Running off course to get back on course

Ah, the misadventures of racing. Going into last weekend’s Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em 10k I had realistic expectations. I knew this race was not going to break any personal records. What I didn’t realize, however, was the extent to which this would be true. My finish time of 38:55 was close to 2 1/2 minutes slower than my 10k best. Yes, it’s early in the season and I’m climbing my way back into shape. But I, the guy in front of me, and at least two people behind us, also ended up running around 10.2k. We all ran off course.

This was the first year Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em offered a 10k distance. It’s usually a 5k race, just one loop around the outer road around Greenlake. They started both distances at the same time, and I assumed that completing the 10k would just mean racing a second lap around the course. Which, through 3.9 miles, seemed like the case. At the 4 mile mark, however, we diverted to the inner pedestrian loop of Greenlake, instead of turning onto the outer road. Another 400 meters of dodging pedestrians and kids on bikes and the guy in front of me figured we had missed the turn and needed to get back out to the outer loop.

So mid-race, not only did we slow to discuss what to do, but then cut back to the outer road and raced the last two miles on the outside loop. This actually set us off course and thus added extra distance. Yes, I managed to preserve the win, but it wasn’t pretty.

Awards after running off course

A Bainbridge sweep! With Keith Laverty, fellow island resident and winner of the men’s 10K.

The best thing about the race, though, was the focus it gave to my training. There’s nothing like the prospect of a painful race and a documented finish time to scare some intensity into your workouts.

I returned to running in early January, following a three-week planned break, and then a week of the flu. The first week I ran 5.5 miles. The second week was about 15, and the third around 22. The first attempt at speed came at the end of week 3, in the form of some hill repeats. Every year that I do this, I forget about the two-steps-forward-one-step-back process this entails. I like things that are linear, but unfortunately running is not always a forward progression.

Training over the last six weeks has had its ups and downs. Some days are great, others miserable. The thing that has been the most difficult has been returning to interval training. It just plain hurts. But then the sun came out yesterday. Not only literally, after days of pouring rain, but figuratively as well. For the first time in what feels like forever, I did not leave a track workout feeling completely dejected.

To anyone out there struggling to start or build back a workout routine, it happens. The hard work pays off. Eventually your strength returns and performance improves. It just takes time and patience.

Need a confidence building workout that works on endurance and turnover? Here you go.

1200m @ 10k pace
400m @ 5k pace
2000m @ 10k pace
400m @ 3-5k pace
800m @ 5k pace
400m @ Fast

Happy running and run happy!

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