Sunday, May 15, 2011

AROUND THE SQUARE RUN 10K - Runpiker Series #1

If you happened to find this blog post while searching for your results from this race, click this link for Run Around the Square. Cheers!

For my friends who read my blog posts, thank you for your patience with my late posts as I try to catch up after a too busy week!

a.k.a "The Pancakes & Sausages Run"

I have used "The Drowned Rat Run" in my blog and on DailyMile too many times so I need a new moniker to differentiate this race from the others! :)

This is a new(er) race. The first one was held last year, and then added to the 2011 Runpiker Series, replacing the Embro Highland Games 10K. Because I have no blog record of running at this time last year, I checked my Garmin history for a past comparison ...

May 15, 2010
7.10K @55:01 with Wallace
Pace 7:44/km

This entry made me smile because it shows that I was adding mileage and that I was no longer walk/running by May of last year. A nice reminder as to how I was improving last year at this point in time ...

So how am I doing one year later?


May 15, 2011
10K @1:08:11
Avg. Pace 6:49/km
Gun start/Bib tag finish

Garmin time: 1:07:23
Avg. Pace 6:44/km

I am pleased! :)

But before I write more in my post, the t-shirt's quote because it's a good one:

"I pass through this world but once.

Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any other human being, let me not, defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

~ Stephen Grellet


This weekend's race was held in Goderich, ~ 1 hour 10 minutes north of London, and truly one of the prettiest towns in Ontario by Lake Huron. Unfortunately, it wasn't easy to appreciate Goderich's enviable lakeside location when it's grey, raining non-stop, and there's a chilly wind ... brrr! It is hard to believe I was just sweating in humid, August-esque temperature weather in the last few days because Spring's rain and coolness returned with vengeance here last night and today. Although I was happy not to run in humidity, today's pelting rain was a little more than I bargained for. :)

Ben and I drove up early this morning, 'me' with a bag of dry clothes I anticipated needing, and 'he' with a fishing rod and gear. :) Originally, he was coming with me to cheer me on, but when he reminisced about some nice fishing spot up there that he used to frequent, I urged him to go fishing instead. Better for him to be happy and wet fishing than miserable and wet cheering for me! This was intended as a fun run, not a PR race or a half marathon, so his absence from the sidelines was not a problem (except for anyone reading this blog because there are no photos to share!).

I am going to confess that my heart sank a bit when I reached the 10K registration table and realized that there was much fewer of us running this distance than the 5K. It was my experience all last summer at the Runpiker Series races that the smaller the pool of runners in a 10K, the faster the average pace; therefore, the greater likelihood of me finishing at the tail end - LOL! I recognize that someone has to be the last one to cross the finish line, and heck, it might as well be me because I am competing in these races against me ... it's just that it is a little sobering, coming from my exaltation with my new PR at the Forest City Road Race, only to run at a similar pace in another race without the comfort of being 'mid-pack.' <sigh> Something else to laugh/reminisce about someday, right?

~92 people lined up for the 10K and ~211 for the 5K at the start line (sold out at 350 so unfortunately, multiple runners said forget-about-it! when they saw the weather). We were wet, cold and ready to run in order to warm up! :) The race started in the town's old fashioned square, and did a loop of the town area back to near the start line where the 5Kers branched off to cross the finish line, and the 10Kers continued running for another loop. It was a gun start, and for the first time in years that I have experienced this, the run participants hand-wrote their names on the bottom tab of the bib when picking up race bibs so that these tabs could be collected by volunteers as we crossed the finish line ...

I have to hand it to all the volunteers and participants ... for such a lousy weather day, everyone was in amazing spirits. Similar to other Runpiker Series races I have been in before, the local feel to these community runs always makes it a great experience. The volunteers were soaked standing out there, but still managed to enthusiastically clap and cheers runners on.

There is not too much to tell in the vein of a storyline as this race was a basic and straightforward run for me. I stayed within a larger, stretched out group of people who were running a similar pace as me, mainly 5K runners, and I enjoyed my time running within a larger group of people because I was anticipating that once I started my second loop, I would be running on my own.

Learning #1 - I did something that worked for me so mental note (!!) ... I didn't want to wear my thinner running jacket because I knew it wouldn't do well in the rain. I decided I was fine running with one l/s and one s/s t-shirt similar to the FCRR 10K. I also wanted to run in shorts rather than running pants, which would just get soaked. I remembered that I had saved my souvenir plastic yellow rain poncho from my Niagara Falls Half Marathon (I didn't need it at the time). I brought it with me to this race and ran with it on for the first 6K. I certainly stood out wrapped in bright yellow plastic !! I found this great photo on another runner's blog to show you what I mean! I looked like that guy in the poncho in this photo. :) However, it actually worked very, very well for me. It kept me from getting soaked, it helped with the wicked wind we encountered in spots, and it provided me with slight warmth. The drawback was not being able to access my water belt easily, but given the weather, I wasn't reaching for water too frequently. I pulled it off and put it in the water station garbage at the 6K point, which was good timing because I did fine without it after this point.

Learning #2 - I am still not eating breakfast early enough. I felt "full"/sluggish with breakfast for the first loop of my run and had to tell myself to hang in there, that the feeling would subside during my run (it did). You would think that I have learned this lesson by now, but clearly I have not! :( I gambled, thinking a protein shake would not be as filling as a bowl of oatmeal. Wrong. I am still working out the kinks for this. However, it did make me smile to overhear two other runners at separate points telling their running mates that they could 'still feel breakfast' during the run so I was not the only one ... :)

Learning #3 - Instead of using the "Time" data field on my Garmin, I experimented with using the "Pace-Average" option. I wrote in my race prediction post this morning that my simple goal was to maintain a "6:40-ish" pace. This worked well for me. Instead of paying attention to my "current pace" and feeling compelled to adjust up or down accordingly, I ran by feeling and had a better idea of my pace overall with each passing km. I didn't look at it too much, and stuck with running at a pace that felt right for me in the moment. I only used it to make sure I was on track. I am going to do this again in the next race to see if this continues to work for me.

1 km - 6:33
2 km - 6:36
3 km - 6:45
4 km - 6:49 (very windy!)
5 km - 6:48

The route itself was terrific - all flat - and through nice neighbourhoods where some folks were brave and kind enough to stand out front, cheering runners on. If the day had been sunny, we would have had fantastic views of Lake Huron - it is worth doing this run again next year just for this. :) However, with the grey weather, the sky and lake essentially blended together, and provided us with an off-the-lake wind - wooo!

I passed 5K runners who were starting to walk, and I ran by a busy church (the lot was full) and then headed toward the square again. This is when I felt a slight urge to just stop running and call it a 5K for the day. Ha! Clearly the snipers I experienced earlier in the week during my training runs had left some buddies behind. :( Again, this was connected to a sense of dread around the loop again all by myself.

I ran into the square, went to the left, smiled and said thank you to the volunteers at this juncture who cheered me on, and continued my race.

Probably the best thing that happened to me was rounding the corner and seeing that I wasn't too far behind other 10K runners. I was no longer in a group, but I could see runners ahead, and this was good enough for me. And check out these splits! :)

6 km - 6:44
7 km - 6:44
8 km - 6:44

I could feel myself feeling more energetic and run stronger, but this is when I had to think about what to do. Do I run with this energetic wave that I hitting me, and risk running out of fuel at the end? Or do I bank on it being my pace for the rest of the run? I decided to hold myself at this even keel and not risk it.

And this is when the coolest part of the race occurred for me. The runners I could see in the distance? I caught up to them. :) Because I ran this very even pace and stayed the course, I gained on some runners and then I was part of a mini-pack again. I even passed a couple of runners, which simultaneously made me feel very good and a little guilty. LOL!

9 km - 6:56

Learning #4 - See this drop in pace? This is when I made the error of following the pace of a threesome in front of me. Rather than concentrating on my own feeling of pace (what I had been doing), I fell in behind them with their pace and stayed with it. Hindsight is 20/20 - maybe I should have double-checked my Garmin at this point as a motivator to run faster, but I think I was so happy just to have caught up from so far behind that I feel into a stay-with-the-group mentality! In the last km, I witnessed the one man's family cheering and jumping up and down with glee cheering him on - it was similar to hearing my nieces and nephew getting so excited. It was a heart-warming moment on such a dreary day. :)

10 km - 6:48

So I followed this group across the finish line. They were clearly excited with their time and success. I watched as the clock changed over to :08 as I ran by it, and felt very good about being less than a minute off from my PR. I honestly had not expected to do this "well" after a week of doing everything wrong in preparation for a race. :) And as you can see from this post, I actually learned a lot from this race as well, which is even more important.

So while wet, cold and tired, I headed to the square gazebo to collect my catered breakfast of pancakes with real maple syrup, sausages, fruit, muffins and croissants. How sweet to have this race catered with a real breakfast! I also stayed put with several other wet runners in the hope that I would win one of the draws, but no such luck today. I met Ben at our appointed time, changed into my dry clothes, and we were off toward home, enjoying our time together and going out for lunch for him. :)

I am taking tomorrow off as a rest day and then I will be back at the hill for my third and final hill workout on Tuesday. Happy weekend!

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