Monday, September 24, 2018

The Canberra Times almost 10k

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)

Monday, September 03, 2018

A 5k with Deek!

I've been racing regularly since The Runners Shop 5k on 21 July. I agree with Greg Meyer ('83 Boston marathon winner in 2:09:00) when he said on a podcast that today's runners don't race enough. He said there's a feeling and training effect one gets from hard racing that's impossible to replicate in training. My race results over the past 5 weeks have been: 4 August, Dunrossil Drive 4.1k XC in 19:50; 12 August, City to Surf 14k in 74:47; 18 August, Wagga Parkrun 5k in 24:31; 24 August, Customs Joggers' 5k in 23:26; 1 September, Tuggeranong Parkrun 5k in 23:37. That's quite a bit of racing. In addition there have been races run as tempo runs or interval sessions.

The most recent races (CJs' 5k and Tuggeranong Parkrun 5k) gave me a good feeling about my chances of breaking 23 minutes for 5k (my main race goal for this year). My mileage has averaged 106 kilometres for the past 7 weeks and I'm feeling strong in races off that mileage. I haven't been feeling fresh and rested for the races, so there's some 'free' time to be had there — I don't know how much, perhaps 10 or 15 seconds? Then there's the time saved with good weather conditions (calm, not too cold, not too hot).

For the Tuggeranong Parkrun on Saturday the weather was cool and we were running into a gentle breeze towards the turn and during the last kilometre. Parkrun is officially a "timed run, not a race" but in spite of that, there's always some friendly racing happening throughout the field. We were welcomed to the run by Rob de Castella (director of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation) as this was the 'Warrior Parkrun' event day. Deek has run at Tuggeranong before and has a PB of 23:27 when he ran with his daughter. He obviously wasn't running flat out on Saturday, but the results do show me finishing ahead of the great man — 47th for me in 23:37 and 71st for Deek in 25:47.

I've had the pleasure of racing Deek when he was a force in marathon racing in the '80s — I raced him on the track, on the roads and in cross country. The only time we were in close company was before the start or when he was lapping me! It was usually twice in a 5000m track race — it was breathtaking when the leading pack (usually Deek was pulling them along) flew past with the draft of wind seeming to rustle my singlet. Along with many thousands of fun runners I 'raced' Deek in The Canberra Times 10k in 1990, the year he set the still standing course record of 29:01. That day I remember being particularly pleased with myself as I'd just started training with Geoff Moore and finished in 101st place with 36:55. Running is one of those rare sports where we can compete against the best. If you can sprint you can even be briefly ahead of the elite runners during the rush at the start! That doesn't happen in tennis or golf.

Just after the start with 260 other Parkrunners!
Racing Will, approaching 4k in the Tuggeranong Parkrun