Write about something that’s kicking ass right now.
I had a great moment on Friday. I got up, got my gear together, hopped on my bike, and rode to work. Once there, I switched into my running gear and made my way to Y-jetty on the base, where the crowds were gathering for the Formation 5k run. It was the first of these that I’d attended, though I’ve seen the masses doing them for a long, long time.
After a little stretching and some waiting, the gun went off, I started my tunes, and I launched into the throng of runners.
Through the gates to the Naden side, down the hill past the entrance to the main Naden gate, up the hill past the gym and Nelles block, down past the MP shack, around behind the CAF TU(BC) building, past my work and the drill shed, down the hill past the main gate again, back through Y-jetty’s gate, along the MOG 4 lines, past RP Ops, FMF, clothing stores, the back alleys near the Admiral’s house, around Duntz Head, then retrace back to Y-jetty.
Kyle was acting kinda like my pace bunny. He got a jump on me and spent most of the run 100-200m ahead of me.
I was astonished when I crossed the line and saw my time.
Before we get to that, let me talk a little about how I got into running.
When I was a kid, there wasn’t a ton of money going around, and bless their hearts, my parents worked hard to provide for us. Unfortunately, that meant that we didn’t always get the best kinds of footwear, and more often than not, I got shoes that were either ill-fitting or ill-suited to my feet, and it hurt. The doc made noises that I had patellafemoral syndrome (which, after some later research, definitely didn’t turn out to be the case). Turns out all I needed was some proper footwear.
Flash forward to 2011, when I got posted back to the Army in Edmonton. First thoughts through my head were “oh yeah, these guys run. I guess I should start running, too” (followed quickly by “oh yeah, these guys play hockey, I guess I should play hockey, too,” but that’s a different post). Slowly, and I mean slowly, I started running. 2.5km here, 3-4km there, around 6:30/km. Not with any real intent or purpose, but more just to do it.
In 2014, when I went to Borden for my conducting course, I started picking it up a little more. 6km runs, starting to edge downward into that 5:30/km range. Speed started picking up. The runs started to feel a little different, more like I could actually do them.
Late in 2014, when things really started to go south, I relied heavily on running and hockey to keep me sane and alive. I would run out my frustrations, anger, and sadness, and my times really started to improve. My dad used to always tell me that he could run faster mad than I could scared, and I started to see this in my times. For the first time, I broke a 25-minute 5k run. In 2015, my mission became to not run a 5k in more than 25 minutes (which I’ve largely managed to stick to).
My half-marathon escapade was fairly well-documented and at that point, I was consistently running 4:45/km or better over the short distances.
My 5k had kinda plateaued. The distance work was still going really well, but through a combination of circumstance and lack of training, I was *doing* 5k runs, and they were good, but I just wasn’t going anywhere with my times.
Flash back to Y-jetty and crossing the line. Remember how I was shocked when I saw the time?
Previously, I hadn’t broken the 22-minute barrier for running. My best was around 22:14 for a 5k. I had completely destroyed my best time over that distance.
While running, I knew I was running fast and hard. My body was telling me this was a pace it wasn’t used to, or particularly comfortable with, and coupled with hills, it was a real slog in some places. Looking at the splits and the GPS, though, I didn’t slow past 4:45/km, and spent a reasonable amount of time hovering on either side of 4:00/km.
Running has given me a real sense of freedom. It’s done wonderful things for my mental health, fantastic things for my body, and better still, I’m starting to run with my daughter, who proudly declared that she understood what a runner’s high was after doing her first couple of runs.
So yeah, running. That’s a good thing.