Another stab at racing 10 kilometres. I did this one two years ago and blew up entirely. This time around I figured I would pace myself better, which mostly means not starting too quickly. Two years ago their course was actually just above 9 km, but they have since rectified this to be 10 km. Or at least as precise as Belgian standards allow.
Past weeks have been aimed at low 60 km per week, spread over six days. Two of the days are recovery days, one should be a tempo, one a longer run. Sprinkle some strides in there when I remember to. This did not always work out. Especially the tempo parts, which is the first thing to get cut from the schedule if other things go wrong. And some things definitely did go wrong. I managed to roll both ankles in the span of about a week around new year. The right one especially bothered me as it got swollen and hurt for a week. I had a few days of sickness (snot, sore throat) about 12 days out from the race. Besides these things training has been going alright. Low 60s/week seems to have gotten manageable.
I planned this race to be at the end of a down week. That is, I aimed for about 45 km as week total. So since the Monday leading up to the race, I had run just short of 35 km.
In comparison to two years ago, a small loop has been added in the final few kilometre. I have got some notes that I had written down before the race, but I like this description that I saw on somebody’s Strava activity, because it does almost feel that way:
How is it possible for a loop to be uphill the whole way round?!
As for my pre-race notes, this is what they said
- 1.5km flatish (1.5km)
- 1.3km up heavy (2.8km)
- 800m down heavy (3.6)
- 700m up gently (4.3)
- 600m flatish (4.9)
- 700m up moderate (5.6)
- 200m down heavy (5.8)
- 400m up moderate (6.2)
- 1.2km flat/down (7.4)
- 400m down heavy (7.8)
- 500m up heavy (8.3)
- 700m flatish (9)
- 1km down heavy (10)
The first 1.5 km is on streets, after that things are less maintained. You have some parts that once were paved but have gotten a bit worse for wear, with cracks and potholes. There are some parts where there are rocks in the ground keeping the earth together, parts where a thin layer of slippery mud is on top of that. By and large though it was quite runnable. It also had not been too wet the days before so that may have helped.
I am writing this a week later after having spent the entire week working every free hour of my day, so the memory has gotten a bit foggy on those details.
Goals and Strategy
Do not blow up like last time! That was really my main concern. I figured if I got through the first 3 km alive (i.e., past the first major hill), everything would work out. Two years ago I went up that hill way too fast and never recovered from it. Time wise I figured something in the 40 to 42 minute range should be doable.
The start was going to be at 10:30. I woke up at 7:30 so I had time to eat in peace and get my body ready. A bit before 8:30 the girlfriend, who would be taking pictures, and I were out the door to catch a metro at 8:30. We arrived at the starting location a little around 9:30-9:35.
I went to pick up my bib and got told “the people from my group” had already come to pick it up. I was not part of any group, so I was a bit annoyed with this. I got told to try their information booth to get it resolved. Luckily, there were no issues to fix it there. I got handed a new bib without questions and it did not cause any problems in terms of my timing afterwards. Nobody asked for any ID at any point here, which may have been part of the problem to begin with. Oh well.
I had to go to the toilet and just like two years ago the line was huge. Wasted a lot of time standing around there. By the time all that was done, I had about 10-15 minutes left till the start. Jogged down to the starting line, did some strides, and squeezed in threeish rows from the start.
The thing with my starts is that I often start too quickly. I have a way to cheat me through this though. If I see a woman around the pace I want, I just stick behind her. A woman around that pace tends to be better than I am, with respect to our genders. So she is also more likely to be better at pacing. Thus, sticking behind a woman at the start helps me not fuck up. Which is what I did. First 500 metre are behind the woman who won the Jaarmarktjogging Jette race I participated in back in August. After that I switched to another one whom I stuck around for the next two or three kilometre. I believe after that she turned for the 20 km course.
A guy who was near us at this point must have been part of the organizing running club. Every person signalling the road, yelled out “Allez Marc” when they saw him. I dropped him once we started the hill after 1.5 km. Some other guy passes me up the hill, but I do not let it distract me from my own heart rate (low 170s, which is around my LT heart rate). This is the hill I killed myself on two years ago after all. He does not get particularly far and on the downhill right after the climb, I pass him again. We go a bit back and forth after that till the 20 km race splits away from the 10 km race just before the fourth kilometre. He and the woman who was running nearby peel off for that one.
For the next kilometre, I am running next to an older guy. The traily road here is not the greatest: stones sticking out and the like. Thus I never bother squeezing right behind him and just following, but instead we stay abreast of one another. Around the 5 km mark, I believe I drop him (I write this a bit later).
At 5.7ish, we briefly turn onto the side of an actual street for 100-200 metre before turning back into the forest and its traily ground. The water stand is coming up and I see a guy about 10 seconds ahead of me. At the water stand, he almost stops completely and I pass him. I grab a cup of water too, but do not slow down and just splash it on me. Drinking from cups is too hard and you do not need to drink for a 10 km race in cold weather anyway.
We turn right, downwards to the edge of Brussels and Flanders. This is the extra bit they added to get the race to 10 km total. We reach the “border” around 7.5 km in, run along it briefly and turn back away, up the hill. I have a brief difficult moment and a guy passes me. I figure by this point I might as well risk blowing up. I latch onto him. With about 1.5 km to go, the hill ends and I am not dead. From here on out it is first flat and then downhill. I feel better again, speed up, and drop the guy. By the time the downhill starts for the final km, he is already way behind. The girlfriend is there to take my picture, though I notice her too late to do any crazy moves. I keep up the pace towards the finish line, where the winner has already started his cooldown run.
The results have me at 41:16 in 40th position out of 872 finishers. Strava is about the same. That is 21 spots better than two years ago. I am recovered quickly after the race though, my heart rate was in the low 170s throughout, LT heart rate. I probably could have pushed slightly more. While I feel OK quickly after the race, I do feel my legs during runs on the days after the race.
The top three finished in 33:24, 34:21, and 36:23. Still a long way to go for me before I come near that. If ever. Two of the women finished ahead of me: 37:01 and 39:02. Not close to them either.
I am a bit unsure what to even aim for. It does not help that I will likely be abroad for both the 10 km de l’ULB and the 20 km door Brussel, two races I have used as targets or side targets in the past. So, I do not really feel like setting my sights on a particular race just yet. I am happy sticking to just getting more and better running in.