The more races I run, the more I realize that progress is not a linear path. When I had only had completed a few races, trained for each one specifically and they were well distanced from each other, I saw a small but steady drop in my race times. Now that I’m running races as part of my training, it’s a whole other game. Everything is one piece of a bigger puzzle, and sometimes what you think is the whole puzzle is just a piece of a whole OTHER even BIGGER puzzle (how’s that for an analogy?).
The past weekend I ran the Glencoe Icebreaker 10k. The running store I work at part-time is a sponsor for it, and ran a Learn-to-Run clinic leading up to this race. In addition to the run group, three coworkers, our manager and I ran it together. We also all accidentally matched one another, further amplifying our team group-ness.
I had been debating through the week if I should do my long pool run on Saturday (before the race) or Sunday (after the race). I wanted to have as fresh of legs as possible, but I doubted that I would make it to the pool after the famous Icebreaker post race brunch. I also didn’t know how my shins would be feeling on race day, so I didn’t know if a PR would be in the cards for me or not. It was a tough decision, but I went for pool running on Saturday morning and aimed to just try my best on Sunday.
Calgary has finally decided that it’s spring time, so we lucked out having some perfect weather this weekend. I put on my current favorite running outfit (Oiselle lux side zip and Go Joggings charcoal leggings, North Face Better Thank Naked t shirt, and an extra old long sleeve race shirt) some CEP compression socks, headband, and my Hokas. The race started only a few blocks from my house so a friend and I walked over together. By the time I reached the start, I was ready to lose my headband and race shirt long sleeve and regretting not taking sunglasses. Apparently I’m not used to this sunny springtime business?
The start was right at the Glencoe club, which was convenient as you could stay inside if need be, and bathrooms were plentiful. The only issue with the start was the lack of gear check. I lined up at the start with my two pals, Dave and Tyler. We all agreed that we were aiming for above 45, under 50. I was happy that I had people with me to pace me, even if it was just for a while since I wasn’t confident that I could keep that pace.
Mile 1 (7:45/m)
The race started, looped around and headed out along Elbow drive. Dave, Tyler and I had no issues keeping together and I felt strong. I was in a good mood and was happily bouncing along in my Hokas. I mistakenly assumed I could hold this pace the whole way through. At the end of the first mile we started up Mission Hill, the “big” hill on the race. I knew my pace would slow but I had hoped that I could pick it back up at the top.
Mile 2 (8:56/m)
As we headed towards Mission Hill, I realized I should’ve ditched my lux before the race. I was hot. While on the hill, the steam in my legs already started to run out. The energy I had on the first mile was gone. At the top of the hil I struggled with repinning my bib onto my t-shirt and tying my shirt around my waist, while continuing to run.
Mile 3 (8:51/m)
I had hoped I could recover my pace since the next mile and a bit flattened out and descended down, but heading in towards Sandy Beach for the out-and-back I noticed the all-too-familiar cramping sensation in my stomach. Perfect. I slowed and hoped it’d go away on its own.
Mile 4 (10:30/m)
The pain in my gut kept growing despite my attempts to slow down and just run through it. Eventually I was forced to walk and immediately spiraled into negative self talk:
“My body is totally falling apart. I need to take some time to just let shit get back to normal. Apparently nothing is working these days”
“I can barely hold this 9:00/m pace, I’m never going to be able to break 50 minutes for a 10k, let alone ever BQ. Maybe someday, when I pull my shit together. Maybe not. Ugh.”
“I think I’m going to quit running.”
As I neared the turnaround point, my stomach started to relax and I could start running again. I slammed back some water at the aid station at the 6km mark. I had 4km to make this up, maybe I could do it.
Mile 5 (8:40/m)
As I picked up my pace, slightly more positive thoughts started to push out the negative ones. I knew my legs were not on point that morning, and what was I expecting having done a spin class, weights, and a 3hr pool run before a race? Duh. I also realized I had no shin pain, which ruled. These thoughts/justifications made me feel better.
We went through Stanley park and over some rolling hills. I pushed as hard as I could, but I knew I couldn’t get to the pace I wanted.
Mile 6 (8:44/m)
After the rolling hills we were near the exit of the park. I gave what I could for the last mile through a residential area, although it wasn’t much.
Mile .2 (?)
I sprinted hard for the finish and blew a kiss to Dan who came out to watch me finish. I crossed just over 55 minutes with a chip time of 54:54.
I found Dave and Tyler (who finished before me) and we waited for Lauren (the last of our group). I saw Leana just as she crossed the finish line, and we gave each other a big hug. It was so nice to meet you finally!
After the last of our group showed up we went inside for brunch and door prizes. Both were fantastic. I ended up winning $100 to the Tech Shop (which ends up being more with my staff discount, ha!). Also up for grabs was a trip anywhere WestJet flies, cat skiing trip, two bikes with trainers, Garmin 610s…. they were pretty good.
I liked this race. The course was challenging but not overly so, and the general vibe of people there was friendly and happy. The bunch and raffle after was a great addition to the race at no extra cost. The only things that were missing was a gear check at the start and bacon at the brunch.
How I feel about it now…
I did what I could with what I had, and I’m happy that I can run under 55 minutes with heavy legs and walking. I’m most happy with the lack of pain in my shins, which makes me feel like I’m actually finally seeing the light at the end of the shin splint tunnel. What a shitty tunnel that is.
I would however like some 10k redemption in the near future, maybe for the Calgary Marathon? I’m still undecided which event I’ll do.
I feel more confident about the Vancouver Marathon now, and I’m even considering doing my last long run outside, on a path, on my feet (with Hokas). But I’m not totally convinced that’s a good idea. The longest “long run” I’ve done is ~17 miles (27km), and I’d like to get in 20 miles (32km) if I can. I’ve been pool running. I’m not sure if I should hop into a 20 miler, but I’d like to have some sort of idea if I can even hold it together. It’s my last long one before tapering.
Help me Internet. What do you guys think? Should I do a long run outside?