Posted by: Tina | November 12, 2010

Haney to Harrison 2010 – Race Report

If you’re going to run a race, bring your running shoes. Biggest lesson learned of the day. Read on for the details.

Haney to Harrison 2010 100km Relay
Saturday November 6 was the final edition of the Haney to Harrison road race (next year it moves to Whistler and drops to 80km). It’s a 100km race from Haney to Harrison Hot Springs. Some crazies do the whole thing on their own, but the majority of runners do it as part of relay team, one manageable stage at a time. I took the last – and shortest – stage for my team, CMS Coaching.

When our first runner started at 6:30am, I was still warm and cozy in bed. After getting up and packing the kids off to my parents’ place, my husband and I made it to the fourth transfer point (Stage 5 start) by mid-morning to cheer on my teammates. After each handoff, we made our way to the next transfer point.

It wasn’t exactly exciting waiting, as runners straggled in at different times (start times were staggered) and there wasn’t a whole lot of pomp and circumstance at the handoff points. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the energy of the teams and can only guess at the logistical challenge faced by race organizers.

The Case of the Missing Shoes
At the sixth transfer point, we cheered on our seventh runner (one ahead of me), and I made my way back to the car to get changed.  I had about an hour before my leg would start. I found my shorts, shirt, and socks but one crucial thing was missing. My shoes! Where were my shoes? I could feel the panic rising as I rifled through all our belongings in the trunk. My shoes were neither in the vehicle, nor did it seem likely that they would miraculously appear.

A team in a car parked behind us offered to loan me a pair of shoes. While I very much appreciated their kind offer, the size 9 men’s runners they let me try on just weren’t going to cut it. Luckily, I flagged down one of my teammates who managed to locate another teammate who had run the third leg of the race and who could loan me her hot pink size 8 women’s runners. We stopped en route to my transfer point to cheer on our runner on the course at the time (in a fabulous pink tutu and fairy wings) and grabbed the shoes. They were a bit big, but they would be okay for my leg.

My Run Leg, sans Pace Watch
The other problem with having to borrow shoes was that I wasn’t going to be able to track my pace because my foot pod was on my regular shoes, in all likelihood sitting forlornly at home. My fear was that I would have trouble finding and holding an appropriate pace, and that I would let my whole team down with a much-slower-than-predicted run. My biggest problem – and a common one among runners – is that I go out much faster than I should right off the start and then slow way down at the end. I rely a lot on my pace watch to keep me in check from charging out too hard, and then from slowing down when it starts to get hard.

I asked Sean, my teammate and a coach with CMS Coaching, for his advice. He told me to go fairly easy for the first five minutes, then pick it up to the ten-minute mark, and then go as hard as I could bear for the rest.

So that’s what I did. After getting my timing wristband in the handoff, I took off (through a puddle, as luck would have it). I reminded myself to pull back a bit off the top, and then got into what felt like a steady rhythm. It was a challenge because there were no kilometre markings so I had no idea how much farther I had to go. I knew how long I had been running but, again, I had no gauge of how fast I was going.

I knew I was getting close when I started seeing signs for race parking. And then, suddenly, there was the footbridge to the finish line. I could hear Steve King’s voice saying my name, and then I was finished.

My Race Results
I am happy to report that I managed to hold my pace. And not just my pace, but a much faster pace than I had planned. If I had my foot pod, I would have been slower because I had planned on holding 4:45/km, and my final pace turned out to be 4:34/km (for me, this is very fast)! My final time for 7.87 km was 35:55. Our team came 2/45 in our category (open mixed), with a total combined time of 7:43:39.

What Made me Run Fast
Forgetting my shoes and foot pod clearly contributed to making me run faster. I was so worried that I would be slow that I totally overcompensated in the other direction. I have learned a lot about running over the last year, and thinking about the following things while running my leg of the race contributed to making me run fast (for me).

  1. 8km is a short distance. It does not last long.
  2. While it is easy to let up as a race gets harder (i.e. as you fatigue), it is supposed to get harder because you’re working to keep up your pace. So grit your teeth and bear it. See point 1 above.
  3. I read on Joe Friel’s blog that you can run faster by running with either a faster cadence or a longer stride. Therefore, every time my cadence dropped, I consciously picked it back up.
  4. Focus on the running. When I have my pace watch, I invariably slow down whenever I start daydreaming. So I kept bringing my mind back to my body and what it was doing, rather than let it think about how delicious chocolate milk would taste at the end.

Lessons Learned
All in all, it was a fun day. And I walked away with a few lessons learned:.

  • Learn your pace. Learn your pace. Learn your pace. Top runners don’t use pace watches on race day. Their bodies know how fast they are going. I plan to focus on developing this sense over the next year.
  • Don’t rely on technology too much to make you a better athlete. In most respects, it can be a big help, but it could maybe hold you back from achieving your full potential.
  • Fear can make you faster.
  • Wear hot pink shoes if you want total strangers to cheer wildly for you as you race.

And, finally:

  • DON’T FORGET YOUR SHOES ON RACE DAY. Check your inventory before you go to the car, then check it again when you get in your car.

By the way, I found my shoes in the garage. I left them there in the chaos of strapping the kids in.

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