Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shawnigan Kinsol Half Marathon

October 30, 2011

I've been considering doing this race for a number of years, but never managed to get there. This year, particularly since I had not raced an event at the Victoria Marathon weekend, I was finally able to make it happen.

Weather predictions leading up to the race called for rain and they seemed to hold true as Sonja and I were treated a steady rain on the drive up. While it wasn't too cold, it seemed inevitable that we would get soaked very quickly. Happily, by the time the race started, the rain at pretty much ceased and conditions were nearly ideal for racing.

The hall used as race headquarters was a building on the Shawnigan Lake School grounds. I'd never been there before, but this private school is quite nice with impressive buildings. I didn't know exactly what the my main competition was to be in this race, but I spotted Shawn Nelson shortly after arriving so knew a win would require some work.

After a minimal warm-up we were on our way. Myself, Shawn, Hugh Trenchard, and Thomas Marrs soon separated ourselves from the rest of the group. The first part of the course had a couple of downhills which I dutifully noted as we would be coming back up them near the end of the race. We moved along at a decent pace for the first few kilometers and while I had no problems matching the pace, I didn't feel as comfortable as it should have at this point in the race. If things didn't get better it would be a long day for me. I noticed right away, based on his breathing, that Thomas Marrs was working quite hard to stay with us and I could tell immediately that there was no way he would be able to maintain that pace for the balance of the race. It may be fun to run with the leaders, but if it compromises your overall race, it probably isn't a good idea. He is young though and will learn to pace himself better I am sure.

Around 4km Thomas fell back a bit while Hugh continued with Shawn and myself for another kilometer or so until the course moved onto the Trans-Canada Trail and headed north. It was around this time that I actually started to feel better and was able to get into a comfortable rhythm where I was working hard, but staying controlled. We ran for about 6km on the trail with a slight uphill grade. While the gravel surface and gradual climb certainly slowed me a bit, I didn't find it bad at all and may have been preferable to the rolling roads in the area. While I set the pace, Shawn held a tenacious grip onto my heels and would not be shaken. I considered trying to put a surge in to drop him, but with half the race still to go decided to just continue to dictate the pace and wait for a later opportunity (assuming I wasn't just hanging on myself by that point).

Around the halfway point, we detoured onto the road and were treated to a significant, but thankfully short climb and decent. Soon though we were back on the trail and making our way towards the Trestle. The Kinsol Trestle was recently rebuilt and opened to the public so it was a treat to be able to run access it (the first time for me). Unfortunately, there wasn't time to take a good look since the race was on. We continued past the trestle for 1.5km before turning back and heading for home. The trail north of the trestle was not as well groomed as the other sections we had run, but it wasn't a big factor.

On the Shawnigan-Kinsol Trestle with Shawn. Photo Credit: Don Carson

It was nice to see many other racers as we passed them heading out to the turn around and I lent encouragement to many and received some in return. Hugh was still running in 3rd, but was a couple minutes back from us so it was definitely a two man race for the win. I was quite pleased that I was still feeling quite smooth and knew I could put in a surge if required.

Soon after passing back over the trestle, we moved back onto the road 3km. Shortly after moving onto the road on a downhill section I noticed that I have pulled slightly ahead of Shawn. I was still feeling strong and saw this as my chance to build up a gap. I pushed ahead strongly on a flat section building spread of at least 20 seconds. I felt that as long as I could hold it together on the final hills, I would be fine. The hills were challenging, but I moved as smoothly as possible, finally rounding the corner to the finish and making a decent sprint. My finishing time of 1:15:20 was faster than the 1:16-1:17 time I was predicting for myself so I was quite pleased, particularly since it wasn't a fast course.

Shawn came in 40s later for a solid 2nd place, with Hugh rounding on the top 3. Care Nelson pulled away from Claire Morgan on the 2nd half to win the woman's race while Sonja ran very well to a small PB and 3rd overall. I ended up enjoying the course more than expected and while it wasn't a fast flat course, it wasn't brutal by any means.

Splits: 3:31, 3:26, 7:06 (missed marker), 3:29 (17:31 5k slpit), 3:33, 3:34, 3:36, 3:33, 3:36 (35:22 10k split), 3:47, 3:26, 3:33, 3:41, 3:36 (53:25 15k split), 3:34, 3:43, 3:30, 3:26, 3:49 (1:11:28 20k split), 3:51 (final 1.1k)


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