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

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