One of my favorite races has always been the 10k as I consider it one of the longest distances you can race at your highest intensity but still requires proper execution and pacing.
In 2006, I started doing the Sporting Life 10k race which is a net downhill race down Yonge St. in Toronto, Ontario. It's a fast course jam-packed with people (17,000 finishers in 2012!!) that brings some pretty speedy finishers (2012 winner finished in 32:00).
I've been trying to break the 40 minute mark for quite some time now but ever since I picked up triathlons, run only races were never a priority and were mostly included as part of my training plan rather than properly training for one and tapering/resting for them. I've felt close to the 40min threshold for a few years now (41:37 in 2009, 41:41 in 2010, missed 2011 due to run injury). In all honesty, it was probably in 2010 that I felt I was ready to break 40min but being an ironman training year, I simply didn't want to take away from my ironman goal to notch up a PB in this race.
This year was a totally different situation. I've had a great off season training in all disciplines and since I'm focusing on the 70.3 distance this year, tweeking my training a little bit to accomodate this race wasn't too far of a stray from the ideal training plan for a "B" race in June and an "A" race in September. So, coming off a big 4 week block of training, I had a "rest" week leading up to the 10k race which would set me up perfectly to have some rested legs and a rested mind to go for it.
My plan was to go out and maintain 3:55/km as long as I could, knowing that if it was going to hurt, it would hurt in the final few kilometers which could be manageable. The start of this race can be pretty intense, lining myself up in the first "corral" and looking behind you, you can't help but get the feeling that 17,000 are running in your direction.
|17,000 people finished in 2012|
I had the "actual pace" metric on my Garmin GPS watch which wasn't consistently giving me a good reading (saw I was running a 9:30/km pace at one point!!) but looking enough times, I was seeing a decent range between 3:50-4:00/km. KM 7 I clocked a 4:00 and KM 8 another 4:01 and by this point, it got scary. Here I was 8k into the race, clearly at my max heart rate, starting to feel cramping setting in and realized the next 2k could make or break the goal.
I thought back to all the years I've tried to get this goal, all the public announcements I made on Twitter to keep me honest (thanks @LukeEhgoetz, @IronBenUK and @LarrytheFalcon) and simply dug deep and went for it... I didn't bother looking at my watch for the final 2k as it was irrelevant as I planned to go as hard I could.
The closer I got to the finish line, the faster I picked up the pace and the more the adrenaline kicked in. Heard the "beep beep" from the KM 9 split and saw a 3:56, which fueled me even more for the final kilometer, by this point, I could taste the iron in my breath, could feel my heart pounding through my eyeballs but realized it was only for another 4 minutes so I gave it some more. Rounding the final corner, you see the finish line clock with about 400m to go and I saw something around 38 minutes on it (I officially started around 40 seconds after the "gun time") so I pushed a bit more to see if I could come under 40 minutes for the gun time... by this point, breaking the 40min mark was a "thing of the past" and now I wanted to go for whatever I could get.
Crossed the finish line with the clock saying 40:03 but I stopped my watch on the timing mat at 39:13 which was a great feeling and ran that final kilometer in 3:47 - the fastest kilometer of my entire race!
Now that I had some time to think about it, I would attritube the success to being properly rested for this race. Sure I did some speedwork and some specific training for this race but coming into the race on fresh legs and a low training week really made a difference.
Now it's time to focus on the "real" races of the season. Next up is the Mont Tremblant 70.3 in Montreal.