Off down the distance

Yesterday was The Yonge St. 10K, the first of what is now two 10Ks running down the central artery of the city. The 10Ks are popular because they are fast – a net downhill (a couple of small uphills) with only a few turns. I wanted to test my 10K fitness on a certified course, but not necessarily on an aided course that would * my time and generate a PB that I would never be able to replicate, thus setting myself up for future disappoint. I have a tendency to over think races. I ran, but only because I won a free entry at another race.

I have not raced a 10K in … ever, perhaps. But I had a 10K goal. For those who are interested in numbers, the goal is remarkably similar to the one Sweaty Kid handily bested a couple of weeks ago. I looked to McMillan to see if it was a realistic goal. Some recent race times predicted hell yeah, others agonizingly close but not quite. A cautious gal, I put my faith in the least optimistic scenario. My coach scoffed and predicted yes. And then he had me do a test workout at the track and said if I can do the workout I can run that time. I did it without struggle. And then he said to stop visiting McMillan because I have a real coach now.

I said, as I (probably annoyingly) always do, I’ll just run. It did occur to me that an aided course might be a good time to break through the mental barrier and get my legs used to running at a new 10K pace, a feat which I could then try to replicate on a flat course. But truthfully I wasn’t really feeling up to the challenge. A familiar litany of excuses – insomnia, life stuff, and I’m still stuck in that 50K/week rut. My confidence wasn’t high, which is an important consideration. So I decided to run, but not race. The distinction is important to me, given the chronic lacking in confidence thing. No self-imposed pressure.

The temps were low (perfect), but we had to be in our corrals* 15 minutes before race start … so we warmed up then huddled for 15 minutes and I was freezing in my short shorts and singlet by the time we started. It took my cold legs 1.5K to shakeout. The first downhill half felt easy (as it should); I glanced at my watch at 5K and was on track. The course flattened around 6K and I noticed the lack of mileage between 8-9K. Going from down to flat has a wall slamming effect. Ouch. In retrospect, I didn’t dig as deep as I could have (or perhaps should have), but I’m such a novice at this distance I don’t have the confidence to really push yet.

In the end, goal achieved. I finished at my coach predicted time, with enough to spare that it probably wasn’t just a downhill fluke. Replicable on an honest course. Probably.

*The corral behind the elites was 46 minutes and under. That range was way too big, especially with so many at the upper end of that range lining up behind the soon-to-be Olympian and eventual winner after a thrilling finish. I saw two people trip in the first 500m as faster runners stampeded over slower runners. I’m too lazy to fill in the online feedback survey, so I hope the race director reads this blog.

Title: Tragically Hip – Hundredth Meridian. 1992.

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10 responses to “Off down the distance

  1. Just curious- has a coach made a huge difference?

    • In terms of race times? Definitely yes. In 6 months I’ve PBed in every distance I’ve raced. I think it’s a trifecta: great coach, great group, consistent training.

  2. Shame about peeps getting trampled though. I live in fear of that kind of thing, being super clumsy, having two left feet and she laces that untie themselves. But well done on your performance. I agree, having a coach makes a big difference.

    • Me too! I unusually line up a little back so I’m not blocking people, but somehow always end up behind the one runner who comes to a dead stop at 1k in the middle of the course. But yeah, I’m not sure everyone appreciates how fast those sub35 runners are moving. Big difference between 46 and 30 — I think they at least needed a sub40 corral, if only for safety.

  3. I’d be happy standing with the sub50s, in fact I’d be deliriously happy. But then I am the penguin ;)

  4. Run etiquette is totally lost on many people. I’m slow…so at the back I go. I take walk breaks..so off to the left I go when I slow. Awesome to hear your experience with your coach is paying off!

    • Yeah – it really is paying off … the getting faster is just a fringe benefit to pushing myself in new ways, running with amazing people, and conquering weird running apprehensions. I’m really enjoying the new challenge (after years of repeating the same training season after season).

  5. I have no idea how extreme the downhill portions were, but running downhill is a skill, and even though downhills in races offer you the opportunity to “recover” or not go into quite as much debt, I suspect that they don’t always offer quite the advantage we assume they do… especially on a course that starts with a down and finishes with flats and/or ups (isn’t that part of the challenge of Boston?). So “aided” or not, don’t sell your performance short. I doubt it was a fluke. Nice race.

    • Thanks. The downhills weren’t extreme, although I did feel it in my quads the next day. I like that all courses have specific challenges – down, up or flat.

      I would run more 10Ks if they weren’t so crazy expensive. I envy your $20 races. $50 seems to be the entry point around here.

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