Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cobble Hill 10K

January 25, 2009

Cobble is the 2nd of the Island Race Series. This is the second year at this particular location, previously, the race was held in Mill Bay on what I believe was a slightly more difficult course. I was hoping race conditions would be a bit better than last year when there was frost on a portion of the course.

This was my first 10k of the year and I was hoping to produce a good race that would help motivate me to work hard to achieve my 33min 10 goal. Unfortunately, I have been unlucky in my battle with viruses this winter and came down with a bit of a bug the day before the race. I basically lazed around all Saturday feeling crappy and thinking that would not race on Sunday. I see little point in racing while sick because in addition to feeling worse than normal during the race, my performance is almost sure to be less than stellar. Luckily for me, I had a good sleep Saturday and woke up feeling decent. I wasn't quite 100%, but felt good enough to put on a decent effort.

Cobble Hill attracts a much less competitive field than Pioneer, but there still ended up being 15 runners dipping under 35min which is not bad at all. The National Triathlon Centre seems to use this race for training as 10 of their members also came out to race (4 of them placing in the top 10). There was going to be plenty of competition for me.

There was a huge line up at the day of race registrations I was was happy that I was already signed up. I think there was something like 150 day of registrations. Are there that many people who just can't make of their mind ahead of time?

I did a warm up with Sonja which felt pretty mediocre. My legs felt heavy and I just was not really into the racing mentally at that point. Still, I have felt bad before a race before and still ended up having a good race so I have learned from experience to not worry about it too much. The weather was cool, but freezing and although there had been a dusting of snow the night before it was fully melted on the road surface.

The start and finish line was moved up a hundred meters or so up the road from where it was last year. I suspect that this was to help alleviate the congestion that occurred last year because the side road was fairly narrow. The change should have made little difference to the course since the extra distance was made up in the out and back section of the course.

The race started promptly at 11am and as seems usual these days I got jostled a bit from racers eager to push to the front despite the fact that I was in the front row. Perhaps I should be more aggressive although I see little point in wasting my energy off the line since the first km is always fast anyway. One guy who looked to be in his 50's positively sprinted off the line and shared the lead with Todd Howard for the first hundred meters or so. His strategy was a bit baffling to me as within a couple hundred meters, he had fallen back behind me. His moment of glory perhaps?

Once I began the race, I realized that I felt reasonable and that that it was at least not going to be a disaster. From Cobble Hill Rd, the course heads south on a side road for a quick out and back of under 2km. The first two km passed rather quickly in 3:16 and 3:15, but this was primarily because there was more downhill than uphill. During the climb back up to Cobble Hill Rd I lost some of that time again dropping to below my goal pace of 3:24 (34min finish time) and posting a 3:29. I soon found myself running in a pack with three others: Mark Nelson, Hugh Trenchard, and Nicholas Bocherens. This was a good thing because over the next several km we traded places in the lead helping us pull each other along.

The course has a slight grade uphill until 5km or so and recorded my slowest time on the 5th km despite the fact that I was pulling the group along at this point and pushing fairly hard. My 5km split was 17:04 just shy of the 34 min goal. Unfortunately, after the halfway point I started to struggle a bit and km 6-9 where each off my pace goal by a few seconds. It doesn't help that there a small rolling hills on this part of the course. The race brochure says this is a flat course, but that is misleading and I would describe it as undulating as there are definitely a number of small hills. Around 7km our little pack started to splinter and I was left falling off the back, never the place you want to be. Mark was having a great race and was pulling significantly ahead. I struggled to stay in touch as it can be mentally very difficult to bridge any significant gap on the later stages or the race. At 9km I forced myself to kick it into a higher gear and aided by some slight downhill I managed to make up some time and pass Nicholas and then Hugh with a few hundred meters to go. Unfortunately, Mark was too far ahead to run down in the time that I had, but I was happy to at least have a better final km than at Pioneer. I finished in 34:20, a little off the 34min I was gunning for and less than what I know I am capable of. However, considering I almost didn't run at all, it wasn't bad and I did manage to take 8 seconds off of my time from last year. My final list of splits were 3:16, 3:15, 3:29, 3:26, 3:38, 3:31. 3:26, 3:30, 3:31, and 3:17. I've now made my C Standard Goal, but feel that I am farther from my A and B goals than I would like. I've decided to add another hour or two of quality running to my weekly schedule in the hopes that it will produce results.

Todd Howard won in 31:53, while the woman's title was picked up by Cheryl Murphy in 35:37, quite impressive considering she is also a master. Sonja set a new PB, running in under 45min and fellow Harriers Brent Chan and Chris Callendar also ran their best times at this distance. Another Harrier, Gary Duncan, conducted an interesting analysis comparing times for the top 150 male and female performances from this year compared to last (57 ran both races) and came to the conclusion that the average time this year was 9 seconds slower than last year. This is a bit surprising since conditions where definitely worse last year, but maybe most people are just not training enough!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pioneer 8K

January 11, 2009

The Pioneer 8K road race (hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers) is the first competitive race of the year locally (and considering the time of the year, probably the first in Canada). This year was a special one as well as it was the 30th anniversary with the first race starting in 1980. I don't think I would have given the race much thought back then considering I was only 3, but it is great to see such longevity in a race. Hopefully it will be around in another 30 years so I can run it when I am in my 60's.

This race is typically one of the most competitive Island Race Series races with only the Bazan Bay 5K having a deeper field. This year, however, the competition would reach a to a new level since to help celebrate the anniversary, high level athletes from all over Vancouver Island, the mainland, and beyond had been invited to compete for $7,000 in prize money. Running is not one of the better paid sports unless you are of truly international caliber so 7 grand represents a pretty significant purse for a local race.

Given the high level of completion, I expected that no matter how my race went, my placing would be low compared to last year (where I was 12th) so I completely focused on setting my own goals for the race. I find that this race is always a fairly tough one, considering how early it is in the year and factoring in that I am just coming off holidays where I might have ate a little more than normal and not trained as consistently. This year, there was and additional element called winter in the weeks leading up to the race. Usually, we don't really get a winter here, but this time Victoria got blasted with cold weather and many snow falls. Running outside was very difficult for several weeks which made training a bit more challenging. I had also not been feeling quite as good as I would have liked on my training runs in the month leading up to the race so needless to say I wasn't feeling that I was going to be able run a personal best, but hoped that I could still better my 2008 time of 27:16 and hopefully dip under 27min.

For the first time at this race, timing chips where supplied. The design was new disposable type which unlike standard timing chips don't need to be returned to the race organizers. While I do see the probable cost and administrative savings to the timing organizers it does seem a bit wasteful to only use the chips once (facilities were supplied to recycle the chips, but I'll bet many of them ended up in the landfill). Once very nice feature of the using the timing chips was that a midpoint mat was set up to capture our 4k splits.

Fish eye view of the start line. Photo credit: Adam Lawrence

Conditions on race day were excellent with overcast skies and cool temperatures. I did a brief 10min warm up with Sonja before heading to the start line. Pretty much the entire first km of the course is downhills so I fully expected to have a fast time for the first km despite the fact that I went out pretty conservatively. Just as I had thought the first km passed in 3:08 well ahead of my 3:23 goal pace, but as long as I didn't continue at such an unsustainable pace I would be fine. As the course flattened out between 1-2km I slowed to closer to my goal pace and started to get into the rhythm of the race. I ended up running in a bit of a gap with the closest of the about 25 runners ahead of me 20 meters in front of me. We headed through a portion of Brentwood Bay and up the steepest hill of the course. At around 3km I could hear someone close behind and when he pulled close, it turned out to be Hugh Trenchard. Hugh is an accomplished cyclist and runner. While I was able to nip him at many races last year, he would certainly not make it easy. We hit the 4km mat at 13:16, about 15s ahead of my 27min goal time. It was not a time to get excited, however, as I knew the final half of the course was somewhat more difficult than the first half and the final km is actually the same section as the first km only in reverse. Running a negative split on this race is not easy.

Hitting the 4km mat with Hugh: Photo Credit: Lara Wear

I was feeling decent at the halfway point, so with Hugh pushing me along continued to maintain a good pace. There is a bit of downhill to 5km marker then a slight uphill grade through to 6km. At about this point, I saw the leaders coming back after they had turned around at 6.5km. Jon Brown and Richard Mosley were close to 3min ahead of me at that point and were moving fast. It is impressive to see such high caliber athletes when they are really trying. I was able to keep up a decent pace through to the turnaround point, but I definitely started to feel the pain after that. Hugh and I did catch up with Ian Druce, who appeared to be struggling someone, just before the 7km marker. However, he managed to find some reserves and started to pull away again with Hugh giving chase. Generally, I am a good climber and can overtake most runners of my speed on the hills and I had hoped that I could dig deep to over take Hugh and Ian on the gradual incline of the last km. Unfortunately, I just didn't have enough left to put on much of a surge and Hugh end up beating me by 6sec. I managed a farily weak sprint to the finish, hitting the mat in 26:57 for 25th overall, good enough to beat my 2008 time by 19sec, but 12sec off my PB of 26:45 set at the RVM 8K in October last year. I'm pretty sure that RVM is a slightly easier course, however, so was not disappointed with my result. In past years I have gradually improved during the Island Race Series so I hope this year is no exception. I've got a bit of work to do if I am going to realize my 33min 10k goal for this year. For those interested, my splits were 3:08, 3:18, 3:28, 3:21, 3:21, 3:24, 3:29, and 3:29. Final results are here.

Feeling the pain near the finish line. Photo Credit: Tony Austin

It was nice to see a large group of Harriers out racing (nearly 100) many of whom had great performances. Nick Best's increased training is paying off as he beat me by a minute (last year I nipped him at the line). Sonja had a great race setting a PB by taking 43sec off her RVM time. Richard Mosley out sprinted Jon Brown at the finish to win in 23:35. It was great to see that every single person in this race had some real competition!

Thanks to those that follow my blog, I'll try had to always produce a race report no later than 1 week after a race (and hopefully sooner in most cases).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 Race Season Goals

Happy New Years to Everyone!

With the Pioneer 8k happening tomorrow, I thought I'd just a quick post to state my 2009 racing goals. This year I am concentrating on races under half marathon distance and would like to be able to get my 10k time down as much as possible. This does not mean that I will not race any longer races, but I am not planning to do much specific training for them. In much the same way that I have seen others state their goals, I have four levels of goals:

'A' Standard Goal: Run a sub 33 min 10k

'B' Standard Goal: Set a PB at 10k (under 33:44)

'C' Standard Goal: Run a sub 34:30 10k

Base Goal: Stay injury free and healthy so I can continue to run and race

Happy running to everyone!

Free Blog Counter
Poker Blog