10k – 40:30 – 1st OA

Lead up

Another race season is on us already! And to be honest, spring can’t come soon enough after a rather miserable winter. I was hit by three respiratory illnesses over the winter, including a bout of Influenza A and then pneumonia in both lungs. This did nothing for my training through the offseason, although I did manage to stay pretty committed the rest of the time.

No particular goals for this season, really. I would like to take a shot at qualifying for Duathlon Worlds in 2020 as it’s in Amsterdam where my dad is from, but with changes to the qualification system it’s become a bit of a long-shot. I’ll still go for it though, but more focused just on having fun and being more honest about training through weekend races rather than a crazy cycle of tapering every two weeks.

About the Race

Fairly modestly sized local race, I decided to do the 10k as I had raced a 5k two weeks ago and am building towards a half marathon PB for August. The race had 175 runners, but looking around the start line I didn’t see a lot of the heaviest hitters there. The course was east from Wonderland Gardens through to the forks and back, so a couple dirty little rises at the midpoint to get the heart rate up. The weather, however, couldn’t have been any nicer with cool but not cold temps and a light breeze. My only limitation was going to be the Zwift race I did on Friday night and the 100k of gravel riding I did on Saturday, the day before. Woke up with concrete legs and a plan to just do my best and see if I could go sub-40 on the opposite of a taper.

The Run

I started right on the front and my instincts were correct, there were few in contention. Rich McClelland was there but I knew he was still coming off injury and had beat him 2 weeks ago in the 5k. That said, I was a bit nervous as he has run a lot more distance than I have. Sue Safadi was also close and moving fast, so I was wondering if she would find her way to the front.

I started out briskly at about 3:45 to get some space, slowing to 3:50 and 3:55 through kilometres 1-3. I was in the front that whole time and taking a bit more headwind than I would have liked. I could hear footsteps and breathing behind but they made no effort to come through. I took that as a relatively good sign and so sucked it up and kept leading. A shorter stride up the hills and we were at the turnaround right at 20 minutes. This is where I got a little surprise, discovering that it wasn’t Rich right behind me, but epic beard guy who I didn’t know. This made me nervous because I didn’t know what I was up against, although I was encouraged to note that he has clearly spent many more hours lifting weights than I have (so more than zero), which isn’t always a running advantage.

As fatigue was setting in through the second half, I decided I didn’t really want to get in a sprint off with Captain Canada. I could hear that he was breathing very hard now so I decided each kilometre to give a little dig and see if I could break the invisible cable pulling him along behind me. So, a pick up to 3:50 then relax. He would fade, but claw his way back as soon as I slowed. And again at 7k. And he would come back. Again at 8k. I was impressed! At this point I was pushing my own heartrate and he was showing incredible tenacity not to slow down when I had a gap.

The Finish

At the 9k point I tried a new tactic. I let him by me and tucked in behind to get a bit of a rest. Then at about 9.4k I gunned it for the last time, trying to get enough distance again to avoid the sprint. It worked for a bit, but he again tenaciously worked his way closer at we had 400m, 300m, 200m… It was clear at this point that he was coming in with more pace and I would have to sprint the finish. I kicked as hard as I could in the final 50m to beat him by only a stride and collapse after the line.

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So, a tape-to-tape win for my first 10k race win (and second run win after my 5k from the Dash for Dads). Definitely not my fastest 10k run but was very happy given the circumstances. Waking with concrete legs in the morning I wasn’t sure I would even be close to 40 mins.

Next Up?

Very excited for gravel bike season with Steaming Nostril next weekend and Paris to Ancaster a couple weekends after that. Road bike season and Duathlons start in May, although LCW Crit racing is on already and this year I’m starting right in at A Grade, so trial by fire for sure.

Shout out to Ray, Erin, Dave, Garth, and Jordan for the company on winter run miles.