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)

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