Tuesday, May 3

TC10k Report

A few nights ago I watched an old Billy Bob Thornton flic, ‘Friday Night Lights’. The film is based on H.G. Bissinger's book, which profiles an economically depressed town and their heroic high school football team. As I lay in bed that evening, I couldn’t escape the stark contrast between football and running. The following morning as I toed the line for the 22nd Times Colonist 10k, I would have nobody running interference or blocking competitors from my path. There would be no time-outs. And, as this wasn’t a relay event any midrace substitution would be frowned upon. Luckily I find the loneliness of a runner quite intoxicating.

After taking some extremely harsh drugs two weeks earlier, I finally kicked the bronchitis and accompanying ailments from my system (over the course of four months, and three doctors, it has been a long time coming). And so, as I stood on the far right of the second row, ahead of an estimated 13,000+ participants I couldn’t be happier to be racing in the event despite a truncated training program (that's me in the green singlet, 800m in).

Starting at the pointy end of the race typically means being surrounded with athletes lacking a sense of humour, and Sunday was no different. That said, I remember Brad asking Shawn (?) what he wanted to run that morning. His response, “10k”… a dozen or so runners instantly cracked up, and Brad was left red in the face (thanks B).

The start was quick; apparently the beautiful Inner Harbour added more than a touch of inspiration to the morning. We were running a new course which rolled for the first few kilometres. Knowing this, I ignored my marathon ‘steady-as-you-go’ mantra, and instead attacked the downhill sections as I tried to maintain rhythm and pace. Despite the aggressive start, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt but apparently I wasn’t the only one with the same game plan. At this point there was a small group of four dangling 100m in front and notwithstanding my best efforts they continued to stay there.

With the Sooke 10k (38:35) as a recent guide, I didn’t know what to expect from my body. Sooke is a harder route and I was unsure how much my ill health had played a role. This would be the first time in years where I had no expectation and instead ran unabated.

Typically between 5k and 7k the race starts to ‘feel’ hard, this is made doubly difficult at the TC as the only major hill of the race appears right after the 5 km mark. I was prepared for this, and although the elastic stretched I hung on for dear life as I desperately tried to maintain contact with the group.

As the race entered the final stages I slowly began to reap the rewards of my desperation and passed over a dozen people. With 3k remaining I let gravity take over and pushed hard on the long gradual downhill passed the Coast Guard station and toward the finish. As I crossed the finish it was the first time in ages that I was truly happy. Running can be such a fickle sport, and your happiness can easily be measured in seconds or someone else’s result. For me, Sunday was all about enjoying the freedom to run… nothing else.

3:22, 3:47, 3:42, 3:34, 3:46 (18:11)
3:48, 3:45, 3:32, 3:30, 3:38 (18:22)

Training: TC10k 36:33, 12/401 AG, 55/10,214, 3:40 pace/km


Chris said...

What a great blog post.

"freedom" and a couple other words like "joy" and "adventure," are pretty much my favourite words to associate with running and feeling good about it.

Grellan said...

Great race & 5k splits Michael. You're on the right road ;)

Thomas said...

That's a solid effort and sounds a lot more impressive than a 38:55 (or, in other words, too fast for me).

That is quite some field if 36:33 is only good enough for 55th place!