Overconfident? This is something I am entirely unfamiliar with when it comes to running. Typically I go into races thinking there is no way I’ll be able to run as well as I would like to, or as fast as the last time I ran the same distance. On Saturday morning while we drove to the race I was thinking to myself about how I saw this race going. I was still feeling good about my last 5K time which I ran on a fast course, but I didn’t think the Confederation Park course could be that much slower. To sum it up, I was convinced I could run close to the same time as Jordan (17:31). I really had nothing to base this on given that since that race I had undergone and recovered from minor surgery, travelled for work, had family in town for my son’s first birthday party, and was suffering for the past two weeks with a nagging sore throat. Ignoring all of this, I was confident that I could run just as fast as I had a month ago. I didn’t – I finished in 18:44, well over a minute slower. I was briefly disappointed until I accepted that my expectations were the result of my illogical overconfidence. Given the past few weeks, I am happy to have run under 19 minutes. I didn’t have a great race from an execution perspective, but it felt good to know that I could finish in that time when things hadn’t gone the way I wanted them to.
The race venue and course itself is great. I missed this race last year because our son was born the week before so it was new to me. The site has tons of parking, and the entire course is on closed roads and recreational paths. No cars or intersections to worry about.
We got our bibs, watched the 2km race, and then I went out for a quick warm up. After this it was time to head to the start line. My race started out quickly – i tried to position myself closer to the front for the start, but was moved back by the regular crowd that was trying to get right up to the line before the gun. I need to work on this! The first 300m were spent weaving and dodging the overzealous but slower runners that had stronger start line positioning skills than I did!
The first 2K were at the pace I had hoped to run (3:31, 3:32) but the wheels started to fall off between the 2nd and 3rd km. The back straight part of the course runs along the recreational trail adjacent to the beach and it seemed to go on forever. Finally we made the right turn and started heading back towards the finish. A month ago I was amazed at how fast the km’s were ticking by but in this race, each km seemed to take forever. My confidence was long gone by this point! To make matters worse, there was a water station just before 3K, and I convinced myself it would be OK to walk for a few seconds and get some water in. Terrible decision! Once I caved and walked it was a downward spiral. Another painful part of the course that I wasn’t expecting was a few hundred metres of gravel road. Between that, the hot sun, and the headwind, I wasn’t feeling good at all. I walked a few more times until after the 4 km mark where I knew I could suffer until the end. I was thinking I would be lucky to salvage a sub-19 minute time, and was relieved when I crossed at 18:44.
When I was running, I was maintaining a decent pace in the low 3:30’s, but I couldn’t keep my heartrate down at that speed and it wasn’t sustainable for 5K.
The positive news on the day was that 18:44 turned out to be good enough for first in the 30-34 age group, and I was 9th overall that day. So well I definitely feel like I should have run a better race, I was happy with the result.
The race organizers arranged the same BBQ catering for the post race food, and it was great. The speed of the food line up was improved from the Jordan race. I noticed at the start that there weren’t any timing mats which struck me as odd – it turned out that the race was only timed on gun time, without the normal chip time. Not sure what the reason for this was (there were lots of races this weekend, so a shortage of equipment was my guess) but some people weren’t happy about not knowing their chip time. I wasn’t concerned about it, but I am guessing lots of people will be. It would have been helpful if the organizers had mentioned this before the race start so at least people who wanted their “chip” time could have made note of when they actually crossed the start line. (Update: one of my Team Running Free colleagues pointed out that this race has never had chip timing, likely due to the ~1km distance between the start and finish lines. I checked past years results and see that he is right. Given that this is the case, it could be mentioned right on the website so that people know this going into the race.)
I am trying to learn at least one lesson from each race I do – this is pretty easy given that is only my second full season of running! For this race, I definitely would have been better prepared mentally if I had done a loop of the course before the race. I should have done an early warmup loop around the back part of the course – it seemed much longer than I expected, and I know I could have handled it better if I knew where I was going.