I got to race a seriously tough 38:46 10k this morning with 48,000 of my closest friends. This was good for 10th in my age group and 45th female overall.
The last 10k I had done was the 2012 Sun Run. Thanks to running amnesia, I forgot how balls-out tough the distance is for me, and how much it hurt the last time I did it.
Pacing-wise, I wasn't quite sure how I should go out. None of this taking 10-15km to warm up business. Based on my half-marathon time, the internet told me I could do about a 38:20. However, the internet also has told me I can go up two cup sizes in a week with herbal supplements, and that I can make up to $500 a day working from home (I still have an A-cup and an office job, so the internet is not always true).
I tapered for this race by getting a cold, and therefore missing out on a hilly fartlek workout in the rain Thursday night in favour of catching up on "the Vampire Diaries" (it's like "True Blood, with less nudity and slightly better music). I also tapered by driving out to Ikea (for the second time in less than one week), and weaving through a fluorescent lit hell of small children, wandering people, and cheap meatballs to make actual furniture purchases. After an Ikea trip, any race distance (even a 10k!) is possible.
The race start was less than 1k from my apartment. However, I still showed up about 40minutes early. By doing this, I was able to keep an approximate ratio of one porta-potty visit to every two warm-up laps on Georgia Street. It was really cool to get the blue bib ("semi-elite") to start right up at the front. A closed-off West Georgia street is awesome and eerie at the same time: looking down the wide concrete expanse with the noise and energy of 48,000 runners behind me. The highlight of the warm-up was undoubtedly seeing Donovan out in his "running shorts", which are shorter by a good several inches than anything I own. If they didn't have a Nike swish on them it would be hard to convince me that they are not actually underwear. I Right before the start of the race Barry slipped in, having done a nice 67k warm-up the day before ("I didn't run it very fast, so it's ok"), also wearing questionable shorts.
The gun went off and I stumbled over the start line. The race began with a downhill on Georgia St. It hurt - but I hurt at anything under a 5/min km these days. Runners streamed past me. I tried to keep the jersey of Helen, an extremely strong VFAC masters' runner, in sight, but she was too fast for me. Finally, around 3k, I looked at my pace (yes, I am allowed to do this in short road races) - 3:40 average - way too fast, and I was hurting. As the runners thinned a bit, I saw my friend Kim on a bike, on the road ( the closed off road? how did this happen?) beside me. I couldn't believe it. I worked to keep her in sight, and to ignore all the men passing me.
The best part about this race, hands-down, are the crowds. Pretty much every single one of my VFAC teammates who weren't out running came out to cheer. Bands played almost every kilometer. Random people lined the streets and were out yelling, playing noisesmakers, with (I think?) airhorns (is this legal?). The pace hurt like hell, and I was struggling to hang on to a sub-39 time. I just worked to get to each km marker. Then, out of nowhere, my teammates would be there cheering me on. Allison and Ramsey came out, Shelley and Courtney, Coach John was obviously on the course giving us our 1-mile and 5k splits, Brooke, Sean and Nathan came out from North Van, Amber came out (I didn't see her drinking a beer while cheering, but I was pretty tired by then), Drew biked to cheer us on, Catherine Dilworth was yelling her heart out...I know there was more, but I was focused on not vomiting.
It felt like such a celebration of running in Vancouver and the community we have. At the finish line, it was wonderful to see the sea of blue VFAC jerseys, plus all of the yellow for the Boston colours. Everyone rocked the race! Donovan did 34:39, a huge PB. He tapered for this by doing a four-hour bike ride and a 45minute run the day before. Barry did a 37:43, proving that everyone needs to do an ultramarathon as a warm-up. Helen rocked her race and did 38:00, ready to kill it at BMO marathon.
I want to give special mention to Matt, my running partner, who did 38:44 on his debut road race. I met Matt on the Kneeknacker, when he diagnosed my sprained ankle mid-race during what was supposed to be a romantic moment with his girlfriend. I want to make the point I did beat him on this race.
The past couple months, Matt has joined our morning tempo group and has done some of my random speedwork sessions. Despite me managing to get us lost / misdirected on both the trails and the Stanley Park seawall (apparently not all kilometer markers are created equal), he has kept a positive attitude and has been up for any workout. The only thing with Matt is that, as a dude just learning to run, he has a habit of sitting behind me on EVERY GODDAMN INTERVAL until right at the end, when he blazes past.
On one occasion, we completed an especially bleak 8x1k repeats in the driving wind and rain a couple weeks pre-Chuckanut 50k. On the last one, I was setting the pace, into the wind, and going pretty much balls-out. With about 200m to go, Matt surged past, somehow still with the energy to yell: "Dakota's coming! run faster!" (LIES! Dakota didn't end up doing Chuckanut...perhaps for the better, as Donovan came down to see me finish). Tempos with Matt are okay, for now, as my approach is usually to go out somewhat easy then just go like hell at the end in order to drop him. Anyways, it was this sort of attitude that had me want to beat him on the race. Sadly, it was not meant to be, as he managed to eke out 2 seconds and finish stronger.
After standing around for a bit in the sorta-sun, I decided to tackle the additional 12k that Coach Ian "suggested" I do. Barry, having only at that point run about 80k over the space of two days, decided to join me for it. Donovan decided to do something much more reasonable - and celebrate his race by going for a 3hr bike ride. On the run, we ran into still-more of our run friends. The bonus workout didn't go quite so well for Donovan: the weather turned, and he found shelter in a Sikh temple in Richmond during a surprise hailstorm. When offered the choice between my driving to pick him up and biking home in the sketch weather, he picked the bike (and, in my defense, traffic was still really backed up!).
almost marathon day
It was good to be able to pound out a hard 10k, even when things didn't exactly go as planned. I am totally in awe of all those bad-ass female runners (ahem, Catherine Watkins, Anne-Marie Madden, Katherine Moore) who can kill this distance. I hope the marathon feels a bit less painful, at least for some of it. However, having tons of crowd support and just the total positive energy made it a race I am happy about. Although, for the record, I am done with this 10k and short race nonsense. I want a race where I can get a decent time and still stop to drink coke, maybe even have time for a bathroom break, and not feel like I am in perma-cardiac-arrest. If running amnesia kicks in and I somehow again think doing this race is a really great idea that will go totally fine, please remind me I need about a 15-20k warm-up these days.
Thanks to FITS for the ultra-light race socks - my feet (if not my lungs) felt great the whole time!