Monday, June 6, 2011

Bridge Race 10K

There aren't too many races that start in one country and end in another.  Yesterday I ran in one that does, and it is one of my favourites!

I knew when I was due with Oliver at the end of March I would (probably) have enough time to be ready for a 10km race by June, but I had to be realistic and know that I wouldn't beat my PB of 43:36 on this course last June.  In the last 2 weeks since the 8km race in Watford I have been trying to up the lengths of my runs a bit so the 10k wouldn't kill me.  I managed to get out for one 10k run last week, but the rest of my runs have been 5 miles(ish).  With the kids in-tow for lots of them, so hopefully that plus regular race-day mentality would get me through the 10k race, no-problem!?

My brother picked me up race day morning at 6:15.  The race starts on the American side of the border, so we take a shuttle bus over for the race start at 8am.  Prior to leaving, I had to sort things out for my husband...I was leaving Oliver behind for this race so he would need a couple of bottles, etc.  My husband is amazing, and my parents were there to help with the other two boys as well (thanks, guys!!).

Last year the shuttle busses were late due to short supply, so this year, we were very happy see LOTS of yellow school busses at the park waiting for us.  We had no problems getting a seat on one of the busses, and off we went to the border.  Where we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  The US customs are very good at taking their sweet time.  All I could do was look at my watch and see the time tick by...cutting into possible time I would need at the porta potties!  Last year the race start was delayed, and we assumed this would happen again this year.  I looked down on the bus and noticed the dude beside me had chosen no footwear for this race. I understand the whole 'barefoot running' thing.  I really do.  But they invented minimal shoes/vibram soles so you don't have to endure possible cuts/scrapes on your feet in the name of pure running form!  Ah, well.  Perhaps I just don't understand the purity of it all.

Finally we were on our way after showing our passports.  Off to the starting line we went. er, the porta potties, then the start.  While waiting in line for the porta potty, I noticed barefoot running dude waiting also.  Then it hit me.  He would be stepping into that porta potty--sans foot protection.  Ew. I have to admit, I was grossed out by the thought of that.

On our way over to the start, I threw out a little idea to my brother that maybe I wanted to try a 'warm-up' run.  I have never been a fan of the warm-up run (ok, I have never tried it).  I have always joked that the first kilometer is my warm-up, and the last kilometer is my cool-down...Hilarious, I know.  But, with my new obsession focus on keeping a steady pace throughout races, I thought a warm-up run might help me to stay grounded when the gun goes off.  He agreed, and we went for a short run around the block.

Not long after we returned, we wiggled our way into the pack (there were no timing mats at the start line, so everyone was clammering to be at the actual start line).  The gun went off, and away we went.  Scott went ahead and I tried to keep myself from going out to quickly.  I set my Garmin for 7:45/mile.  This was 15 seconds/mile faster than the pace from my last race (the 8k) but I thought I would just jump two-feet first into this pace in a race just to see if I could hold it.

The weather was lovely.  I knew it could get a bit hot on the bridge, (so little shade up there!) but there was a breeze (which later did feel like wind, I admit it).  My 7:45/mile pace seemed easy and I really was enjoying myself.  I tried to capture the easy-breezy feeling of that pace early on, so I could remind myself that I could handle it later in the race.

There is a bit of a climb (ok, a big climb) to get to the top of the Bluewater Bridge.  There is only one other way to get across the border (swimming) so, climb we all do, over that bridge.

Bluewater Bridge--look at how far UP we had to run!
I passed a few people on the bridge, and although I was getting thirsty and hot, it was totally manageable.  Coming down the other side (yay, I was back in Canada!) was quick due to the downhill.  There were customs workers standing around drinking their Tim Horton's coffee cheering.  Nice.

At the 8k mark, I checked my watch.  My time was 37:22--not bad, as less than 2 weeks ago I ran an 8k race in 39:58 (and that race didn't have a big bridge-climb!).  I was still feeling strong (and right on-pace) so I held on until the finish.  I will admit that the last 500 meters were tough.  I really pumped my arms to get there without slowing.  It is really amazing how great it feels to cross the finish line, isn't it?!  My brother was in the finisher's area, having already finished his banana when I met up with him.

Here are the numbers...

Chip time: 47:29
Avg. Pace: 7:42min/mile
Women: 18/356 
Age: 7/113 (31-40)
Overall: 95/623 finishers

I had this fear of my time being 50 minutes+.  I am so happy that I have been able to work myself back within 5 minutes of my pre-pregnancy/baby 10km time.  This race has definitely motivated me to keep working for my next 10k race, 10 mile race, half-marathon, etc. etc.!

Happy Running :)

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