I think this race gets filed under the “I forgot I’m doing an Ironman” category of race entries. In February, March and even April it was easy to keep thinking that I had lots of time before my long course races – Welland, Ironman Canada, Barrelman – that is, until I realized that Welland Rose City Tri is on June 15th, which is NEXT MONTH. Exactly 5 weeks, which is considerably less than the “lots of time” I thought I had.
I pretty much signed up for this race because I wanted to buy an Icebreaker merino shirt, and I got a $35 gift card with my $40 race entry. That was about 87% of the reason, the other 13% being that I really love racing. Like, really, really love it.
That being said, I did pretty much everything wrong in training:
#2: I’m only doing two decent runs a week: hills on Tuesday and long on Sunday, with some scattered recovery (read: mind-numbingly slow) and brick (read: mind-numbingly slow and uncomfortable) runs. Did I mention that I walk-run my long runs? I don’t know what fast is anymore.
#3: I spent over 9 hours training in the week leading up to the race, including 5 spin classes from Wednesday to Saturday. I went a little too hard on my Thursday class, because apparently I don’t have an off switch. Oops.
But who cares about race-specific training for a 10k, right? I have a half to train for in…oh yeah (eep!)…5 weeks.
Honestly, there was only one goal: beat my 45:27 PB from last year, preferably by finishing under 45 minutes for bragging rights.
I had no intention of negative-splitting this race, given all the downhills at the start. I have a policy about running downhill: no brakes, no slowing down, do what you can to keep your feet underneath you and let the momentum carry you. I planned to use the hills to run a fast first half, then just hang on and suffer to the end; a tad unconventional, but it works to my strengths.
Neon pink knee-highs are also part of my strategy. People cheer for pink socks (it’s true) and it’s easier for my friends to spot me among 27,000 other runners – only about 5000 of whom are also wearing pink socks. Besides, they match my shoes perfectly.
The fact that I did a decent warmup shows that I actually did care about this race, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. I jogged about 2km easy, then did a few strides and finished with another easy 500m to the start line.
What nutrition?? This is a 10k!
Kidding. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast, followed by a baby food packet on the bus (babies have awesome food), a small cup of coffee, and even some dark chocolate covered cranberries right before the race.
After some indecision over whether to start in the red (sub-45) corral which corresponded to my actual predicted time or try to avoid some weaving by leading the following yellow corral, I elected to start in red along with some friends from the triathlon club. Turns out the crowds weren’t too bad, so this was a good decision.
Heading down Yonge Street was absolutely fantastic. Whipping down hills is one of my favourite ways to run, and the rolling profile of Yonge Street meant I could gain a lot of speed while just barely keeping my feet under me on a downhill, then take a bit of a breather before the next one.
I actually ran most of the race by feel, just checking my watch every once in a while to make sure I wasn’t too far off my goal pace (I wasn’t). Mentally I was in a really good place, hitting a runners high and feeling almost meditative down most of Yonge Street. I was looking forward to seeing Darren (@DarrenToronto) at Wellesley and I’m so glad I caught him, because hearing, “yeah Kim, you’re looking strong!” got me through the next 2km. My 5k split was within 25 seconds of my 5k personal best, at 21:54.
As I was warned, the stretch between 7 and 8km on Richmond was tough. The combination of losing the downhills that had carried me most of the way so far, and running a lonely stretch of road still 3km from the finish line felt way harder than it should have been. I kept chasing the runners I’d been following all race, and managed to not let a single one get away.
Turning onto Front Street, I finally encountered the wind and couldn’t believe that there was less than 2km to the finish line because Bathurst looked SO FREAKING FAR AWAY! I should have been starting a finishing kick, but I had almost nothing left so I just tried to hang on. I missed seeing the Toronto Triathlon Club at the iron bridge, which upset me more than it should have; funny how minor details can be so upsetting when you’re suffering.
I finally dug in and found a finishing kick when I saw Hector’s bright blue jacket with 400m to go. I even managed what passes for a smile at 9.6km.
As I crossed the finish line, I had no idea what my time was but knew that I had NOTHING. LEFT. It took a couple of minutes before I could even check my time.
My watch said 44:42.
After a LOOOONG walk to Coronation Park for some food, and a stop in to the Camp Oochigeas tent where Fuel+ was handing out coffee (they even had almond milk!) it was time to relax and let it all soak in!
One of the perks of walking back along was Front Street was seeing all the other runners still coming in – waves were still starting, even half an hour after I’d finished, so there were lots of runners and walkers either suffering or smiling through their last couple kilometers. Seeing so many people finishing their 10k was inspiring.
Ready to geek out on some numbers?
My official finish time was 44:41, shattering my previous best time by 46 seconds and giving me bragging rights as a sub-45 10ker. My 5k split of 21:54 was only 24 seconds off my 5k personal best, and my second half at 22:48 wasn’t bad either. My average pace was officially 4:29, but my Garmin said I actually ran 10.18km so that would put my average pace in the 4:23 range.
All the wonderful miniscule details are in my Garmin file, but overall I thought I paced the race really well according to my strategy. The topology of the course heavily influenced my kilometer splits, but even so, lap 4…just sayin’…
As for placing, I don’t usually pay much attention in running races, but: 47/3023 in women 25-29. I will take a top 2% age-group finish, thank you very much!