I know that everyone loves waking up early on a Sunday morning, especially when it’s pouring rain, and heading out to do a race. Especially a race that is advertised as “Canada’s Hardest 10K”. Especially in the rain (did I mention the rain?).
That’s what I did today! It was my first time running in the Bear Mountain 10K, which is considered and advertised as “Canada’s Hardest 10K”. It’s because of the hills. The race has three major hills, the “Papa Bear”, “Mama Bear” and “Baby Bear”. There are also rolling hills, and an overall 1000ft of elevation change. Apparently the views are phenomenal from so high up on the mountains, although the downpour and fog covered that up today. Regardless, it was a great race. It was chill and rainy with 99% humidity and definitely a great experience.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a 10K race. I think the last one might have actually been in Scotland in September 2018 (similar weather!). It made me start thinking about the races I register for. In the last year-ish, I’ve run three marathons (plus missed one marathon), a number of half’s, but very apparently nothing shorter. I love the longer distances and I love spending hours running. It was so weird to me today to finish in an hour.
It made me realize how much of a “box” I have put myself in. I love marathons, and that’s the distance I usually choose when I am registering for races. I’ve forget about the differences and the challenges in alternate routes. It was really hard for me (that could have also been the hills) in trying to pace myself in a way that is conducive to running for 60 minutes rather than five hours. It made me pay attention again to how I was running instead of just zoning out. I looked at a hill in front of me, whether uphill or downhill, and tried to open my stride on the slopes and take it easier on the really steep inclines.
In reflection, it brought to mind the concept of appreciation. During the race, I looked forward and anticipated how I would run based on saving or using energy. It meant that if I had to walk for a bit on a really steep decline, I ensured to run on flat stretches, slopes, or inclines. Sometimes I would turn a corner on the route and suddenly it’s like the ground drops out from underneath me because the hillside is so steep. I have a fear that gravity will exert her dominance and I will just end up rolling down steep hillsides. I appreciated the uphills, I appreciated the slopes, I appreciated the flat stretches. The downhills were less appreciated, especially when they seemed to come out of nowhere.
That’s what life is though. Uphills and downhills where you have to monitor each step and pay attention to the ground beneath you. Rolling hills where you can open your stride but still have to be wary of your pace. Easy, flat stretches where there is nothing in your way. There might be times when you can see what is ahead of you and be ready for it. There are times when something is just around the corner and you are not prepared. Is it worth it to do a race when you’re moving so quickly that in one moment you are enjoying a break and suddenly in the next moment you’re looking at an elevation gain?
If everything was easy, it would be boring. If everything was exactly as planned, exactly the way we wanted things to go, exactly in the manner and timeline and every possible other specification imaginable, it would be boring. There would be no room for excitement or surprises. There would be no need for contingency plans, because everything would be as anticipated.
At first, I thought I wouldn’t do that race again. I have officially completed “Canada’s Hardest 10K”. I haven’t even been off the route for four hours yet and I know I would totally do it again. I loved how it made me think about my pacing, think about my stride, think about where I was going to spend my energy and think about where I was going to save it. Love it. Can’t wait until next year! Even if it’s raining.