Pfitz wanted up a tune-up race this past weekend and Harry's Spring Run-off in High Park fit into the schedule which is an 8k race on a hilly course. I did this race back in 2008 in the prelude to my first (and only) 3:10:xx marathon. Back then, I wasn't sure what to expect from the race and I was thoroughly psyched out by the hills and I ended up finishing in 33:57. I honestly didn't think that I'm in 3:10 marathon shape so I went into this thinking that I would be unable to come close to that time. I've been doing my LT runs this past winter no faster than about 7 min/miles so I thought that pace might be doable during this race with the hills. I signed up for this a few weeks ago, but only realized today that the race was probably having difficulty selling entries so that had a whole bunch of discount codes that were floating around on social media to get $10 off the price. Lesson learned. Always check social media before signing up for a race.
Fueling for this consisted of much of what I did to prepare for Around The Bay which consisted of excessive carbo loading leading into the race. I was on a weight loss kick for the month of March which left me feeling spent during most of my runs so going into ATB, I decided I would just pig out on carbs and any little weight gained would be offset by the increase in energy I would have which worked out well. Tried to do the same thing. Race was at 10am. Woke up at 7:00am, ate two packets of instant oatmeal (maple and brown sugar) and about half a bottle of gatorade. Left shortly after 8am as I had to get down to pick up my race kit which was opening at 8:30am. Arrived down there at about 8:45 found some good parking and made the short walk to pick up my kit then walked back to the car to drop off the
crap promotional material that was included in the race kit and make a final call on race outfit which consisted of knee length shorts, a single long sleeved t-shirt and a singlet over top of that. Dollar store gloves and running cap. Headed back to the race start and stopped off at the high park running room to use their facilities and moisten the HR monitor strap (no line-ups). Arrived back at site and lined-up for one last portapotty usage.
So the HR issue I encountered during ATB was and has always been a bit troublesome going into races. Pops up at inopportune times. At marathon pace effort levels it's managable, but during short intense races if can mean all the difference in the world. I had wanted to prevent this from happening this time. I've had some success in the past with doing a warm-up that gets the Hr to spike and then giving it a couple of minutes to calm itself and the problem doesn't pop up during the race. The key I've found is to get the HR to spike, and then having sufficient time to let it "reset", but doing it late enough that I don't cool down too much before the race starts. With about 15 minutes to go, I ate a gel and started the warm-up and could tell right away that the Hr was spiking, did two hard strides or so and then proceeded to try and get it to calm down which consisted of about 10 minutes of walking around and taking deep breathes. Eventually, the HR returned to normal. Then did some light jogging just to make sure and then made my way to the start line with about 5 minutes to go till race start. I was in the first corral, but was stuck near the back. I was jumping around and jogging in place for the 5 minutes to try and keep the HR up over 100 so I wouldn't cool down too much and then we are off.
1 km: 4:14
The first corral was supposed to be reserved for quicker folk, but they considered quicker folk to be anyone that could do the 8k in under 39 minutes which is still a pretty wide range of paces. Took me 14 seconds to cross the start line. Needless to say, first km was crowded and I found myself weaving in and around people. I hit the first km at 4:14 (6:47 min/mile pace). Back in 2008 I did this first km in 4:00 so pacing was good so far, though I wonder if I would have gone faster if I didn't have to weave around so many people. They also had a timing mat at the 1 mile mark which triggered at 6:48 so my pace for the first little while seemed fairly consistent.
2 km: 4:03
After the 1 mile mark, the route plunges down a hill. This is the dreaded hill that we end up having to climb in the last 200m of the race, but it was nice to enjoy it while it lasted. Speedy.
3 km: 4:12
The third km still has some gently declines and is mostly flat except for the last little bit which is on the first half of the first uphill of the race. At this point, I've settled into a fairly good breathing pattern and the crowd has thinned out enough that I've got some room.
4 km: 4:24
4th km continues up the hill and trying not to go too hard. I've been giving the occasional glance down at the watch and see the HR is still acting "normal" which was in my LT HR range of less than 180 or so. Good so far.
5 km: 4:08
6 km: 4:08
The 5th km was fairly flat I think except for the end which is the start of a downhill plunge which continue on into the start of the 6th km. This hill is steeper than the one during the 2nd km I think. It's very difficult to just float down the hill and let gravity pull you down cause there's a good chance you'll wipe out. I ended up having to apply some braking effort to maintain control during the decent.
7 km: 4:17
8 km: 4:35
The 7th km is sort of flat with some gentle and mild rollers. I grabbed a cup of water at the start of the 7th km aid station just to get some liquid into my mouth. It was during the 7th km that I get the ammonia feeling when you can start tasting ammonia in your mouth which suggests one is moving from LT mode into a VO2Max mode and faster. The end of the 8th km is tackling the big hill and ends up being the slowest of the race. I tried to charge up the hill, but I think I ended up just doing this by providing a good effort. Once the hill is over, we make a turn and there's about 20-30 metres to the finish line. I couple of people pass me during this last bit. I'm not sure why I didn't increase the pace during the last little bit. I wasn't prticularly feeling out of it, but I also had no desire to sprint past the finish line. It'll be interesting to see what the finish line race pics look like for me. hopefully, I won't look too much like I'm suffering.
Final finish time of 34:04 which averaged 4:16 min/km (6:51 min/mile). This isn't too far off the time of 33:57 which I ran back in 2008. It would probably of been a lot closer if not for the weaving during the first mile and if I had bothered to work a bit harder on the last hill. My HR peaked at 182 on the last hill. I've been using 187 as my max HR which I experienced during a 5k race last fall. The average HR calculated for the race was only 171 but that included a bunch of drop-outs so I don't lend any credence to that. More detail can be found at Polar stats.
Fairly happy about the time and effort level. Still have one more tune-up race to due. Will probably do either an LT run or Yasso's 800's.