April 18, 2011

Awesome Sun Run

Sis after a PB, me & pacer Tim
It couldn't have been a more perfect day for yesterday's Vancouver Sun Run. My sister Angelique, who has just moved to Canada a month ago, was excited to race her second 10km ever. Tim had agreed to run with her. The three of us were part of the PNG (Pacific Newspaper Group) Pacers team, since I worked as a casual copy-editor for The Vancouver Sun for about seven months in 2010.

Because we were part of the PNG team, I had to pick up our race packages at the company's promotions office, instead of at the Sun Run Fair. There was no set-up to check that our chips matched our names there, and since I've not had a mix-up in more than a decade of racing including in the even-bigger City to Surf race in Sydney, I didn't think about checking. Unfortunately I should have...

Anyway, Angelique and Tim had generously agreed to wear running shirts for two of my books, Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend and Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon respectively, while I wore the shirt for my new book A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km. (Angelique plans to frame her cotton Sun Run T-shirt featuring an image painted by Vancouver artist Tiko Kerr.)

The three of us left home in Yaletown at about 8:20 ( the race started at 9) and slowly jogged to the start line. Despite the magnitude of this race, with more than 50,000 people, it was easy to get in the right spot and we were all impressed with the organization on that front. We wished each other well before Angelique and Tim went to their starting position, and I made my way to the yellow group.

Women with a sub-44 10km time were seeded, so I had a yellow bib number and would start in the second group behind the blue group of elites. I got a decent spot, and now it was a matter of staying warm until the start. While I hadn't done my usual warm-up strides, I hoped to start pretty fast on that initial downhill stretch.

I liked the course profile on paper, with a few undulations, and a final downhill on the last 500m or so to the finish line. As mentioned in a previous post, I was keen to go sub-41 again, and could see the potential of breaking 40mins.

When the gun went, it took a bit of weaving but overall I had a superb start. My legs felt good and so was my frame of mind. With all the bands lining the course, the spectators, the energy of the other runners, and a plain gorgeous day and route to run, the kilometres seemed to fly by. I felt good.

After conquering the last uphill onto the Granville Bridge, I gathered my breath and got ready for the final downhill and flat stretch. There was enough left to pick up the pace and finish strong. I made sure to cross the finish line before spending time to press my watch, which later showed 40:09.

Since I am using the Sun Run to help determine my pace for my goal race, the Vancouver Marathon, in two weeks, I was diligent about taking my kilometre splits. Here they are: 3:50, 4:04, 4:07, 3:54, 4:10 (for a 5km time of 20:07), 4:00, 4:11, 3:58, and 7:52 for the final 2km. Finish time, according to my watch, 40:09.

I'm stoked about that, since it's my third-fastest 10km (behind a 39:51 in the January 2008 Chilly Chase 10km and a 39:55 in a Coquitlam 10km in March 2008) and my fastest 10km in three years! It doesn't surprise me, given the times I've run in the Squamish Titans' Tuesday Runs, led by Roger Shirt.

Those Tuesday Runs have been my main, and most weeks only, speed workout this year. I love doing them, and haven't missed a session of the 16-week program yet. Tomorrow is the monthly This is Not a Race 5km time-trial.

On a high from the result,  I made my way to a sunny spot just near the finish line so I could catch Angelique and Tim. I love the energy and vibe near a finish line of a race where everyone gives their final ounce of effort. No matter time, place, age, size, and gender, everyone gets a lift and a sense of urgency when the finish is only 100 metres away. And people run for so many reasons.

Chatting with the woman next to me, I asked her who she was waiting for. A few people, she said, and especially her brother. He'd had a stroke, due to a hereditary condition, and hadn't recovered from it. Even so, he was determined to be as active as possible. She said he'd done the Granfondo last year on a tricycle (though I didn't ask if he rode the entire 120km between Vancouver and Whistler), and hoped to finish the Sun Run this year. Very inspiring.

I cheered as I spotted Tim and Angelique gunning for the finish line, though, not surprisingly, they were too focused on getting there to hear or see me in the crowd. After making my way to them, I found out Angelique had smashed her 10km time by five minutes for a sub-60 finish of 59:30. Woohooo!

It was an absolutely awesome event, and we had such a great time. The only downside is that my chip turned out to be mixed up with someone else's, listing my finish as 54:39. Looking at the PNG Pacers team results here, I wonder if I had the chip of the woman with a finish time of 40:07, and she may have had mine, or someone else's?

(UPDATE: Since I pointed out the discrepancy, I just noticed that my finish time has been changed to 40:56. While much closer, it's still not the correct time which is disappointing since I had an awesome race. At least, I know what I ran which is the most important. It serves as a reminder to ALWAYS check that your chip's details are correct. You can bet I'll be doing so for the Vancouver Marathon next weekend.)

We eventually found Angelique's result in the 40-44 age group (she's 37) with an official time of 59:30, a fantastic PB for her first race in Canada!


Anna Jenkinson said...

Lovely post. Nice combination of the personal and the inspiring. Having read it, I'm almost tempted to sign up for a 10km, although I've only been running (i.e. jogging for fun) 5kms for years now. I'd love to complete a 10km in under an hour! Hmmmm...

Margreet Dietz said...

Thanks so much Anna.

Please let me know which 10km race you sign up for!

With a few years of running under your belt, you're definitely ready and it'll be so much fun to prepare for the new goal!