2011 Twenty Valley 10K (Subaru Niagara Running Series)

The obvious word to describe this race was – HOT.  The start time was 6:15PM and it was right on Lake Ontario at Charles Daley Park outside of St. Catharines.  All day I tried to convince myself that even though the heat was brutal at home, it would be much cooler at the race site on the lake.  When we showed up for registration, I accepted the reality that it was going to be a very warm 10K!

As with all of the Subaru races I have done, registration was straightforward and the venue was great.  Lots for the kids to do (playground, beach, etc) before and during the race.   We quickly got our bibs, shirts and food/wine tickets (always a good sign) and then headed down to the beach.

While waiting to watch my wife start the 5K (her first race back 2 months after giving birth to our son) I met John Pereira from the RF Milton store.  It was great to talk to him, and to meet another teammate.  I decided that my pre-race activity would be to spend as much time in the shade as possible rather than warming up in the sun.  It wasn’t long until we were called down to the start area.

Off we went – within the first few metres I stepped a section of pavement at the edge of a bridge that was so hot my foot sunk into it… it was gonna be a long race!  John and I got in a good group with some Nomads runners and the 5-6 of us stuck together for the first few km’s.  We got to watch the 5K runners coming back as we ticked off the first few km’s before we left the roads and entered the farm fields.  I wasn’t sure what to expect once we entered the farm but was a little worried as the race director had announced that we might get muddy in this section as the farm tunnel that we would be running in had just been pumped out.  The dirt track through the vineyard was soft and uneven with about an inch of loose sand to run on – just enough to make it challenging (and dusty).   The turnaround point was in the narrow tunnel under the QEW.  This was unique and a bit difficult since it was dark, full of puddles, and had runners going both directions.  Soon we were back into the sunlight and we ran the last stretch of farm field out to the rest of the course which was on quiet country roads back to the finish area.  I hit a wall at around the 7K mark (a little later than it happened at Peachbud, but the same feeling).  My HR rises gradually from 160 over the course of the race, and it is when I start getting up to around 180 that I need to decrease the effort to bring it down and then it is a struggle as it keeps increasing.  Definitely a result of my lack of quality training this summer since baby#2 arrived (what am I going to use for an excuse next year?!)  I tried to remind myself that it was almost over, and kept pushing for the finish.   John caught back up to me and we ran the last km together.  The end of the course has a big downhill back into the park with a sharp, gravel covered left hand turn towards the finish.  I knew we weren’t going to get under 40 minutes tonight, but we both gave a final hard kick to ward off another racer closing in on us.  John and I stuck together across the finish line, and then headed for the shade!

I finished at 40:25.5 which was about a minute slower than my recent Peachbud 10K time – I was still happy with this time given the conditions and even happier when I saw the results that I was 14th overall and first in my AG.  Looking at some of the other Subaru Series regulars, all of the times were significantly slower so I didn’t feel bad about not PB’ing.  We stuck around for the awards and I collected my very cool gold medal, a wine glass and a bottle of wine – nice for an AG award.  My wife also finished second in her AG in the 5K, so she got to collect a silver medal.

All in all it was a very good race.  I hope it is on the schedule again next year and that we have time and energy to race both days.

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