John Gilmour Track Race 10km 2021 - Race Report
2021 has been a year of firsts for me, having been very much trail based over the past few years, finding road races actually interesting was an eye-opener and so another tick in a box was running a track race. To some, 10 kilometres is a warm-up, whilst to others it's a long way or personal distance best, and to be fair it still is a decent distance, we just get so used to longer and longer runs shorter distances don't always get the respect they deserve. Anyway, intensive scientific research (Instagram poll) said that 94% of people were interested in hearing reviews of short races in addition to the long stuff, so here we go.
Personally I do not particularly like 10km races, having never been a masochist, as they really have the intensity of a 5km effort, but twice as long = double as painful. On the flip-side, I enjoy the strategic element of trying to get pacing right over the slightly longer distance and any race is a good race so, being another of the free races for marathon club members and with a few mates also running, seemed crazy not to sign up.
One awesome feature of this race is that it's on a Friday night.
'But what about your hectic social life?', I hear you ask - luckily I was able to have my personal assistant move Kanye's invite to go roller blading until Saturday so was able to make it - phew!
There were two start times, 6pm for those projecting a 40min+ time and 7.15pm for the sub-40 minute group. I actually wish there were more races at night, especially in summer to beat the heat but also because it's just a different ambience under lights which I think is cool.
The 7.15pm start meant time to quickly run some personal errands beforehand but invariably, having plenty of time became a mad dash to get there on time which does alleviate the standing around waiting (glass half full), and providing you're wearing shoes and have suitable crotch coverage, there's not much to remember for a running race. I joke, but of course after running to the bathroom, I had forgotten my race bib in the car so quickly retrieved that, ruined another race vest with safety pins and joined the others on the track with a couple of minutes to spare. The weather was perfect, which ruined my 'blame the wind' excuse I had prepared earlier in the day although more humid than usual for this time of year so I knew it would be a bit of a sweat fest! Yummy.
My goal for the 10km was to run sub-36 minutes, having only 'informally' run in the 35's previously and with an official PB of 36:12 (I think) from the Asics Bridges 10km earlier this year and 36:21 at the Col Junner Spring To It in July. For 10km that's goal was a 3:36 minute per kilometre pace and so I aimed to go out for a couple of quicker kilometres, settle into goal pace and then (dreaming?) bring it home strongly in the last couple of kilometres (with each km being 2.5 laps of the track so 25 total).
I set this as the goal on my Garmin and with a quick gathering on the start line we were off. There were a few clipped ankles and the usual friendly jostling for position around the first bend but then everyone formed a very orderly queue, apart from two speedsters already gapping everyone else. I went through the first kilometre in 3:33 and the second in 3:31 feeling really comfortable and smooth. A group of four started pulling away and resisting the temptation to try to stick with them and perform the famous Evo6point5 Blow-Up ©, I backed off the pace a couple of seconds a lap and settled into a rhythm.
Over the next few kilometres I ran in a lonely 7th place with kilometre splits of 3:36.7, 3:36.5, 3:36.4, (literally the most consistently I've ever run the first half of any race - but still, only the first half so far). After about 4km, CoachMacka came past and looked super smooth (annoyingly 😜) but other than speeding up a bit to grab a drink on the next lap (3:33.7), I was determined to stay on pace and not get caught up trying to 'race' anyone, but did feel bad not being able to share turns.
Does anyone else get a dry mouth the moment a race starts? I'll have to google that as I don't know if it's nerves or something but I ran the first 14 or so laps feeling like I had just tried to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon! If you're not sure what that's like, I urge you to try it now, and please video your efforts.
The next two laps were the toughest mentally, as is that point in most races, seeing the laps counting down seemingly slower although I was buoyed by thinking we had less to go - given that we were all lapped twice by the first two runners! Despite this, staying on track (no pun intended), I ran a 3:36.6 and 3:36.5 for kilometres 7 and 8 and we were down to the last 5 laps of the race. I wasn't feeling ridiculously strong at this point, but also wasn't ridiculously tired so was confident I could hold the pace for a few more laps whilst my form started to fall apart a little beneath me.
My 9th kilometre was 3:32.3 but much to my dismay, I lost touch with Macka at that point and was also passed by two others at a decent clip. I felt that I was going backwards in speed but they had just turned it up a notch and I couldn't stay with them. Over the last two laps I started to catch the guy infront of me but on the last turn he hit warp speed and I swear there was a small dust cloud behind him, whilst I finished my 10th kilometre in 3:31.5.
So... a new 10km PB for me?!
No. Turns out Garmin isn't the most reliable pacer on a track and had given me 3 bonus seconds per kilometre! My official race time was 36:30, so an average pace of 3:39 per kilometre 😖, a few seconds makes a big difference over 10 k's. Annoying because this was the first race that I had actually stuck to plan and possibly could have pushed a little harder had I known, but who knows, maybe then the usual implosion would have happened and blown out completely. Anyway, learning lessons is all part of the fun and I'll definitely be lining up again next year (using the race clock for pacing).
Highly recommended this race (or track format for those outside WA) as it's both a great physical and mental challenge, round and round and round, with the ability to strategise and plan your perfect, or not, race and to see your support crew/cheer squad every 400 metres! For anyone interested, the full 2021 race results are available here and you can sign up for 2022 here.