Saturday, March 27, 2010

Comox Vally Half Marathon

March 21, 2010

I hadn't originally planned on doing this race since I haven't been focusing on the half distance. While the mileage in my training schedule is sufficient it does not include that many long runs, nor does it currently include any hard tempo runs. Right now, it is all about the track sessions generally with intervals between 150m and 1 Mile. I have a difficult time not racing though and doing Comox would allow me to complete 5 IRS races and get ranked for the series. It's funny how a points system convinces me to want to get that ranking even though they don't mean that much since most of the best runners don't complete enough races to get placed in the overall standings. Anyway, I figured that I could pull it off despite the lack of specific training and given the strong season I have had so far, a PB was certainly possible (I ran a 1:15:21 here last year).

Sonja and I headed up with some other Harriers, Julie and John and despite my missing the first turnoff to Courtenay we still arrived with plenty of time. Given the distance, I only did a short warm up and arrived at the start line with just a couple minutes to spare. Sonja was worried that I would miss the start which would definitely suck, but luckily that has not happened to me yet.

The first few km went well and I posted some good split times. They were sub 3:30 km which was faster than my goal pace, but I knew this part of the course was fast and if I wanted to get my goal, I had to bank a few seconds here. Right away I found myself running on my own with Craig Odermatt, Jonathan Withey, and Neil Holm slowing pulling away from me and no one close behind me. This would be the situation for the remainder of the race and I think this may be been the most alone I have been during a road race.

While I've known a number of people who have had very good times on this course and say that it is fast, it is definitely not flat. From 6-12km, the course consists of either a slight or moderate uphill grade or rolling hills. There is nothing crazy, but it definitely slows your pace and wears away on the energy. Once I started the climb, I began to feel the strain. This was not good as I was less than halfway into the race. I still managed to keep my pace reasonable, with the slowest km clocking in at 3:45 (the entire km is a gradual climb), but I knew then and there that it wasn't going to be a great race for me. As I neared the turnaround I saw the leader David Jackson well ahead of the competition on his way back. When I finally made it there myself, I found that there was no one close behind me as Keith Mills was at least a minute back. Unless I totally blew apart on the return I would be able to maintain my place.

The return downhill was a welcome relief and I was able to pull back a portion of the time that I had lost on the climb. Unfortunately, around 14km I got a nasty side stitch that threatened to really take the wind out of my sails. I'm sure it cost me a few seconds, but luckily it subsided quickly and didn't return. Another annoyance started to creep up in the form of a hot spot on my right foot. I was wearing a pair of light trainers that I had worn for up to 16km with no issues before, so I found it a bit of a shock to be having problems this time. It continued to worsen for the remainder of the race and I knew that I'd have a nasty blister to contend with later, but pushed though the discomfort anyway.

The final few km were tough and my split times were unremarkable compared to what I did on the way out. I was not falling apart, but certainly was not feeling strong like I recall being last year. Despite this, I did notice that I was closing the gap on Neil. He was much closer to me than he was at the mid point in the race so he must have been suffering as well. I focused on pulling closer to him, but just couldn't make it happen. Last year, I hammered to the finish closing the last 1.1km in 3:39, this year it took me 3:52 which shows my relative condition. Despite a less than stellar race in terms of how I felt, I still managed to come in a respectable 1:14:46 which was 35 seconds better than last year and a modest PB. On a good day, I certainly think that a sub 1:14:00 would be possible and perhaps even faster on a flatter course.

Finishing up in discomfort. Photo credit: David Brown

David easily took the win in 1:08:25 and Care Wakely won the woman's division in 1:24:16. This year was more competitive than last year since my time would have given me a 4th place finish in 2009 rather than the 7th I received this year. Sonja ran well getting another large PB and a for the first time ever in a IRS, a first place in her age category! Results.

My splits:
3:21, 3:28, 3:24, 3:28, 3:29, (17:09 5k) 3:36, 3:38, 3:45, 3:37, 3:37 (35:23 10k), 3:37, 3:35, 3:29, 3:20, 3:32 (52:56 15k), 3:27, 3:35, 3:38, 3:39, 3:39 (1:10:54 20k), 3:52 (1.1k).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bazan Bay 5k

March 7, 2010

I've been quite negligent on updating recently and am now two races behind on my blogging. Some home renovations and family visits have sucked up most of my free time. Fortunately, a 5k is a quick race to do a report on.

Bazan is always a competitive race, being the shortest of the Island Race Series and bringing out the speedy National Triathlon team members in force. In fact, the top 5 spots all went to triathletes. I'd been hoping for a good performance here as my training has been solid and focused largely on speed sessions. I posted a 16:02 here last year so a time under 16 min was certainly in the cards. I hoped to get around 15:45 (3:09 pace) so went into the race with that in mind.

Conditions were about perfect for racing with no wind and cool temps. This year, the timing was also better in that the shift to daylight savings didn't occur until the next weekend so we were not robbed an hour of sleep like in previous years.

I found myself behind around 25 racers by the first km marker which I went though in 3:04. I wasn't particularly worried as I knew as long as my race went well many of those guys would fall back since there was no way they could all maintain such a pace. I decided to ease off a bit to try and settle into my goal pace of 3:09 for the next km or two before going hard for the last 2 km.

Although it didn't seem like I was losing ground to the guys in front of me, I was rudely shocked when I saw the 2nd km split of 3:16 which as 7 sec too slow. I had to kick it up or I would never be able to meet my goal time so I put the hammer down and started catching up to those in front. I passed a few in the next km (3:07) and even more in the next km which I did in 3:09. It felt good to be able to power though and catch many of those who were struggling to keep their pace. Paul O’Callaghan was on course encouraging us so that was great.

Unfortunately for them, both Shawn Nelson and Eric Findlay were both hurting from 3-4km and I managed to move ahead of them. I started to pay for my quick pace on the last km, however, and had a tough time maintaining my speed. I lost a few seconds, but still managed to post a 3:11 on the last km and had a decent kick into the finish even though there was no one close enough to catch. I crossed in 15:47, good for a 15 sec PB and a new personal points record (824) . I think I could have taken a couple of more seconds off if I had paced myself more evenly, but I did feel strong so I know the speed work is paying off for sure. I was 14th overall which meant I had passed around 10 guys after the first km.

The local two time Olympic medalist, Simon Whitfield won in 14:36 with his training partner Kyle Jones just 2 sec back. Top woman was Magali Tisseyre in 17:03. Keith Mills continued a strong year running 16:03 and Sonja ran under 20min for the first time ever.

Sadly, we later found out that a runner had collapsed from a heart attack at the 1km mark and later died at the hospital. Unfortunately this happens from time to time, but I'm sure that running extends peoples lives much more than it shortens them.

My splits were 3:04, 3:16, 3:07, 3:09, 3:11. Final Results.

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