August 01, 2011

Racing without taper - 10km

Last week was another solid week of training. On the Advanced Marathoning training schedule I began following a week earlier, it was a recovery week - still clocking in at 93km. While the schedule didn't include a race, I had already planned to do the Squamish Days 10km, a flat certified road race that is part of the Lower Mainland Road Race Series.

So I made a couple of changes to last week's schedule to accommodate the race: I swapped the days of the long run (24km scheduled for Sunday) and the medium long run (18km scheduled for Friday), doing the 24km on Friday, and the 18km on Sunday by warming up with about 2km, then racing the 10km, and cooling down with a 6km run immediately after.

As mentioned in the previous post, last Tuesday I had a surprisingly good 800m session. Wednesday's recovery run, of 10km at a very easy pace, was a blah workout, which left me dreading Friday's 24km run. However, that turned out to be a great session too, in which I made sure to stay toward the slower end of my 4:50 to 5:15/km pace window.

On Saturday, the day before the 10km, I had a 13km easy run that finished off with 10 x 100m sprints.

So, having run 75km in the five days before the 10km, I was curious to see how I'd feel in this 10km which I also ran in 2009 and 2010, finishing in 41:39 and 41:00 respectively. I expected to be in better shape this year, similar to the Vancouver Sun Run in April, though I wouldn't be as rested as I had been for April's race.

I arrived a bit late at the race start, so it was a rushed warm-up of a five-minute jog, followed by 5 strides. Then it was time to line up. There were plenty of friends and Squamish Titans training buddies racing, which was nice.

Usually I take splits every kilometre but this time, without making a conscious decision beforehand to do anything different, I chose to simply look at my watch at each marker but didn't bother to press the button to see, and store, the exact split times. Having made an effort to start strong, but not too fast, I saw about 3:52 or 3:55 at the first km marker. A touch fast, but not too bad for a first km at the start of a 10km.

My watch showed about 7:55km at 2km, and, I believe, still a hair under 16:00 by 3km. I was in a good rhythm, and felt comfortably uncomfortable. While it wasn't hot, it certainly was warm and sticky enough. By now, the course hit the only undulation, a bridge, which you cross again on the way back.

I hit the 5km mark, near the turnaround point in 20:15. Now it was time to see how the legs really felt. After getting the bridge out of the way, I tried to relax as the 7km mark came into sight. This is where one finds out if the chosen pace is the right one. At this stage I was definitely more uncomfortable than comfortable, but felt strong, both mentally and physically.

I was slowly but surely reeling in a few people, and was able to make a final push in the last km as well. Super-pleased with my 40-something time, I didn't immediately feel so hot crossing the finish line but recovered quickly and set out for a 6km recovery jog that brought the week's volume to 93km. I felt good.

Bald Eagle trophy - Neil Baker
My official time was 40:14, fast enough for third in my age group. And for the third year in a row I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful Bald Eagle carving by Squamish Nation artist Neil Baker for finishing fastest local female.

Pre-race breakfast was 2 mugs of coffee, which I always start the day with, and a couple of bananas and of course I had a couple of glasses of water. In the race, I had a sip of water at each aid station, pouring the remainder over my face, and took 1 gel just before 5km. 

This 10km confirms what I've felt over the past month: I'm on the right track with my marathon training. I'm feeling fantastic mentally and physically. I'm excited for the coming week which has 113km of running, which will be a personal record of weekly volume.

Here are the results of the 25th edition of Squamish Days 10km, again superby organized with great volunteers.

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