Last Saturday the boys and I headed out to race at The Canadian, a local multisport event. This is one of those events that has something for everyone; race distances of 3 km, 8km, half marathon and marathon and what seems like an endless list of duathlon/triathlon events, including iron distances and canoe and kayak triathlons. There is a constant buzz of activity, even if some of the individual events are small in number. Overall it creates an exciting atmosphere with a small race feel.
The boys were entering the 3k while I set out to do the 8k. Each race had just over 50 people, so no crowds to fight and the “start waves” were actually each race starting one minute apart, with one of the duathlons starting a minute before the boys’ race.
I headed to the race with one goal in mind – I did not want my time to start with 44. I had only done one 8k race before, back in 2012, finishing in 44:53. When I looked back at shorter training runs I noticed that I consistently hit 8k at 44 minutes. So, obviously my goal had to be to get a time that started with 43.
As I started the race I felt like I was going to struggle. Then I looked at my pace and realized that I was running a sub 5 min/km pace, hence the struggle! I slowed it down a bit but the first km still came in at a 5 minute pace. At that point I did a shift in strategy (something I seem to do on a regular basis at the beginning of runs) and decided to push for a time under the planned 43 minutes. My legs seemed to feel like running and I decided to put them to the test. I did have the sense however to back off a bit. I feel pretty confident I cannot run for 8 km at a 5 minute pace.
This was a double out and back course, relatively flat and while warm, the weather was reasonably good for some speed work. At some point in the run, I can’t remember when, I did question if the course was going to be a little longer than 8k. But I was concentrating so much on speed that I couldn’t be bothered trying to figure out the math (which yes, in hindsight I realize was not complicated given the out and back nature of the course). When my 7k beep went off on my Garmin, I was shocked to see I had done the seventh km at a 5:05 pace, despite trying to keep it closer to 5:15. I was also a little worried by the fact that I was fairly certain the finish line was farther than 1km away. So I backed off a little again in the hopes of saving some energy. Only when the 8k beep went off did I realize that the course measurement was not just a little off, it was significantly off. At this point I was tiring and my stomach was protesting my pace. All I can say is those last 600 metres (the finish line was at 8.6 km) felt like a full km. I still had a little kick in me for the finish, but not as much as I would have had back at the actual 8k mark.
I admit I have had two races where I have come really close to throwing up. This race is now the third. My timing chip was around my ankle and I quickly realized that if I bent over to take it off the results would not be pretty. I asked a kind volunteer to take it off for me. Next realization – she was in a really bad position if I threw up! I had to twist my upper body away to ensure her safety. I am at a loss as to why the rest of my body can adapt to the stress of running, while my digestive system just continues to find ways to protest.
In the end I finished the 8.6 km course in…. yep, 44 something. Technically I know that the 44 is only there on my stats because of a course error. I also know by my watch that I finished 8k in 41:31, significantly faster than I had planned. I just wish my stats showed it. Oddly, Sportstats did adjust all runners’ average pace times factoring in the longer distance, but the race is still listed as 8 km. I know they are only numbers, but I was really disappointed in the course error. The problem with a double out and back is that a small error multiplies. In this case the turn around cone would have been placed about 150 metres too far. The two trips out and back turned that relatively small error into a big one, or at least what I consider to be big. I hate complaining about a Somersault race because I have a soft spot for them. I love their series of races and I love their philosophy of “events for everyone”. It is through the Somersault Series that my kids and I really became runners. But I do believe that races owe it to their participants to check and recheck the distances. In this day and age of GPS watches, there should not be errors in distances. That said, when I emailed the organizers about the error I had a response within a half hour acknowledging their mistake and apologizing.
The highlight of the day was the awards ceremony. Evan and I just missed overall placings, he was the 5th male in the 3k and I was the 4th female in the 8k. I admit I thought I might have been third, I had seen two women ahead of me but hadn’t seen the other, so I was a little disappointed to have missed the top three. But… it was the first time all of us received age awards – Evan and Luke were 1st and 3rd respectively in the under 13 category and I was first in my age group (ok, there were only two of us in the 45-49 category but with a 5:10 pace I think I would have placed well even if there were more runners in my age group). For Evan, it was his first gold lanyard and for Luke it was his first age placing ever. A successful day for all three of us! And I think my husband is now motivated to do some more running and join us in an attempt to get 4 age placings for our family at a future race.