Becoming a part of the solution

The lack of women in Canada running 10k races on the track is something I tend to rant about once and a while. I haven’t done it on this blog, because I usually neglect to update it, but I’m sure my teammates are sick of hearing about my thoughts on everything that is wrong with running these days. As an example, last year at Nationals, the 10,000m was cancelled because there were only two women entered.

This year, I decided that instead of complaining about the problem, I would try to be a part of the solution. So I registered for the Athletics Ontario 10,000m championships in London on May 15th. Sure, I’m probably overstating the importance of my participation in this event. Really, I just wanted to race a 10k. But after chatting with meet director Steve Weiler after the race, I realized that such decisions on an individual level are nevertheless important. You see, only two women ran the 10k this weekend: myself and Courtney Laurie. Steve said to me after the race that we each need to bring some friends along next year, and we got into a short discussion about how few women in Ontario, and Canada for that matter, want to run the 10k on the track. I explained to him that I was initially reluctant to run the event because I feared no one else would enter and I would then be stuck running twenty-five miserable laps of the track on my own. But eventually I decided to suck it up and run the race anyway, because that justification was just an excuse to avoid running a tough event. In the end, I ran a large part of the race on my own, and it wasn’t any more terrible than a shorter race. And maybe if Canada’s distance runners notice other women running these longer track events, they will be more willing to race because they know that there will be competition. Still, there is a whole list of other factors that deter women from running the 10k. Maybe next year I will attempt to convince my friends to run 5ks and 10ks on the track. But in the meantime, I feel that it is much more productive to get on the track and run rather than simply get frustrated about the problem.

As for the race itself, it went much better than expected. I wasn’t sure what kind of shape I was in, having only run a few “fun run” style road races and a half-marathon that I wasn’t very happy with. I would have been happy with anything under 37 minutes. Fortunately, I was in better shape than I thought I was. Let me reiterate that the 10,000m isn’t that bad. I was very focused for the entire race, and I was able to grind out a solid pace, lap after lap. I went through the 5k in about 17:41 if I recall correctly. I suppose it might have been easier to run in a pack where I could tuck in and not worry about the pace and the lap counter, but this was not the case in a race with only two competitors. So I looked at my splits on the clock at the finish and counted laps and kilometers the entire time, despite warnings from my friends that this would ruin my race. The last few laps were rough, but I suppose I managed to negative split the race. I finished in 35:17.71, a time I was very pleased with. I am fitter than I thought I was, and now my confidence has been bolstered. I’m ready to begin the assault on 17 minutes for 5k.

I’ll say it again: the 10k isn’t that bad. All you women out there, run the 10k already.

And finally, the numbers for this week…

Monday:

AM – 52 minutes easy (6.5 miles)

PM – 1:46 easy with 10 strides (13.2 miles)

Tuesday:

AM – Track workout. 30 up, 16 X 400m with 200m jog rest (or 1:30), 40 down, strides. Very windy at the track. Splits were 1:22, 1:19, 1:21, 1:20, 1:20, 1:19, 1:20, 1:19, 1:21, 1:19, 1:21, 1:20, 1:21, 1:20, 1:19, 1:20. (14.7 miles total)

PM – 48 minutes easy with eight strides after work (6 miles)

Wednesday:

AM – 1:40 easy with ten strides. A bit tired and stiff after the track workout. (12.5 miles)

Thursday:

30 up, 10 X 2 min. on/1 min. easy, 20 down for 80 total. Wanted to do a light workout with the race coming up. Felt good. (10 miles)

Friday:

AM – 40 easy. (5 miles)

PM – 40 easy. Ended with four strides in spikes at the track. (5 miles)

Saturday:

AM – 32 easy shakeout (4 miles)

PM – 24 up, 10k track race in 35:17.71 (hit 5k in about 17:41), 32 down. (13 miles)

Sunday:

AM – 80 minutes easy in Waterloo. Ran the rail trail to Kitchener and explored the U of Waterloo campus. (10 miles)

PM – 32 easy (back in Markham). Needed a shakeout, plus I was at 99.9 miles before this run, and that simply wouldn’t do. (4 miles)

Total mileage: 103.9

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