Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hatley Castle 8k

February 19, 2012

With Cobble 10k rescheduled to Feb 26, Hatley is the start of a three back to back races for me. Always a tough hilly course which is only half paved, Hatley is not conducive to fast times or PB's, but is still a nice little race. After a satisfying Cedar 12k, I hoped to have a similar race here. The course was changed slightly this year with a modified start, turn around, and flat finish - overall, it was expected to be a bit easier this time around.

The start is a fast downhill and race favorite James Lander (who was 2nd at Cedar) surged ahead followed closely by Sean Chester. I settled into 3rd/4th along with Ben Brzezynski where we cranked out a relatively quick 3:10 opening kilometre. The course then heads up a good climb and since this is where I do well, I cranked the intensity up a bit. Ben seemed to be working harder than I was and he fell back a bit. Once things leveled out and then headed back downhill after the first turn-around, he fought back and we ran together for another km or so until we came to the largest climb of the course. Again I pushed pretty hard and managed to gain a few seconds on Ben. Now I only had to hang onto my slim lead.

Around the 4km mark, we moved onto gravel and had to grind out a bit more climbing. I was feeling decent, although not quite as snappy as I did at Cedar. Due to the hills and the surface, km splits are all over the place on this course. My fastest kilometer was a over 30s faster than my slowest. At the 2nd turn around, I saw that I had a modest lead on Ben and a comfortable one over Shawn Nelson, who was running in 5th position. I was suffering a little bit, but was still in reasonable control. There was a bit of mud on the trails and I slipped around a bit in my road flats, but luckily it wasn't really a factor. There was one more small climb and then I knew it was all flat or downhill to the finish.

I bombed down the last hill and made my way to the final kilometer. Ben had closed the gap and was now just a few seconds back. Coach O'Cal and Keven Searle was cheering us on which was a great motivator. I still had a bit in the tank and picked it up a bit. Just before I hit the 100m mat, I accelerated for the final sprint and gave it all to the line.

I finished just under 27 min for the first time ever at the race (26:57) and good for 3rd place. Overall it was a good race for me and I was particularly happy with my last km 3:05 clocking and a 13.2s 100m sprint which tied me for fastest sprint (unfortunately for Byron Trajan, who convincingly won the sprint at Cedar, didn't get his time recorded for some reason).

Overall, James cruised to a win in 25:26, with Sean about 45s back. Claire Morgan picked up a nice win while Julie Van Veelan narrowly edged out Sonja for the 2nd woman. Still a great race for Sonja with her best placing ever. Good races too for Larry Nylen and Heather Afford who won the woman's sprint. Nice worked too by Ian Sealre with a tip 10 finish. He is going to be tough to beat if he keeps the training up.


My Splits: 3:10, 3:33, 3:16, 3:38, 3:28, 3:31, 3:13, 3:05

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cedar 12k

February 5, 2012

Heading into this race, I didn't have huge expectations. While I was racing very well in the fall and early winter, Pioneer was a bit disappointing. In addition, my training has been decent in overall volume, but a bit inconsistent, particularly over the Christmas holidays.

Therefore, I didn't really know how the race would unfold and didn't plan on an exceptional performance. Going in, I simply planned to try and get a similar time to last year (40:24). A short 10 min warm-up and final pit stop and we all toed the line. Right off the line, the two race favorites, Simon Witfield and James Lander, quickly gaped the field. I managed to place myself in the chase pack which included Sean Chester, Andrew McCartney, Nick Walker, Mark Cryderman, and Ben Brzexynski.

Within a short time, I found that I was feeling quite strong and the pace was comfortable despite a fairly quick start (3:12 pace for the first 2 km). While probably a bit faster than I should have been going, I felt in control so decided to simply go for it. I thought that I may end up fading a bit, but didn't think I would crack. I hung onto Sean and Andrew as the pack began to splinter after about 2k.

I continued to move well and hung with Sean and Andrew for another km or so before they gradually pulled away. I didn't attempt to match them, realizing that would be risking it a bit too much. My splits continued to be quick aided by a couple of nice downhill sections and I averaged a 3:13 pace for the first 5k.

I was still feeling strong, but couldn't maintain the same pace as we crested a small rise towards the turnaround on this out and back course. I regained a bit of speed for the next 2 km and was a bit shocked looking at my watch and realizing that I had actually just set 8k PB of 26:14 (5s faster than Pioneer last year). Although with 2 significant hills in the last 4k, I knew that my pace would slow.

I started to feel my quick start and bit and faded slightly for a couple of km, posting my slowest km (3:32) from 9-10km. I still felt in control though and when things flattened out again I was able to pick the pace back up a bit. I knew that Nick Walker wasn't far behind at this point, having closed the gap so I was going to do all I could to nail down 5th spot. The last few hundred metres of this course is a tough grass field which saps what little energy that might be left. And like Pioneer, this time there was a mat 100m out to measure every ones finishing kick.
The final 100 m with Nick in the background. Photo Credit Erin Burrett

Unlike Pioneer, where I had nothing in the tank for the sprint, this time I managed a solid sprint of 14.97s for the last 100m. It was good thing that I had something left or Nick would have kicked right past me since he was 0.5s faster for the final 100m. In the end, I managed to just crack 40min for the first time with a 39:58 clocking, good for a 26s PB. This was significantly better than expected and it felt great to feel that I was back on track. Nick finished 2s back in 6th, while Simon edged out James for the overall win in a impressive 37:36. Sean ran a great race for 3rd in 39:01. On the woman side, Care Nelson added another win to her impressive streak, although this time she had to work to edge out Catrin Jones by just 2s. Clarie Morgan rounded out the top three. It was great to see a couple athletes that I coach also run well with great performances from Larry Nylen and Heather Afford both running strong PBs.


Splits: 3:15, 3:09, 3:19, 3:10, 3:11, 3:26 (19:30 6k split), 3:21, 3:19, 3:26, 3:32, 3:26, 3:20

On another note, a big thank you to my running club PIH
who just hosted annal awards last night. It is amazing to have such a great club in Victoria with so many dedicated people to keep the running community strong. Many deserving awards to handed out and was very honoured to received more than expected.

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