The last time I participated in the Longest Day Road Race was 2010. It was one of my earliest races, and I ran the 5k in just under 29 minutes. At the urging of my Forerunners group leader, Lucy (who has been my guest blogger twice – see Chicago and LA), I signed up for this year’s 10k.
The Week That Was
Before I get to the race, I’ll do a quick recap of the week. And also jump in to mention that I’m teaming up with Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading for her Weekend Update linkup.
With uncharacteristic aplomb, I got myself out of bed before 6am and went out for a run. Not far – just 5k – but I figured it made sense to start the week off right. I was still sore from the gym workout that Jill and I had done the previous Friday, and Jill was delighted to know that I wasn’t the only one who had suffered the curse of the squat.
I had fully planned to go for a run, and even brought my gear to the office. Then I remembered a promise I had made to meet a friend for lunch – a friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years (despite the fact that she lives in North Vancouver). Friendship trumps fitness, and we had a wonderful time catching up!
Jill is going on holiday, so this was our last chance for the next few weeks to get to the gym together. It was a somewhat abbreviated workout, but it invokes kettle bells, some decent upper body work, and the dreaded squat.
A double day. Lana and I were joined by Andrea, and we completed nearly 7k around Lost Lagoon and Second Beach pool. And, as I had promised, I got back to my personal training with Lisa at the YMCA. During our lunch run, I told Lana I wanted to work on upper body – in particular, I said, I’d love to have those biceps that fill out the sleeves of a T-shirt. Her no-nonsense response?
Buy a smaller T-shirt.
Nevertheless, Lisa fulfilled my request, and focused on upper body and overall strength. We did back squats, dead lifts, rows, chest press, flies, shoulder raises…enough to keep my muscles burning for the foreseeable future. Commitment renewed!
Friday – Race Day!
The Longest Day Road Race is true to its name – it’s held the Friday before the summer solstice, and is held in the evening to prove that our days are long and beautiful. I was suffering from the various workouts of the week, plus full days at the office. But I had signed up, and this was not going to be my first DNS!
Longest Day Road Race
The race is held on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC), at the far west side of Vancouver. I rushed home from work, threw together a smoothie, and booked a car (see Modo) to drive the 20-some minutes to UBC. Because there was a football game happening concurrently, we were encouraged to park some distance away, and the walk to the start line took about 20 minutes as well.
A few shots of campus:
What I’ll call the ‘festival’ area included all the food tents, package pickup, a kids play area (with a giant blow-up slide) – all close to the start/finish lines. Ran into Elinor (@goodbyeclutter) and Jean, and then went to grab my bib. There was a giant lineup…but I realized it was for the 5k.
The 5k is popular for a couple of reasons. It’s part of the BC Road Running Series, 14 races held throughout BC. You score points for each race and, if you run 5 or more of them, you have the potential to win a prize. Also, this race is the BC Athletics 2015 5K Road Race Championship – with accolades and prizes for the age group winners. In short, it’s a big deal.
I had signed up for the 10k, and since I was early the package pickup was quick and painless. I grabbed some free popcorn (which I would later regret), watched the start of the Kid’s Mile at 6:30pm, mingled with some running friends, and lined up to cheer on the speed demons as they headed out at 7pm for the 5k.
With the 10k beginning at 7:15pm, I gathered in the corral with a few of the Forerunners gang. I was feeling a bit anxious about how I would perform, so it was great to have the camaraderie and encouragement of my team.
The Race Route
The 10k is a double loop. I’m not a big fan of double loops, since you can anticipate the pain that’s coming the second time around. It starts with a downhill, past Thunderbird Stadium (where a football game was taking place = lots of traffic!), around the south edge of the university, and back into the heart of campus – West Mall and then Main Mall. The route is great because you’re running past forested areas, and then looking at the varied architecture of UBC – some of the oldest buildings on campus, and some of the newest. At the very north end of the route there’s a distant view of the ocean.
I started out too fast. My first kilometre was 4:20, which is not a sustainable pace. I could see Lucy’s swinging ponytail and brilliant yellow shoes for the first few kms, and then she was gone. Karen, one of the owners of Forerunners, was cheering us on at about 2.5k, which was awesome. Just before the 3k mark, there is a short, steep uphill – unexpected, and tough. There are also a couple of little out-and-back sections to add on distance, before reaching the 5k mark and starting all over again. I was cheered into the second half by Coach Carey and a few others.
By now, the crowds had thinned. On the fast lap, we were still catching up with some of the 5k stragglers. This time, it was pretty quiet. Around 6k, a guy came up behind me and, pointing at his GPS watch, said: “This thing lies like my first wife. Just told me a did a 10-minute kilometre!” – which was clearly not the case, as he barrelled past me. The popcorn I had eaten before the race was fighting back a bit, so I didn’t feel great. Karen was still there on the second loop, though, and her encouragement really pushed me forward to that horrible uphill.
My legs felt like rubber. I think all the squats of the last few days were finally taking their toll.
I was just getting ready to push to the end when one of the course marshals directed me down the final out-and-back…I had forgotten about it! Nevertheless, I kicked it up a notch and made it to the finish line. But not in record time.
The real draw of the Longest Day Road Race is the food! Included in your registration is a full-on buffet of burgers (including veggie burgers) or hot dogs, raw veggies, salad, fruit, chips, ice cream, cookies, drinks, and even a fudge brownie! I took advantage of everything, cramming it onto the single paper plate, and stuffed myself silly. The burger was cold and I was a sweaty, sticky mess – but it didn’t matter! There was a $5 per drink beer garden, but I didn’t partake. I was exhausted. We walked back to the car, and headed home. What a fun night!
Chip time: 48:42
Average pace: 4:52 min/km
Place overall: 86/403
Age category place: 33/92
(NOTE: the age grouping, usually in 5-year increments, was 40-59 for me this time…quite a spread!)
I think about 10 folks from Forerunners participated in either the 5k or the 10k. And we were all there on Saturday morning for our clinic, an easy 15k to Lost Lagoon and back. I’m impressed that everyone was out in force – shows how much we love running!
Happy Father’s Day! I actually wrote an ‘Ode to Dad‘ for the blog, and we did our best to not make each other cry when we spoke in the evening. Otherwise, most of the day was spent on the balcony, enjoying the longest day.
Simple and straightfoward race. Well organized. Fun and festive, with good announcements and decent communication from registration onward. Price is the same for 5k or 10k – just $33 for earlybird, or $38 regular. That includes food.
It’s possible to pick up your package at the Running Room on Thursday night, but it was simply easier to show up a bit early on race day. The lineup for the 10k pickup was short, so it took like 2 seconds.
You can buy a tech t-shirt, but I’ve got enough as it is. No medal for this race (unless you actually place).
As described, it’s a painful double loop. Mostly flat, with a nice long downhill at the start and a challenging (but short) uphill at 3k/8k. Scenic and enjoyable, particularly in the cool evening weather typical of the summer solstice time of year.
There was one aid station at 3k/8k – I think they had both water and energy drinks, but I didn’t slow down to partake.
Great food! Wonderful selection of stuff. I think the burgers would have been fresher/yummier for those finishing early (i.e. 5k runners) because by the time I got there, everything was kind of cold. But it was quick and efficient to get through the line, and I really enjoyed it. There were door prizes, too, but I didn’t win anything.
In terms of what I needed and expected of this race, I think it was very well put together. I liked the fact that we got cheap ($4) parking on a campus where it’s very expensive to park – but with the discount code it was reasonable, if a wee bit far from the start line. Volunteers were great. Sponsors were great.
Have you ever run an evening race? Do you prefer racing in the mornings or evenings? What’s your opinion of double loop races?