Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Race Report: MEC Race Series 10k - Race Three

Chip Time - 37:49
Overall - 5 / 246
M - 5 / 124
Shoes - Brooks Pure Connect 2 

I’m not gonna lie, I’m surprised by this finish time. I knew I had a personal best in me going in to the race, and was pretty confident a sub-40 would be possible, but a sub-38 was wayyy beyond where I thought I could push myself. (My previous “official” PB being last year’s 42:36 Longest Day 10k).

Woke up to an absolutely amazing morning on Saturday, had my breakfast and ran an easy 6km down to the start line at Devonian Park (Denman & Georgia). It was nice to get there about 25 minutes early and just enjoy the sunshine. Everyone was in a good mood and lots of great energy from the mingling runners (around 300 10k racers and just over 100 5k racers).

This had to be the most “shy” race start I’ve ever taken part in. When they called the 10k runners up and asked that those looking for a competitive time come up front, I was surprised to find myself standing at the start line with Stephen Lamb and a few others tentatively wandering up. Usually, especially in self-seeding races, you can’t even get to the start line and get stuck trying to get around slower runners in the first few hundred meters. (Noticeably absent were the speedy blue VFAC shirts).

Heading for finish line - Photo by Leah
The race start was delayed by 5 minutes, but soon enough we were speeding out on to the path towards the park. I definitely went out fast, more of a 5k pace of 3:37, and could feel it. I knew I wanted to stay sub-4 minute but that was a little crazy. I made a point of pulling back, thinking a 3:50 was my best case race pace (based on my recent 5k race time).

I knew I was doing OK when at 5k I could still see Stephen in the distance.

Fortunately a couple of runners had gone out ahead of me pretty strong and I tried to keep them in sight for a target. I got past a couple more that went out quickly but started to fade just before 5k, and then worked my way up to catch up to the other two runners working in close pace to where I was. I hung on to them for the next few km’s, noting we were still holding a strong sub-4 pace.

My thought process was something like “Wow, this pace is too fast, if I can hang on until 5k I can pull back and still make a PB…”… “yep, this is tough, I’m at 6k now, if I can hang on until 7 I could just walk a PB in…” …“holy crap, I’m at 8k and pulling ahead…” “…9k, one km to go, I hope those guys behind me don’t have anything left cuz I sure don’t…”

Just before 8k I found myself able to surge ahead. At this point I wasn’t doing the math but knew I would be coming in at a really solid time. (My watch was only set to Pace and Distance, no Time Elapsed). There was the only modest hill just over the stone bridge heading to the 9k marker on the East side of the lagoon. It was a little tough that late in the race.

I pushed as hard as I could up the path along Georgia to the sharp left turn just before the finish… high-fived Leah on the sprint in and looked at the clock in amazement.

It still surprises me how much different training is from race day. I can feel like I’m giving it 110% on a tempo Wednesday, and yet come race day I can usually still find that next gear. I’m also glad that my training is teaching me to trust my instincts and not be a slave to the watch. I would’ve pulled myself way back had I gone with what I assumed I could do.

It was an excellent prep race for the fast approaching BMO Vancouver Marathon.

The MEC Race Series is well organized and inexpensive. Lots of fun. I'm sure I'll do more.

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