Monday, February 21, 2011

Hatley Castle 8k

February 20, 2011

People who want to get a good 8k time tend to skip this race as it is very hilly and half on trail rather than road. There are not a lot of PB's set here, but if you don't worry about times it can be a fun course. I hadn't run this course last year so my main goal was to better my 2009 time of 27:56. Since the course is so difficult something in the low 27 min range seemed reasonable since this was about 1 min slower than my Pioneer 8k time.

The day was beautiful and sunny if a bit on the cold side. The sun rarely shines in Victoria in the winter so complaining about the cold wasn't an option. I rarely have temperature issues when racing these short distances anyway as my body produces plenty of heat when I'm cranking it out.

Prior to my warm up, I heard from other racers that the finishing section of the course had been changed to be the same as that of the Royal Roads Gutbuster course. Instead of the final couple hundred metres of downhill on pavement, it now turns onto the grass for a bit and then has a short uphill finish. Presumably, they shorted the second out and back section on the course to accommodate this change, but it was still bound to be slower due to the presence of grass, mud and more corners. Why they changed it remains a mystery since there seemed to be no obvious reason. This course certainty does not need to be any more difficult than it already is.

I did a respectable 15 min warm up (by my standards) with Larry Nylen and prepared myself for the race. Since I knew this was not going to be a PB course, I didn't work myself up too much about it. I would simply do my best and see what happens. In terms of competition, many my training partners where including Sean Chester, Shawn Nelson, and Nick Walker. On the woman's side Care Wakely was the clear favorite, but Claire Morgan would likely also run well.

Sean took off hard from the start and I did not even attempt to match him and as a consequence soon found myself running on my own with Shawn and Nick not too far back. The first kilometer marker came too soon and was clearly off by the bit as I passed it in 3:02. The first km is fast, but should not have been that quick and the since the second split came in at 3:41 things didn't seem quite right. I didn't take more notice of the times, however, and set up sights on keeping Sean in sight. On the climbs from 1-3km, I actually managed to pulled him back slightly and was probably only 10-15 seconds behind him at the top of the large hill just before the 3k marker. I hadn't expected to be that close to him at this point so was fairly pleased.

I was feeling pretty good and was able push well during the race. The course is tough though and while it felt like I was putting out a 3:15 effort, I was running closer to 3:30 pace. The hills, turn-arounds, corners, and surface really eat into the pace. At the second turn-around I saw that I had a pretty good gap on Shawn and Nick and unless something unusual happened, I would be able to hold onto second place.

Shawn gradually pulled away from me on the final few kilometers, using his long legs and strong downhill running ability to gain ground. The final grind up the aptly named "Little Bugger" hill always hurts, but I ran it fairly well. There was some mud on the new path to the finish so I had to tread carefully - a fall with 200 metres to go would be embarrassing. I finished in a time of 27:27 just 29s behind Sean. Considering he beat me by 1:09 at Pioneer 8k and 1:06 at Cobble Hill 10k I was pretty pleased with my comparative time. This was my best placing in a Island Race Series so that was also a nice bonus. Shawn was just under a minute back and Nick not far behind him. Care comfortably won with a margin of over 1:30 over fellow training partner Claire. Larry ended up running a solid race and Andrew Pape-Salmon and Kevin Searle also finished well winning their respective age categories. Bazan Bay5k is next and unlike this race, it always results in fast times.


My splits. 3:02, 3:41, 3:34, 3:17 (4k split: 13:33), 3:30, 3:34, 3:15, 3:34

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cedar 12k

February 6, 2011

As usual, the season is already flying past with Cedar being the 3rd of 8 races. Being an unusual distance, it is still the one and only 12k I have competed in, this was my 5th running of it having only missed last year since my first time doing it in 2006. Despite a couple of good sized hills, I have generally ran well here posting progressively faster times each year. This year, I was hoping for a good time, but was still suffering from lack of proper sleep as I go though patches where my sleep is less than ideal from time to time. I hoped it would not be a big factor. The last time I race Cedar was back in 2009 when I ran 41:31. This year, I was hoping to somewhere in the 40:xx range.

A number Harriers headed up together since Cedar is about an hour and a half north of Victoria near Nanamio. Besides being saving fossil fuels and being more economical, it is also great for comradery. The weather on the drive up was rainy and it seems likely that it would be a soggy run. Fortunately, by the time we reach the race venue things dried up and would stay that way for a few hours, long enough so that everyone stayed dry.

After a brief warm-up with Sonja, I stripped down to shorts and singlet and tried to stay warm while making my way to the start line. The warm-up had felt average so I was optimistic that the race would be at least average. The main contenders for top placements were Jim Finlayson, Sean Chester, Craig Odermatt, Shawn Nelson, Nick Walker, and out of town elite Rejean Chiasson. Once we were off, I settled into a comfortable pace and soon found myself in 4th place behind Jim and Sean who pulled off the line very hard and Craig who as usual was just out of reach. I was surprised to find myself ahead of Shawn and Rejean whom I had been told had impressive race times.

The first 2 kilometers were a little fast at 3:15 each, but I felt in control so continued on. Soon I found that Rejean had gone out easy as he caught up and passed me around the 2k marker. I briefly passed him back on an uphill section after 3k, but on the next flat section he sped up and was soon well ahead. I was running my own race and knew that trying to match him would have made me pay dearly later in the race. I continued to feel strong and posted strong splits though 5k. The 6th km includes a long gradual grade up that cut into my pace, but I was still able to hit the halfway point at a sub 40min pace. It was quicker than expected, but I knew that it would be tough to maintain on the return since there were more hills on the way back.

Craig was only 10 or 15s ahead at the 6k mark, but as we made our way back he inched ahead. Craig is strong on the hills and I was not able to make any ground up on him on the climbs. For most of the race, I was expecting Shawn to catch up and pass me as it has been some time since I have beaten him at any race. Only once I passed the 10k marker did I actually think I might stay ahead. I paid a little for my initial brisk pace on the final 5k with splits that were a little slower than I would have liked. I didn't feel terrible, but was certainly starting to fatigue.

Keeping the form up around 10.5k. Photo credit: Andrew Pape-Salmon

I struggled though the last few hundred meters on the wet grass field and ran an OK final km crossing the finish in 40:24, overall a pretty strong time for me and my second best points for an IRS race only behind Bazan 2010. As a bonus, I was even managed to get an under elite age group benchmark time for this race although due to the rarely run distance this is much easier than normal. I was 5th overall, 27s behind Craig. Jim crushed the field and the course record with a 37:11 clocking and Rejean finished well for 2nd overall with Sean taking 3rd. Care Wakely took the win for the women in 45:17 just edging out Melissa Ross. Results.

My splits: 3:15, 3:15, 3:17, 3:22, 3:15, 3:28, (6k split: 19:51) 3:21, 3:21, 3:30, 3:29, 3:27, 3:24

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