Monday, May 10, 2010


So after all that obsessing over times, things turned out fantastic. Fifty three minutes was the absolute bottom of what I thought would be possible, so I'm thrilled. It was a fun race too, despite being frustrated for some of it. Overall this was the most enjoyable Sun Run I've done.

Looking back through my times, I did 57:52 last year (guess I was misremembering that in my last post) and my training was roughly the same. My first Sun Run after moving to Vancouver was 49:32. At the time it was a bit of a disappointment, as I was more than 5 minutes slower than my PR. But, having kids and shifting responsibilities and dark cold winters compared to Santa Cruz kept taking their toll, and I got slower and slower. So, it is nice to see my pace moving in the other direction. Barefoot running (well, almost barefoot) has me excited about running again. I'm already looking forward to my next run, wondering if there is a small 10k on a faster course and if I could be in decent shape for a Fall half marathon.

I saw one other guy with Vibram Fivefingers and chatted with him a bit before the race started. He'd been training since January and was in the Vibram Sprints. There was another guy I didn't get to talk to who was actually barefoot. I want to do some barefoot runs soon. I can't imagine running a 10k with no shoes. Maybe if I switch to a Garmin GPS instead of my Nikeplus foot pod I would be more inclined to, but I love to geek out about the numbers and stats of my runs over time. As the start approached I was a bit nervous. It is further than I've ever ran in the Vibrams, and some shorter runs in the buildup left me seriously sore. Right up to the start I was worried I may have made a mistake.

But, this run was fun. After an initial quick pace down the gentle decline of Georgia Street, a couple things slowed me down. First, was the bottleneck that happens every Sun Run, as the course cuts up and through Stanley Park. This area of the race funneled 51,419 runners through a section of road that is less than 2 driving lanes wide at some points. You can't help but wind up behind a wall of slowpokes.
Then you play the game of looking for an opening, darting through it quick, and trying to pick a line through all the people, until the next time you are blocked. To make it more complicated, everyone behind you thinks you are the slowpoke and is looking for the same openings. It sounds frustrating, and it is, but it's also what makes running a big race like the Sun Run interesting. It must be boring for the elite runners up front who never have to deal with the traffic.

Not long after the crowds thin out is the brutal climb up to Burrard Bridge. That big loop is steep. That is the low point of the graph above. It is hard enough to maintain any kind of a pace faced with a hill like that. To make things worse, this is the point in the race where people who should have lined up further back in the start section decide to walk. They don't move to the right and then start to walk. They just give up: right in front of you.

What I wasn't prepared for was almost getting taken out by a hipster. Some girl with a shiny chrome lowrider bicycle, with a sissy bar and a springer front end, decided she just had to cross the street. Who knows? Maybe Urban Outfitters was having a sale on ironic t-shirts. I nearly wound up on the pavement in tangle of springs, spokes and 80's sunglasses. It wouldn't have been pretty.

But a beautiful thing about that hill is that after the brutally steep roads looping up to the bridge, the first half of the bridge is just steep enough. With the early part of the hill weeding out the non-runners, the top part of the hill makes me feel fast. I always seem to pass tons of people in this part of the run. The course is wide open at this point, plenty of room. At the top of the bridge I was in great spirits and able to hold a decent pace down the back side and for some time on the flats.

Between 6.5 and 7.5 kilometers on the course I was tired. Really tired, and it shows in my pace. There are some twists and turns there, and the course narrows again making it more crowded. But I felt beat, and was pacing myself with slower runners than I should have. It was around here I kept thinking that it was a huge mistake to mostly do 7km runs while training. I had that miserable, tired before the end of a race feeling, that sometimes means it is all going to fall apart. Around this time I got a little hot spot on my right big toe and thought it was blistering, increasing my gloom. But I snapped out of it after awhile. I was able to accelerate a couple times, before my time drifted back down.

Again my head drifted back to the times. I had decided not to look at the ipod for pace and time in case it was off. Interestingly, the iPod has a glitch sometimes where it doesn't give the voiceovers, and that happened on this run. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. It turns out the iPod read 9.34km when I crossed the finish line. I'm not sure if that would have motivated me or crushed my spirits when my ass was dragging. I'm a bit concerned with the accuracy since I switched to the VFFs. It seems my pace fluctuates more than with regular shoes, and I'm not sure if the iPod can deal with that. My pace was much more constant last year, and the accuracy was great, logging the 10k at 9.97km. I'm hoping I can get it a little closer with further calibrating, but I guess 93% accurate isn't so far off as a training tool. I love the new feature where you can calibrate a run to a known distance after the fact though. I'm not sure if this also improves the accuracy of future runs, but we'll see.

I felt good for the rest of the run, including the Cambie Street Bridge, which has been demoralizing for me in the past and I was a bit worried. But I ran strong. The toe didn't hurt. I found my wind and kicked it out up over the bridge, holding a good pace through the flats to the finnish. Can't tell you how excited I was when I saw the time on the iPod. Blissed out.

I love these goofy shoes and I'm already looking forward to my next run. Maybe tomorrow morning.

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