Port Union Run for the Lions 10k Race Report

on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 7:52 PM

Did a 10k race yesterday. I've been wanted to try out a shorter race since the marathon to see where the fitness was at.  The Run for the Lions race coincides with a local Waterfront festival, but it's out in the east end, rather than downtown. It's a small little thing, but it seems it would be a good family thing, because there are a bunch of kids activities, like rock climbing, small simple rides and inflatable bouncy castles, all for free.  The race is just one of the components of the festival, though the race isn't free.

I did this race back in 2008. I did remember doing this a while back , but thought I had done it before I started this blog so didn't bother to check my race recap.  Back then it was only a 5k and it was really more of a fun run.  No official race results and you had to time yourself.  Googling around a bit, it seems that they have evolved the race a bit. They added a 10k option, and have chip timing so it's somewhat official. I originally wasn't sure I wanted to do the race because the course originally was an out and back with the first km or so along the lake and then you head north, presumably uphill. My race recap from before seems to suggest that the uphill part isn't so bad.

Original Course

However, while checking around earlier in the week, the race announced they had to change the route because of wash out conditions on the trail heading north. So the 10k race was changed where it was an out and back to the east to cover off 5k (and have the 5k'ers finish), past the start/finish line and then run west for another out and back to cover off  another 5k. This means that most of the race would be on the waterfront which I presumed was going to be flat so I registered. It was cheap at only $35. We got a cotton t-shirt. No age group awards, no medal, no frills, which I'm completely fine with.

After registering, the race director sent out an email saying the new route has a significant hill at about the 8 km mark even though it's on the waterfront.  Oh well. My goal doing this was to try for 4:15/km (6:50min/mi) pace for a finish time at around 42:30. I managed this pace for the 8k a few months ago on a hilly course so I thought trying to push that to 10k on a less hilly course with some additional weeks of training would be doable. Prepared for this race in a similar fashion to how I prepared for 8k race I did a few months ago including the breakfast of 2 packets of instant oatmeal and the warmup about 20 minutes prior to start which consisted of getting the HR to spike which it did, doing 2 hard strides and then walking around to get it to calm down and was ready to start.

There was a mass start of 10k'ers and 5k'ers so I positioned myself a little back from the start. Only took me 2 seconds to cross the start line. Start was a bit delayed which was sort of annoying because I didn't want to cool down too much. Anyways after a short delay, we are off. First little bit, I start off smooth and controlled, trying not to blast out of the gate. Come to the 4 minute mark and I start looking around for a 1k marker. None to be found. Great, the course wasn't marked. Guess the race hadn't evolved as much as I would have liked, since they didn't have markers back in 2008 either. 

My Gps autosplits at the 1 mile mark at 6:31. Yikes, a bit fast. I continue on and reel in some people.  The second mile includes the turnaround at the eastern part of the course which also has an aid station handing out water.  Somewhere during the 2nd mile, I check my watch and it shows my HR is spiking, but looking at it afterwards it appears my HR monitor wasn't getting a good reading.  2nd mile split is 6:54. I don't think I consciously slowed down at this point, but maybe I did because I wanted to back off the effort level. Also since this mile contained the turnaround, I'm sure some time was lost to the sudden deceleration of the turnaround. There was also a wind coming from the east so that was also a factor.

We continue running back towards the start line and I'm running with 2 other guys and we're sort of jockeying for position which is sort of good cause it results in a fairly good mile 3 split time of 6:41. Nice. The other two guys move ahead of me at this point and it seems that they are turning on the gas and I realize that they are most likely doing the 5k and so they are almost finished.

As I approach the start/finish line they had a weird three chute split of the timing mat. 5k's would finish on the left, 10k's would finish on the right but coming from the opposite direction and those like me at the moment who were half way through the 10k would run through the center.  The center chute wasn't that wide, maybe 1.5m or so but because it was a small race (34 total people doing the 10k), there wasn't much congestion. Running over the timing mat however gave us an intermediate split time which is something you usually don't get during 10k races. The timing mat gave me a "5k" split time of 20:31 which I saw on the clock as I was approaching. I had a feeling right away that the 5k was probably short since there is no way that I just ran 4:06min/km (6:36min/mi) pace for 5k.  So the two guys as I thought, peel off to the left chute to finish and I continue on.  At this point, I'm running by myself, and have no idea how many people are ahead of me. I can see the lead woman about 40m ahead of me and I'm slowly catching up to her. I pass her shortly before the 4 mile mark which has a split of 6:44. Pretty good. At this point, we're heading north on the first of two out and back portions at the western part of the course.  This first part follows the path of the normal course which heads north. There were some smallish hills, but not the sustained uphill that I thought.  As I approach the turnaround I had counted that there were three people ahead of me.  As we reach the turnaround, another aid station and then we head south.  At this point, I'm resolved to running by myself since I'm pretty sure I can't catch the three people in front of me and I'm just hoping I can hold off the lead woman We head back towards the lake and once we hit the waterfront trail, we then do another out and back to the west. This part contains the hill that the race director was warning us about and boy it's a doosie. This would be the slowest mile of the whole race at 7:18. Another turnaround, and water station and we head back east towards the finish line. Mile 6 is 6:50 and the last little bit which my GPS measures at 0.1 was done in 33s.

Final finish time of 41:33 which would be a 10k PR by about 30 seconds. Pretty sure the course was short though. My GPS measures it a 6.1 miles which is about 160m short. I asked around after and various people had it measured at between 9.66km and 9.85km. I measured the course in google maps and it measures as being 9.82km. Not quite exact due to the hills, but close enough.  My time for 9.82 km would have me at 4:14min/km (6:49 min/mile pace) which would convert to a 42:19 10k time so goal was met.  I came in 4th overall.

1:    6:31
2:    6:54
3:    6:41
4:    6:44
5:    7:18
6:    6:50
6.1: 0:33

Polar stats and map

I had thought during the race that my HR was spiking, but it was jumping all over the place and I can see afterwards that it was just not getting a good reading. It started doing this during this week. I wonder if the battery is running low.  I've only been using it for a couple of months so it's hard to believe the battery is dying. It does appear to get some good readings at a couple of places, including a sustained stretch from the 4 to 4.8 mile. Highest Hr was 185 for a brief moment. 

Polar HR

I also ran this with my Fitbit which has an optical HR sensor and it reports a non-dramatic HR profile with no spiking.
FitBit HR
Nice course. Nice scenery.  Might do it again, if they fix some of the issues like having marker signs on the course. Also, the course could easily have been made longer by extending any or all of the turnarounds by some additional distance to make up the 180m or so difference.  As I mentioned before, the race isn't really the main event of the festival. I wouldn't say that it doesn't get the attention that it deserves, since I'm sure a lot of time and effort still went into organizing the race, but I get the feeling that the race director isn't a runner so wouldn't be familiar with what might be important to racers.  For me for a 10k race, it has to be a fairly accurately measured course with markers.  Even if the total distance isn't accurate, as it was here, having markers on the course is still important as it gives me the ability to pace myself, without having to rely on GPS.

I am contemplating doing the Pride 5k next weekend, to take a crack at a sub 20 minute 5k on a certified course, but I think it will depend on the weather. I don't like running short races in the heat. Otherwise it will have to wait until the fall.

That Damn Course

on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 8:36 PM

So two weekends ago, I had to do some duties at the High Park Running room as part of the SWTM tune-up runs which I'm going to be pacing again this year.  This allowed me to run down by the lake again which was the first time I've been down there since the marathon.  I realize now that looking back at my race, I knew at the 28k mark that the markers were f?cked up and I should have adjusted at that point to using the painted lines on the trail to mark my time, rather than rely on the signs.  By the 28k mark, we're on the MG trail and it would have been easy to look out for the painted lines on path that was maybe 10 ft wide.  When I reran part of the course, sure enough, there were clearly painted lines which wold have allowed me to figure out my pacing properly after the 28k mark.  Hindsight, 20/20.

Having had another few weeks to consider the race and in addition to the course being completely mismarked, I think it was actually long by a little bit. The big difference between the turnaround last year and this year which accounted for about a 200m difference was bothering me because that difference would easily have cut off 50-55 seconds off a marathon time, but having done a bit more research, it appears that the course in 2014 was short by 200m. Now that isn't to say that this year's course was accurate either, which I'll get to in a bit.

So how do I know this? I first started out by downloading marathon routes from Garmin Connect to compare this year's and last years route. There's a nifty little website that lets you plot the two routes and compare them against one another. Looking through the routes, there are a couple of differences. The first is the turnaround, which I already pointed out previously, the second is the stretch by Marilyn Bell Park where in 2014 the course took the northern path, whereas this year we took the southern path and the last is the stretch around King St.

King St - Pink(2015), Blue(2014)

Marilyn Bell Park - Pink (2015), Blue (2014)

Turnaround -Pink(2015), Blue (2014)

If you're interested in the whole route comparisons, you can see them here. There's also the 2013 course in there as well which I will get to in a bit.
The start was also slightly different in 2014. It was actually a bit further north, but it's only a minor difference so I'll let that slide.  So why the difference?  The actual route as it would turn out was the route that we ran this year (ie, the pink route).  In 2014, I'm pretty sure there were construction issues.  For example, I know that last year, the diagonal part on the King St. route that we ran this year was completely ripped up to install street car tracks so they had to detour the route by running a further block west. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is what caused them to adjust the start line since this would have added a bit more to the course which they tried to then remove from the start of the course. I'm not sure of the detour around Marilyn Bell Park, but I suspect it was construction also, but the difference between the two routes doesn't look that far off.  The big difference is of course the turn around where they lopped off a big loop.  I'm fairly certain that this was forced on them because there's a little foot bridge that I seem to remember being closed off which caused them to have to detour and cut off about 200m of the course. 

Now you're probably asking well how do I know that this year's was the right course, maybe last year's was the right course and they just made us run longer this year for no good reason?  Well no. There's a website that contains information on certified courses in Canada and the one from 2014 seems to indicate that the pink route is the correct route.  They show the diagonal running from King St and show the big looping turnaround and the fact that we were supposed to take the route by the lake (which we did).

Official Certified Course for 2014/2015 - Western Part

Turn Around -Actual
Turn Around - Theoretical

So yeah it would have been nice to run a 42.0 km full marathon in 2014 due to the fact that they had to cut the course short due to construction. I had started this little exercise in the hopes of being able to show that the reason I missed my goal time was because they made us run 200m longer than we needed to, but alas that doesn't appear to be so, but while looking at the certified course, something else jumped out at me, which was the section after the turnaround when we return to running on Lakeshore Blvd.

Lakeshore Avenue return
In 2014 (blue), the course cuts through the parking lot, whereas this year we had to run AROUND the parking lot.  If you look at the certified course, it shows the correct course was to cut through the parking lot. 
Cutting Through

I had previously remarked that I think they had laid out the markers based on the 2013 course, which is confirmed by this little tidbit.  In 2013, the turnaround was very different.  The course didn't actual cut through the park with the pentagon above. Instead, it ran over into the next park to the west and then ran north to Lakeshore Blvd. You can see the comparison in the GPS comparison or the 2013 Certified Course.  See more closely below.

Turnaround :Green(2013), Blue(2014), Pink(2015)

 This comparison also shows why the markers were 300 m early this year since the course ran a little further north from the start than it did in 2014 or 2015.

At the start: 2013 (green), 2014(blue), 2015 (pink)

My Goodlife race report had remarked that there were no 35k or 36k marker signs this year. I realize now that this was because they were placed for the 2013 course and those particular locations did not coincide with any part of the route this year. So there was no reason for us to run in the area of these markers and they went unseen. This also caused the detour around the parking lot since the placement of the 37k marker in 2013 was slightly different than it should have been this year.  In the 2013 course, the runners had returned to LakeShore Blvd by the 36k mark and so the 37k maker was also on Lakeshore which is born out by my GPS which shows I pushed the lap button on Lakeshore, above the parking lot.
Lap 27 corresponds to the 37k marker.

  However the 37k marker for this year SHOULD have been in the parking lot as seen below by this line painting which is consistent with the certified course route above which shows the cutting through the parking lot.  
Painted 37k marker, looking north toward Lakeshore

So I think what happened is that the course marshal who was responsible at that point saw the 37 km marker was on lakeshore blvd and naturally assumed that the runners must somehow detour to get there which means that they directed us to run around the parking lot rather than do what we were actually supposed to do which was cut through it.

I measured this out and this detour would have added about 20m to the course which at my expected marathon pace would have added 8 seconds onto my marathon time.  Since I actually finished 5 seconds over my goal time, this means that I SHOULD have finished 3 seconds under my time, IF THE DAMN COURSE WAS PROPERLY MARKED!

This is somewhat satisfying as this means I ran a pretty good race and would have met my goal time if not for the incompetence of whomever was responsible for plopping down the marker signs.

So even with that the time probably won't be fast enough to get into Boston next year.  I did sign up for a last chance for Boston marathon in mid-September in the US but odds are that I probably won't be doing it.  I had hoped to take the summer off from heavy training and free up some time to do other things.  I don't necessary need to crush a marathon time.  If I did it, I would only try for 3:13 or so which is less than a minute faster than what I did in May so maybe I can get by with just maintenance miles.  Will have to see how it goes.