This past weekend (September 17) was the 5th running of the Eastside 10k. It’s become an established event in the Vancouver running scene. The last couple of years in particular were more known for taking place in a cold, wet rain. This year, the weather has been much improved. In addition, the course has changed, away from the viaduct and on to the light-industrial area along Powell Street. For me, this was a good rehearsal for the big test to come on November 5.
I ran this race more than halfway through a 16-week training cycle leading up to the New York City Marathon. The training runs have been good, but various personal and professional demands have been shifting the days I’d normally do my runs. I’ve also had to contend with a niggling knee problem that doesn’t affect my running, but more so between runs. A trip to a physiotherapist in the week before the race showed some great improvements.
As I mentioned earlier, the Eastside 10k route has changed so that it starts and finishes on Cordova Street in front of the Woodward’s development. I think it’s a good move to showcase the fact that the old and new courses pass through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood mostly misunderstood and maligned. But having volunteered in the area gave me a greater appreciation for the vibrant and resilient community that makes up the Downtown Eastside.
The route was extended east to Nanaimo Street, but a straight line out and back isn’t exactly 10 km, so a few creative turns were needed to bring the distance up to the required number. It’s mostly flat, except for the up-and-down of the Powell Street Overpass, and the hill leading up to and around Pandora Park, next to Nanaimo Street. This latter hill was even made into a challenge: the 1.2 km segment was marked by timing mats, and included in the results.
The race organizers made full use of the Woodward’s Atrium and surrounding plaza for the same-day bib pickup (always a good option for those unable to attend pre-race expos) and gear check. The Bicycle Valet was there as well, on Abbott Street.
After warming up, I settled in the start area and waited for the 8:30 am start. Some unexpected issue elsewhere on the course resulted in a slight delay to the start. Once the race got underway, though, I felt I can take on this challenge.
Given what’s been happening with my knee, and it wasn’t an “A” race, I was aiming for at least sub-60 minutes, perhaps -57 minutes. After two kilometres, I knew I can get that 57. I crossed the 5 km mat at exactly 27:30, which put me on pace for 55 minutes, so I was feeling very good.
The weather definitely helped; it was decent for September. It was around 12ºC, and wearing shorts were still OK. This was a great improvement over the last couple of years this race was held, when downpours made for a miserable race experience.
I think the weather greatly contributed to how well I did. For the first 9 km, my km splits ranged from 5:20 to 5:36/km. In the last kilometre, I wanted to go under 55:00, so I sped up. Despite the turns and congestion, I managed to go under 5:00/km to finish at 54:02. That was almost three minutes better than my goal!
This race result will definitely give me a boost in the final weeks of training for the NYC Marathon. It’s crunch time!
Chip time: 54:02
83/191 males 35-39
When I first ran this race last year, I immediately fell in love with it. The Eastside 10k has that something that makes it a go-to race to run each year. It could be the route, or the small number of participants, or the late-summer weather. This race has all three.
First, I’ll bring you up to speed on my current training progress. The Eastside 10k marks the halfway point of my training for the New York City Marathon. The week before the race, I finished a 16-mile long run in which I felt comfortable throughout, and didn’t feel too many aches at the end. I’m crossing my fingers that the really long runs (18- and 20-milers still to come) will go just as well.
Also this summer, I started running with the East Van Run Crew (EVRC), a very social group with a weekly run that starts and finishes in front of Parallel 49 Brewing. I couldn’t resist the run + beer combination! The organizer printed up a few shirts, and I wore one of them during the Eastside 10k.
I got up the morning of the race not feeling very well. I barely had my usual pre-race breakfast, and felt nauseated. (Looking back, I think the case can be made for carb overloading the day before.) Nevertheless, I got dressed and made my way to the start area. I wasn’t aiming for a personal best on this race, but I still want to get in a decent time of under 55 minutes. At bag check, I found Sarah, who also runs with EVRC and was also wearing one the crew’s shirts. (She posted a picture of both of us, with our shirts, on her instagram.)
Once I got to the start line, the nausea has mostly gone away, but I still wanted to be cautious. At the last moment, I also made the decision not to look at my watch once I start the timer. I figured that if I wasn’t chasing a PB, I could just run by feel and not worry about time. It was quite liberating, actually. Not once was I even tempted to glance at my watch to check on my progress. The only point when I had an inkling of my time was at the finish, which showed the gun time. My chip time ended up being 56:39, which is off my sub-55 goal, but considering what I had gone through, I’d say that was a decent finish.
I was greeted at the finish line by Alan Brookes, race director for the Canada Racing Series, which organizes the Eastside 10k. He must have seen my shirt, as he stopped me after I received my medal and took a picture of me. I don’t recall saying what he quoted (I did just race 10 km), but I’ll claim it:
NYCM training is now in the 2nd half, and the excitement is building. Let’s get it done!
56:39 (5:39/km, 9:07/mi)
82/109 males 30-34
For me, this race is part of the lead-up toward the Okanagan Half Marathon. With four weeks to go, this 10k is a good test to see how I can handle the big race. My August was not what I was expecting in terms of training; a number of events that month took the focus off the running. As a result, the total distance run for the month is less than 100 km, the first time this year.
The Eastside 10k is a new race; the route is more-or-less an out-and-back that incorporates the parts of the old BMO Vancouver route through Strathcona until new courses were unveiled in 2012. It’s nice to have a run race back in East Vancouver, which is why I’m very enthusiastic about this race. The race’s charity partners are also very local and relevant to the neighbourhoods in which the race is run.
It was a dreary Saturday morning for a race, especially for one in late summer. There were about 1500 people ready to take on a whole new experience. The race starts on one of the viaducts leading into downtown Vancouver before emerging onto Prior Street in Strathcona. I know the terrain, since my bus commute usually goes through Prior, so I’ve anticipated the hills. The whole race does have a lot of small hills that can be off-putting to some, but for me, I like the challenge. I’ve always enjoyed powering through the uphills and passing people along the way.
The course goes through historic Gastown (technically not in the Eastside) before turning around and making its way back to the start line. It’s nice to run on the cobblestoned streets, but disappointing that not a lot of people were around to watch. At the time I was running through, I was thinking about the annual cycling race that does laps around Gastown (held on a weeknight with plenty of spectators) and whether a race held later in the morning could attract more crowds.
The theme for the races I’ve run this year seems to be humid. Because of the mist-like conditions that morning, the humidity was pretty high. I was sweating very early on, and I’m sure that wasn’t because of how fast I was running. By the end, I was regretting not packing a change of clothes.
Another theme that has emerged is new personal best. With a chip time of 53:18 (on a negative split), this is the third separate race distance this year for which I’ve established or broken a PB (or PR, I use them interchangeably). The half marathon beckons in less than four weeks. Can I make it four PBs in one year?
Overall, I’m definitely going to put the Eastside 10k as a race to put on my calendar from now on. By itself, it’s a great course, but it’s also scheduled so that it can be a dress rehearsal for a longer-distance race later in the fall. This is a great addition to the Vancouver running calendar.