This weekend, I ran my second 10K. I can’t say much about my first, because I barely remember it. It happened during the summer of 2006 (according to the email correspondence with my race buddy at the time, which I’ve just searched waaaay back for in my Gmail inbox) and I was 18. I’d just moved back to Canada from Bahrain, and decided that before moving into my university residence here in Waterloo, ON, I’d run a race in my hometown of Edmonton. I haven’t a clue what my time was (I’m guessing somewhere in the 50 minute range) and the only thing that stands out in my mind about it was having to run an extra 500m or so because the course was poorly marked and I ended up running off of it. (I blame the volunteer drinking his coffee while chatting to a friend, who didn’t chase me down when I made a wrong turn directly in front of him.)
Fast forward 8 years later. I’m now 25 with racing experience far more extensive than what I’d accumulated by that summer. On Saturday afternoon, I packed my mini suitcase for Toronto and hopped in the car with Jess for the Yonge St 10K in Toronto, my first race of 2014. Our plan was to pick up our race kits that night at the Sheraton, then stay with my good friend and former co-worker Carrie and her husband (hi guys!) Unfortunately we were a little delayed leaving Waterloo, and we missed race kit pickup by 15 minutes. It ended up not being a huge deal though – Jess and I are both crazy early morning people and simply changed our plan to head to the race start location earlier for day-of pickup.
With a solid 8 hours of sleep behind us, we woke up on Sunday morning at 5:50 feeling strong and ready to race. There had been threats of rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, so I had my race day outfit carefully planned.
Our awesome sponsor, 2XU had us fully kitted out in clothing and I picked my Asics Tri Noosa 9 shoes for the occasion. They’ve got great bungee cord laces which I love because there is no time for tying shoe laces during a race! Since it was only a 10K, I went with a light pre-race breakfast of Vega pre-workout energizer and a pink lady apple.
Getting our race kits that morning went incredibly smoothly and we had plenty of time to spare. If you’re an Ontario runner and have considered this race in the past, I’d highly recommend it – the folks at Canada Running Series do an amazing job at organizing it! We met up with a few of our friends, including Krysten, Christina and Robyn for a few pre-race photos, then headed to the start line.
The elites started first, and after a few minutes, our red corral began. The first 500m or so of races are always the part that gets me most nervous because I’m always scared I’ll trip on another runner’s shoe or something, but this start was fall-free. After dodging around a few runners and finding some open space, I settled into a pace that felt good. The route was mostly downhill, which was greatly appreciated considering it was my first of the year. However, running downhill isn’t without its challenges. Bear with me while I geek out on physiology for a second.
Generally, our muscles can do 3 things when it comes to contraction – they either stay the same (an isometric contraction – for example, in plank pose), get shorter (a concentric contraction – like your bicep during a biceps curl), or get longer (an eccentric contraction – every time your foot hits the ground when you run).
According to Competitor.com,
“An eccentric load occurs when an outside force tries to stretch a muscle as the muscle itself tries to resist that stretch by contracting.”
As a result of eccentric loading, small tears happen in our muscle tissue. Even though our legs experience an eccentric load with every foot strike, no matter what the gradient of the ground we run on, the tears are greater when we run downhill. This means the chances of experiencing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the day following a downhill run are greater than if you run lots of uphills.
It’s not all bad though. The good news is that when the muscle tears heal (thanks to proper recovery and nutrition), they become stronger. Therefore, if you practice downhills in your training, you get better at them. I knew all the downhills in this race meant I’d need a long foam rolling session last night, and so far, things are feeling pretty good!
Ok – now back to the race. I hit the 5k timing mat at 20:34, which was great considering I’d set myself a loose goal of a sub-45 minute 10K. My pace felt good so I kept going and eventually crossed the finish line with 40:51 on my Garmin and a final chip time of 40:46.
I waited around near the finish to meet up with my other running buddies, then we headed over to the post-race area to pick up our bags and grab a quick snack to tide us over until brunch. Oh, and photos of course. LOTS of photos. Seriously, what did people do after racing before iPhones and Instagram existed?? 😉
The rain held off (thank goodness!) but the wind made it chilly so we headed up to Fresh, my all-time favourite spot for delicious, healthy food in Toronto.
My order was the ginger fireball, which contains hot water, lemon, and juiced ginger (perfect for decreasing inflammation) and the Tangled Thai Salad with ginger dressing and delicious tempeh. Not a single bite went to waste.
Looking back, I’m really pleased with the race. I’d been feeling a little under the weather in the days following up to it, but getting lots of sleep and focusing on clean nutrition clearly worked to turn things around. I checked my stats shortly after getting home yesterday afternoon, and learned that I placed 10th/761 women in my 25-29 year old age group. It turns out that 7 of the 9 women ahead of me were elites, which makes me even happier with the way things turned out.
All in all, it was a fabulous day. All of the friends I raced with set new PRs for themselves, and I’m looking forward to many more this year!
So tell me…
- Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Any fabulous PRs to brag about? Shout them from the rooftops!
- Not into racing? That’s ok! What was the highlight of your weekend?