Coming into this race I was unsure whether to even bother lining up. I had such a negative experience last year in which I raced this course only three weeks post-marathon — I felt terrible, and hated every step of the challenging course. So naturally, I kept thinking, what if I feel that way this year? What an absurd thing to think! That just wouldn’t happen without a marathon in the picture — why do we torture ourselves by thinking these things?
At Toronto Waterfront 10K, the previous weekend, I had felt flat and more tired than normal early in the race. And that had only continued. Running just felt hard, like I was stomping around. I know that sometimes these feeling come and go so I just stuck with the schedule, got in my workouts, and continued to pray that on race day I would feel better. I had a mild interval session of some kilometre repeats on Friday morning, just something to activate the legs — I didn’t feel terrible but still didn’t feel good. I got in to see my physiotherapist later that morning (he noticed that my pelvis looked a bit out of whack in the Toronto Waterfront photos and suggested I come in before the race.) What a difference that made! Despite all the needling, I felt much more activated and had the pep in my step back on my evening shakeout. Thank you Jim Bowie! Now I was confident, energized, and ready to race.
Fast-forward to race morning. I had debated two scenarios: running with the lead women and trying to push the second half of the race, or going out with some of the master’s men and hanging on as long as I could. I decided on the latter and my goal was to specifically key off of Jerry Ziak and/or Jim Finlayson. They are both incredibly strong and steady and I assumed they would target a time within my reach.
^ Out of the gates (pc: Jesse Winter).
0-5K in 16:51
From the gun I looked around for Jim and Jerry. Jim quickly attached to the lead pack of men so I settled in beside Jerry with about 3-4 other guys. We were essentially the second pack of the race. The downhill start makes this segment quite quick despite a couple slight uphill sections. I remember almost getting dropped at the hairpin around 3K but I quickly clawed my way back to the pack — it was way too early to get dropped. The longer I could hang on, the better.
5-10K in 16:41
Another fast section because of a downhill portion from about 8-10K. I tried to just turn my mind off and use the downhills as a recovery section. The goal was to try to do as little work as possible and just let gravity handle the rest.
10-15K in 17:36
The road flattened out at this point. I tried to stay nestled in the pack because there was slight headwind as we ran along the beaches. I don’t feel super comfortable running in a group — sometimes it feels like my stride is limited — but this was great practice. It was incredibly helpful to get out of the wind and just focus on the back of the person in front of me. I did well staying connected as we worked our way up the hill near the 12K mark (our group had whittled down to just three), but before I could recover, or maybe it was on another slight uphill stretch — I got dropped. It was somewhere between 13 and 14K that Jerry and the other guy took off. I just couldn’t respond. I probably should have tried harder but it was a moment of weakness and maybe I was too content with how long I had held on! Now I was on my own as the course veered into the more residential section.
^ Striding along the beaches (pc: Jesse Winter).
15-20K in 17:42
I was so comfortable with my group that my mind started to stray now that I was running solo. I kept worrying about getting caught since I felt like I was slowing down SO much! Instead of thinking about what I could control: my breath, my stride, my arms — I was thinking about things that were not productive. This lasted about 2-3K before I snapped out of it. As soon as I crested Burrard bridge (just past 18K), the last big climb of the race, I brought my mind back to the process. I thought about my stride, I went to my arms to get my legs moving faster — I didn’t worry about who was behind me or ahead of me.
Finished in 1:13:04 for 12th overall and 1st woman
^ Breaking the tape and so happy to be done! It was really starting to steam up out there:) (pc: Alan Brookes)
What a great way to end the season! I loved breaking the tape and being proud of the race I had put forth. I was pleased with how I executed the race, despite a slight blip in mental fortitude towards the end (always something to work on!!!) Time-wise it was fine, especially for it being the last race of a very long season. Sunday was more about putting myself in a good position to be successful, than running a fast time.
Since then I enjoyed a mild week of training with minimal workouts and low mileage. The down time helps me to recover physically from a long season but mostly it is mentally refreshing to not have anything important in the near future. That said, I will be lining up at the Edmonton 10K in just under three weeks. Since it is a very early race in my fall marathon build I won’t be expecting too much, but it will be a great opportunity to spin the legs and enjoy another Canada Running Series race in the process!