In last year’s Tely 10 recap blog entry I vowed to return. True to my word, on Sunday, July 23, I raced my second Tely 10 in as many years. This was the 90th running of this extraordinary event and I was quickly reminded of the reasons I decided to come back.What were the reasons? The day after race day, I reflected. I felt fulfilled and genuinely warm, relishing about how well everything went. It wasn’t just about my performance, it was also about the experience. St. John’s and surrounding area is a wonderful and fascinating place. The culture and people are remarkable. And it’s tremendous to enjoy these things with running friends, and of course family.
Similar to my last race (Bluenose Half Marathon) everything fell into place. To have a great race, you need to be prepared, which is fully within your control. Following a properly designed training plan is most important. Next to this is running smart and focusing on staying injury free by listening to your body, not pushing too hard and working on strengthening those trouble spots. For race day, you need a plan. And on top of this, prior race experience counts. But outside of your control are other factors, most notably the weather. Heat and humidity can quickly damper performance and experienced runners will know to adjust expectations.
So while I did my part in being prepared, Mother Nature also came through. The weather was perfect: sunny, cool, no humidity, and a slight tailwind. Perfect race conditions.
Once again I have to sing the praises of this event. It is a well oiled machine situated in a great location. The cities of St. John’s, Mount Pearl, and Paradise are totally behind it, not only evidenced by the many who line the streets to cheer, but also by the start line painted on the road and the permanent signage on the course marking each mile.
The title sponsor, the Telegram newspaper, covers the event extensively with multi-page post race coverage and finishing predictions leading up. It’s kind of a big deal. The course, mostly downhill, is fast and fun.
My training block leading up to the Tely 10 was only 8 weeks, with things kicking off a week after the Bluenose Half Marathon. Coach Ian had me running usually 5 times per week with a healthy dose of downhill including on long runs and hill loops. The mileage was reasonable (I never got far over 60km in a week), and the speed work was interesting, progressing steadily from 400m repeats all the way to 1km cruise intervals. Ian’s approach was to incorporate aspects of heart rate based training to complement the approach from his Daniels’ Running Formula VDOT O2 certification. The program also incorporated some key strengthening work, something I’ve gotten better at over the past year. Ian’s predicted race pace for me (not factoring a net downhill course) was 4:11/km. Therefore slightly faster on a net downhill course.
Looking at last year’s race data, I planned my race knowing I needed to shoot for better than race pace on kilometres with big elevation loss. For me this would be in the 4:00/km territory. In total, 6 kilometres showed large elevation loss and 2 medium loss with the remaining 8 at relatively flat or minor loss/gain. I noted the fastest 8 and marked them on my hand for quick reference.
Being a one-way course the organizers offer bus shuttle to the start from downtown. Stacey and I grabbed the first outgoing bus along with fellow BLT Runners Scott, Elizabeth and Darlene. We got to the start area nice and early where we met Heather with lots of time to get ready.
I did a quick 3km warm up plus a few strides, then made myself to the front of the second corral. Stacey was with me and also there was fellow BLT Runner Heather and her friend Christy from the Halifax Road Hammers who I met.
After the singing of Ode to Newfoundland and a few quick announcements, we were off.
The start was crowded, but the pace was right so I didn’t worry too much about getting around people and settled in to the first climb which is a few hundred metres from the start. You get to the high point about a kilometre in then immediately shift to downhill. Kilometres 2 and 3 were fast, both below 4:00, but felt good. As with last year I immediately separated myself from the crowd simply by running tangents. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the lines on the streets or group mentality, but very few people in this race seem to cut the corners.
As I neared the midpoint of the race I knew from my plan kilometres 6 through 9 all needed to be ahead of goal race pace. It was after this stretch where the plan paid dividends. Approaching a downhill beside the Village Shopping Centre, after working through two slight inclines in kilometres 10 and 11 I felt myself naturally easing up, even as I looked over a long downhill stretch. I quickly checked my pace and snapped back into race mode, bringing the pace back to where it should be.
After kilometre 13, I was starting to feel fatigued. Kilometres 10 through 13 are tough. You’ve run downhill hard for +9km so your body is a bit tired, and the course flattens out along with one steeper uphill climb. Through this stretch I mostly kept my race pace intact, only easing up on the uphill. Similarly I also eased up on the final climb in kilometre 15 knowing I’d need to save some for the downhill finish. I had been running with a pack of men around my same speed for most of the race and was hoping I could lose them on the final stretch.
As I turned into Harvey Rd, I quickly made a move as the grade shifted back to downhill passing several runners in my pack. The final kilometre slightly snakes, with two successive left then right twists. Naturally I cut the corners hard and ran the shortest lines to each turn, passing others who were taking a slightly longer line.
I made the final turn, a sharp left down Bannerman Rd, and had a clear view of the finish with nobody else within chasing distance. But then, I saw a yellow shirt emerge in my peripheral vision making a push. Normally at this point I wouldn’t have anything for a finishing kick. But this time was different. Perhaps it was Ian’s interval programs, but I felt I had enough in me to not allow the yellow shirt to pass. Though he challenged, I picked it up to a sprint edging ahead and crossing the line in 97th with a time of 1:05:57 (1:05:47 chip), nearly 5 minutes faster than last year. My average pace was 4:05/km (a 4:11/km adjusted pace based on Strava’s grade adjustment feature), the same as Ian’s predicted race pace. Notably, while My pace was significantly faster than last year, my average heart rate was one beat per minute less. Further evidence of improved running economy through heart rate based training.
While I took a few moments to grab a drink and take stock of my race, it was not long before some familiar faces started to emerge. Heather, on her 8th Tely 10, was the next BLT Runner at 1:09, smashing her prior year (and prior best) time. Then came Stacey at 1:14, an even bigger improvement over last year at nearly 6-minutes faster. Scott, doing his 4th Tely 10 also bettered his prior year time at 1:18. and Elizabeth and Darlene rounded things out racing in their very first Tely (and very first long distance race) with impressive efforts both at 1:55 and 1:56 respectively.
These great results by everyone mainly are dividends of hard work put in. However, for me (and Stacey too) Coach Ian certainly deserves acknowledgement. It all started a couple of years ago with Ian encouraging me to try heart rate based training, but has continued by way of ongoing guidance, and most recently custom training programs designed for us and this event specifically. Our progression would not be without Ian’s help.
Back to the event, with a late afternoon flight departure on Monday, this left almost two full days to relax and take in some local sights with Stacey. I don’t think this experience could have been any better. The past two years doing Tely 10 are unquestionably at the very top of all my race experiences.
Thank you Tely 10!
Results: Chiptime Results