspiring to them. While the running community is generally supportive, I don't think I've ever heard so many "good job" and "you've got this" type of remarks from fellow runners at any other race. It made it impossible not to run this entire race smiling.

Cam had to work today so I went to the Coast solo, giving a ride to the ferry to a friend Karin. When we got to the terminal, we bumped into a few others we knew and even more on the boat. That is one of the things I love about these races - I go in not really knowing who will be there, but it always feels like a big party once I get there. When the boat landed, there were shuttle buses waiting to take us to the start line with enough time to grab our bibs, organize our gear, check our bags, and head to the start line.

Knowing my speed isn't where it once was, and the hectic and tiring week I have had, I wasn't expecting a personal best performance. But I knew my endurance was good since my last few long runs were really strong, especially my most recent 23km. I decided to minimize how often I looked at my watch and run based on feel. The problem with that idea is that my legs remember what my old pace feels like and they thought they were ready when my brain knew there was no way. I went out way too fast and noticed when I got to the 10km mark that I was either in for the performance of my life, or I should be prepared to pay for my legs' hastiness later. My form and stride was fluid and strong and I felt so proud of this. I've worked hard to get to this point. But at this stage, my endurance to hold that pace was only enough to get me to the hill at the 14km mark. I started to slow down at this point, but thought it was because the next 3km were a steady incline. I was still strong. I knew that things would get easy right when the 17km mark was in view, with a steady downhill all the way to the finish.

At this point, despite a slow hilly section, I was still poised for a good finish time but I started to feel a twinge in my foot which is the first sign of Zahida's leg cramping demons. I slowed it down a bit and felt OK and like I could push a bit, but every time I did, my legs would threaten me again. I needed to keep the cramping at bay, so even though I wanted to and the downhill section of the course was beckoning me, I had to cool my jets down. I felt a few more twinges, but thankfully, none of the excruciating cramps I had experienced at previous races until I turned the sharp corner for the last 100m to the finish line. I kept going with tears streaming down my face, left leg completely seizing on me, crowd noticing and shouting cheers for me. I did it.

My official time hasn't been posted yet but I don't really care what time I got in at (I think around 2:10). While the time isn't what I can do, I'm thrilled I did it and felt so strong. My form hasn't felt so good maybe ever, and I was amazed that the cramps threatened me but didn't get me this time - I managed to keep them at bay for the most part. Perhaps it really is true that while I've slowed down, I'm much stronger now and poised for great things. If I had started out a little slower, I may have had a much better finish to this race. I learned a lot today that will be relevant for upcoming races. I have two upcoming half marathons in May and June so a great opportunity to build upon this success.

After the race, caught up with some old friends and made some new ones over brunch and the journey home. Thank you April Fools Run for another memorable day! I'll be back next year!