But not quite. I last raced The Canberra Times 10k in 2016, placing 402nd in 52:01. On Sunday the organisers introduced a new out/back course, hillier in my estimation with a climb up to New Parliament House at the 6k mark. The old course was point-to-point, no sharp turns (a net downhill run) and reasonably fast depending on wind direction. My certified road 10k PB was run on that course. For the new course I was hoping to break 50 minutes but thought it would be close, due to the new extra hill and turns.
I did a trial run on August 30 and my thoughts at the time were 'this is going to be hard!' — it was also a fraction long by my Garmin, 10.2k, but I didn't know exactly where the finish would be placed. On Sunday the U-turn at the southern end of the course was earlier than expected and Strava data from runners shows that we did in fact run a short course. I recorded 9.88k and saw distances between 9.8 and 9.9k, most around the 9.86k mark. The person who set the turn up must have placed the cone early, in my estimation between 60 and 75 metres, thus making the course between 120 and 150 metres short. This is annoying for runners going for a road 10k PB, especially on a course that's supposed to be certified accurate. Short (and long) courses were common in the 'old days', so much so that I count my track times (10k and under) as my PBs even though I ran a faster '10k' on the road.
So how was my race? In a word, great! I ran 47:19, which should have been just under 48 minutes if I'd run the extra distance to make it a true 10k. I wasn't expecting to run that well, especially on the new course. We were blessed with the weather, cool (6C) and calm for the 7.45am start. I lined up next to Jim and just behind Trevor and Craig, about 10 metres back from the starting arch. The road narrows to one lane after 400 metres or so but there wasn't too much elbow bumping going on — I followed Jim through there before edging ahead. I knew we were running quickly (didn't bother with the watch during the race but the first 500m was at 4:20/km pace). The 1k (flat running) split was 4:42. I was fortunate near the Carillon to find myself next David, who was running with his daughter Maia. Following them up Kings Avenue, the pace felt just about perfect — relaxed yet quick. I wasn't stressed on the long but gentle rise and was conscious of keeping something in hand for the hills.
Running down State Circle we could see the leaders coming back (a good feature of the new course). Will caught me at the U-turn and again at 6k while David and Maia got away by 20 metres back down the State Circle hill before I passed them just prior to Kings Avenue. I gathered myself for the dreaded climb up to New Parliament House. That 500m was my slowest of the race, at 5:16/km pace. From there it was gentle down or flat running and I was feeling good, the New Balance Beacon shoes nice and light, soft on the road. Back over the bridge I was surprised there were sometimes gaps to the person ahead, with odd small groups running together. My legs felt good! I was relaxed knowing that the speed throughout had felt fast enough to be under 50 minutes. I took a quick look at the watch for reassurance running beside the lake and saw 45:XX with the finish line in sight. Wow! A late sprint to the line, with James flying past showing me how to really sprint! Good run! But oddly disappointed that the course had been short. 47:59 would have been much better! This had been my best 10k race since Melbourne in October 2015 — 47:39 that day, which preceded a 5k the following week in 22:46. Looking good for sub-23!
With Jennie (PB) and Ruth after the race
First Braidwood Parkrun on Saturday (J Harding photo)