Monday, 24 June 2013

Poitras Pushes Past Pain to Podium

My muscles were no longer a seething Revolutionary Tribunal and seemed to have given up on complaining . . . I realized all of a sudden that even physical pain had all but vanished. Or maybe it was shoved into some unseen corner, like some ugly furniture you can't get rid of. (Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. A Memoir. 2008)

Who knew? 

Who knew that despite having very sore quads from running down a mountain on a Saturday (OK part of a mountain. OK in Ontario. OK a slope) that one could "push through the pain" and actually place first in one's age category in a road race the following Tuesday? Not me. But I did. And I did.

I was certainly the last person to think I would place first in any running category at any time in my life. Hell, I am the last person to think I would even bother to "push through pain" in order to achieve something (well, except childbirth). I'd rather have a glass of wine and read about someone else doing that (like one of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami, who is a runner, and who decided one day to run solo from Athens to Marathon. Or, for that matter, like my mighty little sister-in-law, Mandy Poitras, a former cyclist for the Canadian National Team, who has plenty of "pushing past pain" stories.). But - three cheers - I did, last week, at the 5th annual Summer Solstice Run in Alliston, organized by Thrive Fitness Studio. First out of 12 women in the 40-49 age group at 1:05:26 for 11K. 

Nice tech shirts in the race kits this year and special "I Was On the Podium at the Summer Solstice Run" shirts for first and second place winners as well.
(Perhaps THAT was my motivation: a literal podium fashion statement?)

Now, I must admit, as much as I enjoy entering running events with my good friend and neighbour Janate, I was quite OK with her not being available for this one. Because then I would have placed second. And the woman who placed first overall for females may have also placed second at her 50-minute time, because I think Janate probably runs a comfortable 11K training run in about 45 minutes. Yep. She would have screwed up a lot of podium honours for a lot of people. Thanks for working that night Janate! 

(And naturally, it was also a bonus that our run coach, Ann, didn't run it, because she would have given Janate a run for her money, and if we stretch even further back in history, our good friend Janette also would have kicked ass (and will again, at some future race, very soon) if she 1) hadn't broken her leg last year and 2) wasn't volunteering as the emcee for this event. Oh, right, and then there's Ang, who is young and strong was always in the lead during our tough winter training runs, but who also opted out of the race in order to volunteer at the registration table. So thanks to my friends who work a lot and/or are very giving of their time, I was able to podium!)

Whereby the "40-49er" Waxes Glorious About Her Podium Race, Ad Nauseam:

Leading up to the start the only thing that made my quadriceps feel better was a ton of stretching. As soon as I stopped and walked, it felt like the muscles would start shrinking back again into tight little knots. My head really wanted to run this race, just to be out on a country road with no roots, rocks or mud to contend with. I felt strong in every other way, except for those quads.

When the start gun blasted, I plugged in my iPod Shuffle (first time ever using one in a race) and began a slow hobble, which isn't so unlike how I usually begin a race. That is probably why I never opt to run short races. I am very slow to start. The hobbling continued, through a lovely country road route just south of Alliston, until almost the halfway turnaround point. The road was hilly, but not too strenuous. The sun was shining. I saw another running pal, Mhairi, who is usually ahead of me, at the rest stop grabbing a drink of water and stretching. Ha! I thought. Mhairi doesn't usually stretch mid-run! What's wrong? I am not supposed to be catching up to Mhairi! But I am! (Secret "WhooHoo" for me! haha). 

"What are you doing Mhairi?" I asked my friend, "Don't you know you are my pace bunny at most races?"

"Ok, Ok," she responded, in typical "boot camp style," as she picked up the pace for the next incline. But my pace was just a tad faster, miracle of miracles. (Maybe it was my iPod music, that masked the sound of my heavy breathing, especially during the hill ascents.)

With my friendly competition behind me just enough that I couldn't see her shadow anymore, I pushed my sorry legs (at this point just numb to the post-mud-run pain and putting up with me and my pointless ambition) over the hills again and - with Pink blasting "Raise Your Glass" - straight to the finish line. (Thank-you, Janette, for the compliments over the microphone about my fashionable running dress:

When Mhairi was called to podium right after me for placing second in our age category, we both looked at each other in giddy astonishment. ("What? Are we the only two women in their 40s who ran it?")

Congratulations, belated as it is, to all those who ran the Summer Solstice runs last week, both the 5K and 11K. There were "firsts" for a lot of people. First race, first time running the entire distance, personal bests (LeeAnne, way to go on that 28 minute 5K, that is FAST girl!), perhaps even firsts after recovery from an injury. 

As for my quads, they felt better after that big push. Go figure. 

** Note to Local Readers: Thrive Olympics this Wednesday night, June 26, 7 p.m. 
Visit www.thrive for more info.**

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