#Eastside10k Race Report – Running Naked

Posted: September 13, 2014 in My Story, Race Reports
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eastside 10k

I usually don’t sleep well the night before a race, and Friday night was no exception. I tossed and turned, and woke up on Saturday feeling anything but refreshed. I downed some coffee, forced myself to eat some oatmeal (I don’t love eating in the morning), and found a car2go nearby to get me to the start line of the Eastside 10K.

This was my second Eastside 10K – I participated in last year’s inaugural race. But while 2013 was chilly and foggy, 2014 was bright and sunny – ideal weather, really. I’ve participated in two other Canada Running Series events this year: the Modo 8K in March and (my most recent race) the Scotiabank Half Marathon. And while the package pickup for the Eastside 10K was mildly chaotic, I find these races to be some of the best organized and most fun!

I decided to try something new for this race – I intentionally ran ‘naked’. No, nothing like the Underwear Affair; I simply chose to forego any technology – no iPhone to play music or tell me my pace, no Facebook cheers, no watch with a timer. To be fair, I had my iPhone in my pocket to track my overall race, but I had no earphones and resisted glancing at it during the race.

You may recall the slight trauma I experienced during the BMO Marathon when my iPhone quit at kilometre 30, and I was forced to run ‘naked’ the rest of the race. That was unintentional and unexpected. This race was deliberate and an experiment in self-discipline and self-awareness.

eastside 10keastside 10k

The energy at the start line was great. Although Forerunners was one of the sponsors of this event, I, unfortunately, didn’t see anyone from my running clinic – so I was on my own. I also wore my race t-shirt – I know there are different schools of thought on wearing event shirts the day of, but something about being one of the 100s (or 1000s or tens of 1000s) dressed in {insert theme colour here} just makes me happy. This year, as you see, it was black. I washed the shirt Friday night, and it was dry and ready to race when I woke up.

At 8:30 sharp, we were off. Running without music is new for me, and it’s amazing what you notice when you don’t have familiar songs and beats to distract you. This is what I experienced:

The amazing sound of hundreds of shoes on concrete. As we ran across the Dunsmuir Viaduct the first kilometre, that really was the only thing I heard. Sure, one or two people cheering, others chatting – but that surge of energy from the feet of athletes propelling themselves forward – kind of amazing.

The guy making duck sounds. Because the Eastside 10K takes us through the poorest neighbourhood in Vancouver (the Downtown Eastside/DTES), and maybe because the race is smaller (about 1700 participants), there weren’t as many spectators or people cheering us on. So those that were out there stick in my memory. And just after kilometre one (and, on the return, just before kilometre 9), there was a guy with a duck sound thing – it made me smile. And if I’d had my music on, I would have missed it.

Phlegm guy. My experience in almost any run of a distance greater than 5 km is that you can easily get fixated on one particular thing – the weird gait of the person in front of you, a tweaky muscle, or a badly tied shoe. In my case, it was phlegm guy. Around the 3km mark, two guys ended up in pace with me, just behind and to my left. They were chatting away, but one of them kept coughing up phlegm and spitting with unusual energy and force. And he did it over, and over, and over. At one point they overtook me, and I got a look at him – just an average guy with excess mucous. But then I was anxious that I might end up in the firing line, and I pushed ahead. And for at least 2 kilometres, every 10-15 seconds, dude was hawking and spitting like a maniac. Dozens and dozens of times. I thought, Should he really be running? Is he sick? And then, after one particularly forceful iteration, a girl behind me said, “OMG, I’m gonna take that guy out!” And I knew I wasn’t alone. It was almost like water torture – or a dripping faucet – when was the next one going to come?

See how much I wrote about him? Seriously, for like a third of the race, phlegm guy was my obsession! But somewhere around the halfway mark, I blessedly lost him.

Lots of ‘Ohayo!’ and ‘Ganbatte!’ as we ran past the Japanese Language School on Alexander Street.

Not a sound, but a sight. Because this was my first post-recovery race, I hadn’t set a specific time goal – nor was I pacing myself. But as we approached the turnaround point in Gastown, I found myself behind the 50 minute Pacer – wearing bright yellow, easy to spot in the sea of black shirts. Was 50 minutes (my 2013 result) a realistic goal? I lost sight of her shortly thereafter, and stopped thinking about time.

The cheers (or maybe jeers?) of some residents of the tent city in Oppenheimer Park. One lady yelled out, ‘Nice fancy clothes!’ – not sure if she was complimenting or mocking, but I shouted out a thank you anyway!

The strangely annoying noise of my bib bouncing against the pins holding it too my shirt. Hard to explain, but when my surroundings were quiet it kinda bugged me – like change jingling in a pocket. But I got over it.

Lovely music from a singer/guitar duo at Heatley and Alexander.

Interlude:  It wasn’t until somewhere between 6km and 7km that I thought about it – my injury. The pain that kept me from running for the entire month of July. The thing that nearly made me decide to give up for #42for42 plan and skip Honolulu entirely. I thought about it – and realized there was no pain! Things are truly looking up… 

Two adorable little boys cheering for us around the 7km mark.

My own breathing. The last kilometre is an uphill onto the Viaduct, followed by a long stretch of ‘I’m never going to make it’. My breath was getting raspy, and I was making little groaning noises. Do I usually do that? Normally I can’t hear myself – a bit embarrassing! But I’m pretty sure everyone else is focused on themselves – no one is listening to me!

Then the finish line was in sight – and the number on the clock was still 49! I had a chance to better last year’s time! I heard the announcer say, “If you can see the clock, you can still get in under 50 minutes.” So I sprinted (at least in my mind) over the finish line.

eastside 10k

Fantastic dog tag style medal. Good quality warming jacket. Excellent spread of food. Beautiful weather. And a time just 5 seconds short of my 10k personal best (achieved earlier this year at the West Van Run). And I experienced it all without the aid of any technology, and I think I’m better for it. What more could I ask for? See you next year, Eastside 10k!

eastside 10k

Final Results

Chip time: 49:36
Average pace: 4:58 min/km
Place overall: 380/1461
Age category place: 35/87

Comments
  1. hilary says:

    Great race roundup, Bradley! I also made the switch a while back to running “naked” – and love it. It’s amazing how much more in tune with your body and surroundings you become when you don’t have music blaring in your ears! Btw you’re a really good writer!

  2. Way to go Bradley! Nothing beats a great race after coming back from an injury 🙂 Glad to hear you’re on the mend.

  3. […] at about the same time, I thought that phlegm guy was back. (Check out my Eastside 10K race report for context!) However, it turned out to be phlegm girl, and thankfully I either outpaced her, or […]