I don’t even know how to write this… It went well. I’m so used to writing these things as self-deprecating memoirs that I have no idea how to write a race report were I felt good and never wanted, nay, expected to actually die. In fact, such anecdotes are exactly what prompted me to get us blogging on here. After some miserable incident such as a race I’d always find myself sharing the story of how I descended into the darkest pits of hell with a few friends. Said friends would then encourage me to blog the same story so that a larger audience could read it. I assume this is like putting “Here be monsters” on a map — “Look, swimmers shouldn’t run marathons — look how this guy went insane after he did ONE!”.
So, it went well.
Ah! Let me tell you about the day before. It was a miserable shit of a day. The Plan called for a 27km long-run. Just a get-through-the-distance sort of run, not wanting to impact the following days 10km race while still getting in a long run for the week.
As such, I didn’t think much about it. I woke up late, ate a leisurely breakfast and kept watching re-runs of “Arrested Development“. By the time I realised I should be getting out to run it was well past breakfast and I was a bit hungry again. What to eat? Ah! Several gigantic handfuls of salted cashews! I think in the back of my mind I knew this was a terrible idea, but then again I’m not known for listening to myself.
It was also getting pretty warm out by now and as it was getting towards the end of the week I didn’t have a lot of options left for clean running gear…
Wait. No one actually cares about the details of this. Here’s what happened: I felt like I was going to throw up from a stomach full of cashews, it was too warm and the only shirt I had left was too thick for the heat (gotta work on that for Transrockies!) And finally, my legs were just feeling drained from the rest of the week. Any single one of those factors alone and I would’ve focused on it and pushed through it. Hell, even if it was all three and I knew I was done for the weekend and I would have. But feeling like that and with a 10km race looming the next day, I felt like I was spreading myself too thin — I cut the run off and only did 13km. I spent the rest of the day drinking a ton of water, consuming a lot of carbs and laying as still as possible on the couch.
Sunday, I got up at 6am, made breakfast and coffee and turned on Rocky II. Maybe some day I’ll try and explain how I choose which cliche sports movie I decide to watch before each race, but for now accept that the little voice in my head told me to watch Rocky II (Note to self: put all possible pre-race movie options on your phone prior to TransRockies)
By 8:15 I had done my warm-up exercises and stretches and was jogging to my office which is only a block or two from the finish line. At the office I switched to my race shirt with bib pinned on, and dropped off my other gear. I did some light stretching of muscles I was particularly concerned about (that roster never seems to lose any members), slammed a gel and headed back out to the start line.
I was seeded in the first wave thanks to submitting my time from the Fall Classic. I can’t imagine doing this race and trying to run a solid time if you’re seeded in a slower wave. Even if 55:00 is a goal time for you, being any where other than the first wave has got to be brutal, there are just so many people. When the gun went off, I couldn’t move. It took a few seconds, and people started WALKING forward, a couple more and jogging, hit the start line and now we’re going.
Let me say this clearly: I started very close to the very front of the race, and I still couldn’t move when the gun went off. This means there were hundreds of people blocking me. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this race so much with thousands of people obscuring my shortest path to the finish line. Having thousands of people behind me was pretty cool though.
So off we go, flying down Georgia Street. I knew we started on a decent downhill, because, well, it looked like a freaking downhill. I’d also been warned by someone I trust that it was a downhill and that I should just chill the fuck out on it. I’d also recently been burned by not chilling out on the downhill at the start of last months Spring 8k so this was something I was thinking about a lot.
My plan was to just go super easy on it and run the first kilometer at the same pace I was planning on doing the rest of the race — 3:45/km which would put me at 37:30, a time I thought was reasonable but also flexible if I couldn’t hold the pace or if the stars aligned and I thought I could push it.
So what the shit was I doing running 3:20 pace? Isn’t this EXACTLY how the 8k disaster started (answer: yes). Self, chill out! Wait, now I’m at 4:10 pace? What gives? Not that I actually needed to, but I gave a cursory look upwards at the high rises on either side of Georgia. Right. Downtown race start means a crappy GPS signal. Also what kind of nerd looks at his pace several times in the first 500m?
I blew through the first kilometer in 3:21. It was super easy but I was stressing because I didn’t want to go Cheetah Speed on this damn run and this is exactly how it all started last time. But it was super easy, I mentally checked myself on this several times. It was easy. Fuck it, just relax and let this happen. If shit goes bad you can slow down to like, 3:50’s and still hit a solid time.
Kilometer’s 2 and 3 went by in 3:39’s — my exact average pace for my 8km blow-up, but felt fine. Four was a 3:44 — possibly because I was distracted by how much it didn’t hurt. I was watching all the crazy people running with me and wondering when they’d blow up (specifically the dude running on his tip-toes in five-finger shows while wearing 2 cotton t-shirts).
KM’s 5 and 6 covered the Burrard St bridge. I knew this was going to be the toughest part and it was fine. I pushed a little bit harder on the uphill parts, then focused on really relaxing and rolling through the downhill part. In the end my pace for the whole bump was pretty even with my average pace. Nailed it.
After that I was almost celebrating. It was basically over: a relatively flat 5km jaunt with a downhill finish! And I didn’t want to die! I could even still see!
Most importantly, I still felt strong at the 9km point. I turned in on a bit and really flew past a few people on the last few hundred meters before the finish. Just before the finish line I looked up and saw that the clock tracking the gun time was about 36:4x and I really gave’r. I wasn’t sure how much over the gun time I was and I really didn’t want to end up with a 37:00. My final chip time was a 36:46.
Key points about this race:
- I didn’t run like a freaking idiot. As a result I comfortably held the same pace as a shorter race which made me question my very existence
- I don’t do 10km’s very often, and completely demolished my old PR of 38:10 (from a much slower course mind-you). Still, round-number-itis makes this seem like an even bigger win. I’d previously considered 36:xx to be “mid-thirties” which seemed a long way off.
- Speaking of courses, I really liked this race course. There were enough hills to keep it honest but they weren’t at the end of the race and they weren’t monsters.
- Racing well made me feel really, really excited to run more. I mean race more, train more, even cross-train more. I LOVE the feeling I had when I looked down at my watch and saw 36:46
Although 10kms and other relatively short races aren’t what I want to focus on, it is pretty fun to go that fast once in a while. Who knows what I can do if I actually trained for some speed (one thing’s for sure, it probably wouldn’t take me half a week to recover from a race like this). Strength work and consistent speed work are definitely on the menu for the longer term plan. But not now.
Now it’s taper time. Now it’s time to lay on the couch and do nothing. Now it’s time to grumble about having to go out and do a 6km jog. Now it’s time to save every bit of energy and focus it all into one 42.2km effort. 10 days until BMO marathon.