My first 15 km race in Bruges & Getting over ‘Silly’ Goals!
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My first 15 km race in Bruges & Getting over ‘Silly’ Goals!

I DID IT!! I completed my first 15 km race in Bruges last weekend and I could not be happier that I completed the race!! If you are not acquainted with the beautiful city of Bruges, Belgium, it is a wonderful, quaint Medieval city located in the Flanders region of Belgium. Running with over 4,000 runners through the cobblestone streets of Bruges, passing by the local chocolate shops, homemade Belgian waffle stands as well as the charming canals and the wonderful windmills – I could not ask for a better place to complete my first long race!

15 km run

I arrived in Bruges with J and his wonderful family only to be a bit disappointed by the grey skies, cold weather and rain. I was determined to do the race but, let’s be honest, I was not looking forward to running 15 kilometers in the less-than-perfect weather conditions. First J and his family completed an awesome 5 kilometer race together and then I set out to run the 15 kilometers I’ve been training for. Excited and nervous, I lightly jogged over to the start line and positioned myself somewhere in the middle of the thousands of people waiting to start. I love the feeling before a race – nothing beats the feeling of thousands of people coming out to run altogether in a great big group with the wonderful goal of enjoying life and being active together!

Bruges Canals - Ceara's Kitchen

My prayers were answered and the rain finally let up just before the race started and I could not have been more relieved. I know some runners like running in the rain but I dread running on rainy days. When the gun finally fired and the race started I resisted the temptation of running as fast as I could to keep up with the other runners around me. I promised myself before the race that I’d start out slow so I’d be able to finish the race strong!  I found my pace and jogged happily to my music and the sound of the thousands of footsteps  thumping on the cobblestone around me.

I ran the first 7 km without slowing down while running at a ‘happy’ pace and even meeting a couple people along the way (J thinks it’s funny that I seem to always meet people everywhere I go – even during a race!). Around the 9 km mark I was starting to get a bit tired and could hear the ‘thoughts’ coming on that I am sure all runners experience (please say I am not the only one!). I always try to talk these negative thoughts out of my mind and repeat silly mantras to myself to get myself going through this point of the run. The ones that proved useful at this particular moment were: “you got this, baby“, “you can do it, your practically flying“, “just a couple more baby steps” and (my favourite) “remember how far you’ve come not how far you have to go“. These positive thoughts kept me motivated during the last few kilometers, especially when my legs started to hurt towards the end. Around the 10 km mark I slowed down a bit and let some of the runners I had been ‘competing’ with in my head pass me. I knew that if I wanted to finish strong I’d had to let up for a few minutes to give my legs a bit of a ‘break’. Around halfway through kilometer 12 I was back at it and started slowly increasing my pace. Low and behold I passed the runners I ‘let’ pass me a few minutes ago and before I knew it, I was zooming past kilometer 14 and giving it my all to reach the finish line.

The final kilometer I really gave it my all. I was so concentrated on finishing I kept envisioning myself flying through the finish line. I do not know if it was dehydration, the nerves or the excitement but I actually got super emotional during the last kilometer. As I was running tears were actually swelling up in my eyes. I thought back to a year ago when I could not run a kilometer without huffing and puffing for air. I thought back to a few years ago when I would get out of breath just walking up the stairs. I thought back to all the times when I did not feel ‘fit’ enough to be active because of my weight and low-and-behold I became super emotional. All of those moments were flashing through my mind as I took the last couple steps across the finish line. I saw J waiting for me at the final stretch of the run, cheering me on and being so supportive of me! His support could not have come at a more perfect moment – I practically fell into his arms due to exhaustion and emotion when the race was done! I crossed the finish line feeling exhausted, proud and happy. Happy that I did it and that I’ve come this far!!!

J and I took the train home after the race and I waited anxiously for the race times to be posted online. My goal was to finish the race (and secretly hoping I would not be last, haha) but even more secretly I set a goal for myself of finishing the race in under 1 hour and 40 minutes. I can do 10 kilometers in an hour when I am running my best so I was sure that I would be able to make this time. I was talking to my grandma on the phone when J told me my score was posted online. I finished the race in 1 hour and 48 minutes. My heart dropped when he told me the number, I was so disappointed with myself – how was that even possible?! I ran and pushed myself as fast as I could! Surely they must have made a mistake. My grandma could hear my disappointment on the other end of the line and reassured me,  “Ceara, you ran for almost 2 HOURS straight!! A couple years ago you would never have been able to do that!!”. I got off the phone and J reassured me that I should feel happy and proud that I completed the race and forget about my silly ‘time’ goal.

It took me until the next day to truly process what was going through my mind. I set a goal for myself and did not fully make it. I pushed myself as hard as I could and did an amazing run yet got so stuck up on the detail of meeting my time goal that I almost forget that I met my initial goal in the first place – finishing 15 freaking kilometers! This is something I am going to work on in the future – remembering how far I’ve come and not how far I have to go. I ran 15 kilometers and I am proud of myself because it is honestly something I never thought I would be able to accomplish. I need to have realistic goals, focus on the positive and not compare myself to others. So what if somebody else did the race in 90 minutes? I’ve managed to lose almost 70 pounds, keep it off and becoming one heck of an active young lady in the meantime 😉 I guess what I am trying to say here is that it is great to have goals but we also have to be realistic about meeting them and CELEBRATE our accomplishments instead of bashing ourselves in over some silly number 😀

For now, I have been trying to do something active almost every day during this busy exam period (I can’t stand sitting on my butt all day studying, haha!). On the other hand, there is not too much action happening in my kitchen right now as I am dedicating most of my time to writing my final papers for school. It is an understatement to say that, once this semester is over, I am sooo looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and cooking and baking up a storm! For now, I’ve been snacking on this awesome protein-packed coffee freezer fudge from Clean Wellness, these easy spiced peas from Vegan Richa, this colourful Mediterannean confetti quinoa salad from Two Healthy Kitchens and this amazing vegetarian lentil loaf from The Simple Veganista (haha, so there is a bit of action happening in my kitchen, I can’t help it!). Life is good when you are surrounded by wonderful bloggers with such delicious and healthy recipes!

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