I wasn't quite sure how the race was going to go. A lot of my training runs lately have been a struggle. Even holding my goal pace (5:30/mile) was extremely challenging for just one or two miles, let alone 15.5.
When deciding how I was going to run the race, I wanted to look back and see how I did last time I ran the 25k in 2017. I always keep a detailed log of my swim/bike/runs, how I feel during them, and my paces. Not just so I can share them with you, but so I can look back and see what worked and what didn’t.
I looked back at my results from 2017 and saw that I was conservative for the first 5 miles, hit goal pace for the next 5, and went even faster for the last 5. I wanted to try and emulate that today so I would have to keep the governor on for the first 5 miles.
As they walked us up to the line, I saw my friend, Deanna, wearing a pirate hat and holding a sign for me that said "Go Todd Go!! Where'd Todd go?" with a picture of a tea cup on it. I was going to talk to her but she said something like "Not now! Your race is about to start!" haha. I guess it was, but I still would have had time to chat for a minute.
As the officials were giving us the countdown, from 30 seconds down to 10 seconds and then in the hands of the starter, some idiot yelled out "GO!" and everybody took off 2 seconds before the horn actually sounded. Basically, we all false started and could have/should have been DQ'd or brought back to the start. The pace car wasn't ready either because the lead guys had to run around it as it was sitting still.
I went out hard but not anything outside my capabilities. My friend, Kevin Curley was on the course right around the 1/2 mile mark and yelled at me "Why are you running so slow??" I said back to him, "I'm running 5:30 pace, that's not slow! It's a 25k, not a 10k!" It was nice to have him on course hassling me.
I slowly bridged the gap to 2 other runners who were running right around my pace. I decided to just sit right on their heels for as long as they were running 5:30/mile. Why do more work than I need to?
I could tell they were working a bit harder than me as their breathing was a bit labored. We exchanged a few words but not much other than what our goals were. We went through the first 5 miles in 5:30.6/mile. Right on pace! I could tell the other two were starting to tire and our pace had started to slow after mile 6, so I took the lead. I promptly dropped a 5:19 mile for #7...whoops! But I felt completely fine and wasn't overexerting myself at all so I held the pace. I saw Kevin again just after the turnaround and he was hassling me about how "slow" I was running. It's fun to have friends on the course to take your mind off things for a little bit.
Around mile 8, I began to catch the lead women who started 12 minutes ahead of us. The photographers became more abundant at this point too so I made sure to put on my best race face (Photo credit: Lucas Barnes). Aka goofy, sticking my tongue out, pointing at the camera, and winking (even though you couldn't see it because I was wearing sunglasses.) I made sure to thank all the med tent volunteers, police officers, and other volunteers on the course because the race wouldn't happen without them. There was also live music on the course and I made sure to sing along as I ran by :D The middle 5 miles I averaged 5:23.2/mile and I was still feeling surprisingly good. So, true to my plan, I picked up the pace a little more.
Just after the 10-mile mark, I caught my friend, Meredith Busman, who started in the elite women's wave. Before the race, we had talked about how soon we thought I would catch her. When I finally did, I said to her "Well, it took me long enough!" She thought I would have caught her miles ago! I guess I just wasn't fast enough!
It was around mile 12 that my legs started to get a little heavy. Cardiovascularly, I was fine the entire race. I wasn't breathing heavy and I was able to talk to fellow competitors, spectators, and volunteers the entire time. I went through the half-marathon mark in 1:11:18 (a half-marathon PR by 2 minutes). The bad part about a 25k is that there are still 2.5 miles to go after the half marathon checkpoint! I saw another friend, Lauren Hill, just after the halfway point. I spent a lot of time at the expo with her trying to get her into the elite field. I was surprised to see her out there because I didn't think they would actually let her enter on such short notice. She crushed it, though, per usual.
Mile 14 felt very long which is surprising because it was the fastest mile I ran all day (5:10). I caught 2 more elite women just before the 15 mile mark and gave them some words of encouragement to finish strong. Honestly, I think I said that for them as much as I did for me. It really helps take my mind off my own pain when I can distract myself by talking to others or making goofy faces. More than 15 miles into the race and I still can’t take a serious picture 😛 My last 5 miles, I averaged 5:16.8/mile.
I saw Sara on the side of the road right as I was coming into downtown. She was taking pictures so I made sure to put on my best smile. I think I told her "25k is a long way!" haha. Yes, yes it is.
I always forget how long the last 1/2 mile of the race actually is. You run across the Grand River, turn left onto Ottawa up the hill, think you're finished, and you still have over 1/4 mile to go (uphill!) Coming down that last 1/2 mile, I wasn't pushing very hard. I knew I had a PR, I wasn't going to win anything, and I just didn't want to hurt that much haha. I enjoyed the cheers and soaked it in, crossing the finish line in 1:23:58 (5:24/mile). Good for 23rd overall and 2nd non-elite.
Honestly, had I raced in my training shoes, I think I would have been between 5:30 and 5:35/mile (maybe even slower...) But the Nike Vaporfly 4% are unreal. The run felt effortless the entire time. I'll say this much, if you're not running in the 4%s, you are definitely leaving time on the table. And this is coming from someone who has worn exclusively New Balance for my entire racing career. These shoes are a definite performance-enhancer and potentially need to be regulated. Until they are, though, I'm not sure if I will ever race in another shoe. #notasponsor
This race was amazing in so many ways, I set a 2:30 half-marathon PR (1:11:18), a 2:00 10-mile PR (53:18), missed my 10k PR by just 20 seconds (32:57), missed a 5-mile PR by just 10 seconds (26:20), and ran just 35 seconds slower than my fastest 5k of all time (16:12)...all within a 25k! To say I overachieved would be an understatement.
After the race, I met up with my super parents for lunch. We made a trip to the Electric Cheetah and then stopped by The Cakabakery afterward to grab some cookies. I got her a “Mom” cookie and we couldn’t wait to take a bite before taking a picture 😋.
After mom and dad left to head back home, I randomly ran into friends Todd and Sam Kennedy and they invited me to eat with them, friends Abby and Kyle, and Eric and Sara. I had just eaten but I wasn’t going to turn down a hangout sesh with my pals! Bonus, I got to hold Abby and Kyle’s new baby boy, Emmit. He was so snuggly 🤗
And apparently, I need to register for the elite field next time because my friend Meredith snagged me a couple of cinnamon rolls from the elite tent post race! 🤤 How have I been missing out on that for all these years?!
As always, thanks to my family, friends, teammates, coach, and the literally tens of random people who cheered for me out there. Today was a good day and I can’t wait to have more of them like it this year.