Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Banff Marathon 10k - The Rabbit's Regeneration

The recovery continues 
The 50k was something different, in its aftermath another different experience seemed like a good way to continue the recovery. 
Summer's kicking in, though not all the time, unlike May 31's race itself, when it showed up early. 
Back to rebuilding core strength (while watching Netflix), needed to get back raw endurance. The hips still tire quite quickly, though time and hard work is gradually bringing them back. 
There's no shortage of speed however, and I certainly got a chuckle out of being in the lead on this segment on Garmin Connect. It makes a change from my collection of 4th places.

A different idea
I was asked and charmed into being a pace bunny at the Banff Marathon event's 10k distance back in April. 
Through A-Chang and some of my videos, I am apparently a minor celebrity in Calgary's Chinese community. There's an social media grouping called the Dragon Warriors with whom I have a little involvement too. I amuse many with a level of Chinese good enough to make hilarious mistakes. 
The general idea was to pace a group of 6 ladies to 60 minutes, a couple of them would probably pull ahead later on, and 2 others perhaps drop back. 
3 weeks after the 50k, it would be a way of enjoying race day without risk of injury and also a day in Banff with A-Chang. 

Race day
A portent of greatness to come, I found a street named in my honour. 
A 9:45 race start meant plenty of time to get to Banff from Calgary. Fortunately the weather cleared a little by the time we arrived, forecasts had contradicted each other. Package pick-up was the day before, a little inconvenient if living driving distance away, though fortunately one of our group was overnighting. 
The tutus were all well coordinated, my loudest jacket fitting in well. The brains behind the project was Tammy, on the far left. We were entered under the team name The Dragonflies. 
I inflicted my awful dancing on everyone to stay warm. I kind of look like this when I run anyway. 
The crowd applauded Canadian Pacific, keeping an eye on rail traffic on the line we'd all have to cross. The start was delayed for a couple of minutes waiting for a train to pass. 
I was going to run without jacket, but changed my mind just before the start. 
We headed out, and I kept it at a strict 6:00/k. From Garmin Connect, runkeeper, etc, I could see that many of the Dragonflies start too quickly - effecting finishing speed - so I restrained the collective enthusiasm. It was slightly uphill to the turnaround at 4k, so after that would be a good time to pick up the pace. 
Sadly, my gopro's battery had not charged properly and it cut off after 5 minutes. The only thing that didn't go well on the day. 
Tina was a course marshal, so an extra dose of fab and a group photo just a few minutes after my technical difficulties. 
Not that there was a shortage of photographers in the group.. Jin took this one.
This is Rachel, a sub-2 hour half marathoner. 
The rain came along after 10 minutes, though not too heavy. Nice and cool at the turnaround. 
I tried to sing a few Chinese songs, however while I might know plenty of lyrics, I don't know any consecutive sentences.
Xiao Yu and Jenny on the left. 
At the 5k mark by my watch (only marathon signs on course), 29:45 was the time. Keep it going, I said, maybe a bit quicker in a little while. We were joined for a few minutes by the young guy to my right, desperate not to finish behind girls in tutus. He didn't get his wish, as the pace started to gently increase. Chicked...
Back past Tina, "sorry, only a photo of your butt!" I shouted back a joke, can't really remember what exactly - perhaps "there are plenty of photos of that", or "that's my best side." I do know that the lady running next to me thought I was yelling at her.
Jin and Rachel pulled ahead at this butt-photo point, around the 7k mark. Tammy and Li (in yellow in the photos) whom I stayed with were now going about 5:40/k. I didn't try to slow things down, just calling out actual pace while running slightly behind. 
One last photo from Tammy, crossing the first of 2 bridges. I recalled another line from a Chinese song, a propaganda number about a big river. I learned that my falsetto while running needs work.
The course went under the second bridge before a 1k loop around to then cross it and a quick hop to the finish. 

The incline up to final bridge looked steep, said Tammy. It was nothing, and the finish was right after, I replied. "Lean forward, push up it." 
Sharp turn onto the bridge. "700 metres, as fast as you want." Already on target to get a PB, there was quite an acceleration. Looking down, my watch read 4:40/k. Had the Dragonflies all been following my advice, and adding tempos and speed work into their training? 
It was PBs all round, I was told. Tammy took 3 minutes off hers. Jin and Rachel were a couple of minutes ahead, Li just behind with Xiao Yu and Jenny next.

I had merely slowed things down at the start, the result being that every badass Chinese lady in a tutu produced a good negative split to finish strong and fast. 
My watch said 9.63k, probably because of loss of signal passing through clumps of fairly thick tree canopy. Still, a measured course, and all times stand. 
A collective post race stretch is quite a common practice for all of them. The photographer took a while, I had to switch legs a couple of times.

So now I know what others mean when they talk about how rewarding being a pace bunny is. Using one's own experience to help others outdo and surprise themselves is simply magical. 


  1. It sounds like such a great experience! Well done to all the Dragonflies! And I love the tutus. :)

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