The Tely 10 is not a walk in the park, but rather a strenuous 10-mile road race that requires both physical and mental preparation.
“Smile every mile,” says Liam McErlean, a motivational speaker who advises runners how to keep a positive attitude and how to dig deep when they think they have little left.
Now that there are permanent mile markers on the course, McErlean recommends taking a few seconds at each mile marker to smile, shake it out and assess how you’re doing. Have a drink, relax your shoulders and hands and face muscles. Use positive self-talk to celebrate your success every mile, says McErlean, who has run three Tely 10s and probably over a thousand other 10-mile runs in the last 30 years.
In his pep talks, McErlean asks runners if they consider the Tely to be a one 10-mile run, or 10 one-mile runs?
“Sometimes breaking a large challenge into smaller ones gives runners a greater sense of control and progress,” he says, adding you can use visual aids to set short term goals when times get tough.
“If you can focus on one object up ahead, like a truck or a crosswalk or a light pole, you know you can make it to that object. As soon as you reach it, pat yourself on the back and find yourself another focal point,” says McErlean.
So is the Tely 10 a suitable venue for children?
That’s a touchy question. Personally, I wouldn’t let a pre-teen attempt that distance and only a younger teenager if they had put in the time practising. Of course, there are exceptions to any rule and I’m sure there are a half-dozen young teens who are truly ready to run 10 miles.
A child also needs the maturity to have a positive mental attitude before the race.
“Their bodies and minds aren’t ready for it,” says Kelly White, who completed her first Tely 10 last year. “I thought I was prepared mentally (last year), but I wasn’t. What made me think I could come out here with thousands of people and walk from Paradise to Bannerman Park? It wasn’t until (Mount Pearl) Square that I convinced myself I could do this.”
Racers have to be prepared physically and mentally. When I see young teenagers sprint for a kilometre in the Tely and then have to walk, gasping for breath, I assume they haven’t had practice maintaining a certain pace over a distance.
“If you haven’t practised your sums, you can’t expect to do well on a math test,” says White. “So how can you expect to be able to do well in a race without practising?”
“You can’t race the pace if you don’t train the pace,” says Art Meaney, who won the 1979 Tely and holds several age group records. He’s referring mainly to runners who have a goal time in mind. But if those runners haven’t run that distance in training, then they can’t expect to do it on race day without getting injured or completely wearing themselves out.
Several hundred runners, including Meaney, made sure they were up to the task by testing their road legs on the Mews eight-kilometre road course July 8. The Mews is a special race, says Meaney, who placed first in his category (men aged 60-69). It’s exactly two weeks before the Tely and an excellent way to see if you’re prepared.
“If you take your Mews time, multiply it by two and add two-to-three minutes, that’s your magic Tely number,” he says.
And he’s right. Gerry Marshall, who hopes to get under 100 minutes in the Tely, ran the Mews course in under 49 minutes. So she knows if she gets proper rest and hydrates, she will reach her goal for the Tely. Yet, she voiced some concerns while standing around eating a Popsicle at the end of the Mews race near the Quidi Vidi boathouse.
“Imagine, you’d be at Mount Pearl Square, the halfway point in the Tely if this were July 22,” I told her.
She looked at me and I could tell what was going through her mind. “You mean I’d only be at Mount Pearl Square and have another five miles to go,” she said.
She acknowledges the mental part is toughest. Kelly White agrees.
“I had a lot of anxiety about (the race) that morning. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I knew I wasn’t going to win, so what did it matter? My fear was not finishing and letting my (walking) group down.”
Although the course is known for being a downhill race, there are a few uphills. You should go out easy. As soon as you make the turn onto Topsail Road in Paradise at the very beginning of the race, you’re faced with a slight incline. I’ve seen people crash and burn before they even got started. Trying to keep up with faster runners, they try to power up that first hill when they should be taking it easy and saving that push for the second half of the race.
Anyone who has been on a bus headed out to Paradise on Tely race morning knows the butterflies that can take up residence in your belly.
“Even a seasoned Tely 10 runner can run into trouble if they don’t stick with the program,” says Meaney, who will run his 31st Tely this year (21 of his previous 30 were run in under 60 minutes).
“Hydrate sensibly,” he says. “There is evidence some people are overdoing it and putting themselves at risk. Remember, there are water stations on the Tely route to help you hydrate.”
If you’re running the Tely this year, remember Liam McErlean’s words while you’re on the course: smile every mile.
McErlean, who hails from Belfast, says he knows his motivational tips and encouragement help runners develop their own positive self-talk and enjoy long runs.
“How can you be certain?” I asked.
“One day, a local runner came up to me after a run and said that his inner voice really helped him get through the tough parts,” says McErlean.
“He was really surprised that his inner voice spoke with an Irish accent.”
Tely 10 tips
1. Hydrate well in the days before, not just the morning of the race. Make sure you have a cold water bottle at your side whether you’re at work, in your car or socializing.
2. Do not try any new food, clothes or running strategies on race day. Stick with what is tried and tested, right down to your underwear and what you eat for breakfast. Gatorade, for example, may give you a sick stomach if you’re not accustomed to drinking it full strength.
3. Bring a throwaway hoodie and stretchy gloves if it’s cold on race morning. You don’t want to be chilly standing around in your corral before the race even starts. Any unclaimed clothes chucked at the start are donated to charity.
4. Make sure to get lots of rest the week before.
5. Avoid alcohol and rare steak the days before the race. A small glass of wine with your bowl of pasta won’t hurt.
6. Be honest with yourself when self-seeding into the correct corral.
7. Men, for goodness sakes, stick Band-Aids over your nipples if you’re worried your shirt might chafe.
Susan Flanagan had her best Tely 10 time in 2011. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mad Rocks feedback
Lloyd from Toronto writes: “I just finished reading your article on the Mad Rocks. It was superb.
“Before I left St. John’s a few years ago, that hike in Bay Roberts was my favourite. It’s a fabulous place. Even in the winter when I’ve skied it.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t get developed and become another Mount Pearl.
David writes: “The Mad Rocks are a favourite place for my wife and me. In fact, we’re gonna spend the day there tomorrow. And the fish cakes at the Mad Rock Restaurant are the best on Earth. Loved the article about your family adventures there.”
Philip writes: “What a nice article you wrote in today’s paper, ‘Hiking Mad Rocks in Bay Roberts.’ It is certainly a very beautiful area of our town — one that we are certainly very proud of. The Shoreline Walk was a vision of both Betty & Eric Jerrett who are charter members of the Bay Roberts Heritage Society. Both, by the way, are still very active in our town.”
MBC writes: “Mad Rock and Bay Roberts in general is a beautiful place.”
Nicholas writes: “I enjoyed reading your article ‘Hiking Mad Rocks in Bay Roberts.’ The picture you painted of the French’s Cove area was magnificent. The only problem I could find in the article was referring to the whole area as The Mad Rocks. As anyone in Bay Roberts will attest to, Mad Rock is just one small part of the point. The name only applies to the rocks off of Mad Rock Beach. French’s Cove is the area you first walk into, followed by Juggler’s Cove, Scogglin’s Head, Shoe Hole, etc. It is not all Mad Rock. Keep up the good work.”
Art writes: “I would like to correct a couple of things in your piece about the Bay Roberts hiking trail. I grew up in French’s Cove (the small community at the east end of Bay Roberts) and that trail was our stompin ground when the area was considered by the ‘upalongs’ as the poor part and looked down on. Hiking wasn’t even dreamed about. But we had great fun there, exploring every cove and hill by land and sea. Mad Rock was never referred to as Mad Rocks even though there are many rocks visible (a change made by some Bay Roberts people).
“And Mad Rock is what you see when looking out the bay from the end of the road.
“The photo you show is called Lower Cove … and there were 3 rock peaks called the Three Sisters. Thanks for the wonderful article.”