Monday, January 11, 2010

Prairie Inn Pioneer 8K

January 10, 2010

Pioneer is the very popular first race of the Island Race Series. I'm quite surprised at the level of competition that shows up for this local race. Thanks for the stellar field can largely be given to Bob Reid who manages to recruit many elite runners from the island, the mainland and beyond. It probably also helps that there is a small prize purse and it is the now part of the Timex BC Road Running Series. Other than the Sun Run and Times Colonist, this is likely the most competitive road race in BC. Thanks to the race director Randy Jones and all the volunteers who made this 31st running of the Pioneer another great success.

This was my first road race since I started my new training with Paul O'Callaghan and therefore my first real test to see if the plan was working for me. I was feeling optimistic about my running, but I didn't have any expectations that I would be setting a huge PB. I did however, want to at least better my 2009 time on this course (26:57). If I could also go under my 8k PB of 26:45 that would be a satisfying result. Based on this, I planned to try to go for a 26:30 (3:19/km pace) and see how things went.

I arrived about an hour before race start which normally gives sufficient time to get a race number, use the facilities, and have a short warm up. Unfortunately, I spent a good amount of time waiting in line for the bathroom so my warm up was a truncated one. In my experience though, I have not found a relationship between my performance and my warm up. Sometimes, I have not warmed up at all and felt just fine and other times I have done a full warm up and under performed. The body definitely does take some time getting the systems running well during intense exercise, but I find the the adrenaline at the beginning of the race more than compensates for the lack of a full warm up.

Most of the first kilometer is downhill which leads to an extremely fast time. I managed to avoid the flailing arms and legs and passed the first km in 3:01 in around 25th place. Only in my dreams could I run an 8k at that pace, but I wasn't particularly worried about going so fast since it is largely on account of the downhill start. Shawn Nelson passed me near the 1km mark and knowing the speed he is capable of these days, I didn't attempt to respond. Around 1.5km, I saw Craig Odermatt take a nasty tumble on the pavement. He was apparently tripped up by somebody, but with the assistance of another runner (Shelby Drope) he was up and moving again soon. He momentarily fell back a bit, but soon enough bombed on ahead to a strong finish.

The second km passed in a another quick 3:13, but I knew some slow sections were on the way so having a few seconds in the bank was good since I didn't feel I was over stressing myself doing so. There is a fairly long hill through Brentwood Bay that makes it difficult to post a good time on the 3rd km, but I moved well and passed Shelby and gained slightly on the other in front of me. I ran on my own not really gaining or losing ground until around 5km when Nick Walker caught and passed me. He often seems to start out a little easy and then finishing the latter half strong. I considered trying to tag onto him, but instead elected to set my own pace. I reeled in another runner at 5.5km who was fading a bit. A few hundred meters from the turn around I spotted the leaders Steve Osaduik and Richard Mosley coming back and running neck and neck.

By the turn around I still felt like I was able to maintain a strong pace although 6-7 km was a slow 3:27 despite seeming just as fast as the others. Around 6.5 km I spotted a runner heading off the road into the bushes. Apparently he really had to take a wiz although it seems like he would have been able to hold if for 6 more minutes. It definitely cost him a few positions. The final km is pretty much all uphill since it is the reverse of the opening km. Last year, I recall really struggling to keep my form on the last km so it was encouraging that I felt much better this time and was able to maintain a good rhythm.

As I rounded the final corner to the finish, I took a look at my watch - 2o sec to make it under 26:30 - I ramped it up and mounted a respectable kick, but was not quite able to get there in time instead finishing in 26:35. This was good enough for 19th place in a strong field and more importantly was a 10 sec PB (and 22 sec improvement over last year). Not a huge breakthrough, but definitely heading in the right direction. I was also encouraged by how comfortable I felt (relative to other races). Steve managed to out kick Richard for the win in 23:35; a time I would be ecstatic to get with a minute of. It was great to see a large number of other Harriers and runners that I have come to know over the years. I'm looking forward to a great year. Final results.

My splits were: 3:01, 3:13, 3:27, 3:20 (4k split 13:01) 3:21, 3:25, 3:27, 3:22

On a more serious note, the recent tragic earthquake in Haiti got me reflecting on just how fortunate we all living here. We have the luxury of being able to participate in an activity that only has value for our own enjoyment (and ego) while so many others could only wish to have enough resources to meet their basic needs. This should help to put things into perspective next time you have a bad run or race.

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