Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oak Bay Half Ekiden Relay

May 16, 2010

My Aspire training group decided to enter a team into this event for the fun of it. I've never raced this half marathon or the relay so it was something new to do. Our team consisted of myself, Sean Chester, Shawn Nelson, and Kevin Searle. Besides doing something new, our secondary goal was to break the course record of 1:07:34 set in 2005 by Peninsula Runners. It would be fairly challenging to beat that time (3:13 pace), but if things went well it was possible.

The relay consists of 4 segments of 4.2, 4.8, 5.1, and 7.0km respectively. I was given the 2nd 4.8km leg. I did a short warm-up to the transition zone with Ian Perriman (who was racing on another team) then waited just a couple of minutes until Kevin arrived. He was in 5th place overall behind Jim Finlayson, Gilbert Kiptoo, Philip Samoei, and Mark Cryderman (all running the full course). I grabbed the relay sash from Kevin and nearly dumped my sunglasses on the ground trying to get it over my head (I probably should have just held it in my hand as some others did). I went out pretty hard knowing that I had to post a decent time and wanting to catch some of those in front of me. If we were to get the time we wanted we should be not far behind Jim since he is capable of running a 1:07.

I quickly caught up to Mark and we exchanged pleasantries as I passed. I then set my sights upon the 3rd place position held by Philip. Within a km or so I caught up to him, but he would not let me pass him easily and answered with a increase in speed. We ran more or less together until the transition zone. Unfortunately for him, the increased pace may have hurt his 2nd half as he faded quite a bit. During my run, I was feeling only OK. The pace was fairly decent although a bit slower than my Bazan Bay race in March, but much like the Sun Run I just didn't have the power in me like I would like. The course was somewhat rolling as well which took a bit of a bite out of the pace. I finished my 4.8km segment in around 15:54, not a great time, but not terrible either.

Got to love the cape look. If only I had the speed of superman! Photo Credit: Yan Lyesin

I passed the sash on to Shawn Nelson who ran his 5.1km segment strongly in around 16min. Then Sean Chester took the anchor lap and tried to chase down Jim and Gilbert. Perhaps still feeling the effects of racing on the track the night before, Sean was unable to run at his best, doing about a 24min 7k. He crossed the line at 1:09:01, about a min and a half back of our goal, but it was still the 2nd best relay time posted on this course. Jim cruised to victory in 1:07:06 a time that is quite impressive in its own right and humbling to think that the four of us couldn't run one quarter of the distance at that pace. While it was not my best run, it was fun to be involved in a relay event and since I was not racing the whole course, it gave me the opportunity to spectate and cheer on the other racers.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sun Run 10k

May 9, 2010

First of all, a huge thanks to Marice Wilson of BC Athletics for arranging accommodation for a big contingent of over 30 Vancouver Island high performance athletes who made it over for the race this year. We were treated extremely well and it didn't go unappreciated. Also a big thanks to Bob Reid who yet again helped us out greatly by providing van transportation over to Vancouver. Bob's tireless support of the running community never ceases to amaze me.

This was my seventh road race of the year and I had hoped to have a good performance here to cap off a great season where I have set a PB at every race. I ran very well at the Times Colonist two weeks ago hitting my season target of 33 min right on the nose so I wasn't looking to smash that time, but thought it was possible to better it by a small margin.

As the race approached, I had a bit of a notion in the back of my mind that my race might not be stellar since I had some mediocre training sessions after the TC. I just felt a bit off for those workouts and didn't feel as strong as I normally do, but I shrugged it off a bit and hoped that on race day things would line up better. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way.

Perhaps I should have run more by feel on this race and not looked at my watch, but I succumbed to the urge to check my splits. As it is on a gradual downhill the first km is blistering fast and I cleared it in 2:59. I felt a bit lethargic off the start, but I didn't let it worry me right away as sometimes this happens to me. Often, after a few minutes my body kicks into racing mode and I have a respectable race. This time though, the only thing that got kicked was my ass by this course.

The 2nd km felt OK and I recorded a 3:16 which was still good, but by around 3km I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a great race for me. It wasn't that I had gone out too hard and was hitting the wall, I just felt sluggish and couldn't muster up much speed in the legs. Unfortunately, some other Island runners were also having tough days. Despite the fact that I was slowing down, I passed Mark Nelson around 3.5km so he was really having a tough day, but I got passed by a few other runners around the same time. On the climb up to Burrard Bridge I pushed a bit and managed to pick a few runners off, but I really wasn't feeling that great. My 5k split was 16:33, which was actually only slightly off a 33min pace, but since it also included a fast first kilometer, it was really not a good time. Paul O'Callaghan was there encouraging the members of our little training group and it was great to have him there. I only wished that I had had something left for the second half of the race where I was supposed to pick it up.

Like his brother, Shawn Nelson was also not having a good day, and I passed him at about 5.5km. This would normally mean that I was running really well since Shawn is currently running strong, but not this day. Things did not improve in the ensuing few km and I really had a hard time keeping my pace. I was doing about 3:25 km's which was at least 6 sec slower than I wanted. I was passed by a few people including Sean Chester who was having a reasonable day at least. I would have liked to respond to some of these guys coming by me, but I just didn't have it in me. Mentally it was also tough to keep the pressure on at this point since I knew I was not going to PB, but I didn't give up my any means. I still tried to hang on for a non-embarrassing time. My 8-9k split was embarrassing, however, clocking in at a 3:40, slower than any of my 10k race splits in quite a while.

I did at least muster a decent push to the finish, out kicking a young guy to cross the line in 33:45. This was 45 sec slower than at the TC just two weeks ago, and a even a couple seconds slower than Sun Run last year, where I also raced poorly. I'm not quite sure what went wrong as it was not a pacing, bonking or cramping issue. I just felt flat. Perhaps a fairly heavy spring racing and training schedule has caught up to me. Despite quite a few people not running to their potential, there were a few solid performances by island athletes including Sonja who ran a small PB despite not feeling that great, Michael Lax who ran well considering he has been laid up by injuries for quite some time, and Ian Hallam who ran about the same as in the TC. Results.

It was disappointing, but not a big setback by any means. Regardless of the outcome of this race, I had already planned to take about 2 weeks off of my big training sessions to give my body a bit of a break before refocusing on a new goal. My next goal will be the 5000m Q Track Series race on Aug 21st so I foresee a lot of brutal track sessions in my future.

Splits: 2:59, 3:16, 6:45 (2k - 3k marker was incorrectly placed), 3:33 (5k split 16:33), 3:24, 6:50 (missed 8k marker), 3:40, 3:18

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