August 1, 2011
On Friday, July 29, I ran the Highland Yard 10k in Minden, Ontario. This race is a little sentimental to me because my first race was the Highland Yard 5k one year earlier, which runs concurrently with the 10k.
I was pretty worried about this race because it was my first race since the Bread & Honey 15k which was almost months ago. In those two months I had a surgery, tool a couple of weeks off and started a new training cycle from scratch. I’m also not doing cross training so I feel like I’m not in prime form yet.
I had set the bar for my 10k time pretty high at the Oakville 10k in May at 55:17. That was a week before my marathon that season and I was in prime form at the time. It would be nice to get a new personal best each race, but I guess I need to accept that isn’t always possible, especially since this race is much warmer and I’m not in prime form. I had set myself a goal of finishing in less than 60 minutes.
The race itself is a very small affair, only 73 running the 10k and about 175 running the 5k. Minden is also a tiny little town about 3 hours from Toronto. The whole downtown of Minden is a little strip of Bobcaygeon Road with about 10 stores.
The milling about before the race was quite different from other races I’ve been too. There were lots of people in the little area on the main street. Most seemed to know each other.
I happened to overhear a funny little exchange between a couple of local young men. After they exchanged greetings, one asked the other what distance he was running. The other guy said he was running the 5k. I loved what the first guy said: “Man up!” I felt a little proud I was going for the more challenging distance.
I didn’t warm up much because I felt quite self-conscious. After a minutes of bouncing and light movements, I still couldn’t get my heart rate up.
The race started a couple of minutes after 6pm. The organizers delayed the start of the race because they were swamped with race-day registrations. The group took off pretty fast and I had to make a conscious effort to back off and run the pace I felt comfortable with. I feel like I got passed by everyone in the first kilometer even though my pace was around 5:20 min/km.
It was a hot afternoon for running, and even though it was after 6pm it was still over 25 degrees Celsius, with a humidex easily over 30. I darted into the shade whenever I could.
The 5k was supposed to start 30 minutes after the 10k, but I saw them on my way back from the first out-and-back, so they must have been less than 10 minutes behind us.
The first water station was around 3k. They served water in little cups like you would get at the dentist. I thought that was clever because you usually can’t finish a whole big cup while running.
After 3k the course got hilly and a little forested. The pace on my Garmin was starting to fluctuate wildly, and the distance wasn’t lining up with the course markers. I imagine the trees were interfering with the satellites. I was able to start passing some people in this hilly area.
I was pretty proud that my watch read 26:09 when I passed the 5k marker. That was about 5 minutes faster than my 5k time the year before.
From 5-6km, the course was all uphill through a wooded area. I had to walk part of the uphill because I was running out of breath. Turning around and heading downhill was very satisfying.
I wore my Saucony Kinvara’s for this race and I rather regret that. They are much lighter than my more traditional running shoes, but the sole is so thin that the impact was really hurting my feet. Even though I was running with a forefoot/midfoot running form, the urgency of race pace made my form a little sloppy, and the Kinvara’s were very unforgiving. At around 8k the course went over a gravel road for about a kilometer. Some people say they enjoy the rocks on massaging their feet through their Vibram Five-Fingers or other minimalist/barefoot running shoes. The rocks and gravel were very, very painful to me! My feet were already tender from 8k of racing, then they got roughly poked over the gravel road.
There was one volunteer I remembered for being particularly energetic. She was at the 4km turn, dancing around and shouting encouragement. In the last kilometer, she was doing the same thing. When the runner in front of my stopped to walk, the volunteer ran up beside her and did a kind of spirit fingers thing to encourage the runner to run again.
Because my pace and distance reading from my Garmin were being disrupted by the forest, I could really only predict my finish time based on time and the road markers. At 8k, it looked like I was going to be able to finish in about 57 minutes.
I let lose with just over 1km left. I’m a little worried that I sped up too soon because I started getting tired a long way from the finish line. When I got to the main street, in the distance I could see the race clock said 55:27 as I approached the finish line. No personal best, but much better than I expected. According to Sportstats, my chip time was 55:50!
I couldn’t wait to get out of the Kinvara’s and into a pair of sandals!
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance. I was 54th out of 73 runners, but last in my age class of men 20-29. A result like this is good for building confidence, but also for prodding me to work harder to do better.