Monday, November 8, 2010

Run Without Borders - race review

Saturday I ran my first 10k (6.2 mi) race. I'd been working towards it since finishing my first 5k race in September. I won't say that training was free of challenges, but I worked through them and came to race day (semi) confident that I could do it. My biggest challenge was bonking and running out of energy on my longer runs. I had figured out a food combination that seemed to work for me in my final training run, so I just hoped it wasn't a fluke and would work again on race day.

My main goals for this run were to not bonk, and finish within 1:10. My last training run I had done 10k in 1:12, but the race was a much flatter route, so I figured I could shave off a couple minutes.

I got up bright and early so that I could have my breakfast a few hours beforehand. Then I made the drive into downtown Calgary. Since I live outside the city, I gave myself plenty of time in case I dealt with traffic or parking issues. I had problems with neither and arrived with tonnes of time and while it was still mostly dark outside.

We had made the decision for me to head in alone. While I would have loved to have my kids and husband come watch the race, I did not want the morning stress of getting a 2 and 3 year old ready and out the door in time. Plus, it was pretty chilly. I knew I'd be fine since I was running, but it would be a lot harder on the kids waiting around. This report is light on the photos, since I didn't have a photographer/husband along.

I killed some time walking around before the race and checking out the beginning of the course. Looked like there was construction and the pathway was closed where it was supposed to go, but I figured they had it worked out. About 20 minutes beforehand, I ate my homemade granola bar and apple. That had worked well for me the previous week, so I was hoping it would again.

About 5 minutes before the race, somebody from one of the sponsor gyms got up on stage and started doing an aerobics warm up. I decided that I didn't need to do knee ups or hamstring curls since I'd already been walking around for an hour. Instead I took a last minute bathroom break. Yay for a location that has an indoor area to wait when the weather is cold!

Then it was time to head outside. I was dressed fairly lightly, so I let a lot of people go in front of me to get out the door. I only had a light, long sleeved shirt on. It amazed me that other people would be able to run with a heavy jacket, toque and mitts. (It was right around freezing 0 c, 32 f).This picture was taken prior to the start.
I didn't have my camera with me during the race itself.

Everyone seemed reluctant to go near the front. I know that I'm not a front of the pack runner, so I was trying to hold back, but I ended up much closer to the starting line then I would usually go with about 6-7 rows of people in front of me.

Then the signal was given and we were off. Surprisingly, I was keeping up with those around me. There were a few people passing everyone, but those were people that clearly should have gone up to the front (where there was lots of room).

I knew I was running faster then usual, but I figured I'd go with it for a little bit. I felt fine and I wanted to see if I could let the race day adrenaline carry me on a bit. We went across a bridge that took us around the area where I'd seen construction.

The view of the bow river from the bridge.
The entire run was on pathways by this river.

When my garmin beeped for my first km, I realized that I had finished it in just under 6 minutes. I wasn't surprised, since I knew I was running on the fast side for me. I figured I could probably keep it up if I only had to do 5km, but would likely burn out if I tried to do 10 at that rate. I usually go closer to 7 min/km on my longer runs. I slowed down a little bit to find a pace I felt I could sustain a bit better.

Not long afterwards, we passed the 1km sign, except, according to my garmin, we were actually 1.23 km in. I figured that the first sign must just be in the wrong place, but when we passed each km sign, it was always 0.23 km further then it should be. I realized that they had only accounted for the construction by detouring the route, and adding distance, but not taking that distance off anywhere else. Since the race was an out and back, that meant both the first and last km were longer then they should be.

My run/walk plan for this race had been to run except at the water stations (2.5, 5, and 7.5 km). Truthfully, I wasn't sure I'd be able to, but I found the energy of all the runners really helped propel me along. I didn't even walk for a minute at the aid stations like I'd planned. I just slowed down to grab my water, swallow it and discard my cup - maybe 10 seconds.

Around the 5km mark, I was starting to get tired. At around 7km, I reminded myself that I just had to keep my legs moving and they'd carry me to the finish. Throughout this time though, I still managed about a 6:30/km pace, which I have never been able to do on a long run before.

At the 9km point, I picked up the pace. I know I can run 6:00/km, and with only 1km left, I didn't need to save my energy. (Though admittedly, that last km was a long one.) The point where I felt frustrated was when I hit 10km. I had signed up for a 10k race! Not 10.5! But, whether I knew I had done 10 or not, I hadn't crossed the finish line, so I kept going.

I was just starting to wonder if I had pushed myself too much for the last stretch when I turned a corner and there was the finish line. One of the race volunteers was there and was cheering me on, telling me I was almost there. I sprinted to the end and crossed the finish line strong.


Despite my frustration about the long course, I still finished in less then 1:10. In fact, I was done 10km in 1:03:39, so breaking the hour mark isn't an unrealistic goal in the future.

Running races is an amazing feeling. I push myself in a way I don't think I'm capable of in training. Then when I go back and train, I know I'm capable of more, so I try for it. I'm becoming an addict, and this time, the addiction is a good one. That adrenaline is better then any brownie.


  1. Truly awesome. I am amazed!! Way to go Deb!! I hope one day to do the same thing. You are an inspiration!! :)

  2. Sounds fantastic even with bit added on due to constuction.
    I love love love the energy at a race its so uplifting.
    Enjoy your runner's high.

  3. Big congrats Deb! You ran a strong race and learned that you can push yourself harder than you typically do. Can't wait to see what's next!

  4. YAY!! HUGE congrats Deb!! What a fantastic time!! Sub-60 minute 10km is definitely in your (near) future.

  5. WOW! Just WOW. That's an awesome result (seriously. I'm in awe. That makes it awesome by definition, right?) I figured I'd be happy if I can manage anything under 1:30 for my first one... but your post makes me wonder if just maybe I could manage something faster. Congratulations on an awesome race!

  6. This was a really interesting post for me, having been on the organizing end of a race (or two) for a job I used to have. After one particular race, lots of people complained about the 10 K course being long. I'm not a runner, and I definitely wasn't then, and so I thought, 'What's an extra half km if you're running 10 already? Why the big fuss?'

    But now I can understand that if you've trained for 10 km, and are hoping to beat a personal best time goal, the extra half km really messes things up.

  7. Congrats! You did awesome, I know after some tough races I've had an extra .5k would seem like eternity!

  8. Oh my goodness, Deb.. You are a wonder.. I can't imagine being able to run a whole 10k (at some point this will have to change, I guess.. lol).. especially at such a great pace time.. :)


  9. Congrats Deb!! What a fantastic time!!

    I definitely know what you mean about the extra distance!It really gets to you mentally that you have to run the extra 0.8k or whatever it is.

    I am sure you will have no problem breaking an hour at your next 10k.