May 10, 2016

Race report -- Sporting Life 10k

May 8th (Mother's Day!), 2016
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries, tall skim chai

This year's Sporting Life 10k was my second open 10k race -- my first was the same event last year. It's perfectly situated on the calendar to serve as a season opener, before triathlon gets going for the year. I'll admit that, after several months of training with the incredibly fast athletes on the OTC High Performance Squad, I'd been feeling maybe a little unworthy and a bit anxious about my own speed and fitness. Last year I ran this race in 51:17, and I had set a goal this year of breaking 51 minutes. That doesn't sound like much of a stretch, but the day-to-day context around my training has changed considerably from this time last year. I'll also admit I'm heavier. I had read somewhere about losing 2 seconds of speed per km for every extra pound of body weight you're carrying* -- for example, an extra 5 lbs of un-burned-off Cheetos would translate to 1:40 extra time tacked onto your 10k. Eep. I was worried I wouldn't even be able to match last year's result.

*I just now looked this up, and apparently the common wisdom says 2 seconds per MILE, not km. Not that this is reason to dive head-first back into the Cheetos, but thought I would mention it.

With my other half... it was his first 10k race!
During my easy run a couple days before the race, I added a single short interval just to get a feel for what my sustainable race pace might feel like. It felt pretty good, and was a good confidence booster. The morning of the race, we woke to bone-chilling cold and rain. It was an early wake-up call, as we had to be downtown and standing in our corral by 7:45 a.m.  My husband, who I had encouraged to race with me, may have had some choice words. We assured the kids they wouldn't be forced to actually watch us run, and they shuffled to the car in pyjamas and coats -- ready for hunkered-down Netflix watching with my brother while Mummy and Daddy were freezing their rear ends off.

The race itself is very well organized, and the course runs a beautiful route along the Canal. The double out and back layout means during your race you will see both the very fastest runners and the very slowest. Both groups inspiring, for different reasons. We started in the first and fastest corral, where (in very Canadian fashion) people squeezed toward the back, sure that everyone else must be a bit faster than them. Starting about 3/4 of the way back in this wave turned out to be perfect seeding. We didn't have to dodge people in our way, nor did we get trampled.

I prefer to race without a lot of technology, so I left the heart rate monitor and phone at home in favour of a borrowed digital watch without GPS. I glanced at it to check my time as I passed each km marker, attempting to hold the 5:06 min/km pace that would net me a 51 min finish. The plan was to do this until the last km, then empty the tank and pick up whatever time I could in the final kick. My first few km were very close -- at the 1 km marker, I was 3 seconds early (not bad, for not having GPS or pace indication!). Then another 3 at the next marker. Then a handful more at the next. By the 7 km mark, I had chipped away enough seconds here and there that a sub-51 minute finish looked likely. By the 8 km marker, I realized that there was a chance I could break 50 minutes. I picked up the pace slightly, making my move a full km earlier than I'd planned. It was difficult to hold that effort over the final 2 km, and I just gave it all I had without looking at my watch. I didn't bother stopping the timer until I was well over the line, so was unsure of my exact finish time. A minute and a half later, I cheered my husband into the finish chute and -- once we were pretty sure neither of us would fall down -- made our way over to Lansdowne park for medals and bananas.

Wearing 4 layers post-race, and ready for a large, hot breakfast
We collected the kids and my brother, took everyone out for a big breakfast at the Heart & Crown on Preston, and looked up our results. Here's where I ended up:

Time: 49:59... wait for it... .9. Yes, I broke 50 minutes by 1/10th of a second. Met my goal, and scored a personal best.
Placing: 5/180 AG, 72/1246 women, 234/1895 overall

I'm thrilled with this result. I'm feeling better about where I am in my training. I'm looking forward to the tri season. And, most importantly, I raised some money for CHEO from friends and colleagues. Happy Mother's Day!


  1. WOOO! Way to go Kirsten! Super proud of all your hard work this winter and excited to see how the rest of the season goes :) Congrats on the new PB!

    1. Thanks, Kels! Looking forward to the Early Bird. :)