Saturday, I ran a 6k race.
Saturday, I ran my first cross-country course ever.
Saturday, I did one of the hardest runs I had ever done. It was slow, muddy, wet, hilly, and incredibly tiring.
But I loved it! Here’s a little how the day went:
Since the race wasn’t until 12pm, I started the morning with my usual (as of late) fruit and yogurt bowl. I was jittery (with excitement) all morning, but I managed to get a bit of work done, and pack up my things for the race.
I also started with a quick (like 3 or 4 minutes) round of planks and abs exercises to engage my core before running.
fuel (dates!) & recovery (green smoothie!). oh yeah, this race was BYOS (bring your own smoothie) – ha!
pre-race mirror pic! (taken for instagram)
There were so many people! Like thousands! I’m pretty sure people came from all over Sweden! There were teams, clubs, families, and friends – it didn’t matter that I don’t really speak Swedish. I love this kind of gathering of runners. Somehow you all share something, and the energy is fantastic.
Off the starting line! My lovely friend Y was so amazing and decided to come (on her own) to support me! And take some photos of course. So if I didn’t say this before, thank you, Y for coming, it really meant a lot. I was 100% ready to do this alone, so having a friend there waiting for me at the finish was so awesome.
I will not that about 30 seconds after that picture was taken, every runner had to run through huge puddles – there was no getting around it! It had rain/snowed the night before, and the entire course was mud and water. Boy, was that an experience.
Mid-race photo, from the race website. This was one of many hills – I don’t think a single stretch of the course was flat. I think this was about half way through – where I started to tire out. My legs were fine, I had the strength. I attribute that to all the cross training I do. But my cardio / mental endurance were not quite ready for all those hills. I definitely walked up the last few steep ones. I’m not super proud to say it, but I just couldn’t push myself to keep running.
Caught heading to the finish. I made it – official time 39:32 (I forgot to stop my Garmin until a few minutes after…). Slower than a 10 min/mile pace. I’m not going to lie, I was initially really unhappy with this result. Every run, even the easy runs I had done before were faster than this.
But I had to stop and think. For one, I stopped to walk many times for my safety – I did not want to get injured by slipping in the mud or tripping on the trails. And also, I did not really train for this race. I had done maybe 1 or 2 runs a week, not much (if any) speed work, and maybe one or two more days of cardio per week. Most of my other workouts do get my heart rate up, but not for longer than 20 minutes (HIIT, circuits, classes, etc). The fact that I finished the race and still felt good and totally pain/injury freewas awesome.
Actually, now that I think about it I’m glad I didn’t train for it. I would have pushed myself too hard. I would have gotten too invested in numbers and technical things. I would not have had nearly as much fun.
What, you don’t bring your own recovery drink to races? Ha, actually I almost didn’t do this, but was glad I did. For recovery food they had power-ade (no thank you), bananas (only one per person! very strict!), coffee and kanelbulle (traditional swedish – cinnamon buns) which I just had a small bit of, as they weren’t that great.
Red-faced gIrl with the medal! It was really awesome to have someone hand you a medal right after you cross the finish line
And this was the state of my shoes after the race. You definitely can’t tell that they’re completely soaked and caked in a layer of mud. I think I managed to spray them down pretty well, though.
Some more post-race giveaways! I love those sesame crackers, but they have quite a bit of added sugar, so a nice treat. Also, they gave us vitamin-fortified chewing gum? I found it a bit odd. Plus it has added caffeine, and most likely chemically synthesized things that I don’t really want in my body. So I gave it away.
Instead, I got my vitamins from a nutrient-dense recovery lunch! (well, if you count eating 3pm lunch. wasn’t hungry before then). Mexican inspired flavors, reminded me of summer.
I’d say it was a pretty good experience, despite not running my best.
Have you ever run a super hard race that wasn’t your best, but still felt awesome? Tell me about it!
Do you bring your own recovery / fuel to races?
[[P.S. I almost forgot to say – thank you so much for all the amazing stories and comments you shared on my last post about body image struggles. So great to know that we’re not alone! Love the blogging community.]]