Friday, May 13, 2011

Times Colonist 10k

May 1, 2011

To have any hope of keeping this blog up to date, I'd better start writing more and racing less! I'm not sure that is going to happen since it is tough for me to turn down the chance to participate and compete.

The Times Colonist (TC) is the largest single race in Victoria and is even tougher than most races to not do because it is so well known even by non-runners. It is a good race due to a fairly fast course and a deep field. There are always plenty of talented racers to run with. This year saw a course change from the last few years from a modified out and back with a turn-around to a pure loop course. Initially, I thought it would be a bit tougher because of the addition of a climb up Johnson St and a few other little blips that did not exist before. However, upon seeing the elevation profiles of both courses, they are actually pretty similar so overall I figured the new course wouldn't make a big difference.

Image courtesy of Chris Callendar

The start area is a bit nicer this year than in recent years as it is in front of the Empress where the road is much wider. I expect for people farther back it the pack benefited even more from this extra road space.

The 8 am start time came soon enough and off we ran north on Government St. I started to find my pace and the pack quickly spread out. As we turned onto Johnson St off of store St I saw the first km marker. It seemed to come too soon and a quick check at the watch confirmed an impossible 2:32. I don't know how such a large placement mistake happened when even a quick look at the map confirms that the marker should have been another block further along the route. Regardless, I knew it didn't really matter for the overall race.

Johnson St is a long gradual climb up, although coming this close to the start of the race it doesn't seem too bad. I did, however, start to realize that this race was not going to be as good as Sooke River for me. While I didn't feel too bad, I just didn't feel that I had the same snap in my legs or ability to push myself and hard. There was nothing I could do about it though so I resolved to race smart and see if I could still pull off a decent race.

I soon found myself running with local running legend Bruce Deacon. Bruce is a two time Olympian and was Canada's top marathoner for several years in the 1990's. Now a master, he has still held on to most of his speed. Soon we started trading the lead with me gaining on the climbs and Bruce pulling ahead on the descents. We would do this for most of the remainder of the race.

As we turned onto May St, we were treated to a little hill and although I expected it, it was still a bit of a bugger. I continued to feel reasonable, if not fantastic and when I went through 5 km in 16:15 I knew I had a very good chance to get under 33 min unless I really blew it on the second half. I managed the climb up to Clover Point and Mile Zero fairly well slowing only to 3:21 from 6-7 km.

Things started to get a bit rougher for me after that and Bruce pulled a bit ahead of me on the downhill towards Ogden Point. Fortunately, I did manage to keep my pace fairly solid even though it was a little slower than the first 5 km. With about a km to go, Nick Walker went blowing by me, obviously feeling strong. I wanted to latch on and have him help pull me through to the finish, but I just didn't have the ability to change gears at that time. I was just trying my best to not slow down. I managed a weak surge to the finish and closed in a decent 3:14. My final time was 32:43 good for 15th place. Considering that it wasn't my best race in terms of how I felt, I was happy with my time and the personal best. On a good day, I am confident a 32:30 would be possible.

I finished1 second behind Bruce, but somehow managed to get placed ahead of him. Perhaps because the official results are sorted by chip time rather than gun time? Nick was a few seconds ahead and Craig Odermatt just ahead of him. Willy Kimsop edged out Simon Witfield for the overall win in 30:22, about 30 sec slower than he was last year so perhaps it is a bit tougher course. The top woman, Karolina Jarzynska from Poland, ran an amazing 32:54 which I believe is a new course record. Congrats to all though who ran, I know many who had some spectacular races on a great day.

My splits: 6:31 (2 km), 3:14, 3:12, 3:18 (5 km split 16:15), 3:21, 3:20, 3:16, 3:18, 3:14

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sooke River 10k

April 17, 2011

Since I just ran the Times Colonist (TC) 10k today, it is of course much overdo that I get this race report up. Sooke River is the last of the 8 Island Race Series races. I have not run it since 2007 where I posted a then respectable for me 35:20. The course consists of some rolling hills so it not conducive for blazing fast times, nor is it super slow like Hatley Castle.

I had a break of 4 weeks without racing and while I had hoped to really get a solid block of training in, dealing with a new house while also trying to sell my condo sucked up the time. My speed and hill sessions were pretty solid, but I didn't get as many longer runs in as I probably should have, I was hoping this wouldn't hurt me.

I didn't have any aspirations that I would be breaking my 10k PB on this race, just figuring that if I could run in the low 33's that would set me up well for doing a sub 33 min at the TC. I went into the race relaxed, but as usual ready to do my best.

Off the line, Nick Walker, Shawn Nelson, and myself quickly separated ourselves from the pack. Within a kilometer, Nick fell back slightly undoubtedly opting to run his own smart race. Shawn and I continued to two abreast for another kilometer or so. It sounded as though he was labouring more than he should have been at this point in the race so he must not have been having a good day. I on the other hand was feeling expectationally strong and was running comfortably. When Shawn started to slip backwards a bit, I put the pressure on to get some distance between us. My 3rd km (with a good amount of downhill) was a pretty quick 3:10 although I didn't know at the time how fast I was going since I opted not to look at most of my splits.

I had a good lead at this point, but continued to feel really strong. The kind of feeling you get only a couple times a year (if you are lucky) so I wanted to capitalize on it as much as possible. Before the turn around, I only had the company of Garth Campbell, Hugh Trenchard, and one other cyclist who were leading the race. When I am feeling good, I like pushing myself so runnign solo wasn't a big deal.

My pace remained fairly consistent to the turn around just before the 5k marker. At this point, it was nice to be able to see the runners in the field behind me. Thanks to all those that acknowledged me even if I couldn't respond in all cases since I was really in the zone. I noticed that Nick had moved into second behind me (perhaps 20s back) with Shawn holding onto third, and Keith Mills nippling at his heels. At the 5k mark, I did look at my watch and was pleased to see a 16:22 split which was better than expected. I knew though that holding on to that sub 33 pace would be really tough on the second half because there was significant hill to climb on the way back.

I hit the big hill hard, really hammering up it and getting onto my toes, trying to keep all the speed I could. I did well on the first steeper section, but had to pull back a bit on the final section or risk blowing up. Despite my efforts, this was still my slowest km in 3:31. We were treated to some downhill in the last couple of kilometers which I managed to use fairly well. Things were starting to get more difficult at this point (as they always do) and I was glad the finish was not far away.

At 9k, I took a look at my watch and noted that I had 3:05 to get to the finish to dip under 33min...not much time, but I decided to try my best. I pick it up a bit and then after the final corner, sprinted the few hundred metres to the finish...32:30...oh maybe I can make it, I'm so close...32:45...almost the chute...33:00....damn! not quite. I ended up with a 33:01, but couldn't be disappointed at all since it was better than expected. Picking up a win at an Island Race Series was also a nice surprise and quite honestly not something I was sure was ever going to happen since so many of the races are really stacked with amazing runners. Of course, I do have to thank the Sun Run for sucking all the top talent off the island for that event.

Nick held onto 2nd finishing about 30s back and Keith ran well to pull ahead of a fading Shawn Nelson to take 3rd in just over 34 min. Care Wakely took the win for the women, with a minute and a half gap over 2nd place Sara Gross. It was unfortunate that some runners from up island were unable to start with the main race due to a tanker accident at Goldstream. They did get to race in their own heat 30 min later, however.

Thanks to Island Road Runners for another successful event and to all the IRS organizers and volunteers - it was a fun season and without every ones dedication to keep things going, it wouldn't happen.


My splits: 3:20, 3:17, 3:10, 3:13, 3:22 (5k split 16:22), 3:19, 3:23, 3:31, 3:18, 3:07

Here is a video put together my Chris Kelsall. The footage from Garth's bike it unfortunately pretty far away due to the wide angle on the camera.


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