Tara's Campbell racing
Running the EY River Run Classic in Saskatoon Sunday morning. Photo: Louis Christ

It’s just past 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, training race day. I have a bowl of oatmeal and banana in hand, glass of water downed and Brandi Carlile’s live take on “Amazing Grace” rocking the room. This very warm room. It’s expected to be nearly 30 degrees by the 8 a.m. start time of this year’s EY River Run Classic.

There are strict instructions from coach Jason Warick to combat the heat: make sure to drink enough water in (but not more than normal), a cold shower before heading out the door and keep cool during warm-up even if it means ice. He knows, having narrowly missed the Olympic qualifying time at the 2007 Chicago Marathon. It was a scorcher of a day. Some of you may recall a 35-year-old man collapsed and died at that race. Jason credits staying cool prior to the race for his success, placing 11th overall.

Coming onto 6 a.m., more water and a protein bar. The tunes: Brandi Carlile live with Sheryl Crowe, “If it Makes you Happy.” This routine is similar to what I do every Sunday morning in preparation for one of the two weekly workouts I do with Jason’s training group. I value these training partners and these workouts tremendously (I’ll dedicate a blog to that in the future). This morning’s routine is slightly different though. I don’t get up at 5:30 a.m. for Sunday morning workouts. Being that today is a training race I want to treat it like a race day — that’s part of the point of a training race — do what you would do on race day — feel it out, learn from it.

Yesterday those of us racing did a short workout to get the legs going and feel the pace. Then it was back home for the day with orders to stay out of the sun, which meant no dog park fun in the afternoon, a regular on Saturdays. Instead we had a couple of nice visits from friends and a few errands to run. Among those errands was picking up a New Balance tank top.

6:20 a.m. Shower time. The tunes: Brandi Carlile’s “Mainstream Kid” off her new album The Firewatchers Daughter. Why all the Brandi Carlile? She’s full of passion and goes for it! I’ll be going for it today, but conservatively. This is not my peak race. It’s a measure of where I’m at in my training so we can move toward my goal race in the fall with more information in hand.

6:50 a.m. Time to jog down to Saskatoon’s River Landing to start warming up. I’ll be back to wrap this up in the evening . . .


Back, training race in the books. My first go at a 10K. Jason and I had talked about going out at a 4:40 per kilometre pace and then assessing at the 1K mark. At this point in my training I’m starting to move out of that very conservative foundation-building stage. We haven’t really pushed it yet, so going out at 4:40 was a safe plan.

The gun went off and I tucked in behind a teammate. She had more of a 4:20 pace going, but I felt I could make a go of it, so I did. I knew it was a pace I hadn’t trained for and could feel it in my breathing, but I wanted to see how it felt as I continued in. At around the 7K mark I lost the pace. That was frustrating, but I reminded myself “this is not your peak race” — “you have not trained for this speed yet” — “You are still in building mode.” I held on to average a 4:21 pace. The mission was accomplished — Jason now has more information as we move forward and start pushing my fitness and speed.

I knew if I could run this 10K in 45 minutes at this point in my training I was on the right track. I did it in 43:26. It was good enough for third place. Now it’s time to focus on the days ahead as we move toward that peak race in the fall. The journey continues.

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