Back in the tall grass
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the Ottawa 10km with only a few workouts under my belt. I knew my fitness was good from cross-training and I was running enough (100-135km/week the previous four weeks) but it still left me thinking I could run anywhere from 29:15 to 30:50 (in ideal conditions). Usually that window would be much narrower having completed many more sessions.
Running faster than 29:30 would have really surprised me and anything slower than 30:50, in normal conditions, would have left me pretty dejected.
Off the line I instinctively went out with the leaders but I quickly realized this was a bad plan seeing as they were aiming for a sub 28:00 10km. Once I settled in I was all alone and I went through the first km in 2:54 (29:00 pace). Although the early pace felt more comfortable than I would have thought I knew to settle down.
I didn’t want to run alone but it was also encouraging that the Canadians I was up against for the Canadian Championships were behind me. Before the race I thought Kevin Tree (29:22 in 2016), Kevin Friesen (29:35 in 2016), Tristan Woodfine (28:56), Rob Winslow and myself would challenge for the top 3 spots. After a couple of kilometres Kevin Friesen caught up to me and we ran together until the final push.
I kept pushing the pace here and there for the first 7km and then decided to sit behind Kevin for a bit. It felt easier to sit so I did for a bit longer and then he started to pull away before 9km. I thought the move was too strong for me and he created a decent gap. At 9km I started to eat into the gap and caught him 200m later. At that point I put in a little surge to try and put a gap into him. A few hundred metres later I was hurting and praying he wasn’t too close. Luckily he was back a little ways and I took the pedal off the gas a bit. When I came around a bend I saw Lanni (the women started 3:15 ahead of the men) and started to kick again. I came up short and finished a handful of seconds behind Lanni.
I ended up 8th in 30:19 (RESULTS). The top 7 guys (all from Africa) went out hard in a pack and I never saw them after 4km or so.
A good sign is that my injury symptoms were less apparent after the 10km race than they were the weekend before after a 3 x 3km workout on soft surface. On top of that I was able to have a decent 30km run on Tuesday. My symptoms are still present but to a lesser degree each week.
Many months ago I was planning on Ottawa 10km to be a peak race where I could focus on 10km for the month of May and then transition to marathon training the following week. Given my injury I never properly trained for 10km and going into this race I would have been thrilled with a sub 30:00.
Seeing as that it was 28C and humid on race day I’m very happy with 30:19. Lanni and Natasha (who are going to Rio in the 10km) were 1:37 and 2:08 slower than they were last year on the same course. Kevin Friesen and Kevin Tree were both over a minute slower than they have run earlier this spring. The conditions were far from ideal to say the least. Even the winner, Ziani, who ran 28:36 in Ottawa ran 27:28 earlier this year.
At the end of the day I have a 30:19 beside my name which doesn’t say much on it’s own. I think I demonstrated that I’m in better shape than 30:19 in Ottawa given the conditions. In my biased opinion I think I’m well on my way to hitting my goals in Rio.
My next race is the Toronto Waterfront 10k on June 25th. My plan to peak for Rio includes lots of volume in the next two months. If I want to run fast in Toronto I would be better off running less volume and training for a 10km. Peaking for a 10km might look better to show competitive readiness but in reality it would be a detrimental plan in order to peak for a marathon on August 21.
If I’m going to train for Rio I’m going to try and be the best I can be for August 21st, even if that means racing in June and July with tired legs. I can only hope that the selectors see my predicament.
A full video from the Ottawa 10km Canadian Champs can be found HERE