My Inaugural Race Report!
I had turned off the TV after the first inning game 3 of the World Series, and I probably passed out within minutes last night. We made sure to set the alarm and arrange for a wake up call, for obvious reasons, and I actually woke up on my own at about 6:20am, twenty minutes before the above "went off".
Monica did not have a great night of sleep, though I didn't know until she said so since I slept OK. We got up, got dressed, I scarfed down a piece of bread with some peanut butter, and we headed out shortly after 7am to pick up our race kits.
The weather was not too cold, and the rain that had been forecasted was nowhere in sight. I grabbed our race stuff while Mon waited in the car for lack of parking, and we headed back to the hotel to get ready.
We got all the gear we needed, strapped on the Bibs and I almost left without the Garmin! Luckily I remembered. I was decked out in the second-hand clothes Mon had picked up at the local thrift store, and we were off. Here's me with the Sally Anne attire, and apparently the angle of the shot was intentional!
Then, we headed back out to jog towards the starting area. In the lobby we were met with a great surprise - my Dad had arrived with his partner and our boys! Hugs all around, and we were off! My poor little Malcolm looked comatose - I guess he got a dose of his own medicine for a change since he's the one who typically wakes US up way too early! The other bonus of this chance encounter was that they were able to carry our after-race stuff down to the Finish area for us and we didn't have to jog with the bag in hand.
Here's a picture of the Start/Finish area that I took later in the day from a window in the restaurant where we ate lunch, but it seems to fit here as far as the post goes:
As we were running we came across another runner from Toronto who was also running her first ever race. Nancy, wherever you are, I hope you had a great race since we didn't see you afterward!
Then, a quick porta-potty stop, and it was straight to the starting area. I shed the cheap-ass clothes (though we ended up finding them after the race and I kept the pants for future cold-weather races), and bounced around in the crowd of runners waiting for the horn. I lined up near the front, about five rows of people back from the front, not wanting to be caught up in the crowd mostly for fear of tripping - I am prone to accidents at most unfortunate times, and I figured this was the best strategy to minimize the chances of an occurrence.
Then the horn went off, and I was running!!!
It was chilly at the beginning, and although the running felt easy my lungs started to hurt a bit right from the start. I glanced down and the Garmin after about 300m and noticed my pace was below 4:00/km! Yikes! I immediately slowed down, for this is territory I cannot traverse as of yet. The first kilometre was finished in 4:32, 8 seconds faster than intended, but pretty well right on pace all things considered.
I don't think that this quick start hurt me much, but I sure started to wonder if I made the right choice running the 10k and not the 5k once I got about 2k into the race. My second split was still on target (4:38), but I was already labouring, and my heart rate was way higher than I thought it would be. I could tell this race would be a test of will as much as endurance, and I still had 8k to go!
The 3rd and 4th kilometres I was able to maintain my projected pace (4:36 and 4:40 respectively), but I knew that the dream goal of running under 45:00 was not going to happen. Not only was I already in the 90-100% of max HR zone, but the wind was very gusty and right in my face. At certain points it was hard just maintaining stride, and I was chilled right to the core whenever I was blasted. At least coming back I'd have the wind somewhat at my back...
The fifth kilometre was a struggle for me. The course took us over a little bridge that forced us to do a 180 degree turn on the other side of a small part of the river (looking at the satellite image I now realize this bridge goes over the beginning of a canal), and that hurt. My fifth split was the slowest yet: 4:51. A little before the turnaround point there was a decent group of folks on either side of the road cheering on the runners, and I must admit that this helped a great deal to push me toward the 5k mark. I also knew that they'd be there on my way back, and it was somehow reassuring to have total strangers clap and cheer for us runners.
Anyway, by now I was just thinking of at least breaking my "optimistic" goal of 47:30 for the race, and I figured this was doable as long as I didn't think about how tired I was feeling, and how heavy my legs felt. I had been running alone since about the 3k mark, with nobody passing me and I not passing anyone either, and all I could see was a guy about half a K or more in front of me. The knowledge that I was now more than half-way there gave me a bit of a boost and I managed the sixth kilometre in 4:44, right on pace for my secondary goal.
The seventh kilometre brought me back over the little bridge, where I had a bit of an altercation with a spectator. As I rounded the corner to get up onto the bridge this older lady, looking only to her right to make sure that she was clear of the runners still heading towards the turnaround point, stepped right out in front of me without looking left! I nearly crashed right into her, and I think she felt quite badly for her oversight. Although we did collide, I held up enough and didn't hurt her. That would not have been a good scene. I wonder if I had ended up hurting her would I have stopped to help or would I have kept on running? I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision...
The 7th kilometre slowed me down and I managed only 4:49 for the split. By now I was in a world of hurt, and my foot flared up something fierce right about at this point. Not only that, but my right calf felt like it was about to cramp up, something I had not anticipated since I have not been prone to cramping at all in training!
As I kept on running, trying to keep some sort of form that would minimize the pain in my foot and the potential cramp lingering in the shadows of my calf, I consciously decided to focus on something else: the guy with the blue shirt that I could still see about 500m ahead of me. I wanted to try and reel him in since we'd been running at about the same pace since the second or third kilometre, and I was hoping that he'd start to labour a bit from his fast start. Unfortunately, the eighth kilometre split was another 4:49 and I started to feel like I had nothing left in the tank. At one point the Garmin read that my average pace was 5:10/km and it was a small victory just to bring the split back DOWN to 4:49!
With 2K left to go, the wind died down a bit, or at least it was more at my back than before, with sideways gusts not bothering me too often. As I continued along I noticed that indeed I was reeling the blue guy in. He looked around now and then to check on me, which was both good and bad: I sort of wished he'd been too tired to be aware of his surroundings!
Anyway, I just thought "one step at a time" and kept on getting closer. By the time I hit the 9K mark I was within a hundred metres of him. My ninth split, though, was just a hair faster at 4:45, and I was really hurting.
But boy is that last kilometre easy on the brain, if not on the body! With about 700M to go I could see the Finish area coming in and out of view as I headed down the winding road. Blue guy was getting closer, but he kept on looking back and I could tell that he probably had enough gas to hold me off. I tried my best, but he too was able to pick up his pace. My last kilometre was the fastest of the entire race, not surprisingly I suppose: 4:27.
It was really cool coming into the Finish pretty much alone since I got my own shout out from the announcer, name and all. I think he made a good natured crack about my long legs, but by then I was barely coherent and I may have only dreamt this. As I crossed the Finish line I saw my Dad, Taky, and the boys right there. That, more than anything else, made my day! Here's the picture my Dad took, with my finishing time in the frame (he made a crack that he cut the "1" off on purpose!):
Another highlight of the race for me was seeing Monica on her way to the half-way mark after I was already heading back. We slapped hands, and she said something about me not being allowed to kick her ass too much! We had made a decision that bragging rights would go to me if I managed a time ten minutes or more faster than hers, and she'd be able to claim that she "kicked my ass" if she finished within ten minutes of my final time. In the end she did awesome and finished with a PR of 59:23.4, so congrats, and I KICKED YOUR ASS!!!
We met up at the finish for some post-race pictures:
Then it was time for a Tim Horton's coffee for me, and a picture for posterity in front of the falls with the sweet caffeinated beverage (a bit dark, I know, but that's what the morning was like!):
We walked back to the hotel room for showers, to check our official times on SportStats.ca, and then it was off to lunch at the Keg. We lucked out with the best view of the Falls!
Now for the digits:
My official time was 47:16.9. I finished 17th overall, 14th in the mens category, and second in my age category by 4.5 seconds to that guy in the blue shirt! Man, I wish I could have reeled him in!
I will now end my ramblings by simply saying that I had a fantastic time, I met my optimistic goal, and shared a great experience with my family! I will be racing in 2009 for sure, with the 45 minute barrier squarely in my sights, but for now my foot needs rest and recuperation for I AM IN SERIOUS PAIN PEOPLE!!!
Although I normally say that "Garmin don't lie", you will see by clicking on this link that, in fact, Garmin doesn't always tell the whole truth. I figure the discrepancy (according to Garmin I did 10k in 46:56) is due to the fact that I didn't run the "blue line", but since there wasn't any actual blue line painted on the road what's a guy to do?
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