Sunday, August 19, 2012

Race report: A Midsummer Night's Run 30K

I may have travelled thousands of kilometers this week, jetting between Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but nothing was stopping me from toeing the line of one of my favourite races. This was the sixth time I’ve done the race that in its seventh year is really hitting stride as a premier summer running event in our city.

I ran a good part of the course last weekend, part as a practice of the course, but also to actually get some mileage in. My summer’s been slammed with work so I’ve not been doing mega mileage. Last week, I did 27 kilometres in 5:10 kilometres.

Weatherwise, this year’s edition was perfect. Coolness in the late-summer air, no trace of humidity, sunny but clouds were coming. Last year was humid and misty and the year before that was just plain hot and then rainy. As usual, I ran to the start line from home, getting about two miles in, which neatly gives me a 20 miler in the books.

What I love about this race is it draws out the marathon crowd, so I got to catch up with Lee, Fran, Sam and met Nicole M. IRL. Also caught glimpses of over Daily Milers and bloggers.

Fran was the 2:45 pacer so I stood with him but by the time I was turning the corner after the first straightaway, I had locked in my own pace.

First 10K (5:08, 5:10, 5:12,  5:16, 5:09, 5:00, 5:07, 5:08, 5:05, 5:02)
When I race long distances, I want to be on the edge of discomfort, yet feel like I’m running a natural pace. It happened back at Around the Bay when my target pace (5 minute kilometers) turned out to have some wiggle room which led me to up the pace. I settled perfectly into the 5:05 to 5:10 pace in that first 10K, just getting a sense of how my legs and cardio system were doing.

We ran south to Cherry Beach, which is a route I do all the time, and I was feeling pretty good. No overheating, I had luckily as usual brought my own water/Gatorade supply, and soon overtook the 2:40 pacer around 5K in. I found myself to be running with a fairly big group of runners, that is until we hit the water station and I lost all of them as they stopped for water.

On the way back to Commissioners, a guy walking toward me said “How long is this race?” Me: “30K”. Him: “How far are you in?” Me: <shrug> “About 10!” The stretch of Commissioners had me running solo since I was no longer pacing with any group, a lot of solo and small packs of runners. By  the time we hit 10K, I was wondering how I’d keep a pace without any one else:

10K – 15K (5:09, 5:14, 5:11, 5:14, 5:10)

I found myself running near two guys who looked like they had found their zone, so I started locking on to their pace. Part of it was to do some pace management so I didn’t run too fast. The second part was to figure out how to run as we were passing all the walkers who were just entering Leslie Spit. We spent a good three kilometers or more passing walkers, which is a challenge as they were clogging up portions of the road. Spent quite a bit of time maneuvering around, which was fine but not the type of running that lets you lock on to pace.

16K – 20K (5:01, 5:01, 5:01, 5:01, 5:06)

By the time we hit the 10 mile mark (16K), we were approaching the lighthouse and turnaround. Because we had the benefit of seeing the runners in front ofus, and later the runners behind us, we started to pick up the pace. I had run this exact stretch last week so I was ready for the course and the different types  of road surfaces. We sped up to 5:01s, clearly gearing at a faster end. As I thought, both runners were well within their ability, but so was I. The cloud was covering the sun so we had some relief from the direct rays, but also it was starting to darken. I hit the 20K mark thinking about the amount of miles left and I was in good spirits

21K to 25K (5:04, 4:59, 4:55, 4:53, 4:50)

We exited the Spit and ran up Leslie. By then, one of the two guys had clearly decided to run the last 10K at his own pace so he took off. Me and a few other runners (including the guy’s partner) were then to decide how fast we went. I kept up my pace as if to give light chase to the faster runner. What that really meant was that I was to run the last 10K solo. I decided to lower the pace a bit as we headed toward Ashbridge’s Bay. You can see the splits start lowering (4:50s ranges). By 22K, I was thinking ‘5 miles,’ which is usually the sign that I’m trying to urge my body to continue as the level of discomfort rose. 4 miles in the park and I was starting to hurt, just a bit. It was pushing a bit on cardio, but I had a lot left, just took some of that inner ‘I’ve raced this distance a tonne of times’ memory.

26K to 28K (4:50, 4:49, 4:47)

By now, we’re in Ashbridge’s Bay and if there were a technical part of this course, this would be it. Lots of windy paths, some elevation changes, and a brief run on wood chips. Also I’d been catching up to and passing slowing runners, so it took a little in me to keep up the pace.

We exited the park back toward the finish, even with water stations and slightly tiring, I knew I wanted to push right into the final few kilometers. 28th kilmoetre was 4:47, my fastest yet.

With 2K to go, I took a gut check and figured I could push it to the end. Ran my 29th in 4:50, then we joined up with the 15K runners and walkers.

By then, I just willed myself to get to the finish line soonest, even if it meant blasting by the 15Ks. The last kilometer did few very long, but I ended up doing it in 4:36.

So a finish of 2:31:21, which is actually the slowest Midsummer’s 30K I’ve done. I’ve really tried to kill this course, with a PB of 2:13 back in 2008 (and in my defence, that was during my BQ years), but with this training and condition, I’m loving this year’s result.

Results for the race here.

The best part of Midsummer’s is the post race beer tent. Caught up with a lot of runners and lots of geek talk about our fall marathon planning and training. Was tonne of fun and I can’t wait till next year’s edtion. They better get my 195K pin ready.

This year's A Midsummer Night's Run pin (165K) along with last year's.
Post-race BBQ and beer at A Midsummer Night's Run in Toronto, 2012.
Recovery beer at A Midsummer Night's Run.


macnic said...

Great report as always, Kenny. It is so awesome to hear your thoughts as a mature runner echo my one-time only marathoner thoughts during the last 8k. My race report will sound pretty much the same (dig deep, just finish). It was great to meet you and I know your fall will continue (this is the start, right?) to be awesome!

Marky Mark said...

I didn't see you this time! Great job and, as always, gripping report.

Robin said...

Congratulations on a great race. Glad the conditions were good this year (I ran the last 2 years and found it tough...missed it this year). Great race report!

Patrick said...

Congrats on the result.

Arcane said...

Do the 15k next year so I can catch up on total mileage!