Monday, May 7, 2012

Mudpuppy Chase 10k - May 6th, 2012

After a last, short run on Saturday with a few little pickups and a 30min swim, Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny for the race. I'd been watching the forecast change daily for the prior week, hoping it wouldn't be too warm, but at only 8c it was certainly making a chilly start of things!

Over 1,500 runners taking over Kitchener City Hall

Pre-race prep went pretty much exactly to plan; I'd had my chicken fried rice for dinner and got about 7.5hrs of sleep, chugged my first meal replacement shake about 3 hours before gun time, had a second 2 hours before the start, and got my Tim Hortons cafe mocha for the ride up to Kitchener. We arrived just before 8:30am and the 10k didn't start until 10am - lots of time to hit the washroom, get in a warmup, and be ready to go.

And lots of time for dorkery

I was actually pretty surprised when I went inside to relieve myself - I was able to stroll right in with no lineup! Definitely a pleasant change from the usual race morning experience.

"Dorkamania's running wild"

We watched the 3k run go off at 9am as I sipped on a bottle with a scoop of eLoad, and the first finishers cross the line just over 10mins later. Gawd DAMN there are some fast kids in the area! I did some dynamic stretches to start getting things moving, opening up my hips and trying to ignore the tightness in a psoas muscle on the right side. I'd managed not to damage myself by being an idiot and going to a punk show on Thursday night, but it seems that getting a bit chilly riding my motorcycle on Saturday afternoon (which makes me unconsciously start pulling my legs up, trying to get into the fetal position while in the saddle to conserve warmth) had tweaked my lower back and abs. I hoped it would go away as I warmed up..

Battle ready!

I ran into local speedster Paul, coach for the KW Track & Field Association and stud duathlete, and exchanged some friendly words - he was there running the 5k and pacing in some of his young athletes. At about 9:30, I finally took off for a couple of kilometers through nearby Victoria Park, reveling in the gorgeous sunshine and beauty of the space. I did some accelerations over the bridges, watched Canada geese squabbling in the water, saw 3 male Mallard ducks all sleeping in a row on the rocks at the water's edge, and then headed back toward city hall with one final push up a hill before dropping to an easy jog, then a walk. Had to get the junk miles out of the system before I hit the line!

Meanwhile, Tanker was hanging out with Kitchener Rangers mascot Tex.
One more washroom stop before heading to the start corral, and of course now there was a lineup, when it was just 15mins to gun time. Fortunately, the line moved quite quickly, and I was found by a friendly face - latestarter (Anne) from the BeginnerTriathlete forums! We chatted a bit about the race, Anne telling me she'd switched from the 10k to the 5k as she'd had a hard time recovering from her Around the Bay experience. I made it out of the bathroom with less than 10mins before the start, and wandered out to find Tanker.

Start line dorkery.

I gave my wonderful crew one last kiss, tossed him my near-empty bottle, then did some skips on the way down to the corral to try to keep some bounce in my legs. Standing around, I did a few standing high knees and butt kicks to try to keep muscles loose. The sun had already heated things up quite a bit - it was 16 degrees or so at the start, which was going to be a tad on the warm side for me with virtually no shade on course. There was a bit of a wind blowing from the East, which should provide some cooling on the trip down Weber and (hopefully) a push coming uphill toward the finish on King.

Final 2012 route.

I met Anne's husband Ken in the start corral, and it turns out we'd actually competed together in the Cambridge Criterium last June - small world! I had lost Anne when washroom stalls came open for us, but mentally wished her well as I bade good race to Ken. The national anthem was played, and just seconds later the horn sounded to start the race!

746 runners ready to go - 574 in the 5k, 172 in the 10k

Not having done a 10k for almost 3 years, I was at a bit of a loss for how to pace it. I wanted to run fairly hard as I hoped to come in around 54:00 (predicted by the McMillan Running Calculator based on a 26:00 5k time, which I figured was reasonable based on the hugely hilly 26:18 5k I ran at the indoor tri in February), but didn't want to torch myself too early. I freakin' hate 10k races!

Setting out, tossing the horns to Tanker.

Through the first couple of turns and on to the first long straightaway, I aimed to keep my breathing heavy but not laboured and looked for places to pass people. I had seen that there were a couple of mild climbs on Weber, but that it was mostly downhill - coming face-to-face with what looked like a fairly large hill immediately was a bit of a smack in the face. My mouth was already getting dry by the time I passed the first aid station near the 1 mile mark, but I'd told myself that I didn't need any fluids for a 10k - had even left my 10oz hand bottle at home. I did a mental inventory of my stride; it seemed fairly light and sound, so I focused on keeping my upper body relaxed and just flowed with it.

Around the 2k mark I had a silver-haired lady turn up at my elbow and tell me that I was going to be her pacer, since I was running at exactly the right speed. We chatted a bit and I found out her name was Marlene, and she'd originally signed up for the 10k but had switched to the 5k due to a stress fracture in her foot - she didn't want to give up racing entirely since she'd come in from Port Elgin with her daughter, who was also running. She asked me what time I had in mind, and I mentioned that 54 minutes was the goal - she took a look at her Garmin 305 and said that since we were at 11mins right then, I was probably well on pace for that!

And then the 10k runners do it again..

Conversation was getting more difficult as we made the turn onto Onward Ave, but I enjoyed the shade of the trees and the little downhill to the out-and-back section, which turned out to be around a little boulevard in the middle of a tiny street and marked 3km. There was another aid station there, but I bypassed it despite the horrible dryness of my throat - Marlene paused to grab some water, but was right back with me moments later! She said she had hoped to go under 56mins for the 10k, but would be very happy with a 27min 5k. I said I'd do my best to bring her in, and she told me that she'd cheer for me once she finished!

Turning back onto King Street, the wind at our backs meant we lost its cooling effect without any real perceptible push as we started to climb back toward City Hall. I was starting to death whistle as I pounded up the hill, trying to focus on my arm swing and ignore the growing burning sensation in my legs. I finally saw the 4k marker - gawd, this course is worse than Around the Bay for the illusion of being close to the finish - and still had another half of the hill to go! I hadn't heard anything from Marlene for a bit, so I glanced sideways at a windowed storefront as we got into the last few hundred metres and gasped out "come on Marlene, you've got this!", as I didn't see her behind me in the reflection. I hope she heard me!

Hoping my fast shoes would save my butt.

Coming at last to the top of the long climb, I could see that the road dipped a bit, then kicked back up again just before the finish. I had to do another loop of this? Was I stupid, or merely insane? Could I just drop out after 5k? That thought was silenced immediately: not only am I not a quitter, but I'd managed to raise $155 for KidsAbility by promising to run a 10k - anything less was unacceptable.

I came through the end of the first loop seeing 26:13 on the clock - what? I figured it had taken me about 15sec to get across the start line once the horn went off, so that put my 5k split at just under 26 minutes. My 5k PR is 25:41, set on a completely flat course. Oh momma, I was going to blow myself up! Gasping away, I made the turn onto Water and started furiously doing mental math: if I wanted to make 54mins, I could afford to lose 12sec per kilometer off my current pace through the second half. Of course, that was wrong (I could actually lose 24sec/km), but that's probably why I don't do accounting work at 90% of my max heart rate.

Heading out for the second loop, doing my best t-rex impression.

Back up the hill that starts the trip down Weber, I contemplated how nice it would be to drop to a walk, then quashed that with an angry internal yell - "There's no walking in a 10k! You just ran a bloody 30k race without walking! SUCK IT UP!". I tried just shortening my stride a bit to try to catch my breath, but it was oddly difficult to try to slow down, so I just concentrated on trying to stay light on my feet. One of the reasons I really hate 10k races is because it's hard to keep the intensity up for so long; both mind and body fatigue and lose focus. So much for breathing not being laboured!

I was really suffering in the heat and sun, too, and my throat felt so parched I thought it might crack. I couldn't pass up the offer of water just after the 1 mile marker this time; I managed to grab a cup without incident and toss back a couple of small sips, just enough to wet my mouth. Feeling better but still hurting, I tried to let the legs loose as we wound downhill past the cemetery and finally spotted the turn onto Onward.

WRPS mounted officers on the course.

Dry again already and gasping for air, I grabbed another cup of water from the aid station at the 8k turnaround point, having another 2 sips and speeding away to the best of my ability. It was about this time that I finally figured out my error in math, but there was precious little I could do; I was undoubtedly fading, and facing the long climb up King.

Trying to will some lightness into my legs, I noticed a hotspot on the ball of my right foot - great, just one more thing to hurt! All the more reason to get it over with. The 9k mark was forever in appearing, as I wheezed and shuffled my way toward the distant finish line. Like a mirage it seemed to hover before me, ever receding into the distance as I pushed toward it. Where to start a kick? Would I have a kick? How badly had I faded?

Approaching the finish.

I could see the chute, but I couldn't see the clock. I heard Marlene cheering for me, and it was just the lift I needed - I tried to see if there was anything more in my legs, and lengthened out my stride just a tad. It wasn't much of a kick, but I was giving it all I had!

Almost there..

I saw Tanker off to my right, then suddenly I was upon the finish line, seeing 52:40 on the clock as I crossed. WHAT? By my reckoning, that put my chip time somewhere around 52:25 - over two and a half minutes faster than my PR, set the day before I turned 30!

Chip time: 52:12 @ 5:13/km - a 2'48" PR

I walked back along the route after collecting my finisher's prize (a neato LED flashlight) and a cup of water, found Tanker, and then found Marlene. She was delighted by having finished under 27 minutes, and congratulated me on my new PR - I found out later that she actually came in at 25:58 and took 2nd in her age group, so huge congrats to you Marlene! I met up with Anne again after the race as well, and congratulated her on a new 5k PR - turns out she actually took 3rd in her age group as well, so congrats on your podium! Was nice to finally meet you, too!

67/156 Overall - 28/79 Women - 6/16 in W30-34

The bad: looking at my chip time and the difference between chip and gun time, it appears I did the first 5k in about 25:45 - about a 5:09/km pace. That puts the second half at 26:27, or a 5:17/km pace, meaning I really did go out too fast and fade rather badly (however, the pace to which I faded would still have put me at 52:50 for the 10k). My intensity level varied through the second half; I'd like to see more focus when the going gets tough. I'm a bit disappointed that I needed water as well, though with as warm as it got and not having run much in the heat this year I suppose it's understandable. Hate that my Compressport Pro Racing socks gave me a hotspot/blister, too - they've never done that before!

The good: I always wonder, after racing long distance for a couple of years, if I still have the ability to push myself to redline - I'd say I answered that question pretty well out there, and I'm very happy with the effort I put in overall (even if there were a couple of spots where I slacked a bit from full throttle). I improved from 11th to 6th out of 16 in my age group, 54th to 27th of female competitors and from 142nd to 67th overall when compared to 2009.  The PR is obviously nice, too - 02:48 over my fastest prior 10k (which was flat), and 05:27 over my 2009 Mudpuppy Chase time (the course for which was, however, probably a bit more challenging). I'm also pleased that my running form seems to have improved - my rearward leg extension is much better than it was early last year.

Left: Re-fridgee-eighter 8 mile finish in Feb/11
Right: Mudpuppy Chase 10k finish in May/12
My butt isn't as fat, either.

We hung out for most of the post-race festivities and were delighted to hear that overall more than $51,000 had been raised for KidsAbility through both private and corporate sponsorship - a huge thank you to all of you who sponsored me for helping to make this happen! You've supported a great cause, as the many smiling faces of the special needs kids who ran the 3km mini-Mudpuppy can attest.

Gluten free whoopie pie the size of a dessert plate!

Home we went for a bit of post-race gluttony (including my first ever whoopie pie, made special for me by Jen Gralec of Tiny Cakes), then out to enjoy the beautiful day with a nice, easy bike ride with my sweetheart, winding up on the patio of a local pub.

Tanker enjoying a pint of Argyle Dark.

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