Depending on the weather, adjust your warmup routines accordingly. I ran in cold and rainy weather so my focus was staying dry and warm. I maybe did 1k warmup with 3-4 strides and that’s it. Just enough to move my body, not feel stiff, and calm the nerves.
The race, like people have experienced in some of the marathon specific workouts start with a little climb. Nothing crazy by those who run like a bat out of hell should probably try not to. I remember my first 5k were fast. You have that downhill portion that has to be controlled. I remember my coach yelling at me for being quick – I felt good, smooth, and was letting gravity help me (that and I was also trying to run sub-2:35 pace as long as my body would let me).
Camosun Hill, I can honestly say didn’t feel like a grind to me. There are usually lots of people lining the street to keep the motivation levels high. Sticking with a group is key. I had 7 men with me and while I focused solely on one, it was enough for me to get pushed along. The Ogopogo road to 16th is one of my favourites so it was more fun than worrisome. Just watch out for the speed bumps in front of St. Georges Schooll!
Turning left onto 16th has a Hill. Play to effort not pace. The out and back on Blanca St is a great way to gauge you spacing between competitors. From the turnaround point, however long it takes for you to see the next runner, double that and you have your cushion. I ran scared for the first half of that race, but the turnaround math helped me to relax.
While people talk about not hammering down to Spanish Banks, it’s also important not to hammer down past the UBC Track. Essentially this course can hammer your quads if you let it. A quick rise up to the Chan Centre puts you back in stride before gravity pulls you down to Spanish Banks. Remain relaxed and fluid while letting yourself go just a touch; just stay controlled. No crazy windmill arms flying down that hill!
The little blip up to W4th past Spanish Banks, I don’t remember hurting but I also knew there were people at the top cheering for me. It’s amazing how out of sync with pain you can be sometimes. But from other people’s race recaps they found that Hill tough. So head down and grind it out.
Ensure something is saved for Point Grey road. The little undulations will start to take a toll same with the wee climb over Burrard Bridge. You get a nice slow downhill from the peak of Burrard all the way to the park. At the downtown side of Burrard, my Dad was standing there and with his minimal words nodded his head and said “the race starts now”. I believe this rings true to everyone.
At Second Beach pool I lost track of my splits (the beauty / downfall of running with a Timex versus a Garmin). I knew the distance remaining and made a note in my head to put my head down. For me, and all Vancouver athletes, the sea wall is as familiar as the back of my hand. It was a time that I had to put my head down, ignore the German man that kept yelling at me to go faster (no, I didn’t know him) and shift my focus inwards. There aren’t many people cheering along the wall so it’s a time that mental toughness is crucial. It’s a long 10k to the finish line when you’re alone. But the beauty is that it’s flat until the little Hill to Georgia, although it felt like a mountain.
When turning onto Pender for the final stretch, it’s not a flat road. There’s a slight incline, which you feel with 800m to go. But the crowds start to grow the throughout the day, use their energy to give you that last push. I remember feeling lonely with 800m to go, but by 400m those cheers will forever be a goosebumps inducing memory. It’s a fantastic finish line and I hope people soak in their city cheering them in.