A 10k road race definitely isn’t my favourite type of race. I’d rather spend some time on trails in a beautiful area jumping over roots and rocks and enjoying the scenery. Nonetheless, a 10k is a great chance to test overall fitness. It’s long enough to require you to maintain speed over distance. Last year was my first 10k road race and I was quite pleased with a sub 41 minute time (40:44) on a course with a substantial hill (~300 ft.) at the finish. I also did very little specific training for that first 10k.
This year I really looked ahead to the Moonlight Run 10k. It’s the largest race in Lethbridge and a chance to see how I stack up against the city’s best road runners. Overall I did less mileage than last year, but more specific speed training. Cranking out a lot of lunch time 30-40 min speed workouts. Thus I was anticipating I could challenge for a sub-40 minute and top 10 result.
On race day I was feeling pretty good. It was great to have my wife and kids come out for the late 8pm start time and see the buzz around the downtown for the race involving 2500 of the city’s 80,000 residents. I took off at a good pace knowing that I’d need some decent speed to break the 40 minute barrier. The first half felt fine, but I knew I wasn’t feeling too energetic when my watch clipped passed 20 minutes. The next 10 minutes I could feel the sub-40 minute slipping away. I knew this would be the tough stretch, but I was expecting a few more runners around me. A few guys passed me after the 5 minute mark and I just couldn’t seem to catch them. I was maintaining, but not gaining any ground. I hit the turnaround (~6k) and tried to pick up the pace a bit, knowing that I could’ve given more during this stretch last year. This went well as no runners passed me and I was able to pass one runner thoughout this final flat stretch of the course. I hit the hill feeling it was going to be tight, but hopeful of a faster time. The first quarter of the approximately 1.2km hill I maintained pace, passing numerous 6k runners. Then, rather quickly the lactic acid started to build and the lungs were aching and I had to slow the pace. The finish was less than 1k away, but I couldn’t muscle a long extended sprint to the finish. I vowed not to walk and just kept moving as fast I could. I hit the crest of the hill and tried to give it as hard as I could, which seemed a bit like slow motion compared to my final sprint last year. A few metres from the finish line I glanced at the clock and thought ‘Wow, this is gonna be the same time as last year’. I put on a big smile for my family as I crossed and felt proud to have suffered through a great effort.
It turns out my gun time was 1/10th of a second faster than last year. Pretty amazing to be that close to my time as last year. I guess, if anything I am consistent. A little less mileage and more specific training equals the same result. Given that it’s early in the running race season and that it’s been tougher to get my runs in this year I’m proud to be maintaining my fitness level and speed. It gives me hope for another great year of running. Thank God for the ability to run. It’s such a joy!