Running regularly and following your training plan should get you to your running goal. The challenge is to stay focused and motivated long enough to complete the training, day in - day out until your selected event. Staying focused and motivated is the first S of the DREAMS Cycle ™.
Staying focused means keeping your eyes on your goal and putting aside distractions. My focus was the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May 2019. Staying motivated means finding activities or triggers that would keep you running regularly.
One way to stay motivated is through clothing. People buy the latest socks, shirts, shorts, caps, and jackets that feel good and look good. Some might even make you faster. This was the case with the NikeVapor Fly 4% when it came out. This new shoe was supposed to make you 4% faster. My wife got her first pair for the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I was at the starting line with her on that October day; she was running the marathon and I was running the half-marathon. As we looked down at the feet in the first corral, you could notice the sea of bright orange from the distinctive Nike Vapor Fly 4%.
I was not ready then to spend over $300 for a pair of shoes, as I normally look for bargain deals less than $100. However, when my wife purchased her second pair of Nike Vapor Fly 4%, blue ones this time, she convinced me to get a pair. They were ordered from Germany and we received them in March. The plan for the shoes was to give them a try at a race before the marathon.
Another way to stay motivated is to compete in a tune-up race before your event. My spouse was interested in running the classic Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington DC on Sunday April 7, 2019. We decided to make it a family vacation and pulled the kids out of school for a few days. We also invited my spouse’s sister as she loves to travel and is great with our kids.
Unfortunately, I injured my ankle one week before the race. It was not a major injury, but I wanted to recover for the race so I barely ran that week, with only 8 km on Tuesday and 5 km on Wednesday. The ankle seemed to be holding.
With six of us traveling, we decided to drive on the Friday from Ottawa to Washington, a trip that we estimated would take us 9 hours. We had rented an Airbnb in Dupont Circle, about 3 km from the race site. The driving was horrendous. It snowed and sleeted most of the way and the wipers were not working very well. We also got the most terrible service on any trip we have taken.
The first bad service was at a Pizza Hut about two hours outside of Washington. It was close to 8 pm by then and we were getting really hungry. After the waitress seated us, we waited 15 minutes to place our order. She did not know the menu, so we had to explain and point to her what we wanted. We then waited 35 minutes and munched at the salad bar. When there was no sign of food, I inquired, and the waitress realized she had not placed our order. We just left and luckily, she did not charge us for the salad. We instead grabbed a drive-through McDonald’s meal which was right beside the Pizza Hut; this was our second McDonald meal of the day.
On Saturday, my spouse and I woke early and completed an easy 5 km run. Later in the morning, we walked over from our second floor Airbnb apartment to go register. We dragged the kids and my spouse’s sister for the 3 km walk. The registration was in quite the location, the National Building Museum, a beautiful old 4-story building. We walked around the race expo admiring all the latest gear, although we did not find anything to buy. On our return to the apartment, we walked past the White House. The kids were quite impressed as they knew it was the current residence of Donald Trump.
In the Airbnb apartment, my spouse and I had one bedroom at the front, facing the street. Our kids were next door, one on the bed and two on the floor. My spouse’s sister was across from us in her own cozy little room. That Saturday evening before the race, we had the traditional pasta dinner at a restaurant a few blocks away. Again, the service was poor as the nice waiter forgot to place my order and I had to wait an extra 15 minutes after everyone else had their meal.
Later in the apartment, my spouse and I completed our pre-race routine of laying out our clothes, pinning our number on our shirt, and putting the timing chip on our shoe. We slept okay, but we were woken by some street noise at 2 am. Before a race, we are normally nervous, so we do not sleep that well anyway, always afraid of getting up too late. We woke up at 5 am, dressed, had a bagel breakfast, and then ran to the race site.
Jennifer was registered as a seeded athlete because of her previous performances at the half-marathon and marathon. The race organizers were also very gracious by allowing me to be seeded because of my spouse so that we could start in the same first corral. For my age, it required a time of 1:10 for the 10 Miler; I was not quite there.
The race is quite the big deal, with over 15,000 runners. Jen was gunning for a fast time, so when the gun blasted, she left like a bullet. I was more cautious because of my ankle; I was going to start slow to ensure it did not flare up. We were both running in our blue Nike Vapor Fly 4%. I felt tall, fast, and on cushions with those shoes on.
As soon as the race started, Jen pulled ahead of me. I was able to maintain a decent pace of 4:30 per km. The pavement was a little rough with a few potholes, so you had to watch your step. During the race, I kept seeing Jen in the distance. It was only at around the 10 km mark that I started to slowly chew at the distance that separated us. With the last hill coming up, I could see Jennifer a couple of hundred meters ahead. Jennifer finished in a time of 1:10:42. I finished in a time of 1:11:17. I felt great the whole way. My ankle did not bother me too much, although I knew that I would not be able to withstand a full marathon on the Nikes as they placed pressure on my ankle. I placed 26 out of 456 in my age group. Below you can see the race splits.
I was ecstatic at my results as I felt strong. Everything boded well for the Ottawa Marathon. Jennifer was first in her age category which was such a wonderful accomplishment after all the hard work she had done. She received a plaque a few months later and a free entry into the next year’s race.
After the race, when we saw the long line up for the race baggage, we decided to leave ours there. We only had some gel blocks in the bag, which was not worth waiting for. We ran back to the apartment to have breakfast with our kids and Jen’s sister.
The next day we found out the course was a bit short by 80 yards which would have added about 17 seconds to the times. We were both miffed as we could not consider this as official results. It still did not stop us from enjoying the next few days touring the area.
Overall, this was a great event that was very motivating and kept me energized for the Ottawa Marathon.