If I had to pick one word to describe 2016 thus far, it would have to be inconsistent. It has been a season marred by injury, illness, and a tough semester of classes. The only consistent aspect of my training has been my speed work. I was fortunate to train with Coach Dave Grant and his track club the past few months. This has been my first introduction to structured speed work, and Coach Dave works us hard. I have seen major improvement in my speed, fitness and form as the weeks have gone by. When I discovered I had the opportunity to race in the Times Colonist 10K following the school year, I was really excited to put my speed work to the test. Despite the inconsistent training, I set an ambitious goal to break a 35 minute 10K.
Ironically, I find exam period to be one of the best times to train. It is easy to plan workouts due to the lack of class obligations and they serve as a rewarding study break. I had some great workouts during exam period that had me really excited for the TC10K. However, my diet and sleeping patters were significantly compromised during the end-of-school-year celebrations and subsequent cross-country travel to return home. To make matters worse, in the days leading up to the TC10K I had to deal with extreme soreness and difficulty walking as a result of a dodgeball game in which I used muscle groups I had not used in years.
We arrived in Victoria the afternoon prior to the race, and I promptly ventured out for a shake-out run. I was still very sore, but I was surprisingly pain free during the run. However, when I increased the tempo up to race pace for some strides, the pain and soreness made their presence known. We went out for a pasta dinner and the evening concluded with a long stretching session. I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go in the morning, but I knew I was going to race it as hard as I could.
A bagel, yogurt, granola, and a banana was the breakfast of choice for the morning. We then headed downtown to the race site. We had a pre-race photo with our team thirty minutes prior to the start, after which I ventured down to the start line. The TC10K had over 7000 participants, and the starting corrals were already filled with people. I had to weave in and out of people until I arrived at the front where the “Sub 40” corral was located. After some strides, stretching, and the national anthem, we were ready to start. I assumed a position just behind the elite athletes, approximately two rows of people back from the start line. I was loose, in the zone, and feeling good. Lights, camera, action.
The start was a physical affair, with lots of elbows and people jockeying for position. As someone who notoriously starts races too hard, I knew I had to just relax and find a rhythm. I opened with a 3:16 kilometer, definitely faster than I was planning, but an improvement over my usual routine. I quickly settled into a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace of 3:30 per kilometer. I was feeling fast and strong. As the halfway mark of the race approached, I was beginning to feel the effects of the quick pace, but I had confidence that I had the energy and the strength to increase the pace on the second half of the course for a negative split. However, as I turned on to Dallas Rd., an exposed road which hugs the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean, I was greeted by a nasty headwind coming off the water. To make matters worse, I was stuck in no man’s land, with no one to pace with or to use as a shield from the wind. I was working hard, but I was rewarded with the unpleasant site of 3:45 kilometer splits. The final two miles were through neighbourhood streets, but the wind had done its damage. My dreams of a sub 35 minute 10K had been extinguished, but I returned to my early race speed to push hard to the finish. As I rounded the final corner, I was greeted by a crowd of hundreds lining the streets cheering me to the finish. I pushed hard and acknowledged the crowd with a wave as I crossed the line, but I couldn’t help but feel dejected by the damage inflicted by the wind.
Result: 35:44, 40/7121, Strava
Talking to other athletes following the race and comparing splits, the wind on Dallas Rd. accounted for a drop in pace of approximately 10%. Unfortunately, this is just the reality of the scenic race course. Despite coming up short of my sub 35 minute aspirations, there are a lot of positive takeaways from the race. I had a strong showing, especially given the lack of consistency in my training. I will be moving to Calgary for the summer which will provide the structured training regiment that I need. I think 2016 has the makings of a breakout year.