I have no idea why I have not run more than one 10K race before. I think I do love the 5K and when I train for half marathons, the 10K doesn’t seem to fit. 10K is a good middle ground for runners: a longer distance, but still pretty quick. As I start becoming more and more comfortable with distances between 8-12KM, I’m sure that my 10K time will continue to improve. Who knows, maybe it will be the new 5K race for me.
I signed up for this race quite a long time ago. I believe I only paid $45 for the race, which is a pretty good deal. The event was sponsored by Saucony and Sporting Life, but run by local event organizers, InStride. InStride are the great people behind the Ottawa Beer Run and the Manotick Miler, so you know the race is going to be well organized. Because I do volunteer with InStride, I helped out at the Race Kit Pick-up on Friday evening. It wasn’t too terribly busy and I ended up talking to everyone for four hours. It was fun meeting some runners too! Many first-timers had lots of questions and I helped them out as necessary. The race kit included a Saucony tech shirt (much better than those “race merchandise shirts”), some Clif bars and a coupon for Sporting Life. Nothing too fancy, but at least the shirt is one that I will actually wear. The race pick-up was at Sporting Life which is located in Landsdowne Park – a bit of a pain for us suburban folk, especially for parking. However it was probably the fastest I’ve ever picked up a kit, because I just gathered the stuff myself 🙂 I also picked up some kits for my co-workers.
On race day, I had to wake up silly early for the race. My alarm was set for 5:45am, so I could have a cup of coffee, breakfast and visit the washroom before leaving, which I know is too much information but all you runners know why that is crucial. I drove myself to Landsdowne Park and parked right in the parking garage. They were well prepared for all the runners and I found a spot really easily. I did end up paying for parking ($10), but at least my car was in an underground parking lot really close to the race. I quickly put on some sunscreen and went outside to walk towards the start. I ended up wearing a new pair of tight fitting shorts, my Columbia tank and hat, and my race belt. The only reason why I wore the belt was to hold my car key. I had no pocket in my pants. I also noticed that my new shorts made my butt look good. Too much information again?
The race site was right on the Rideau Canal pathway, which is a great location for a race. The route was fairly flat and the road was closed. There are also many side streets along the route, so people can come and cheer. Or supporters can come drive by and give you sunscreen when you forget it (Ottawa Race Weekend last year). I walked around a bit and then went and did a little warm-up. Once I started walking back, I noticed my friends from work and we chatted for a bit. We ended up being told to head to the corrals at 7:45. Since there were less than 1800 runners in the race, it was easy to get into the corrals and find people after. Also, the corrals had gates that opened to each section. Dear Ottawa Race Weekend, can you please adopt this strategy? It made getting into the proper corral SO MUCH easier. It also meant that everyone was where they should be. As we chatted in the corral, we found one more staff member. I also noted that I had to pee again, which wasn’t good. I had to tough that one out.
Soon enough it was go-time! We did not start our Garmins until we crossed the starting mats. Since i was in the 45-55:00 corral, people took off quite quickly. I had to slow down and make sure that I didn’t go into 5K race pace. 3 of my friends took off as they run sub-50:00’s and I am NOT that fast. I noticed how muggy it was outside and was breathing quite heavily for most of the race. I knew that I would struggle later on in the race because I have had zero runs in this training cycle in hot weather. Last weekend was fairly warm, but not humid. It is the humidity that drains me. My Garmin was pretty spot on for the first few KM – although my friend who was right beside me at the start noted that his was way off at the first KM. Another reason why I don’t fully trust garmins in race conditions. I ran KM 1-4 in 5:31, 5:21, 5:21, and 5:29. Once we hit the 4K mark, we were back around the start area and heading towards Carleton University. The first 4K was flat as a pancake, hence my faster times. I ended up sticking close to a runner I recognized from the Ottawa Beer Run. He doesn’t know it, but he helped pace me for the first 6K!
Once we passed the start, the rolling hills started. I knew that they were there and was dreading them. My legs started to feel heavy and I was going into my “5K breathing” which doesn’t normally happen when I’m running at 5:30 pace. I wish there was someone at the race that I knew so I could have tossed my sweaty shirt at them. I ran KM 5-7 in 5:32, 5:32, and 5:40 – getting a bit slower. I did cross the halfway point at around 27:25 which is exactly where I needed to be. There was one hill that wasn’t even much of a hill (around 10m up) but it was one of those long hills that hurts when you are 7K in. I did notice that many people (who were all on their way to sub-54 10Ks) were walking on the hill. The hill was not even higher than the small hill I ran up during the Manotick Miler, but it felt 1000x worse. I wrote this post before seeing my race photos and you can tell how off I was feeling by my form. My form was pretty awful – lots of hip drop and a few pictures of me looking like I wanted to take a nap instead. I also watched the finish line video and there was a lot of cross over action happening. Need to work on that….
As we approached the turn around point, I noticed the water station and desperately wanted some water. I turned around and went for the water about .5KM later. I did stop at this point for a few seconds to drink some water and dump in all over my head. That made me feel a whole ton better. At this point, I noticed that now my Garmin was off. No idea what happened after KM 7, but I was a bit short. I completed KM 8 in 5:48, which is because of my walking break. At this point, I was totally ok with a sub 56 time. I knew that I was not humidity-ready and although my legs felt reasonable for most of the race, my cardio system seemed really stressed out.
At 2K to go, I started to try and push the pace a bit. Then the dry-heaving/barf feel emerged. Nothing too bad, but I felt awful for that last 2KM. Lots of mind games at that point since my head was telling me it was ok to take a walking break. I didn’t and kept going. I finished the 9th KM in 5:36. I usually try and really pick up in the last KM, but held off until I could see the finishing chute appear. I then kept running, dipping closer to my 5K pace for the last 500m. I crossed the line with my watch saying 54:56 but in 9.91KM. Not sure where that extra 90m went. My friend (who was having some distance issues too, was about the same distance short). But, since my watch said the ATB 5K was too long, I’m not bothered by the short distance. Garmins can be unpredictable in a race situation. Actually it can be unpredictable during any run. Last week is said I completed a KM in 3:30-ish and the watch is always off a bit when I’m running around my house. At some points it was saying I was running at a 8:00 pace, which I definitely wasn’t. I thought “oh no” and sped up only to dip below 5:00. I also looked at the map generated onto Garmin Connect and at the points where I noticed my watch was off, I was running on the grass at Carleton University. I had to trust my pacing instincts more than my watch. My watch says the final 4.91 was in 5:00.
My official Sports Stat time was 54:54 – so even faster than my Garmin! Yay! I did cross the line at 55:12 on the clock, but I knew it took me a bit to get to the mats. I had no idea that I went sub-55 until I checked my phone over an hour later. I seriously thought I had just gone over. Sweet! My time was good enough for 28th/188 in my category, 210/1187 for Females and 440th overall. Much better stats than my last 10K!
After I finished, I found my friends who were waiting for Steve and I. We then went to check out the medals/finishing area. You had to walk all the way back to Landsdowne for the medals/finish food. Kind of reminded me of the NYC Marathon where you walk for a million years. They had Water/Gatorade right at the finish. Back at Landsdowne, they had more water, bananas, Kind Bars (YES) and lots of other goodies. I didn’t notice any other food. We all received our Teddy Bear-CHEO medals and a Saucony Beer Mug. We were a little too excited about the mugs. We were disappointed that since it was 9am, we couldn’t fill them with beer :-(. There was also a farmers market filled with stands offering lots of great items for sale. The event also had places to take pictures – but we just took our own. After chilling for a bit at Landsdowne park, we all went for a coffee then headed back to Orleans. I also was able to see Kristi and her family at the race. Kristi and her son ran the race together – it was his first 10K! They finished in just over an hour, which is great for a first 10K!
Overall, I am happy with my new 10K PB. It is a vast improvement in my 10K distance speed and probably more reflective of my running ability. I do want to point out that there is still tons of room for improvement, especially in that second half. I did not have my negative splits, although most of the splits were pretty close together. I would like to become more comfortable getting faster at the end. It was probably the weather, but I didn’t feel too great for most of the race. I’m sure the next race won’t be as bad as I should be running in more seasonable conditions.
Next up is the Ottawa Race Weekend. The plan is to go out hard for the 5k and coast for the 10K. I’m not sure why I will be running, speed-wise, for the 10K, but I’m hoping for around 60 minutes. I do need to get some speedwork in this week though. I don’t think I will be able to use the track on Thursday (the west-end schools are competing), but maybe I will run with whoever is left over on the track team since most of them are competing.
I am hoping that the Sporting Life 10K sticks around. Although it was on Ottawa’s favorite running route, the Rideau Canal – it was a different route from Race Weekend and I liked that! Although I’m secretly happy that we are mainly running on that super flat part of the course for race weekend 😉 Also – this is 2 PB’s done for the year. Only 2 more to go!
Have a great day!