Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Thoughts, and a Race Report for the Steveston Icebreaker 8K.

Today was the first race of the year. Like the rest of 2017 so far, it did not go as expected. But somehow, I easily see the silver lining in it all.

I had really hoped to do well in this race as my biggest goal is to gain my speed back on the short distances. I had been very good about my training, not missing any workouts over a busy holiday December, etc. Speed training was a bit tricky with wintery conditions out, but I managed it anyway.

So with January approaching, I decided to come up with my goals for the year. I am choosing to keep my running goals on the short term - planning races no more than a few months ahead, to relieve some pressure on myself. I'm focusing on the short distances for speed, but still running long for fun. I have a couple half marathons already in the plans, including the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run (of course) again as ambassador.

Check out my race calendar to see what I'll be up to!

Personally, I decided that my goal for 2017 would be to slow down and relax more! To devote more time to self care. To listen to myself and grant myself a break when I need it. You know, like be OK with Netflix and chill, or reading a book, or (gasp) missing a workout (more on the latter in a moment). I know, this is an odd goal. Most opt for doing MORE in the new year - get fit, lose weight, work out more, etc. I don't have a problem with working out. I rarely have to pump myself up into going out and getting sweaty. I really have a problem with knowing when to stop. I suck at relaxing. I need to relax more, lower my stress levels, take care of myself.

It's funny, because I guess at the time of setting this goal, I must have been approaching burnout, or my immune system was taxed anyway.....Like it's happened before, right when I realize I need to slow down, my body does something to force me into slowing down. It's like my body is one step faster than my stubborn brain. I have been sick for most of 2017, first with an awful stomach bug that was very gorey (too gorey to describe here), and sucked the life out of me and my appetite. When I finally started to feel human again from this and regained my ability to eat real food again (and get out running), I got sick with a bad cold. Coughing still, but starting to recover again - sinuses are clear and fever is gone. Technically, I suppose, you could argue I haven't been at full health at all this year. But I am on the mend now, for real.

I have kept my chin up through it because the moment I got my appetite back and felt like running again, it wasn't that difficult to get back into it because I had been so active in December.

But here's the thing, maybe I got back into running too soon? Is this why I got sick a second time because I pushed myself too hard and went out in the cold when my body was weakened already? I don't know. I've come to realize why I sometimes struggle. As a run coach and a motivational speaker, my mantra has been "No Excuses". This is how I transformed myself. This is how this former obese girl became a marathoner. It's by following a plan and reaching the goal, no matter what. It's about not whining when it's raining, cold out, late out, I'm tired, hungry, bored, etc., and just getting out there and getting the workouts done. So when the little voice says, "Zahida, you need a break", Zahida thinks "NO WAY! #noexcuses! Get it done, Zee!" and I go get it done, always. I need to listen critically to the little voice. Sometimes she's right. And being one who doesn't lack in motivation, chances are if I think I need a break, it's not actually an excuse. Listening once in a while might serve me well.

So coming to this realization and seeing the Steveston Icebreaker coming up today, I didn't know what to do. I had worked hard for this event; then January happened. I registered for this event and have done it the last few years and had a great time; but my body needed rest and was asking for a nice long sleep-in after a few rough nights previously. I made a call, maybe it wasn't the wisest call, but I'm happy with it anyway. I didn't want to regret missing the run so I negotiated with my "little voice of reason" and decided to simply lower my expectations and run today's race slow and for fun and completion than anything more "at my level". My training has lacked in recent weeks, my body is (relatively) weak and tired, my breathing is laboured, my cough is relentless, my appetite is small, but my legs work good! Staying at home was the ideal, so how could I be disappointed with a slow finish?
Photo credit: Shannon Banal - The finish line final push and looking a little awkward...
It was a fun morning, and great to catch up with some running friends at the startline. I took the race at an easy 6:00/km pace (averaged 6:07 actually), but the pace actually didn't feel entirely easy because of a sore inflamed throat and the cold icy air. But I didn't have to stop or slow down too significantly. I held back when I felt like I could go faster. One of the perks of this race is that it's a small field so despite running with lowered expectations, it was enough to get me 4th in my 5-year age category :) Sure, if I was feeling well and able to run my race pace, I might have got 3rd place and a medal. But I'll take 4th on a day I certainly felt sub-par.

What's next? A fun run event this weekend with some girls called YVRun and then the Hypothermic half marathon at the start of Feb. I'll take it easy this week until the event to ensure I feel good to go.

With members of West Van Run Crew at the finish line festivities.
Thanks for reading, and for your support!
<3 Z

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