Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanksgiving race report - reaching the big goal

A bit less then a year ago, I was running with some friends.  We were talking about where we wanted to go as runners, and I expressed the thought that one day, I wanted to be able to run 10K in less then an hour.  At the time, that goal seemed almost out of reach, but maybe, just maybe, one day I'd be able to do it.  If I could run a sub-60 10K, I'd be forever happy with my running speed and wouldn't need more.

Fast forward to Sunday.  There I was, at a registration table, signing up to run a 10K distance, with the goal of beating an hour.  I'd never expected to make the attempt so soon, but I have never felt more ready for a race.  Never more ready to prove to myself what I was capable of.


The morning before the race was one of my least stressful ones yet.  It's been a while since I've done a running race, rather then a triathlon.  There is a lot less stuff you have get ready!  I got up early enough to have my steel cut oats and a cup of tea, plus a glass of water.

I usually have my coffee in a travel mug on the way to a race.  Just before leaving, I realized I'd forgot to brew my coffee.  Oh no!  Now, it may not seem like such a big deal, but coffee isn't just a caffeine fix.  Other runners will get this: it makes sure things move before the run, rather then having an emergent situation during it.

Not such a big deal.  There are lots of places that sell coffee and have it ready to go.  I stopped off at Tim Hortons, skipped the insanely long drive thru option, and got served immediately in the store.  Good to go, and I started the drive into the city.

Now, I should mention that I was doing this race on my own.  My husband and kids usually come out and cheer for me, but when I decided I needed to do this race, I decided it was something I needed to do for me.  While the kids like cheering when I go by, they don't have as much fun with the waiting part (which is much longer then the cheering part), so I thought I'd give them a pass this time.  My husband asked if I was really okay with it.  I was.  Something about this day was very personal and I was totally okay with not having them there at the finish line.

When I got to the race site, I went to get registered and then walked around for a bit.  I saw Runner Leana, so I had to go say hi.  I've been following her blog for a while, so it was very cool to meet her.

Then I headed out and ran a couple kilometers to warm up.  It's amazing how far I've come.  I once viewed the 10k distance as a really long run.  No way would I run first.  Now, I know that I hit my stride after about 10 minutes of running.  I prefer to run at least a kilometer at a slow pace, and when I'm shooting for a time, I don't want that slow kilometer to be during the race.

On my way out the door, I got accosted by a photo booth guy.  One of the downsides of my family not being along was the lack of pictures, so while I was a bit stunned at first, I was glad to get a picture of the day.
Yep, that's a picture of a picture.  My printer/scanner is out of coloured ink, and apparently requires it to scan...
I detoured to drop the picture in my car, then warmed up.  My warm up run felt great, and was a nice relaxed pace.  Then I headed over to the start line and got caught up in the warm up that a fitness instructor was leading.  Do you ever do these warm ups?  I don't.  I prefer to warm up by walking or running.  Having said that, I was there in the middle of it so I step-touched and marched wide with the group...

Once the warm up was coming to an end, I headed towards the start time.  There were a lot of people, and there was a 5K walk in addition to the 10K run.  The last thing I wanted was to be stuck behind hordes of people walking 6 wide, with strollers.  Fortunately, they did have the runners line up first, so it turned out it wouldn't be so bad.

I felt amazing going into this race.  I have never felt so perfectly prepared and excited, but not nervous.  I was ready to push, and push hard.  I was completely confident that I could reach my goal.

The Race

The countdown started and we were off.  Despite the fact I was about to run my fastest 10k ever, I know that to some people sub-60 isn't fast, so I was lined up a bit back from the start line.  It never ceases to amaze me how badly some people seed themselves.  I probably passed half the people in front of me right at the start.  There were also a lot of fast runners that passed me and should have been further forward.  Then there were the people that passed me and I passed back in a couple of minutes.  There was also the couple pushing the double wide jogging stroller, not even behind the jogging stroller, but one on each side.  And, they were NOT going fast enough to justify being in the first few rows of racers.  Regardless, the path was nice and wide, so it was pretty easy to get going.  I was up to speed in about 15 seconds.

Speaking of speed, part of my strategy for this race was to bank some time.  I don't entirely trust running room races to be an accurate distance.  Regardless of what my garmin said the distance was, I wanted to cross that finish line in under an hour.  If the race happened to be long, I didn't want to whine about not beating it because it was long; I wanted to beat it no matter what.

So, I planned to run at about a 5:45/km pace.  For me, this is fast and was a bit of an aggressive plan.  I have run at that fast a pace twice, for a distance of only 5 km each time - at the end of sprint triathlons.

Having said that, I believed I could do it.  My running has done nothing but improve lately, and I regularly find myself running at faster paces then I'm used to - at the same effort level.  I also know that being able to achieve that pace at the end of the triathlon means I should be able to hold it longer when I'm not going into the run tired.

For the first kilometer, I held back a bit.  It's so easy to get caught up in the excitement at the start of the race.  Having said that, it's also a good way to burn yourself out if you go too fast.  That first kilometer almost felt easy.

km 1: 5:47

Going into the next couple kilometers is where I had to start working.  It was hard.  Doable hard, but this was no Sunday stroll.  It was a Sunday race!  I actually tried not to look at my garmin too much and instead focused on keeping my effort level steady, but hard.

km 2: 5:42
km 3: 5:42

During the fourth kilometer, I hit the water station.  I grabbed a cup and walked for a few seconds to take a drink.  I wasn't really thirsty, but my mouth was dry and it felt better to wet it.  I still suck at drinking out of those paper cups though.  Maybe one day I'll manage to do it while running.

km 4: 5:52

Then we headed down a bit of a hill.  Going down, I observed that I might lose time coming back up.  The distance markers seemed to be pretty much right on though, so as long as the turn around point was accurate, I could afford a minor slow down.

km 5: 5:37

The turn around point seemed to be at pretty much the right spot.  It wasn't out by more then a couple dozen meters, which could just be from taking corners wide and the margin of error on the garmin.

I saw Leanna a bit after the turn around.  She gave me a word of encouragement and I just smiled and tried to look strong.  She said I looked great, which was probably a lie, but made me feel good anyways.  ;)

Then it was back up the "hill".  There was a guy in black compression socks that I had been right behind for the last 5 km.  I decided that as long as he didn't slow down too much, I'd make sure to hold onto him up the hill.  He actually sped up going up the hill, so I did too.  Not so bad at all!  Seriously.  I train in the foothills of the rocky mountains, and I was considering this little slope to be a hill?  Maybe because the rest of the course was flat, I just saw it as bigger then it was.

Then I passed him.

km 6: 5:46

Then it was into the homestretch.  Back to the water station.  Another mouthful of water.  Did I really need it?  Probably not.  I think I may start skipping water stations on 10k races unless it's a hot day (which it wasn't).

km 7: 5:35

With three kilometers left, I had planned to pick up the pace.  I wanted to work for my finish, not just coast in.  I wasn't coasting though.  This was hard.  Man, it was hard.  I decided that if I could continue to hold my pace, I'd be good.

km 8: 5:35

With two kilometers left to go, I realized I could finish at a gentle jog and still break one hour.  That wasn't the point though.  I was going to finish strong.

km 9: 5:41

When I finished the ninth kilometer, I decided it was time to let it hurt.  It was already hard, but it didn't hurt.  I'd been afraid to make it hurt with three kilometers left, but I knew I could do it with one left.  As I passed the 9th km marker, I picked up the pace and passed two people that I'd been running close to for a bit.  Then I passed a couple more people.  I heard somebody close behind me and decided that I was not going to be passed for the rest of the race.  I pushed.  I pushed hard and I started feeling like I needed to puke.  I held on.

km 10: 5:05

With the finish line in sight, I sprinted to the end.  I didn't think I actually had more in my legs, but my pace for the extra 46 metres, that my garmin measured, was 3:51/km.

46 metres: 11 seconds

Finish time: 56:33
A personal best by 3:39
Beat the sub-60 goal by 3:27

So, that's it.  I guess I may as well shut the blog down and take up lawn bowling.  After all, I reached the ultimate goal I once saw as a runner.

Hmmm, It feels amazing right now, but I have a feeling I won't be able to be "forever happy with that running speed."


  1. Seriously awesome!!!!! Congrats on a great race! I dream of even getting close to one hour. Way to go! And no I'm sure you won't be content to stop here. :)

    And I love the guy lounging in the back of the photo. Cracked me up for some reason.

  2. Super duper incredible! Gives this fat girl hope that I can go from "not really a runner" to someone who could dare toe achieve such a feat (and more)!! I'm so happy for you! And feeling like you need to puke at the end (but not doing it, right?) is probably exactly the right effort from everything I've been told :)

  3. Congratulations on a great race Deb! So amazing that you were able to take so much time off from your PB!

  4. Great race. I knew you could do it. Soon you'll be talking about doing it in less than 50 minutes. ;)