Short course

12 May 2007

I was in Montréal last week-end (for a font conference) and had noticed there was a 10k run there. I liked the idea of running a race in French, was intrigued by the thought of measuring my pace in km, and thought it would be fun to run somewhere that I was unknown — so I could screw up without shame. But Montréal is bigger than SB and the race was about 30 miles from my hotel at 8am Sunday morning. Public transport didn’t seem to work on Sunday mornings and while I could easily get a taxi from my hotel, I expected it would be hard to find one at some random park out in the suburbs at 8:40 or so. (And a taxi driver might not be pleased to have a sweaty smelly George in his backseat).

So I didn’t race.

Then on Tuesday Rusty asked in passing if I were running this week-end. I hadn’t even noticed we had a 10k:-). It would not be in French of course, but it was about time I raced again. So I thought “Why not?”

It was on the UCSB bike path which Jeff and I had measured and marked last fall, and as I biked to the start I saw that the turn-around was not at the 5k mark but was a little sooner. So should I run a true 10k and get a real time? Or run the abbreviated version and race? Race.

Of course.

We’d marked the course every km and every 1/4mile… but it was only marked in one direction. If I measured my splits every km everything would work when turning at the 5k(sort of) mark. And anyway I wanted to accustom myself to running km splits — in case I ever do run a race outside the US. I figured I wanted to run 3:40s. Give or take.

We set out. I quickly took third place, which seemed about right in this field — but the amazing thing was that the guy in second place was about 10, one Sachio Badham. I expected him to fade quickly, but he didn’t — he was still ahead of me at the 1/4 mile mark. I did pass him before the 1/2, but he did not really fade even then and ran a 42:16 race. Quite impressive.

I myself was much too fast at the first quarter, 83 seconds. I was shooting for about 88, 89. So I slowed, and let Bill catch me. Bill should be in front of me anyway. Third place again.

At the turnaround I had run 18:15 — which would be a 5k PR for me (by 5 seconds, but still a PR), except the distance wasn’t 5k.

Then I had to slow. Not hugely, but I needed a rest. At about 6k two guys passed me. I was still tired and they pulled away from me. At 7k I felt more nearly rested and picked up the pace again. I passed one of them, but couldn’t catch the other (Travis). The last half mile has some small hills and at the top of the second hill I almost caught him… but he ran away from me as it leveled off and finished 3 seconds ahead.

36:37 for me. 3:40/km. A significant PR. But it was a short course.

I was fourth place overall. When the results were posted I discovered I was also fourth in my age group. That seemed unfair. Oh, they used 10 year age groups. But still — the top four runners were all in their 40s? Travis isn’t in my 5year age group (none of the top three were). Would I have tried harder to catch him if I’d known he was in my 10yr age-group? Probably not, I was tired.

Afterwards I went back and measured the distance from the turn around to the 5k mark. 192 shoe lengths. My shoes are ~11 inches. That works out very close to 178 feet or 1/30th of a mile. We missed that distance in both directions so 1/15th of a mile short. Ulp. At a 6minute pace that means I need to add 24 seconds to my total time. 37:01. A four second PR. I didn’t even break 37. Nor did I break my 5k PR. Rats.

Jim says others think it was shorter. I hope they are right. Maybe my shoes squish down when I press them end to end.

Two weeks later: I measured the course difference with my wheel and found it was even longer than I thought: at twice 188 feet. Which works out to being 26 seconds at a 6 minute pace. Still a PR, but only by a second or two

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