Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cobble Hill 10k

January 23, 2011

This race, the second of the 2011 Island Race Series, was a bit of a last minute decision for me. I had already picked out the five races from the series that would get me enough points to qualify for series standings (Pioneer, Cedar, Hatley Castle, Bazan, and Sooke River) so didn't really need to do this one. As usual, however, I couldn't resist the urge to race. Besides, since I would have gone up to cheer on Sonja and other friends anyway, racing made sense.

My training leading up to the race had been going well although my sleep in the couple of days leading up to the race was not ideal, I was hopeful that I could still race fairly well. I wasn't expecting to top my 2010 Times Colonist time on this more challenging course, but based on my Pioneer performance was hoping to pick up a modest course PB of 10 or 15 seconds (last year I ran 33:31).

My warm-up was kind of flat, but I have learned to not give much heed to how I feeling before the race as it seems to have little bearing on how I actually feel on the course. Conditions were a bit cool so I rushed back to the school that was used for race central with a few minutes to spare to drop off my long sleeve. By the time I made it back to the start line a few hundred metres down the road at 10:55, I nearly missed the start since they started a couple minutes early. Perhaps I should not cut it so close next time...

I enjoyed watching a young kid sprint crazy-ally ahead only to and fall well back before hitting 500m. There was also another guy who took off with the leaders who didn't die fast despite the fact that he really didn't look like an elite runner as he was sporting a cotton tee and long shorts. I was quite shocked that he was able to hold on for about two kilometres with the lead group even though his running form looked inefficient and strained from the start. I think this guy was Thomas Marrs and despite his quick start he managed to hang on well and run a very respectable 35:07 for 6th place overall.

As usual I tried to run at my own pace and not worry too much about keeping up with anyone in particular. Logan was ahead along with Sean Chester, Shawn Nelson, and Craig Odermatt leaving me in 5th position after the initial sorting out. The first km went by fast in 3:06, but felt comfortable, then we headed down hill a bit on an out and back section. After the 2nd kilometer, I was surprised to find myself closing in on Sean, Shawn, and Craig (Logan had fallen back slightly) and we were soon running together. This is the first time I have ever been in the lead pack during an Island Race Series race so it felt strange. I was thinking "Am I going to fast?", but we were not really going that fast and I felt well in control. Just before the 3k marker, Sean accelerated ahead and I later learned that this race was more of a training/tactics race for him and he could have certainly gone faster off the line.

I half expected to see Shawn go with him as he is definitely capable of putting down a fast time, but instead within a few hundred metres he actually fell back behind Craig and myself. I knew then, that something was wrong and later found out that he pulled out due to a tight chest. Kind of a bummer for him for sure. I ran side by side with Craig up the slight grade from 3km to the turn-around at 5.5km. I was feeling pretty good, but around 4.5km, Craig started to slowly pull away and I felt that I didn't have the ability to stay with him without compromising the later kilometres of the race. Craig is very consistent and always finishes his races strong so I was not too surprised to not be able to hang on (although someday soon I am hoping to be able to do that).

I hit the halfway point at 16:40, on pace for a 33:20 race, right where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, while there is some downhill on the way back to the finish, there are also some rolling hills that cut into your time along with inevitable fatigue that starts to set in. I managed to maintain a respectable pace though the next few kilometres but did lose a couple of seconds compared to my first half. Craig was now more than 30s ahead of me and Sean was close to a minute ahead and with no one close behind, it was really just a race against the clock for me. Paul was at the last corner encouraging myself and others along and telling me to relax the shoulders. I picked it up a bit and was able to close the final km in a decent 3:16, finishing in 33:30, just 1s faster than last year. I had hoped to be a bit faster, but still did run a PB on this course, even if it is the smallest one possible. I the plus side I did place 3rd overall which is my best placing to date in an Island Race Series. Where are the elite runners this year? Overall it was kind of a B race for me - not bad, but not spectacular either.

Congrats to Sean for winning his first ever Island Race Series. He is running exceptionally well this year so I think he will shatter some PB's. Sonja continued her amazing improvements running under 41 minutes for the first time. A 10k time with a 3 in front of it is just around the corner I think.


Splits (some of the markers were off since the first seems too short, the second too long, the fourth too short and the fifth too long)
3:06, 3:23, 3:20, 3:17, 3:34, (5k split: 16:40) 3:23, 3:21, 3:27, 3:22, 3:16

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prarie Inn Pioneer 8K

January 9, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I am focusing on mountain running for 2011 in the hopes of making it onto the Canadian team who will compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Albania in September. Because of this, my road racing this year becomes less important and I will not be quite a concerned about my times this year. However, I still plan to do at least 5 of the Island Race Series races and I always race at a pretty high intensity. If I end up doing well, it will be a great bonus.

This attitude took a little pressure off the race which was nice. I made a last minute decision to race in a brand new pair of Nike Free Run + shoes I had just purchased. For the last few years, I have been racing in Asics racing flats and they have served me well. However, my current pair is worn out and I think was a contributing factor in my plantar fasciitis which I didn't want to aggravate it any more. Since I didn't want to race in a heaver shoe, I choose to try the Nike's out since they were nearly as light as my racing flats. Since it was only 8km I figured the worst I could suffer was a few blisters. The shoes are exceptionally flexible so you can feel every contour of the road, but still had reasonable cushioning and they fit like a glove. They turned out to be very comfortable and have me no blisters or hot spots. I'll have to run in them a few more times to assess them fully, but so far I'm quite impressed.

I was surprised to be handed a bib with the number 5 on it. Elite bibs are often ranked by the race organizers based on expected finishing position so 5th sounded way too high. Last year I ran a 26:35 to place 19th and year before, I ran just under 27 min and was 25th. This is often a very competitive race and I expected the same this year. However, even with the last minute appearance of two elites (Jim Finlayson and Trevor O'Brien), the field had less depth than normal. Since the elite field was thin, I was able to stand right on the start line. Too bad it didn't help me much though as it seems like I was already 2 strides behind right after the gun. I think many runners jump gun just slightly while I diligently wait and nearly get run over. In a race such as this, it doesn't matter much, but I was shocked at how quickly I fell behind.

The course was exactly the same as every time I have run here and so started with a scorching fast downhill first kilometre. I kept closer to the leaders than usual though as I posted a 3:04 split. By this time the initial sorting out was done and I found myself in about 10th position and feeling strong. If I continued to feel good, I was pretty sure I could pull in a couple of those runner ahead. I moved along well passing the 2nd marker on a steady 3:17 pace. The course then turns right up a hill through Brentwood Bay. I noticed that a few runners in front of me had slowed quite a lot while climbing the hill and as I was feeling strong, I took the opportunity to power up the grade and pass 3 runners. I normally have to be a bit careful not to overstress myself on the climbs in fear that I will not be able to recover once I hit the top, but this time around I recovered very well.

...and we're off! Photo Credit: Kirsten (last name unknown)

I crossed the halfway point at 4k in 12:58 which was a few seconds faster than last year, but now the hard part starts. For some reason, I have usually struggled somewhat in the last 3 kilometres of this race. This time around, my energy felt great, but around 5k, I started to develop a side stitch. It wasn't horrible, but I did have to back off a bit in the hopes that it would subside (it did after about 1.5k). My slowest km was 3:27 when the stitch was at it's worst.

Just as the problem was subsiding, Paddy McCluskey and Colin Dignum caught up to me. Paddy is a bit of a local legend with amazing personal bests in his younger days and now is a powerful Master's runner. I have raced against him a few times and I'm pretty sure he always made it to the finish before me. Paddy looked strong, but Colin was breathing so hard and so raggedly that he sounded as though each step he took might be his last - he was absolutely killing himself! Hearing him and then assessing how hard I was working in comparison gave me the motivation to pick it up a bit. I wasn't struggling nearly as bad as Colin was so there was no way I was going to get him beat me!
The last kilometre is pretty much all up hill and I powered my way up it passing Paddy back partway up, but not gaining a lot of time on him. The final few hundred metres of gradual uphill really hurts, but I gutted it out and pushed passed one young National Triathlon member to grab 6th spot in 26:19. I was pleased with my performance, getting a 12s PB and with the exception of the stitch feeling great doing it.

Unsurprisingly, Jim grabbed the win, but Sean Chester ran a PB to place a strong 2nd only 25s behind. The top 5 were rounded out by Trevor, Shawn Nelson, and Craig Odermatt. Natasha Wodak took the woman's title in a strong 27:57. Many other Harriers and friends had great races including Andrew Pape-Salmon, Garth Campbell, Claire Morgan, and Sonja (who smashed her 2010 time by almost 2 min).


My splits: 3:04 (-13s from avg pace), 3:17 (0s), 3:21 (+4s), 3:17 (0s) [halfway split 12:58], 3:19 (+2s), 3:27 (+10s), 3:21 (+4s), 3:14 (-3s)

2010 Review and Plans for 2011

I realize that we are are already 2 weeks into 2011 so I am a bit behind the eight ball on this post, but I thought it was still worth getting a few things down about my running in the last year and mention a few things about 2011. To keep it simple I'll post in point form.

Positives for 2010
  • Set modest personal bests at all distances that I raced in 2010 (3000m, 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, Half)
  • Hit the 33 min mark for 10K at the Times Colonist
  • Picked up wins in 3 trail races (Orcas Island 25K, Hallows Eve half, Stewart Mountain 10 Miler) and 2 relays as part of a team (Oak Bay Half, Thetis Lake 20K)
  • Raced well at the majority of other races
  • Trained pretty consistently
  • Started coaching other runners
  • Picked up my weekly mileage by a modest amount
  • Learned to like the track more than I thought I would
Negatives for 2010
  • Didn't get my road times down as much as I wanted (I would have liked to get into the meaty part of a 32 min 10K)
  • Had a few bad races near the end of summer probably due to insufficient training
  • Ended up with a mild to moderate case of plantar fasciitis which I am still battling. It has not greatly affected my running, but is a big nuisance.
All in all the positives certainly outweigh the negatives and 2010 was a pretty great year.

Goals for 2011
  • Qualify for the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships in Albania. This requires that I run exceptionally well at the Canadian Mountain Running Championships in Canmore Alberta so I have a chance to be selected for the Canadian Team.
  • To achieve my primary goal, I will need to do as much hill work as my legs will take and race as many hilly trail races as I can fit in. Some of the trail races that I already have plans to do are the Dirty Duo 25K, 4 or 5 Gutbusters (the schedule has not been posted yet), and Kusam Klimb.
  • If I could also set a few more personal bests in road races (I'm planning on doing 5 or 6 island race series races) that would be icing on the cake
  • Throw in an adventure race or two to keep things interesting. I'm also keen to try a 24-36 hour adventure race and/or a 24 rogane if I can fit them in.
  • Start coaching a few more runners and help them achieve their goals
  • Stay (mostly) injury free

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