Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thetis 20K Relay

November 11, 2009

I think I mentioned this in my post about the relay last year, but I am still (pleasantly) surprised at how popular this event is. There are no race numbers, you time yourself, and there is minimal prizing or post race food so it is great that it sold out for the second year running with over 600 registered. I think one of the main reasons it is so popular is that there are not many other local relay running events. This race allows you to get four people together to run around both Thetis Lakes, and your teammates can cheer you on while you are doing your leg. The distance its modest (under 5km per lap), the terrain relatively forgiving, and taking place on Remembrance Day, has no other races to compete with. All in all quite the fun little event which the Prairie Inn Harriers have put on for 13 years now.

With so many people in the event, parking is an issue unless you arrive pretty early. Sonja and I did not, and ended up having to hoof it a little ways. Not a big deal, but it didn't leave a ton of time before the race started. Conditions were great for this time of year, dry and mild, so a shorts and a short sleeve were all that was required. The first year I did the relay back in 2005, it was only a couple of degrees out and the rain absolutely pounded down. I remembered being completely soaked within minutes and freezing later while waiting for my teammates. It is still stands as the worst conditions that I have raced in.

I've done this event 4 times with various teams, so this year I decided to try it as a solo. This would also fit in well with my training program as I had a scheduled 10 Miler anyway so I traded that tempo for this race. The trick with a solo effort (besides the possibility of getting bored with 4 laps of the same trails) was not to go out too hard initially. Most of the runners would only be doing a single lap so trying to keep up with people I normally would run with would be quite unwise. There were 7 other solo racers, with Jeff Hunt being the fastest. Jeff is a experienced ultra runner and I thought that pacing him for the first lap would be a good way to make sure I didn't go out too hard (I didn't actually end up doing this, but it was a good idea anyway).

"Ready Set..." Photo Credit: Sandi Heal

Once the race began I quickly got into a comfortable rhythm. I rarely wear my heart rate monitor in a race, but I decided to use it this time. It turned out to be a good tool to have, particularly on the first lap. Even though it felt comfortable, the heart rate started to creep up steadily so I tried hard to keep it in the low 150's (under 90% of my max). I ran with Jeff for the first couple of km, but then he had to pull off to tie a errant lace (I'll give you tips to avoid this next time Jeff:-)). I passed a few single lappers who had gone out too hard and felt strong going over the 3 small hills near the end of the loop. I finished the first lap in 17:25 feeling good. It was great to see so many people cheering on myself and others at the transition zone. It really does give a little energy boost when people shout your name as you pass them so thanks to everyone who cheered us on!

My goal for the day was to try to keep the laps steady (or even slightly speed up with each successive lap). With this in mind I kept what I thought was the same pace as the first lap, but unfortunately held back a bit too much finishing that one in 17:59. Seeing this I pushed harder on the 3rd lap, determined to get my time down to around 17:30. I started passing runners on their 2nd lap and from here on in, I ended up saying "On your left!" quite a lot. Pretty much everyone was great at letting me by although a few still got confused about what left meant. Clocking in a 17:36 got me close to the first lap speed and I was feeling quite good so with a single lap left, I ignored the heart rate monitor and pushed the pace. The final 3 hills hurt and forced my pace down, but I hammered out the flats and downhills quite well. With a hundred meters to go, I didn't feel totally spent, so I sprinted in for a 17:27 lap and a 1:10:27 total time. This was good for a win in the solo division and 6th place overall. While I probably left a little bit in the tank since I didn't feel as drained as usual, I was still generally pleased with my performance and how smart I ran the race. The Senior Men National Triathlon Team took first place in a blistering 1:01:34 (15:23 average laps). Final Results. It was great to see some many Harriers out and I hope this little event continues on for many years to come.

Checking my splits with race director Bob Reid. Photo Credit: Sandi Heal

I'm going to continue to concentrate on my training for the remainder of the year although I will be heading over to Vancouver in early December to run the Gunner Shaw XC race there.


Jeff Hunt said...

You tie your shoes when you run?

Brent C said...

Hey Shane,

Here's hoping that your blog will include some regular posting on your new training program and not just your races.

I'm interested to hear how it goes after finally getting some coaching this year myself.


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