Summer Races

Alright, the silence is deafening around here. I better recap the races I ran in May and June or I might never.

Watford-Alvinston Road Race (~16K)

I ran the Watford-Alvinston Road Race at the end of May. It is a point-to-point rolling course which I’ve run once before. I hadn’t yet run many workouts so this was a great way to get in a solid 50-minute effort.

My plan going in was to run 6 miles at marathon pace, 3 at half pace, and the last mile at 10K pace. I must’ve been tired because I couldn’t even get down to my marathon pace from a month earlier for the first two km.

Bridge Race

A couple weeks later I ran the YMCA Bridge Race which starts in Port Huron, Michigan, runs over the Blue Water Bridge (gotta be something like a 50m elevation gain), and finishes in Canatara Park back in Sarnia, Ontario. I’d run this race back in 2014 and since then Matthew Fecht has won it several years in a row. (He’s qualified for three US Olympic Trials, most recently with a 2:17 at CIM this past December.)

I decided it’d be fun to try racing Matt and not worry about paces or goal times so I taped over my watch so I couldn’t see km splits or our pace.

We ran the first few km side-by-side until Matt started to put a few metres into me as we approached the bridge. As we climbed the bridge I was pushing pretty hard just to hold on, hoping he wouldn’t get too much farther ahead. At around the halfway point of the race—coming down the bridge and back out towards the river—I started to catch Matt and all of a sudden I was in the lead.

At that point I just kept telling myself not to look back and to keep pushing. I thought I kept hearing him behind me which made me wonder if he was just biding his time for a kick. This kept me motivated through the finish line where I turned to discover he had slowed significantly due to an issue with his foot. Not the way you want to get a win, but probably the type of situation I’d need to even challenge Matt.

The highlight of the day for me was running with my four-year-old daughter as she did the 1 km Terry Fox loop in the park. She wouldn’t let go of my hand the entire way and if you’re a dad you’ll know how that tugs at your heart. I’d do anything for that little girl.

Toronto Waterfront 10K

The Waterfront 10K put on by the folks at Canada Running Series is an awesome race that attracts some great competition. I ran it back in 2016, pulling off a 30-second PB when I ran 31:21. It’d been nearly two full years since I’d raced a (certified) 10K so I was pretty sure I could pull off a PB again this go around.

Every time a big race is on the horizon, I start obsessing over goals; trying to find a balance between what pace I think I can maintain and what I want to achieve. I look at what my peers have run, what their recent workouts were, and what their goal times are, all to help guide my own expectations.

This time, things were further muddied by the fact that I hadn’t raced a 10K all out in almost 2 years. Since then, I ran a controlled 31:46 and three 31:50-ish 10K splits en route to 1:07 half marathons. I also ran two 8Ks around 25 minutes (about the same pace as a 31 minute 10K). But if you punch my last marathon time of 2:20:58 into the VDOT calculator, it says the half marathon equivalent is 1:07:14 (check!) and the 10K equivalent is 30:30 (whoa!). That’d be almost a minute off my PB… And I haven’t been able to handle that pace in two 8K attempts. A smarter plan might’ve been to go out conservatively and see if I can extend my 8K pace to 10K… aim for 31-flat.

But then there’s the complicating factor that my marathon times have always been a little slower than my half marathon races (e.g. I ran 1:07:37 which is equivalent to 2:21:32 before I ran 2:24:39 at STWM last fall) and the 1:07:11 I ran this spring was perhaps worth a bit more considering the headwind from 3K-13K (suggesting again that my 2:20:58 was probably a little slow). So, if I ran 2:20:58, I should be able to maybe run 1:06-high and a 1:06:45 is worth a 30:15 (haha!) and that makes sense considering I put in 8 solid weeks of workouts between that 1:07:11 and the 2:20:58.

Then throw in a couple recent workouts where I’ve seen leaps in my progress compared to similar workouts before those past PB races. I feel like I’m already back in PB shape. If I was able to run a 20′ tempo at 3:14/km followed by 20 minutes of intervals before running 1:07:11… this time I ran the same workout with that 20′ tempo at 3:11/km and it felt great. And I ran an 18×1’/1′ workout at paces I’ve never seen from my legs – 2:52/km! I have no idea where that came from as I’ve only ever seen 2:58-3:01/km on a really good session of 1′ or 2′ intervals. Four weeks before Toledo, I ran 20×1’/1′ @ 2:58. 2:52 doesn’t even make sense.

In the end, I know the only way to know for sure what I’m capable of is to get out there and run it… All this juggling of numbers and comparing workouts is meaningless. What I will take into this race is the knowledge that I’m in the best shape I’ve been in yet and to get after it if I want it. It’s only a 10K and the suffering will be short-lived if I go out too hard (compared to a marathon at least) so I’m ready to take a risk and see if I can’t run better than 30:30.

Well, I got up early and drove to Toronto for this race after spending the night with friends in Baden. Somehow I forgot my watch at their house and had to race blind. I knew Kyle Grieve was going for something like 3:02-03/km (a bit faster than my 30:30 goal and Eric Bang was going for 3:05-06/km to break 31:00 so if nothing else I could key off those guys to get an idea where I should be.

The first three km felt quick and I was hanging onto Kyle as best I could. Around 5 km I started to pull away from Kyle with Eric and we rolled together until the final overpass around 9 km when Eric pulled away and made a bid to catch Sergio Raez Villanueava. Sergio (4th) ran 30:44, Eric (5th) ran 30:48, and I (6th) ran 30:52.

My halfway split was 15:12 (3 seconds faster than goal) so I lost twenty to thirty seconds on the back half. It wasn’t what I wanted and maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to find the time to recap it. I’m not upset about it… it’s still a big PB and the first time I’ve dipped into the ‘thirties’. It came early enough in my build towards a fall marathon that it doesn’t mean much either way. I’m just happy to be healthy and racing.

The race was a whole lot of fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a whole race experience (cheer stations, 8000 competitors, big city environment, post-race group yoga, and apparently the Lululemon t-shirt you get for signing up retails for $78 – you’re out of your mind if you buy that shit!).

Up next…

I was signed up for the St Clair River Run 10K earlier in July but I had a sore foot that required a week off and I didn’t want to risk agitating it as I was starting to get back into running.

Fortunately, the decision to not race seems to have paid off as I’ve now got two solid weeks off running in and my foot is feeling great.

Next on the horizon is the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 21. That’s about 13 weeks away now and I’m already excited. I expect we’ll see a good group of Canadians there this fall as it (for the fourth year in a row) doubles as the national championship race. Reid Coolsaet should seemingly have the top spot locked up but I think it will be interesting to see if someone like Robert Winslow or Trevor Hofbauer makes a jump to 2:15-16 territory. We’ve also got a few 2:18-19 guys (John Mason, Tristan Woodfine, Thomas Toth), a few guys that should be 2:18 guys (Blair Morgan, Sami Jibril), and a whole pack of 2:20-2:24 guys like me who will be looking to break into the teens. Fields obviously haven’t been announced officially yet (except for Coolsaet) so this is all wishful thinking on my part.

I’m still up in the air about a tune-up race for Toronto. I’ve got the Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half penciled down in September as that should be a fast one but I’d really like to find something closer to home if possible. I ran the Springbank Half in London, ON last fall and I’d do that one again in a heartbeat if it was two or three weeks earlier to allow more recovery time before Toronto.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ve used up all my after-kids-are-asleep time and now it’s time for me to get to sleep.

Thanks for following along!

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