Thursday, April 17, 2014

My First 10K Race - TYS10K

As I was running I kept thinking that today is the last day I am going to be 45, and reflected on my life. At the 5K turnaround point I kept going as the sun was shining and it was a beautiful summer day. I did not even own a watch to know how many kilometers I had put in that morning. I felt calm and not exhausted.  When I got home, my daughter said that’s the route she runs and that it’s 10K! That was the longest I had ever run up to that day. It was a huge deal for me.

Running 10K for the first time at age 45!

You may know that I’m new to the sport of running from my previous blogs. I incorporated running into my workout routine a few years ago. I ran whenever I felt like it. I did not run every day and certainly did not run any long distances. I had run only a couple of 5Ks.

I joined a running group on September 18, 2013 to get ready for my first half marathon in Nov 1st. We can say I’ve been running seriously since mid September. I joined our local running room since December to be with other runners and registered for their full marathon training for the purpose of learning and gaining endurance. I have not run with them since my polar vortex incident. 

I started researching and leaning about the sport since September. I have learned a lot about the sport of running via Twitter, reading various blogs, books, and magazines. I am constantly learning from professionals and coaches that are sharing their knowledge for free.

I have a journal for writing down my daily activities in detail. I have a calendar where I write down goals and training plans. I have another notebook scribbled with a lot of info about tips, tricks, speed workouts, cross training, nutrition, supplements, recovery, and running lingo!   I’m becoming a more confident runner every day learning through experience and from others.

I have set goals for myself to run a couple of 5K, 10K, and ½ marathons ending the season with a final race of full marathon in October. The infamous SWTM!

When I asked the Canadian Running Series on Twitter why I should register for their Toronto Yonge Street 10K (TYS10K) event they commented that I could review the race from My Next and one of their digital champions, Christa Davidson, volunteered to fill me in with the info about the race. I liked what I heard and registered for the race.  The Canadian Running Series has tapped into the running community, recruiting volunteers to represent them on social media and to spread and promote their venues.  These digital champions connect with people from around the world, make new relationships, and share their training and stories. The digital champs keep the daily motivation and inspiration going for others while they themselves are also inspired and motivated as well.

Looking through their website you can’t help but notice how detailed they are and how much information they provide to make everything work smoothly. 

I arrived in Toronto on a beautiful sunny afternoon. I checked into my room and headed downstairs to pick up my gear. There were no line ups and I was in and out quickly. Thank you everyone!

It was awesome to see Lanni Marchant's picture on the cover!

I walked about 5K that night and visited Black Toe Running and got myself a nice pair of SUNSKI shades, a singlet, and of course a small foam roller that could fit into my little travelling suitcase! Heading back to London on the train I read an article about Mike and his entrepreneurship. People like Mike are real and are not just trying to make a sale. They establish a supportive and genuine relationship with their clients and that matters. I hope more Torontonians shop there and support the growth of his business.

Mike Anderson from Black Toe Running.

The next day I had my usual breakfast and got a cab to the start line. Originally, I had registered for the yellow corral expecting to finish my 10K under one hour. But knowing how well I had trained I was aiming for sub 50. I got a red sticker and changed corral and was supposed to meet a few friends which did not happen. We started running and the first thing I realized was that there hills! This is not flat! Being new to the racing community I take everything literally. If you say it’s flat, it should be flat. But what seasoned runners are saying is that compared to other races this is as flat as it gets.

Right after 5K I started not feeling well. I wasn’t able to breathe properly and got a bit dizzy. I told myself you need to slow down.  I slowed down a few times. I started feeling the same way I had felt during my polar vortex run. I got dizzy. I could not look in any directions except for straight. If I looked in any other direction a severe dizziness would wash over me. I just wanted to finish the race. I kept saying, “Mahnaz, you worked too hard for this to let a bit of dizziness throw you off. Keep your eyes on the runners and don’t stop.” I had memorized the route (thanks to the Canadian Running Series for a very clear and simple map of the route). I knew exactly where I was at what kilometer and my goal was just to cross the finish line. The whole time I was fighting not to fall over, not to stop. For god sake this is only 10 K! Just last week I ran 22K for my long run. As I crossed the finished line I saw 52 min on the clock and just walked very slowly trying not to fall. I got beside a young men and quietly asked if he could hold my hand while I walked as I didn’t want to fall. He was puzzled but did not question me.  He walked me to the gate where two volunteers were standing, I asked the older gentleman to hold my hand. He said do you want something to drink, I said yes water but let’s get my medal first :) . I got the medal, smiled and thanked the volunteers for a job well done.  He got me to the table where the water was and I grabbed two cups and one more. I told him thank you, I’m good. I felt good after drinking and I thought I must have been dehydrated badly. But after 5 minutes I felt sick again, this time severe nausea and I stood close by a garbage bin hoping not to get sick. I kept drinking and gradually the dizziness vanished. I attributed it to dehydration.  A few times when I started to walk or switch direction, my legs were wobbly and would cave in under my body. I attributed it to being dehydrated again and over exhaustion.

I must say the recovery food after the race was great! But the highlight for me was my photo up with the Canadian marathon record holder, Lanni Marchant! 


Then I was happy to see Andrew! He was one of the digital champs who has been really supportive and making us laugh throughout the harsh winter months and keeping us motivated. We hugged and walked around to find the others. I just casually mentioned that I got a bit dizzy but did not disclose to him the whole drama! As a matter of fact I did not talk about it to anyone at all as I was embarrassed and also this was a time of celebration. I wanted to hug and just chat with my friends.

Andrew Chak - TYS10K Digital Champion

We saw several other digital champs and it was wonderful to connect with them in person. I am really happy with the Canadian Running Series for bringing the people and communities together. I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone but I’m sure we will meet at some point.

From top corner left: 

Monday morning came around and I reached for coffee and that severe dizziness and overwhelming feeling hit me again. I called my family doctor and got in that afternoon. I told her about the polar vortex symptoms that were similar. I told her I know there was the medication factor, Wind chill of -30 and hypothermia factor, but the wobbly feet, slurred speech, dizziness, everything was replicated on Sunday.  She ordered some blood tests and an ECG. The next day she called me and said Mahnaz your iron is extremely low. Apparently the normal level for iron is 80 mmol/L and mine is 18! I need to take iron supplements twice a day for three months.

As a child I was anemic and I had to take iron supplements. Over the years, I did not have any problems. But since I have increased the intensity and duration of my multiple physical activities, the iron reservoir is being depleted very fast.  After reading from a few medical sources online I realized how mistakenly I had attributed all my iron deficiency symptoms to a variety of other things. I need to stop blaming everything on being pre-menopausal!

If you are a runner and have had any of these symptoms, do a blood test first to rule out iron deficiency.

A tingling, "pins and needles" sensation in the hands or feet
Lost sense of touch
A wobbly gait and difficulty walking
Clumsiness and stiffness of the arms and legs
Easy fatigue and loss of energy
Unusually rapid heartbeat, particularly with exercise
Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise
Difficulty concentrating
Pale skin
Leg cramps

What did my first 10K race teach me?

*As my train was heading back to London and the sun was setting down, I reflected on my day thinking how special TYS10K had been! I had received my first ever medal from Canadian Running Series. You have to be in my shoes to understand the magnitude of my experience. When I got home, I hugged my ninja and said I have something for you. I pulled the medal out of my bag and put it around his neck. He smiled with his big brown eyes shining and gave me a big hug.  The medal is symbolic. He’s going to remember this moment for the rest of his life. He got his mama bear’s first medal and it was very special. He will remember that his mama did not give up despite facing many obstacles in her life.


 *I crossed the finish line with time of 52.15.6 and I know I could have done a sub 50 were it not for my mishap! I will be back with more fire and experience under my belt. 

Overall Placed: 1858/5684
Female: 464/3129
Age group: 42/259
5K split: 25:08

*I got a definite confirmation that I’m clumsy and can’t drink at the stations properly. I even choke on my own saliva. Hydration belt is a must!

*Regardless of the distance, I will carry my electrolytes (Nuun) with me at all times. 

*Goodbye pouch! 

*Have my iron level tested regularly and be in top shape for my upcoming races.

*The short video of me at 5K split showed me that I need to tweak my cadence!

* I did post this funny picture on my Instagram before the race letting people know that I look too serious and can’t smile while running. And what do you know? I browse through my race pics and I’m wearing that not flattering, awkward, I’m dying look! I need to work on looking more graceful while having a strong run. 


Maybe I can study Krista Duchene and Lanni Merchant. I have to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror.

Strong women looking fantastic while running! 

*TYS10K is an awesome race and everyone should run it at least once if not more.

 *The Canadian Running Series people are amazing professionals who do a marvelous job with the venue. They have wonderful group of volunteers who yelled out my name while I was trying not fall over! They gave me strength. And I’m sorry I did not even look at you or wave at you, or smile at you. But know that you cheering me on meant a world to me and from the bottom of my heart I say thank you. Much love to all of you.

 Moving Forward 

My next race is Ottawa half marathon! @nomadicrunner45

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