September 28, 2011
|Date||Event||Goal Time||Chip Time||Gun Time|
|2011/09/24||Oasis Zoo Run||< 1:00||56:48.2||1:07:01.6|
On the weekend of September 24-25 I ran two road races: The Oasis Zoo Run 10k and the Oakville Half-Marathon. Each race was a great learning experience, as was the experience of racing back-to-back. I did several things that weekend I probably shouldn’t have, but I live to tell about it!
That weekend had been marked on my calendar for a long time. According to my marathon training schedule, my long run that weekend was supposed to be a 32km LSD (long, slow distance). When I signed up for these races, I imagined 31km of race pace was almost the same thing, especially if it was spread over two days. Lesson learned.
As I usually do, I laid out my run gear the night before the race. This was especially handy for this weekend because I had to get up at 5:30am to meet the carpool for the Zoo Run, and I had to get up at 4:30am to meet the carpool for the Oakville Half-Marathon!
I had high expectations for myself going into the Oasis Zoo Run. I was warned by several people that I should not push hard during this race because I had another one the next day, but it’s very hard for me to hold back during a race! I went in thinking it would be nice to beat my previous 10k PB of 55:17. Alas, it was not to be.
We arrived at the Toronto Zoo at least an hour before the race. It was rather, which I like because it will help keep me from overheating. I was in the ‘Green’ corral, which I think meant I was expected to finish between 56 and 59 minutes. The rest of the folks I came to the race with were in the ‘Purple’ corral behind me. I liked the way they set up the corrals for this race because the put a 5 minute spacer between corrals. Since everyone but the elites races on chip time, I thought it was a great way to keep the course from getting too congested.
I wasn’t counting on the Toronto Zoo to be so hilly. It’s like 6 acres in northern Scarborough so I (mistakenly) thought it would be mostly flat. The first section of the course was pretty flat on some roads outside of the Zoo. There were a lot of pot holes and I almost rolled my ankle in one. I wore my Saucony Kinvara’s and immediately regretted it because I missed the lack of cushioning. Inside the Zoo it started with small, 5-10 meter rolling hills. There was a point with a 40 or so drop which made me pretty scared because I realized I would need to go up that hill later. I walked up the hill when I got there, and I imagine that cost me a lot of time.
Around 6km, I was passed by Rob. We carpooled together he started in the carroll behind me, meaning he made up the 5 minute head-start! That was kinda discouraging.
Along the way I did get to briefly encounter some of the unique sights and smells of a run in a zoo. I’ll admit that running at 5:30 min/km is a little fast to take in any scenery. One experience I wouldn’t like to repeat was running by a row of porta-potties right at the starting line. Humans smelled worse than all the other animals! I saw glimpses of some animals in the first 5k, like a zebra way back from the fence. On the way back, the zebra had moved right to the fence edge by the path. It was probably wondering what all these silly humans were doing! Around 8km on of the course marshals cheerfully announced “turn right to the wolf pit!” There were certainly wolves, but there was a bridge over their pit. Near the end the course did a turn around a peninsula of pink flamingo’s. There may have been other animals, but I either didn’t see them or don’t remember it.
The last 2km were pretty challenging. I felt rather drained already and was falling off my pace. My feet hurt a lot because I was pounding hard on my soft Kinvaras. I could hear the finish line around 9km so I accelerated, but then the course turned away and went in the other direction. I feel like I made the final push too soon because people were flying by me on both sides towards the finish.
I’m pretty happy with my 56:50. I make the excuse to myself that the course is hilly and that I’ll have other opportunities to set a new PB.
Unlike other races, I did not have the luxury of several days off before my next one. My half-marathon was schedule to start about 22 hours after I crossed the finish line of the Zoo Run. I’ve heard the saying that your prep for your next race starts at the finish line of your last, so I had to take that pretty seriously! I was walking fine after the race, but standing still caused my hamstrings to seize up. I made sure I kept walking and had a lot of post-race food.
After I got home I was really hungry. I was rooting through my fridge for a good load/re-load meal. A fridge full of leftovers and a huge appetite had the potential for some very unusual results. There was left over lasagna and gravy from roast beef, and I strongly considered combining them! I went out for Dim Sum instead, but the lasagna with gravy appeared on my dinner menu! It was gross!! Not recommended!
The afternoon between races I went to the expo for the Oakville Half to pick up my race kit. After I got home I got re-acquitted with my foam roller to try to cheat time and put some freshness back in my legs. I got my gear laid out and was in bed by 8pm. I resisted napping after the Zoo Run so I had a very sound sleep.
I was going to be the 2:30 Pace Bunny at the Oakville Half-Marathon. It would be the first time I was going to be a pace bunny, so I was a little nervous about keeping exactly to the pace. It was going to be much slower than my usual race pace, which was reassuring since I wasn’t 100%.
We arrived at the race very early. We met at 5:30am for the carpool. The shuttles from the parking lot were surprisingly well organized. We were at the starting area when it was still dark, so we took the opportunity to stretch and relax.
While we were waiting before the race, someone from the National Post noticed my ears and interviewed me. I told him that I volunteered to be a pace bunny for the race through the Running Room. He took a few pictures, one of which turned up on the
National Post’s gallery of the event.
I set up on the starting line with my sign. Lots and lots of people move by me declaring that they intend to run faster than me. I would have run faster than me too on a regular day.
The race started as normal and I kept a very close eye on my Garmin. I was supposed to run at 6:48 min/km. With the 10-and-1’s, it should work out to about 7:06 min/km and almost exactly 2:30 for the 21.1km.
In the first 3-4 km I had a lot of pain in my shins and calves. I wasn’t surprised. I bought brand new shoes on the Friday before the race and this was the first time I had worn them. I imagined it would take a few miles before they would be comfortable.
For the first 3-4 km there were about a dozen people following my pace, but after that they either fell behind or sped ahead. Around 6km I realized there was nobody following me.
Around 7km I slowed down a bit so that I wouldn’t wind up running alone. A gentleman named Hans from Oakville joined me and we ran together for the rest of the race.
There weren’t any pace bands available at the expo, so I created my own using the page on the Running Room’s website. This pace band was even better than others I’ve seen because it adjusted the times to accommodate regular 10-and-1’s. For example, the first km marker was at 6:48, but the 2nd km marker was more than double that because there should be a 1 minute walk at 10 minutes. The one I put on the sign was the one I used the most often, but in future I would enlarge the font a little.
It was an almost ideal day for a run. It was partly cloudy, a little cool and there was a tailwind for the middle 10k. The course was mostly flat. The first 6 km were through a beautiful section of Oakville, and the last 4 km were by a marina and the waterfront.
Hans and I passed many people as we made our way towards the finish line. I liked going at pace because it kept me from going too fast or too slow. I watched my pace on my watch very carefully. I liked trying to match every km marker and hit every rest right on time. Well, we weren’t quite right on time. The km markers seemed to be about 100m further behind from what I expected, and Hans and I seemed about 40 seconds ahead at each marker.
In the last 3km we started passing a lot of people. Some people seemed really sad to see me pass them. I can’t blame them; when I pass them it’s a definite sign that they won’t beat 2:30.
I turned around after my last walking break around 2:21 and noticed there were now about 30 people following me. It seems that as I passed people they dug deep so that they would keep with me. It was like collecting people like a snowplow!
As we neared the finish line, a lot of people were telling me I was right on time. I kept checking my watch and I thought I was way ahead. As I came within sight of the finish line, I realized they meant I was right on time for GUN TIME. Either through the course markers being a little off or speeding up in the last 3k, I had wound up almost 1.5 minutes ahead of a Chip Time of 2:30, but almost exactly on the Gun Time.
I crossed the finish line in 2:30:09.3 with Hans! Only 9.3 seconds off! That felt amazing!
The weight of the two races really hit me later that evening. But it was totally worth it!