After last week’s 5000m, this 10 km would be the closing of my season. I had no races to aim for after this, so I hoped to go out with a bang (i.e., a nice PR). I am not saying I won’t jump into another race in the coming month or two if I find one, but I think there are pretty much none left that I care about.
I will only describe the week since the last race, more details can be found in that race report and the ones that come before it. Maybe I need to write a bit of an overview of the past few months of training, but this is not the place that will be happening.
I kept the week pretty calm, this time I did want to do a bit of a taper. It’s the final goal of the season after all. The day after last week’s race (i.e., Sunday), I did an easy 16 km just to get to 100 km for the week still. Monday was 13 km and Tuesday I did a light workout: 3×1.5k at JD’s Threshold pace (±3:35/km). Following the approach in his plans, I doubled the rest for that workout in race week: 2 minutes jog instead of 1 minute jog. Distance for the day was 14 km. The rest of the week I did: 13, 13, 10, and 7 km. Strides on Thursday and Saturday. Race on Sunday.
Goal and Strategy
My PR on this distance is very weak compared to my more recent 3000 and 5000 results. I have not raced a 10 km in years and the time I use as my PR is just based on the average pace I ran during the Antwerp 10 Miles in spring 2019: 37m34s. If I go for an actual 10 km race it might be the Jogging ‘80 back in Oct 2018: 39m16. That one is a bit up and down and also goes through some trail and grass paths. Not very conducive for good times.
If I take last week’s 5000m PR (16:40) however, I would expect a sub 35 (JD’s calc predicts a 34:35, Tinman’s a 34:45). If I then take into account that I think I went a bit too slow during that race still, then who knows where I end up on a good day. That might be evened out by the fact that this is a road race though, not the easy comfort of a track.
Either way, the goal is going under 35 minutes, with as much margin as I can squeeze outside my body. It’s the Belgian Championships, so I hope I will have my pick of people running similar paces.
The men’s race was to be at 15:30.
At breakfast I did my usual muesli and soy milk (150g and 300g respectively). Had some tea and mostly sat around all morning. Just past 11 I had an early lunch. Two bowls of leftover spaghetti bolognese that I had made and also eaten the night before. By 12:50ish another guy from my club picked me up by car to drive over to Lokeren, about a 50 minute drive away. Parking was about a km away from the start so we walked over to pick up our bib and had a quick look at parts of the course. Next we went back to the car and started our warmup an hour before the start. We did 5 km at a decent clip (4:18 says Garmin) which did have me wondering we were going maybe too fast for me. That said, my HR stayed low enough (peaked at ±144, aka around the upper end of my recovery HR). Then we changed into racing gear and jogged on over to the start. Arrived about 10 minutes before the start. I wasn’t in the mood for some strides so instead did some more dynamic stretching before lining up in the crowd. My envisioned time was about midpack so I tried to stand more or less in that area of the crowd. Luckily there were only about 250 participants so it did not matter as much as in a bigger race.
Weather: 16C, cloudy, just enough wind to help cool down without being annoying.
As is tradition, the start and first km was a bit fast. I was not particularly worried, I figured it would even out soon enough. There was some minor weaving, but there was enough room to accommodate it in the first km. After that we’re on a more narrow path along the river though, which made overtaking a bit trickier. I had settled in behind a group, but it felt a bit too slow. About 1.5 km in, we cross the river again over a narrow pedestrian bridge. On the bridge, someone from club “AV Toekomst” came from behind and zoomed onwards, I decided to follow him to ensure I did not settle in too much and lose any chances of going sub 35.
We passed a water station about 2.1 km in and I grabbed a cup to empty over my head. Not that I was overheating, but I figured I’d get ahead of that curve. I kept following AV Toekomst guy, though I felt his pacing was not super consistent. At least it helped me keep up my pace. Left to my own devices it’s easy to slow down a little. By the 3 km marker he suddenly started speeding up a lot more though and I had to let him go. I imagine he saw his split, wanted more, and adjusted accordingly. I feared I would blow up trying to match that move.
A little before the 4 km mark, a few 100 metre of cobbles starts. I think focusing on not messing those up made me miss the km marker itself. I also do not quite remember what I was doing in the race at that point (following someone? chasing someone? who knows). After that follows a straight stretch of 300-400 metre in which I think I slowly reeled in a guy in front of me. By the end of that stretch, a group of 2-3 guys had done the same to me and joined me as we went through the left turn back towards the start line. One of them took the lead and I matched his move.
Me, that guy, and another guy change the lead a few times as we run along the river again. By the time we reach the pedestrian bridge, I once more feel like we slowed down. Maybe it goes up ever so slightly here that it is enough to make me notice it? Either way, the two others accelerate at the short descent from the bridge and I try to match.
After this I am not entirely sure any more whether it’s the same guys or two others I catch up to or that catch up to me, but by the time we reach the water station, just under 3 km to go, I am with an M45 guy (the masters categories have an extra bib on their back to identify themselves to their competitors) and a regular category guy. I let them do the leading as I don’t have the energy to take the lead myself. Or rather: I’m always a step or two behind and it’s a narrow enough sidewalk stretch that just trying to overtake would be too much effort. I also seem to lose a few metre in every turn so it’s enough effort just to stick with them. Somewhere between km 7 and 8 we catch up to AV Toekomst guy, he’s paying for his speeding up earlier. We pass and drop him in either that km or the next one.
As we go through the cobbled city centre again, the M45 guy seemed to be having some trouble. The other guy decided to speed up and I take over the lead from the M45 guy. The hope was to hang on to the other guy, but that quickly failed, he was going too fast. I also did not drop the M45 guy, maybe my passing him reinvigorated him. The race ends with a lap on the local track. With about 300 metre to go, M45 overtakes me again with a bit of a kick. He seemed to slow down right after the turn though and halfway the back straight I decide to kick and try to overtake him back. He finds another bit of energy however and kicks again, I don’t have the speed to answer that move and he takes some distance.
My official chip time was 34:37 (strava). Pretty close to the 34:35 JD’s calc predicted. Happy with that time, since the only minimal expectation I had was “at least run sub 35”. I finished in 83rd position of the 178 finishers of the Belgian Championship. 217 had signed up, but it seems about 30 people did not end up showing up. Ranking is based on gun time, but that’s a ±1 place difference. Not like I was close to any medals anyway. Since we crossed the start to begin the second lap, they have an official time there too. I think that is about 4.8km in. There I had a time of 16:54 and was in 99th position. Made up a decent number of spots in that second half it seems.
The winner was over 5 minutes faster, with a time of 29:20. The podium was close with 29:21 and 29:24. The first eleven guys dipped under 30 minutes. I’ve got quite a way to go still for that gold medal ;) The other guy from my club got second in his M40 age category, earning him a silver medal. He had a time of 31:58.
Assuming I identified the correct result, AV Toekomst guy was just 8 seconds ahead of me at the ~halfway point. By the finish line I was 20 seconds ahead of him though. M45 guy that I was with for a large chunk of the second lap finished fifth in his age category and had 6 seconds on me at the finish line. Chip time he is just 1 second ahead of me. That’s about everyone I can identify.
This is pretty much the end of the season. There are almost no running track meets left. Just one I might still be interested in. In the final weekend of October there is a 3000m in Brussels. It’s definitely not a goal, but perhaps by then I will feel antsy to race again.
Instead of track races, the cross country season is starting up. I am still a bit wary of my ankle, so I don’t know yet whether I will actually take part in any of those races. There might also be some indoor races, but those tend to be more geared towards sprinters and middle distances.
All things considered, it is probably time to just go back into training mode for the next several months. Time to get ready for faster 5000s in late spring. My weekly running volume is about where I want it to be, but I still need to add more intensity back into the mix. That will likely end up being the focus of the rest of this fall and of winter.