The lead up to this race was ideal. Although I entered 2016 with not the best health, the last couple months I've been feeling strong at mid-distance and during tempo and speedwork sessions. I was fairly confident that with a good lead up, and staying healthy I could achieve my goal. Coach Rejean sent me a race plan on Sunday afternoon titled Start Fast, Finish Faster. The previous week I joked with him about the relative simplicity of 5k &10k plans. Basically start fast, keep running fast and try to finish before you puke. Really, that's how these races go; Light the fire and see how long you last.
I slept well and woke up feeling pretty relaxed. I used to be a wreck before any race, however the more I race the more I am able to remove emotion and try to stay logical with myself. If you're going to talk yourself into panic then you're going to have more to worry about than just making your legs move.
I met up with my friend Billy and he gave my wife and I a ride uptown. When we arrived at the start a half hour before the gun the temperature as a perfect 5 degrees Celsius. I was able to get in some decent strides during a short warm up and made my way over to my corral and the countdown was on. Jonathan found me at the start and wished me all the best. It was nice to finally meet him in person! Hoping we can get in a run soon.
Once the gun went off I was trying to tell myself to just keep cool and run my own race. As you can see, this is still something I need to work on. I ran the first kilometer in 3:34 - WAY fast, but I wasn't worried as I knew if I could ease back into my goal pace through the second kilometer I would be fine. I found myself tucked in with some MB Performance and Longboat runners and tried to hold the pace with them which I was fairly successful with. It's always tough to gauge this race as the downhills feel really good and you're fighting with your head not to push the pace, but you also know that when it flattens out you're going to want some time in the bank if you happen to slow. I was able to keep the legs spinning pretty well through the first 6km, which is there the fight always begins.
Not only does the route flatten out at 6k, but its where you start to feel the exhaustion start to kick in. My legs felt great but my stomach - as is usually the case - started to get the spins. Pushing your body into overdrive will do that. 6km was also where my watch started to squawk at me. I forgot I had set a pace alarm on my Garmin, so every time my pace would slow over 4 minutes per kilometer it would beep at me. I started to see some numbers I didn't like as I approached the 7km mark; 4:01, then soon after 4:12 and I knew I had to collect myself. My first thought was 'oh no, here we go' but I was comforted by my earlier splits that I had a bit of buffer - then I had a third thought which was to just suck it up and push on. I couldn't count on my buffer and with 3 kilometers to go I had no excuse to stop pushing by getting comfortable. 12 minutes of running is all that was left I told myself, just hold on 12 more minutes. It was also around here I saw some of my Pace and Mind teammates who gave me a much needed boost through their incredible support. I made the turn onto Richmond St. and knew I was going to hit my goal of running under 40 minutes but it was going to be close. That turn is always bittersweet as you know you're close to the finish but it gets flat and it can be hard to adjust coming off the downhill. It also gets quiet, and it becomes easy to pick your own head and overthink. There was also a headwind, which although wasn't too strong, it was just enough resistance to slow things a bit. I was passed by another MB Performance runner at this time and I was able to tuck behind him for a bit of a break - Thanks!
Photo by Andrew Young
Not surprisingly, this 8th kilometer would be my slowest with a split of 4:08/km which means again my watch was yelling at me to go faster! I tried to do just that and was able to drop back down to 3:57 for the 9km with the help of a slight downhill and losing the headwind. That was short lived as as soon as we cut back westward onto Front St. the wind returned. I was feeling a good level of hurt right so it was a delight to hear my friend Sherab yelling at me to hurry up! And, anyone knows that when you see Sherab, Ray probably isn't far behind and it was pretty fast that she dispatched him to run with me through the final kilometer. Man, was the company ever needed. We shared some words and it was a great distraction. The help was compounded as we ran past the Tribe cheering section and then the final turn where the Parkdale Roadrunners have their party every year! Ray looked at me and asked if I wanted to pick up the pace for the final 300 meters and I said yes and he took me all the way through to the finish. I crossed the finish and looked at my Garmin;
38:30 - Mission Accomplished
Overall Place 137 / 18687 - Gender Place 121 / 7776 - Category Place 30 / 1414
As I walked through the finishing chute another runner came up to me hearing that Ray said congrats on going Sub 40, he asked if it was my first and then told me it was his too. We chatted a bit and then wandered our different ways through the water and food stations. I searched for Carmy as I was getting my medal because I knew she was volunteering, but no luck. I did however hear an enthusiastic 'Brandon!' and turned to see Orest who absolutely killed his race (12th overall!). Another friendly runner I've become friends with online, and in passing on the MGT. It was nice to finally get to talk face to face.
A fantastic Sunday and a great day of running to cap off what has been an incredible weekend. I'm excited to build on this experience as I work towards the Ottawa half-marathon on May 29th. I hope you've all had fun running this weekend, leave me a link below so I can check it out!
Thanks for reading, have a great week,