I figured I should contribute some sort of race report before the end of the summer, so here we go. I raced the Intact Canadian Derby 10K last Saturday evening. Overall, I had a solid performance (34:06, 7th overall). My time was a new PR… but only by a grand total of 1 second. Not exactly a breakthrough performance, but definitely better than expected.
First, a little background info. My plan for this summer had been to build a good base for the fall cross country season with the Bears (I heard Joe has lots of base and that it has been working well for him ;) ). Last year I went in burnt out from several months of hard triathlon racing in the summer. I was not at all ready for the 8 additional grueling weeks of training and racing. With my tank was nearly dry by late October, I failed to make the CIS Championships in Kingston. I wanted to give myself a better chance this year by taking the summer easy and focusing completely on running. It is still a long shot, but as this will be my last year as a varsity athlete, I owe it to myself to give it one final go.
Note that this explanation also doubles as an excellent excuse to be lazy over the summer.
In any other year, I would have tallied up well over ten races by now. As I stood on the startline this Saturday, I realized it was only my third race in all of 2010. I competed in one triathlon (Spring Thaw) and one cycling road race (Pigeon Lake), and that was it! My training in the months prior had consisted of just one focus: mileage. I ran long and I ran easy. No intervals. No tempos. The only speedwork I did was 400s on the track, and short strides to maintain good mechanics and efficiency at race pace. But that was it. I really had no idea what to expect going into a race during this part of my training cycle.
The horn sounded and we were off. It was a new 5km out-and-back route from Northlands. Pancake flat. No wind. Other than a bit of residual smoke form the B.C. forest fires, it was a perfect evening for racing. A lead group of 6 or 7 current and former varsity athletes quickly established itself out of the gate. I basically had no hope of hanging on to those guys, so I did what any respectable roadie would do. I sat in with the chase group :D
Brian Torrance, Bears Alumnus and local running champ took to the head of our scraggly 5-runner chase pack. In any other year, Brian would probably be a favorite to take the win. Today, he looked a little more human. Although not in great shape, Brian still paces like a metronome and I knew that if I could stick with him, I would have a good race. So that’s exactly what I did. For the first 5km, I tucked in right behind him and followed his every move. We reeled in a couple guys who faded from the lead pack and motored along steadily at our own pace. Unfortunately, we were slowly losing sight of the lead group and with that, any hope of bridging back up.
It has been a personal goal of mine to go 33:XX for a 10K. Stefan once promised me one-months worth of pasta if I could achieve that time. I came as close as 34:07, but that was it. Eight seconds of improbability. Eight seconds of hunger. As we hit the turn around point today, my watch read 16:53… on track to finish just under 34 minutes. I had zero hopes of going sub-34 at the start of the race, but now halfway through, I felt maybe it was a possibility. I was feeling strong and focused. Last year I had crossed halfway at 16:40, but felt like I needed to walk. This year, my pacing was much, much improved.
For the second half of the race, it was just Brian and myself. The others in the chase group had fallen back. Perhaps feeling a little too strong and a little too focused for my own good, I decided to push with 3km to go. I gapped Brian by a few seconds for a span of few hundred meters. For that brief amount of time, I really thought I was going to have a brilliant finish. Not so. The wily vet easily closed the gap. I felt less strong, less focused, and started my eventual fade.
With 1km left, I was still on pace for a sub-34 performance. Brian was about 5 seconds ahead, and all I needed to do was hang on. Hang the F-on, Pat! I had reached the point I reach in all my races when my face gets all contorted and my legs go all noodley. Everything switches to slow motion and I want to give up. I kick, but there is no kick. Concentration goes out the window. Etcetera, etcetera. I watched the clock tick over 34 minutes as I approached to finish. Not my day today, again.
Nevertheless, I was still happy with how things turned out. I’m as fast as I was last year, without all the hard workouts. The plan is still to peak in the fall, and I am confident I will be running faster than I’ve ever have by then. But whether I can be a top runner on the Bears is another story altogether.
A big thanks again to Becky, Josh, Stefan, and Sanja for coming out and cheering me on.