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Course de Champfleury 10km – race report

Running is fun. When you go out on a Saturday morning with a friend or your significant other (when that is possible!) for a run, you can have a pleasant workout with a very fun social aspect. You can run alone with nice scenery and a pair of headphones, lost within yourself and your thoughts. Time to relax, meditate or simply plan the week ahead.

But I also once told a friend that if you want to have a great race and beat your own personal records, you have to bring the effort level up a notch and bring pain and discomfort into the equation. You (usually) don’t register to a race to do another workout. You do it because there will be a preset course without traffic, no red light to slow you down, no need to wonder if you brought enough water or food because there will be tables set up just for you. And if it comes to that, there are paramedics to pick you up if you go beyond the red zone. Someone built an infrastructure so that you can push yourself to 110% of your capacity without worrying about other things.

Let me tell you about my pain and discomfort.

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They do not know about discomfort yet.

Leading up to the race, I have been into half Ironman training mode. 3 swims a week, 3 bike rides a week, 5 runs a week. Some of it is at high intensity, some of it at low intensity, volume isn’t extremely high but it’s high enough that it got me tired. The week before the race wasn’t fun. I was more tired than usual, my right knee is hurting in a new way and the ladies in the house have been hit by various illnesses. I might have caught some of that, who knows – all I knew is that I wasn’t feeling 100% on Saturday just before the race. I felt short of breath on my Saturday run (but I also felt that way before the Hypothermic half and I nailed that race).

This is the second race of the year. We did this race last year and enjoyed it as it’s very close to home and it’s family oriented. Last year, it was cool and rainy, but this year was the total opposite: beautiful springtime (although a bit windy) weather.

It’s hard to specifically train for a race so early in spring. Hard interval training is difficult to perform consistently on ice and snow. I’ve also been plagued with asthmatic problems and they intensified about a week prior to the race due to a virus. After my last training run the day before the race, I questioned whether I should be racing at all. I remembered the bronchospasm I experienced at the end of the Hypothermic race, and didn’t want to go through that again. I took my meds and hoped that the prednisone would take effect in time. I figured I’d have to be more careful than I would have liked, and hoped for the best.

My personal record for 10km was 42:46, or something along those lines. I say that because on the day I did so, I wasn’t racing, and I didn’t run only 10km. I ran a little bit more than 10km, and that happened in a workout around home after a 2 hours bike trainer session. I recall that day perfectly: I started my run fast and the legs just felt perfect. I ran fast but didn’t punish myself since I was doing Oka 5km the week after. Surely, 5 months later, I had improved? And I wasn’t going to bike for two hours before, so the legs would be fresh. Right?

How different two runs or races can be.

I felt crappy on Saturday, yet like I told my friend, it’s a race: I can’t just treat it like another workout and I have to get into the pain and discomfort zone. Why would I pay for a workout when I can do it freely in the streets around home? No. I would adjust my race plan, maybe not go as fast as I hoped but fast enough that I would feel like yes, I raced. I had wished to run around 4:06/km. That would have brought me a time of 41:00 for the whole thing. I decided to be more conservative and go for 4:15/km off the bat and stay there if I felt too bad or improve if I felt good enough. 4:15/km would slightly improve my record as well. The conditions were ideal for me for running (around 5 Celsius), I can wear my tuque and gloves and not feel too hot or too cold.

The first km went rather well but I knew right away I would not accelerate from 4:15/km. This wasn’t the day to speed things up. At 2km, we went into headwinds. There’s also a small roundabout and you can estimate where you are in terms of rankings – I guesstimated that I was around 17th position by then. Up until 4km we fought the headwind and I passed 3 or 4 people. At that point, I was still averaging 4:15/km more or less, but I was not a happy clam. I rounded up the first lap at 4:14/km and told myself: I really gotta do a second one of these? I had a small abdominal cramp, I had to pee, I was exhausted and I didn’t think I could hold the speed. A few people had passed me but I could still see them about 200m in front of me.

I was extra cautious in the first few minutes to see if my lungs would cooperate. After the first km, I trusted that they would, so I was able to accelerate. The course is straightforward, 2x5km loops. Some specific spots were adorned with walkers (3 across) or walking with strollers 2by2, which is frustrating (and I do have a hard time understanding this), but such is life on a race course. It must be accepted that it’s part of what runners have to learn to deal with and plan around.

At 6km, I met the tail of the wagon. The 5km walkers. Last year I didn’t meet them until the end of my race because of two factors: first, I was slower and second, their start was on time. But this year, their start got delayed. Yes, they have their own right to walk and they paid just like me to do the event. But NO, they do not have the right to walk 3 or 4 abreast. At that point I was dodging walkers, I was breathing heavily, my head was getting light, I had removed my tuque and was holding it in my hand and was wondering how I could remove my gloves as well, I couldn’t see the runner in front anymore, I didn’t know what to do with my hand bottle, I had a side stitch and whatever was left in my stomach wanted to come up. Or maybe it was the actual stomach wanting to rip itself out since there wasn’t much in it to start with. At km 7 I added strollers (really? two strollers abreast?) to list of things to dodge.

At km 8, I met the beast – the whole average pack of 5km runners. I’m not trying to dodge anything anymore – I’m just running outside the lane, just like the next 10km runner in front because all those people were not listening when the organizer said: run to the right, pass on the left. Those people should realize after seeing 10 people pass like lightning next to them that hey, maybe we should move over a bit? The front of the pack 10k runners are coming in at 3:45 to 4:15/km, passing the middle of pack 5km runners (who are around 6:00/km). No? No clue? 2km left. I’m not thinking about catching the guy in front anymore. I’m just concentrating on finishing the race before vomiting, passing out or colliding with someone moving at the speed of a traffic cone. 1km left and I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation before – even the 5km maxed at Oka didn’t feel anywhere like this. I was listening to Jesse Thomas (pro triathlete) and how he tries to focus the pain into energy during his races. Well, I don’t have that skill because I would have been on fire during those last 2km. 500m left. 200m. Finish line in sight. I just want to crash. It’s done.

I hear the announcer say « look at all these smiles! ». Clearly he missed me.

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Diana arriving in a much fresher state than me.

Having accomplished a sub 5min/km over 5km (Oka race), one of my goals is to get closer to the same pace over 10km. I finished with a 52:08min, which is a 5:12min/km pace. This is on target with my best previous races and over a 2minute improvement over the same race last year. It’s quite possibly a PR (by a few secs) as my Strava pace at Isle-aux-Coudres was 5:14min/km (course was a bit shorter than 10km). Specifically, the standing was 106/305Overall (a jump of 25 places over last year); 21/141Women; 20/127F30-39. Analysing my splits, they were all between 5:03-5:16 except for my 8th km (5:28.. a windy one!). Had it not been for that slower split, I could have had a clear PR, but I feel I’m slowly making my way up to that very ambitious goal.

Good news! I didn’t vomit or pass out. Official time: 42:50. All that pain to get about the exact same time I did in November. I can’t shake the feeling that I didn’t beat my old record, but there’s one thing I know: this is the first race where I know that my body gave everything it could. Oka was close, but I always felt I could have pushed a little bit more in Oka. Same thing in Montreal and Isle-Aux-Coudres. Not here. Not today. This was the maximum my body would give me, and for that, I’m alright with the results. 16/305 overall, 16/164 men (no age grouping but I calculated I’m 6th men 40-49). I’m still going to wonder why the body didn’t want to do more, but I’m happy that mentally, I won.

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Running ladies! They look good, don’t they!?

As I said, this is a family race, and the kids had been training for it for a while. Both kids were to go the site’s daycare service (along with their cousin) while the adults raced, and then it would be their turn to run their 1km. Unfortunately, Sabrina woke up very sick with a fever and stomach ache. She stayed with my dad and Christine while Alexa was with her cousin at the daycare service. We thought she would miss the race as she spent the morning sleeping. At the last minute, she woke up and insisted to come to the race, so her grandfather brought her. That’s determination! They both ran well Alexa was a spitfire. It was cute watching her and her friend waiting for each other, insisting on running together.

After our race was the 1km run for the kids. On Saturday, Sabrina was feeling off and on Sunday morning, she was terribly sick. We dropped her at the in-laws and she slept during our race. When she woke up, she was devastated that she would miss the race, so her grandfather drove her to the race. She managed to put on her best smile and do what she could for the race she had prepared for.

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Off we went with a bunch a little ones, me following Sabrina, Diana following Alexa. Very good run for both of them and clearly happy kids after it was done.

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Next up! Triathlon season!

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