I want to get a bit better at the 10 km distance and part of that is just building up more experience. With that in mind, I decided to take part in this year’s Foulées Joyeuses. They offer a 5 km and a 10 km. Two years ago I did the 5 km, now I figured I would try the 10 (which is really just two laps instead of one).
No specific training, I just want a more solid base since I seem to be keep on getting injured and what not if I push it into high 60/low 70 km per week. So instead I have kept it somewhat steady at 55, moving up reeeaaally slowly. Since 4 September, this have been my weeks: 47, 55, 29, 33 (was sick there), 45, 50, 56, 46, 58, 53, 45. Usually put into 5 days of running, e.g. a 55k week splits in: Rest, 10k + strides, 12k, rest, 10k + strides, 8k recovery, 15k.
I had started doing some swimming in August, but that died out when I got sick in September.
A lap starts with a bit of climbing for the first 1.7 km, then a quite steep downhill till 2.2 km in. You leave the roads there and turn into a trail of mud/packed earth. This changes into a shabby wooden platform because the ground is a bit swampy. The wooden platform is slippery when wet (and there are definitely some wet spots) and had a hole or loose plank here and there. Not the best underground. At 2.6 km it is back onto trails and a decent uphill till 3 km. You get a brief flat road and are then forced to plummet down an ankle breaker. Steep and terrible ground. Words do not do it justice and I do not have pictures of it. Luckily it only last 100-200 metre. A short reprieve follows and then you leave the park at 3.6 km and can start climbing on road again (8%s for 300-400 metre). It is briefly flat and then you climb gently towards the finish. Then you do it all again because you choose to do the 10 km.
Goals and Strategy
No goals! Strategy was to go low 4:00s per km and see how things felt. Do not kill myself in the first kilometre!
I was a few rows back from the front, but was OK with it. I figured I should use it to force myself to start slower. Once the start signal was given, I still did a bit of manoeuvring, but no crazy sprinting. I came next to An (previous winner and just in general faster than I am) about 100 metre in and asked her what shape she was in. If she said “good”, I knew I should not try to follow her. Her answer? “Worse than last year”. Guess I will not just let her race off into the distance!
A driveway downhill put me in front of her and I kept the pace up. She did not come back next to me. I slowly got into the groove and picked off some people during the 1.7 km uphill. The downhill started, I was behind a bright orange shirt guy and kinda just followed him, it seemed like a good pace. We went onto the trail and then the wooden platform. He slowed down some for safety reasons and I had no way to pass him so I adjusted too. Stuck right on his tail for the duration of that part. He called out warnings of shoddy flooring, branches, and the like quite nicely.
We turned back onto trail and uphill and I slowly passed him. By the end of the uphill, I was in front. I was right behind a police man on a bike that was helping with showing the directions. That was nice, but then the downhill of hell started and the police man was forced to brake a bit (some “stairs” of sorts) and I was stuck behind him. He managed to go a bit to the side and I slipped by, racing downwards.
As it evens out, I recollected myself a bit and followed somebody about five metre ahead of me. We turned to the climbing and I slowed down a bit too much (to low 5:00s). Did not really notice the slowdown immediately, but some people passed me again, amongst which: bright orange shirt, An, and An’s boyfriend. Not sure if An just stuck close behind me the entire time or if I had faltered really badly. I decided I was not going to let it just end like that and adjusted my pace to An’s. This went nicely and we all ran towards the end of the first lap.
First lap just over 20 minutes, I think.
None of the people around me stopped for the 5 km there, all 10 km runners thus! A little group had formed with orange shirt, An, her boyfriend, five-ish other people, and I at the back. I felt a bit off and dangled at the back for a while there. Around the 6 km mark I think I was about five seconds behind An who was at the end of the group that was breaking apart. Once again I decided I was not going to let it end like that and decided to reel her back in slowly. I have a habit of just speeding up too much and dying. Not this time. I crept closer, passed two other guys, and in the middle of the first downhill (late 6k’s), I had caught up to An.
We turned onto the wooden platform, An in first position, then her boyfriend, then I. I was OK with this as I pondered what I wanted to still do in this race. We got off the wooden platform and I followed them up the trail hill. When we reached the downhill of hell, both her and her boyfriend somewhat tried to play it safe by going on the grass edge to the left of it. I decided against it and raced down the treacherous path itself. Faster, but more dangerous. Just like that, I found myself ahead of them and my racing decision made for me: I could not just let them pass me again.
I kept the pace going on the brief flat till the park exit. Once we turned onto the side walk uphill, I kept the pace up and maybe even sped up some. I did not feel like they were close behind me. I had a bit of a distance still on an Asian guy, but I noticed I was going slightly faster. Then when the road briefly flattened out again, I was with him and past him in the blink of an eye. Guess he did not speed up enough after the climbing.
I kept it up without ever really coming close to sprinting (all this was still around 175 heart rate which is just a bit over Tempo for me, the earlier parts of the race were low 170s). I crossed the line without being too exhausted.
My watch tells me I ran it in 40:39 (it also tells me the course may be 200-300 metre short). I should have pushed myself some more, definitely felt like I left some of the table if you look at just my heart rate. On the other hand, I cannot be unhappy with the result. I did not do any specific training (e.g., tempos, intervals, …). I just ran easyish and with some strides here and there. I hope that bodes well for when the actual 10 km training starts. Official results have not been posted yet, but I was way behind first (36s I think) and not even in the top 10. First female was also ahead of me. An was second female.
My goal is not set in stone yet, but at the moment I am entertaining the 10 km de l’ULB as a goal. That is, to run under 40 minutes on that course. I ran it before in 2015 (44:52) and 2016 (42:47). I hope to run some 10 km races before that point to get some more experience in. I will have to decide in the next month or two whether that will be the main spring goal.