This year, I decided to try and start much slower and then maintain a more consistent pace. This would be prove however, easier said than done.
I arrived to the race well ahead of time. I checked into the registration booth to pick up my number. I then proceeded to start my usual warm-up. As I was doing this warm-up, I quickly realized that this run was loaded with fastees. It was clearly a star-studded field. Olympians were there; and not just one or two of them.
I started on the line next to Kerry Spearing. I looked at her, smiled, and then thought: this sure is funny. One of my ex-students, now running for UVIC and also a member of the Jr. National Triathlon Team was going to kick my ass.
The race then started, and did so in a hurrry. Immediately I found myself nowhere near the front. I was well back where I was last year in the race. The pace was still feverish. My first kilometre was 3:20, and I was once again on the heels of Gary Duncan. This was all fine and dandy until about the 3k point, where my pace seemed to hold, but the others around me started to go that much faster. In reality, I was slowing! Gary Duncan increased his distance on me, and then Kerry Spearing did the same. It seemed for Kerry, the first 3k was just a warm-up. I still felt alright at this point, and the only hill on the course was coming up, and I did quite well on hills. I thought I could catch up a little. However, when the hill came, this was not to be, and we all just held our spots. At the top of the hill, I heard a familiar sound. The quick footsteps echoing behind me could only mean one thing: Ming. Damn. I knew he was going to kick my ass this day, and here it came. He sped quickly by me, and his pace was only getting faster. Over the next couple k, he increased his lead to the point where he was barely visible infront. Good for him. He was going to have that breakout race I knew he was so capable of. As the last few clicks rolled by, I found myself running next to Jen McLean, another ex UVIC Vike runner. I passed her, then she passed me. This continued many times. (Jen finished right behind me at the Bear Mtn. 10k last November)
At the 6k mark, there is a turn around spot where the lead racers run by you. I could see some of my fast buddies up at the front of the pack, and I cheered for 1 or 2 of them. I then saw Ming, Kerry and Gary all infront of me by a solid minute. Mentally, I was okay with this. I still felt I was doing the best I could.
At the 7k mark, I sped up slightly and finally left Jen McLean behind me for good. I checked my watch and saw that I needed to run my last km in less than 4 minutes. This would be difficult, as there was an uphill finish. I still thought though, that I could do it.
As I came up the final hill, I could see the clock. 29:50. I needed to run the final hill in 10 seconds. I could see the clock ticking down, 7...6...5...4...but it wasn't possible. I finished the race in 30:01.
It was a solid race for me. I ran a smarter race than last year. I improved. I didn't quite break the 30 minute mark, but does that really mater? Nah. In the whole scheme of things, it doesn't matter. I was a little surprised to see how many people beat me. Most of the TNW Harriers (my training group) beat me. Ming and Gary ran low 29's. This was a little disappointing for me, but hey, I'm a distance guy. I'm also a trail guy. I had taken 1 week off in Hawaii over New Years. I also had run a 20k distance run 2 days prior. And I still did just great.
Not sure when my race race is. My main focus in January and February is still to increase my long runs. I need to get up to doing a long run of 30k or 3 hours comfortable and safely.
March 15th has now been earmarked as a potential Juan de Fuca Trail Run Day, and April sometime may be the North Coast Trail. I await instructions from Bob Wall on this adventure, but I need to prepare myself fully. Preparation is key in order to win the battle.