Race Report – Sporting Life 10k

Race Date: May 12, 2013

I had heard nothing but good things about this race. The biggest 10k in Toronto with this year’s number of runners totalling an astounding 27,000! It’s a fast course that runs pretty much straight downhill with just a couple of inclines along the way. Not to mention running down Yonge Street, my absolute most favourite street to run. The goal today was a PB! I just could not wait!

Us at the start of SL10k

Keeping warm in the corral
Photo by Ginny

Getting to the start was a bit of a hassle. Travelling the 7k from downtown up to the start line with no subways and not too sure how often the buses would come, we decided on a taxi. It was pretty chilly outside for a mid May morning so once there, we kept warm in the local Starbuck’s for awhile before heading out to our respective start corrals. There we stood, some of my running peeps and I, trying to stay warm in old throw away sweaters and garbage bags (who said running was glamourous?) as we waited for the race to begin. The start went off in waves, each corral leaving 10 minutes after the one before it. We inched up every few minutes until it was finally our turn. We wished each other a good run, threw off our extra layers and headed off!

With the minimal training I had done for this race, I was hoping my ATB training would carry me to that PB I was running for. I turned on my music, and focused solely on my run and for the first time ever, on my technique. I started out pretty strong. I was feeling light on my feet and moving at a 6:05/km pace for the first 10 minute split. A great start! And then I came to the first of 2 hills. I ran through a scheduled walk break on the downhill and took the walk at the beginning of the incline. My legs were feeling the lack of hills training. It was time for some positive self-talk. “Focus Linda. Focus. Not on the tired legs but on the race.” It seemed to work.

Now I was looking for the first water station which was around the 4k marker. Being a slower runner, and hearing horror stories of races running out of water, I always run with water just to be safe. This time I was running with 1 bottle of half strength Gatorade.  As I approached the first table at the water station, I could see it was a disaster.There was no water poured, the volunteers were trying so hard but they were getting hammered and there just weren’t enough of them. Runners were going behind the table trying to get water for themselves. I decided I wasn’t going to waste time there. I had my watered down Gatorade with me. After the first couple tables things were more organized. There was water and volunteers handing the glasses out. I grabbed one, took a quick sip and carried on. **Note to runners: there are usually a few tables at each water station. Try not to overwhelm the first table. It causes unnecessary panic for everyone.

I crossed the 5k mat at 31:49. I was definitely on target for a PB which at the time of this race held at 1:05:27. This in itself kept me going… straight down Yonge Street! And then something happened around 7km. I’m not sure what exactly it was. I’ve gone over it and over it in my mind and scoured my Garmin track and can’t figure it out. Continuing as we turned off of Yonge Street onto the flat part of the course, I somehow lost about 30 seconds. It’s confusing to me because I had taken a shorter walk break just before this knowing a water station was coming up that I would be slowing down for and still lost valuable seconds. Now I had some time to make up.

I was coming into the final few turns with just 2k to go. At this point we were passing people who had already finished the race and they were cheering us on. The running community is so great. As I took the final right turn, I looked at my watch and saw that even with the time I had lost, I was still within reach of a PB. I sped up a bit with the finish line in sight. But then I saw it – the crowd of people attempting to cross the finish mat. I came to a complete stop just a couple strides short of the mat, assessed the situation, waited a couple seconds, and stopped my Garmin.

Finish at the SL10k

Glad I didn’t wear red. It’s easier to find me in my finish line photo

After seeing my official time I can say that it took me 32 seconds to cross the finish line. It’s not clear what caused the back up. It might have been the fact that we had to walk through two streets that were still open to traffic being directed by police in order to get to the park where they had all the post race activity going on and had to wait our turn to go. Or it might have been the lack, or should I say absence, of race officials moving people along through the finish chute once they crossed the finish line. It could possibly have been a combination of both.

In the end, I was really disappointed with the way the race was organized. Throughout the entire event, from start to finish, we never really saw any sort of race official, other than the volunteers at the under-attended water stations who were working so hard to try and keep up. Even at the end, the nutrition area and the bag check both seemed to be void of any sort of leadership.

For this race, I am posting two times. The time on my Garmin which I stopped a few seconds after I came to a halt right before the finish line, and the official time recorded in the race’s stats. Both earned me the PB I was looking for, and based on the situation, I feel justified to post my Garmin time since I ran the whole race to the end and was stopped a mere couple of seconds before I crossed the finish line. I’d like to try this one again next year, but I think I’ll take my chances and run the Yonge Street 10k. It’s the same course but put on by different people. Maybe it’ll be better organized. Hell, it couldn’t be any worse.

Garmin time: 1:04:42

Official time: 1:05:14

SL10k swag

Pre-race thoughts

Sporting Life 10k in 9 days! I’m not sure I’m ready for this. I love running down Yonge Street so I’ve really been looking forward to this race. It’s net down hill and a good chance for a PB. Unfortunately, since Around the Bay 30k March 24th, the other parts of my life have gotten in the way and I’ve had a hard time getting in the required training runs, so I’m not sure how well I’ll do.

I’ve got one more 11k run planned for tomorrow, then a couple shorter ones next week. I guess all I can do now is take out my winning attitude, try my hardest, and hope for the best!