June 8, 2011
This was my last race of the spring 2011 season on June 5, 2011. I’m quite happy with my 1:29:05 because it’s just below my 90 minute goal. However, it was also a great race of lessons to learn.
I was a little sketchy about the race at first because the website was ve
ry sparse and the posted maps were a little sketchy. Upon doing the race I realized all the information was there and nothing extra.
I was very surprised by the turnout when I arrived at the race. I imagined this would be a little community race with 200 or so people. The organizers and even Mayor Hazel McCallion announced there were over 1500 people participating in the various race distances. I was also a little surprised to see so many elites squaring up at the starting line. The Sheridan Running Room is home to a stable of semi-elites called The Nomads. They were everywhere! I counted at least 20 people wearing Nomands shirts.
It was a pleasant surprised that Dina from my running group stopped by at the beginning of the race to wish me good luck. It was a nice pick me up right before a race that quickly went from a joke to very intimidating.
My goal was to finish in 90 minutes and hold a steady 6:00 min/km pace. I wanted to keep religiously to the “10 and 1’s” I had used regularly in training. I was warmed that the beginning of the course is uphill a lot, so I tried to psych myself out that even if I fell behind maybe I could make it up at the end.
In my mind, I was spending a lot of time trying to pick a speed. Part of me wanted to treat this like the Oakville 10k that was 4 weeks before. In that race I didn’t do “10 and 1’s” and had a running pace close to 5:15 min/km. Howe
ver, that was during the prime of my training and was at least 10ºC cooler. For the Ottawa half-marathon, I followed the pace bunny who was on a very strict 5:53 min/km with “10 and 1’s”. Is a 15k race supposed to be more like a 10k or a half-marathon?
Being this far from the peak of training was also pretty worrying. I was on the top of my game a month before for the Oakville 10k. Right after that was the Mississauga Marathon. Only 7 days before this race I ran the Ottawa Half-Marathon. Since Oakville I had only squeezed in a handful of runs and none of them with the intensity of March and April training runs. I had also stopped strength training for a month, and was already feeling the instability in my ankles and knees that the lack of training was causing.
The starting gate is always quite a scramble. In this case I seeded myself way back and made it a point to start slowly. I stared very intently at my Garmin and my pace. I would try to follow some people that looked slower than the rest of the masses, but no one was doing a consistent enough speed to follow. It didn’t help that the 5k and 15k runners started together. The 5k runners could afford to burn out quickly while the other 15k runners and myself had to hold back a little.
I felt really silly when I stopped for my first walk break at 10 minutes. People were passing me quickly and I was itching to keep moving.
About 20 minutes into the race I realized how hot it was goi
ng to be. It was supposed to be around 16ºC when the race started, and rise up to about 22ºC by the end of my race. I made it a point to have 2 cups of Gatorade at the first water station at 3k. I decided my strategy would be to keep pace, stick to the “10 and 1’s” and run in shade whenever possible.
The course split at about 3.5km. The 5k folks headed back to the start while the 15k runners went another way. That other way was uphill along Britannia then up Creditview. The uphill didn’t bother me. I spent that time slowly reeling in each runner then moving on to the next ones.
4km to 8km
Passing each km marker sign I noticed I was hitting exact time I needed for 6:00 min/km. This bothered me a bit. I was hoping I could build up a little buffer because I ususally run a little ‘split-positive’ and lose a little speed towards the end of long runs.
Doing “10 and 1’s” was a little frustrating at this point. I would spend 10 minutes passing a whole bunch of people only to have them pass me again when I stopped for my walk break.
I don’t know what it was, but something along the course smelled terrible. It might have been manure, fertilizer, or something from the creeks and rivers the course passed over, but whatever it was it smelled absolutely awful. There was a dead skunk on the side of the road at one point, but that wasn’t the source of the big smell.
8k to finish
The course went north of the 401 at about 8km. At this poin
t the course is an out and back. I looked back and saw that the 10k mark was where you go back south over the 401. It was also interesting to see all these people who were 2km in front of me. A lot of Nomads in that group.
At this point I was very thankful for my hard training, and for getting out between races to run on the really hot days. I started passing people right and left after 8km. A lot of them very easily and they weren’t catching up during the walk break.
Around 9km I caught up with a familiar face. Monika was a older lady I used to run with during my half-marathon clinic last summer. We had a happy little chat but she encouraged me to take off and finish.
When I got to the 10km point it was a little satisfying to see that I was 2km ahead of some people. I think I smiled when I heard someone say “how much further until we turn around!”
The last 5km was a blur because I just wanted to the race to be over. It was that hot! Any shade was a relief. My pace had accelerated to about 5:35 min/km so I was starting to pick a few seconds per kilometer ahead of the distance signs.
I was caught off-guard around 13km when a young girl blasted right by me. She looked like she had just started and was flying way too fast for someone who had run with all of us. It didn’t take me long to see she was pulling a “Phil,” a maneuver named by a fellow runner in our marathon group. When you pull a “Phil” you run way too fast for a short time, then need to take a long walking break. When I passed this girl on her walk break she took off at blinding speed again to try to stay ahead of me but couldn’t hold it for more than about 45 seconds. Probably a sprinter trying to do distance without the training.
I wanted to give a nice final push for the last 1000 metres, but I really didn’t have anything left.
I was very happy when I looked down at my watch and say I finished almost 1 minute ahead of my goal time.
When the results were posted on Sportstats, I was rather surprised I didn’t show up. I suspected that my bib tag didn’t work. However, I e-mailed them and a time showed up! I’ll keep that in mind if I ever don’t see my time posted. Maybe it just gets lost in a datapile somewhere.
The heat is an interesting condition for runs. I was so discouraged in the fall when winter was coming because I wouldn’t want to run in the cold. It’s quite a reversal now that I don’t want to run in the heat. It’s just something to get used to I suppose.
I strung a lot of races together this spring. It was great for collecting medals and getting around, but not great for performance. My performance has been declining significantly since the Oakville 10k because I’ve been avoiding hard training runs and gym workouts. I’ll have to keep this in mind when planning my next race season.