The race is done, completed, finished, over. I ran 30:58 and was 12th of 57,000 runners. I am happy, relieved and excited to go below 31 minutes for the first time.
The day started well when I was able to eat my whole bagel for breakfast. The last bite was a bit of struggle but I got it in just before the nerves hit my stomach. I have been having trouble eating before races this year and have gone into races with not much more then a piece of toast and coffee in my stomach. I took being able to eat as a good sign. Soon the coffee worked it's magic and off to the bathroom for the evacuation. I had time to get dressed and listen to the "Ting Tings" before heading out the door at approx. 8:05.
The warm-up went well. My run the day before felt terrible so I was a little nervous about my warm-up. I did feel a touch sluggish while running to the elite start area but not unlike how I feel at the start of any run. Once at the start line and in the warm-up area I felt much better. I am unsure if it was all the smiling faces of the VFACers or the energy of the moment. Once I started drills and strides I started to feel light and easy and ready for a hard effort. One or two more longer strides may have helped but we were corralled earlier then I thought we would be.
With the gun I ran hard to get running space and good placement then 'cruised' for an easy 2:54 for the first km, two seconds faster then last year. This is when the cruising stopped. I knew I had to race to get a good time and I had an idea of who I wanted to run with. I put in a little surge and got into a group with Jerry Ziak, Jamie Epp, Mike Booth and Kris Swanson amongst others. Around 2 km is when the effort started to take a toll. I started to question the pace and was feeling tired. I got nervous and began to doubt my ability to run with the likes of Ziak and Swanson, who have both beat me by substantial margins this spring. Thank goodness for mindfulness (roll your eyes now) because I started to count my breaths and focus totally on my breathing. I focused on staying on Ziak's Shoulder and my breathing and not much else. Doing this I was able to stay in the pack through beach avenue until we hit the Burrard bridge. I was dropped up the hill on Hornby and by the time we crested the bridge I was working with Swanson and Ziak to reel in the other guys. Swanson surged and Ziak fell back and I was on my own. The whole field surged on the downhill and I was left in their dust. At 5 km my split was 15:24 as per John's yelling, close to a new 5km PB!
The last 5 km were very tough. I ran in 'no man's' land for the whole stretch along 4th ave. There was a noticeable head wind along this stretch and although I was catching guys I was not able to get any help with running into the wind. It was along here that I really do not remember much. I remember Paul yelling like a crazy person on 4th, for sure at least 5 seconds faster with that! I remember my friend Natasha yelling at the bottom of Cambie and my leaden legs running up onto Cambie Bridge. I remember a woman yelling places mid Cambie Bridge, I heard 13, 14, 15... I remember thinking 'get Swanson' and really pushing hard to get under 31 minutes. There were targets along the bridge and I was able to pick off Mike Booth and then get Ryan Day at the line, two great scalps! I can remember John yelling 30:20 something and my friend Nick cheering near the off ramp. I remember crossing the line, exhilarated, overjoyed and beyond happy with a 30:58, 12th in the Sun Run.
One word on crossing the finish line...
The milestone of running 10 km in less then 31 minutes means a lot to me. When I started running I was, in the words of my first coach, "A fat kid from Nova Scotia who walked onto the team." Running fast was not something that came easy. I have led a life less gay because of my love of running and my desire to run fast and to achieve my goals. I have trained consistently for eight years to get to the level I am now. I have skipped many parties and even friends weddings to travel to races and meets. I have left many vacations early to go to training camps and I have a very restricted social life to enable training at a level necessary to achieve my goals. When I crossed the finish line on Sunday all the sacrifice and hard work was worth it.
Now that I have had some time to think about the race I am still very satisfied with the race. I am also happy to beat some of Canada's best runners including Jerry Ziak, Mike booth and Ryan Day. I was within sight of Jamie Epp, Kris Swanson and Bomba which tells me that I have a good 20 seconds to drop over 10 km this year. It is still hard for me to believe how I ran, that I was ahead of approximately 57,000 people, that I ran sub 31. I can't believe I beat a couple of former National Champions and even out kicked one of them to the line. I also recognize that with more training and hard work I can still improve. I do not think I had a perfect race, it was a grind. The first km was the one that felt good, the rest were a struggle and I had a good head wind for the last 4 km. I am happy, but also happy to get back to the track and trails and get in some good quality training.
I had a couple of easy runs the past couple of days and even had a little injection of pace at the end of today's run, anything to get to the top of a hill first... For the next few weeks I am going to try and have a little more fun with running and recreating some type of social life. Above all else I want to enjoy training and remembering the feeling of crossing the finish line. It would also be nice to get back to gay land at some point and hit the club for a change of pace. It might be fun to slow things down for a change...