Weeks 17+18 for Ottawa Marathon (race: Toronto Yonge St 10K)

We’re in the thick of spring marathon season and it’s been fun to follow some of the bigger races and see who’s running what times. Last post, I mentioned a bunch of guys who were running Boston. It looked like a tough day out there and results were mixed. Dylan Wykes unfortunately dropped out after 5km with an injury, Philippe Viau-Dupuis ran 2:21:16 for top Canadian honours, Christian Mercier ran 2:24:37 off a 1:10:32 NYC half in March, Maxime Leboeuf ran 2:25:10 off a 1:40:39 at Around the Bay, while Bryan Andrews appeared to have a rough day running 2:39:50 (after running 2:30 in December).

Closer to home, this morning the Canada Running Series put on the Montreal HM which also serves as a Canadian championship race. Some of the Canadians I was watching for were Eric Gillis (1:05:30), David Le Porho (1:06:54), Rejean Chiasson (DNF?), and Terence Attema (1:06:38). Back in October, Terence hinted that he was going to run Ottawa and, with that HM result today, it seems he’ll have no problem destroying me!

Next weekend, there are some more Canadians running half marathon tune-up races before their spring full marathons. On May 3, Rob Watson and Kip Kangogo are running the Vancouver HM and Lucas McAneney is running the Mississauga HM. Rob and Lucas will be at Ottawa for the full as well.

Anyway, those of you who ended up here from Facebook probably already saw, but I had a good race at the Toronto Yonge St 10K last weekend, running 31:00.1 on the downhill course which was good enough for 8th place in a solid field. Below is a (not so) short brain-dump from that race followed by a recap of my training from the last two weeks.

Toronto Yonge St 10K

The Toronto Yonge St 10K is a race put on by Canada Running Series (the same organization that puts on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October).It is a crazy fast, downhill race that runs straight down Yonge Street. My quick review of past results told me people usually ran 45-60 seconds faster on this course than they did on a flat course. I incorporated that fact into my plan for the race as my recent interval workouts told me I should be able to handle 3:09/km (31:30 over 10K) but adjusted my target pace to 3:05/km (30:50 over 10K) for the downhill.

There were a bunch of quick runners on the elite starting list (take a look here), including 2012 marathon Olympian, Eric Gillis. The other guys I figured would be out of my league were Sami Jibril, Matt Loiselle, and Adam Hortian. There were another 10-20 guys that with whom I figured I could be competitive.

I drove into Toronto the morning of the race, got on the shuttle to the start, picked up my kit, and then I waited. It was 5°C but felt like -1°C because of the 30+ km/h wind and since it was so early, the buildings blocked most of the sunlight. Needless to say, it was too cold to be hanging around in shorts and a singlet so I kept my gear on until 8:25 then checked my bag. I went out for a short, cold jog to loosen up, did some strides then came back to get a spot in the corral behind the elites. When they let us join the elites on the starting line, I was in the middle maybe three rows back (I’ve got to stop going for the middle…). The start was a bit of a jungle and I had to hop over legs to avoid tripping and eventually I kind of gently shouldered my way between the two people in front of me so I could get moving. (No elbows! This wasn’t cross country!)

Yonge St 10K start line
Yonge St 10K start line

Once we got over the first hill, I think I was about in 20th position. I hung on to the back of a pack of six-or-so guys for the first couple kilometres as the wind between the buildings was pretty intense. It’s hard to know for sure since the buildings messed up my watch’s GPS signal, but I think we put in a couple sub-3:00 kms. It was kind of hard to draft since it seemed like the wind was coming from all directions and was just pushing us around. Eventually I got to the front of that pack and started putting in an effort to catch a pack of four in front. By the time I caught the pack of four, it had fallen apart and the last guy I caught pulled in behind me. Well I thought that was dumb and didn’t want to give anyone a free ride, so I pushed harder to try breaking away – screw the wind! At some point there, I came through the 5K split at 15:24. Eventually I dropped the guy trailing me and was kind of in no-man’s land. (I would later learn that I was in 7th place at that point with five guys about a minute ahead and one other 30 seconds ahead; no one within striking distance.)

Chase packs forming
Chase packs forming

A little while down the road, I heard a guy coming up on my shoulder and thought it was the guy drafting from earlier so I slowed right down so he could pull in front of me for a turn! Well, it turned out to be someone else – Rejean Chiasson, 2012 Canadian marathon champion – so I ran beside him instead of being a turd and tucking in behind. Shortly after, he left me in his wake and put in a 10 second gap. I was giving it all I had at the end and held 8th position for a time of 31:00.1 (3:06/km).

Can't get much closer to 30:xx...
Can’t get much closer to 30:xx…

This was a huge personal best from my 32:58 last summer, but I’ve known for a while that I’m in better shape now and have been due for a good 10K time. I’m not sure how I feel about counting a downhill course as a PB… but it was windy and a bunch of people said that was a big factor for them. So whatever, I worked hard, I’m happy with the result, and I’m looking forward to my next race which is the Ottawa marathon on May 24! Speaking of that… Here’s my training from the last two weeks.

Week 17/22

As I hinted at last time, my knee has started to give me a bit of grief so I took two consecutive days off and got in to physio, chiro, and massage to try fixing it up. Honestly, this is the best time that this could happen as I could fit in a down week here and hopefully be ready to go for the final four weeks of training. By Wednesday or Thursday it was feeling fine so I decided I was good to go for the race on Sunday. Other than the race, just easy running, strides to keep the legs turning over, and a brief tune-up on Friday to remind my legs how fast I wanted them to move on race day.

Monday: Rest (continuing to let my knee heal up).

Tuesday: Physio, massage, 30′ recovery (4 miles @ 7:12/mile).

Wednesday: Chiro, 45′ easy (7.1 miles @ 6:17/mile).

Thursday: 60′ easy with 6x 30-second strides (9.6 miles @ 6:14/mile).

Friday: [AM] 45′ easy with 3x half-miles at 10K pace (2:31, 2:33, 2:32) and 6x 15-second strides (7.2 miles @ 6:08/mile). [PM] 30′ recovery on grass (4.2 miles @ 6:57/mile).

Saturday: 60′ easy with 2 sets of 4x 20-second strides (9.5 miles @ 6:15/mile).

Sunday: [AM] Race: Toronto Yonge St 10K (31:00.1). [PM] 20′ recovery on grass (2.7 miles @ 7:11/mile).

Total: 53.8 miles, 5 hours 45 minutes.

Week 18/22

The goal of this week was to recover from the race and get in a marathon pace workout. I had planned a 21 miler with 10- and 6-mile marathon pace segments but as you can see from the paces below, the wheels really came off on me and I cut the second interval short. Not exactly sure what happened there but I’ll blame a strong headwind, maybe some lingering fatigue from last week’s race, and carrying my water bottles with me which caused the Cytomax mix to really fizz up (a few close-call burps…). I’ve got one more of these long workouts next weekend so I’ll be looking to redeem myself a little by running more conservatively (maybe 5:33/mile) and running a loop where I can leave my water bottles on my car.

My knee is still a little questionable after the 21 mile run on Saturday. I think something is tight and pulling so I’ve been hitting the foam roller hard and doing my strength training routines to hopefully even out imbalances. Speaking of cross training, after two months of being a slacker, I got in my prescribed two strength workouts, three core workouts, and a mobility session this week!

Monday: Physio, 20′ recovery on grass (2.9 miles @ 6:50/mile).

Tuesday: 60′ easy/steady with 8x 30-second strides (9.7 miles @ 6:06/mile).

Wednesday: [AM] 45′ easy (6.4 miles @ 6:46/mile). [PM] 30′ recovery on grass with a bunch of strides (4.2 miles @ 7:14/mile).

Thursday: 60′ easy/steady with 10 hill sprints (9.5 miles @ 6:31/mile).

Friday: 60′ easy (9.3 miles @ 6:21/mile).

Saturday: Workout: 2 miles easy, 10 miles at marathon pace (55:01 or 5:30/mile), 1 mile easy, 4 miles at marathon pace (22:50 or 5:41/mile), 2 miles easy.

Sunday: 60′ recovery (8.2 miles @ 7:07/mile).

Total: 72 miles, 7 hours 40 minutes.

What’s next?

Two more weeks of 70-or-so miles with three workouts remaining: a medium-long run with 2x 3-miles at threshold pace (~5:15/mile), a long run with 16 miles at goal marathon pace (5:33/mile), and one final threshold workout of 3x 3-miles. After that, I’ve got two weeks of tapering mileage and then it’s time for the biggest test of all – an 8+ hour drive with two kids in a Volkswagen Golf!

All kidding aside, I’m excited to get to the start line in Ottawa, put in a solid effort, hopefully walk away with a shiny new PB, drink a few celebratory/recovery beers, and do a bit of sight-seeing with my family!

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3 thoughts on “Weeks 17+18 for Ottawa Marathon (race: Toronto Yonge St 10K)

  1. Congrats Aaron. Nice time. Good to see Brandon Laan still at it—- to your right in that shot of the larger group.

    • Brandon Laan is an incredible runner. He ran the Springbank half marathon last fall pushing a DOUBLE STROLLER and finished 5th in a time of 1:14. He had me nervous for most of the race!

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