Sri Chinmoy Princes Park 10km
Saturday night I didn't exactly do the smartest thing for race preparation. I had a relatively late night, resulting in only five hours worth of sleep. Not to worry. Race morning I pushed myself through the initial sleep haze and by the time I had driven halfway to Princes Park my head had well and truly kicked into race mode. No more thoughts of being tired. I could already feel my heart rate rising. Even the rain seemed to be a good thing.
Registration was quick and easy. Before too long the rain had stopped and I was out for an extended warm up. The morning was cold, and I was going to let my body get ready at its own pace, rather than force it along. As the warm up progressed I lost layer upon layer of clothing until I was finally down to my race gear. Today was cold enough to wear gloves for the race.
The traditional Sri Chinmoy moment of silence was held just before race start. Then we were off. With all race distances (5, 10, 21.1 and 30km) starting at the same time there wasn't a lot of space towards the front. Everyone just wanted to be in the same spot. At least we were able to still run, rather than walk the first few metres. As usual, at the about the 500m mark, a good number of people realised they had gone out way too hard and they suddenly dropped back. I just love that feeling of gaining a large number of places at the same time.
The body seemed to be settling into the race pretty well. The pace was feeling hard, but just doable and there weren't too many ahead of me. Unfortunately at this stage I had no idea what distance they were racing in. My pre-race plan was to see if I could hold an even pace of hopefully 3:55/km, with a faster final kilometre. I was a bit let down when my first kilometre split was 4:03. Happier when I hit the second marker with 3:55, but I knew that extra speed was due to a slight downhill gradient. As the race progressed, it looked more like I was going to average about 4:02/km for the race. Disappointing as I really didn't want to go over 40 minutes, but I knew I was putting in the fastest effort I could.
Since a lap around Princes Park is less than 5km, the extra distance is made up with an out and back segment each lap around the 3-4km area. The two key things I enjoyed about this segment is it adds in a couple of short hills to help cause a bit of suffering, and it also allows you to see where you are positioned. Leading into the turnaround I counted the blue numbers and figured I was in 8th place. This was surprising as I didn't think my pace was fast enough. Maybe the race was just going be a slow one today, because of the conditions.
Then it was onto the second and final lap. The first two kilometres were identical to lap 1. I was definitely holding that even pace. Position wise I fell back to 10th, but had gained one of those back by the 8km mark. The gradual accumulation of pain and hydrogen ions were now making it extremely hard. I had to concentrate so hard just make sure I kept running. Onto the out and back segment I tucked in behind another runner as he gradually increased the pace leading into the 9km mark. With that effort we passed another 10km runner and I was again in 8th place.
The final kilometre had me lift my speed. Covering those last 1000m in 3:53 had my whole body burning like nothing before. All the recent anaerobic work was paying off. I would not have been able to increase my speed if not for it. Unfortunately that guy I had tucked in behind was able to lift even more and crossed the line a good 10m in front.
Now I was hurting. My calves we screaming at me. Even completing the race wasn't making them happy. The pain just also swelled up into my thighs. The pancakes were going to have to wait. A good cool down was needed. Twenty minutes of shuffling eventually had things somewhat under control.
Later I checked my heart rate profile. For most of the race I sat on 179-180bpm. With my maximum being 189 this had me racing at 95%, which is definitely highest intensity I could hold for a 10km race. In the end it looked like it was a slow race. Unofficial reports had the winning time around 38 minutes. So I am no longer disappointed with my time of 40:20. The last 1000m had my heart rate reach 186bpm. Only three beats off my maximum. I earned those pancakes.