Saturday we woke to a beautiful (if slightly overcast and a little bit chilly) day. Trevor packed the chairs up in the car and we headed down to Earl Rowe Provincial Park for the MEC Race Series’ third race of the season. This was one of the races we had participated in last year – in fact, our first independent race. It was also thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Runninjas last year at this race that we were able to raise the final money necessary to purchase my racing chair! So this was a day to celebrate and have fun!
While last year we only just managed to get around the 5K on our own in 25:50, we decided this year to tackle the 10K, just for fun.
Looking back at our race report from last year I realize how much we have learned! For one thing, we know far better than to go out at a 4:30 pace! We have learned to go out nice, slow and relaxed for the first half of the race, and we now aim for a 5:30 start pace. Interestingly, this is probably the part of the race that I have to work the hardest for, as it’s my job to keep an eye on our times on Strava and to help Trevor keep to the slow pace he needs to get started.
Because we were running the 10K race, we ended up seeing far more of the park this time than last time – weaving our way around a number of the campsite loops. Although the campsites themselves are nice and grassy, the ‘roadways’ are much more gravel and dirt than they are road, which causes us a number of different problems.
For one, it makes the ride much more bouncy for me, so I have to work harder to maintain a good posture in the chair, and to keep my jaw loose so that I don’t end up with issues from my teeth hitting together.
The second issue is that we need to be careful that we don’t end up with flat tires from especially spiky twigs or rocks – which is difficult to avoid when you’re going along at racing speed, but which we thankfully managed on Saturday.
The third issue is that Trevor has to do a lot of maneuvering of the chair, especially since the path was also curvy! This means he spends a lot of time lifting up the front wheel by pushing down on the handlebar. Not surprisingly, this requires a lot more upper body strength and definitely increases the effort required by him for each step.
And finally, the surface significantly changes the rolling resistance, making it much more work to push in general.
Trevor and I on our mid-race selfie. This man is an incredible engine, even managing to smile while he’s at it!
But if it hadn’t been for the gravel, the route was beautiful, running in and amongst the trees, along the sides of the river and around the lake in the centre of the park.
Despite having aimed for a 5:30 pace, and having to deal with all of the extra gravel and maneuvering, we came out of the back loops having maintained a fairly even 5:00 pace for the first 7.5 kilometers! We knew that the hill was yet to come, but despite slowing a bit as we went up the steepest part, Trevor recovered quickly and we still began to speed up overall, posting a 4:47 and a 4:28 time for our final two kilometers.
We came across the line to the lovely voice of Patrick Voo announcing for us, with a time of 50:11.1, which we were very pleased by. This represented an average 5:01/km pace vs. the 5:26/km we had averaged just last Sunday at the half marathon showing us that we had done a great job in recovery – and that we may still have room for improvement!
We thoroughly enjoyed being able to stay and hang out with our Runninjas crowd and with some other folks we have begun to get to know on the racing circuit, including Carl, who I had shared a stage with last October at Ignite Barrie. It’s so much fun getting out and meeting people and getting to feel part of things!
Thanks to everyone for a great day, and especially thanks as always to the most amazing engine anyone could ever have on their team!