My hope for the race was to finish in under 1:35 and ideally, very close to the 1:30 mark. To do 1:30, I would need to maintain a pace of 4:16 per kilometer. There were 453 runners in the race, quite a large turnout for an amateur race in the middle of winter. Franck and I placed ourselves near the front. I knew I was not one of the absolute fastest guys, but I figured I would not hold too many people up either even if some faster people started behind me.
As we got going, I was in site of the leaders for a few minutes. I was wearing my GPS watch, so I could see my time elapsed, distance run, heart rate and pace. I saw that my early pace was too fast, under 4:00 for a while, then around 4:05. I tried to will myself to slow down, but it was not easy. I knew that the key to a good time over a long distance was to pick a pace you could maintain and save energy. I don't know what made me think I could maintain such a pace, but it was not realistic. The race was made up of three laps of 7 km. I completed the first lap in under 30 minutes (I had told Alex to come outside at the 30-minute mark to cheer me on, but I was there too soon!) but I knew that I would be paying the price later on. I felt like crap after one lap. Franck and the other fast guys were long gone.
In the second loop, I struggled to keep under 4:20 as a pace and mostly managed. At about the 11 km mark, a guy who had been slowly gaining on me passed me and began to pull away. I was then even more certain I had gone out too fast. The third lap was uneventful. I was finding it tough out there. It was not too slippery, but it was still snowing and the wind was blowing it everywhere. I kept telling myself "only 5 more km"... "only 15 more minutes". Still, I was struggling. A couple more runners passed me in the last 3-4 km, but not the swarms of people I was expecting. I was actually lapping some of the slower runners who were completing their second lap while I completed my third.
Finally, the finish was in sight and the race that seemed to have been going on forever was over. I managed a time of 1:33:40. It was slower than I had hoped, closer to 1:35 than 1:30. However, after having mismanaged my pace and really struggling for the last 2/3 of the race, I was satisfied. Alex was waiting and greeted me at the finish. I was really exhausted, as can be seen from the photos she took. Franck was there too. I knew he was fast, but he finished in 1:26:01. Holy crap. I guess I can't blame the winter conditions for my time then, as they seemed not to affect Franck at all.
The results are up today and Franck ended up 5th over all, out of 453 runners. Wow. I was 23rd, and I can't complain about that. It makes me feel better about my so-so time to see that it was still good enough to put me roughly in the top 5 per cent. It's time to stop foolin around now and begin marathon training for Ottawa!
Even though my race was over, my day wasn't. I had a quick bite at the post-race buffet and headed off to coach my girls' basketball team. My starting center was not there, but the girls played a solid game. We lost by seven, but I can't really fault the way they played. The opposing team had more wins than us and now have 6 wins to our 3. We are sitting in a precarious 6th place out of 12 teams and I don't even know how many teams make it into the playoffs.
After the game, I went home to relax a bit before heading back to the high school to coach the grade 9 girls. The first half did not go very well. The offence was simply not there, and the team went down by 22 points at half. My best 7th grader was borrowed so the team would not lose by default and she did really well, considering she was two years younger than the other girls. The second half went better and the final margin of victory was 22 points, which means that we were not outscored in the second half. Too little, too late.
I had time to relax a bit more before going to Alex's cousin's birthday party for her husband. I left a bit early and got to bed at a reasonable hour before sleeping for 11 hours. My calves are still sore, but otherwise, all is good. A long day, but a good day.
Here are some photos taken by Alex: