Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bear Mountain 10K

November 15, 2008

I was not planning on doing this race, but thought that since Asics is a sponsor it would probably be a good idea to run it. The race takes place on the paved cart paths around Bear Mountain Golf Course. Based on the course description and what I heard from others, I knew this was a hilly course; exactly how hilly I found out soon enough.

Sonja and I arrived to some drizzle, but otherwise good temperate race conditions. This race brings out a somewhat different group of runners than many of the other events I compete in. I still knew a number of people there, but not as many as some other local races. Based on previous results, I expected a strong men's field and when I spotted Kelly Guest, Eric Findlay, Nick Walker, and Sean Chester I knew there was going to be some serious competition. Some modest prize money does boost the level of entrants.

I choose to wear a long sleeve shirt, cap, and gloves all of which I would come to not need at all since the weather got progressively warmer as the race went on. Luckily, I don't feel that the overdressing hampered my performance. After a brief warm up, I was more or less ready to go. The first kilometer of the course didn't include any big climbs although it certainly was not flat. Around the 2km mark the first of three whimsically named hills started. This was was called "Papa Bear" and consisted of about 1.5 km of steady climbing. It was not insane, but definitely still a challenge. I was feeling pretty good at that point and since hills are one of my strengths, I thought this was a good chance to make gain time on some of the field. I was in 4th place for most of the climb even briefly moving into 3rd behind Ryan Day and Jason Terauchi-Loutitt. As it turns out I may have gone out a little hard, but at the time it seemed to be a sustainable pace.

After a bit of a break with some downhill I soon found out that while there are only three named hills, there are many many others that are not named. There is little that I would consider to be flat in this course and even the downhills were often not that comfortable with many being steep and/or having tricky corners to navigate. I continued to feel fairly good until about the halfway mark when things started to get tough. Races always get hard in the second half, but I was feeling a little worse that I had hoped at this point in the race. I concentrated on trying to keep a even effort and hoped to hold on to a decent pace for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately, tracking your pace on such a race was difficult because of the terrain. My pace varied from 3:20 to 4:15 per km so it was difficult to know if I was slowing down or not. Sean Chester passed me around 5km and while I held on not far behind for a while he gradually slipped away. A few km later Kelly Guest passed me and I didn't have enough to respond in any meaningful way. Getting passed is always difficult psychologically and I much prefer to be the one doing the passing, but the reality is that it happens to everyone at one time or another.

I struggled up "Mama Bear" Hill, but I could honestly barley distinguish this from the other numerous hills. I knew by about 6 km that this certainly wasn't going to be a great race, but I hoped that I could prevent it from being a disaster. Eric Findlay caught up to me with less than 2km to go and I did manage to match his pace for a while before he pulled ahead. The final "Baby Bear" hill wasn't really that bad, but coming only a half km from the finish line, it felt tough. Nick Walker passed me up the hill and I just didn't have enough to respond, but at least the hill didn't totally stop me in my tracks, but I wish I had had something left. I crossed the finish in 36:57, less than 1 minute behind Sean, Kelly, Eric, and Nick and more than 3 min off my personal best 10k time. I'm pretty sure that if I felt better and run a little smarter, I could have been more competitive in that group. On the plus side, I did manage to inadvertently run my race number. My bib was "8" and I placed 8th overall.

Ryan Day ended up winning in a solid 34:38 (for this course), with out of towner Rob Mandje taking second and Jason Terauchi-Loutitt
picking up third. Fellow PIH member Kevin Searle raced very well, coming in 9th behind me and handily winning the Masters title. Gary Duncan dominated his age category coming in a 40:43 and Sonja had a great race picking up 5th overall in the woman's race (and winning a bit of money for the effort). Final results can be found here.
You can see a shot of my struggles here.

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