Monday, January 25, 2010

Cobble Hill 10k - Jan. 24th, 2010

I had no idea what to expect this race day. The past two weeks have been intense for me, with a weekly mileage of 80k+ for both weeks. This for me is about as high as I have been before. With the training for ultra distance, it has been a bit of a crapshoot to perform well on the short-distance road events at the same time.
On Thursday, I headed out early for my weekly long run, with the plan to cover 40k. I headed to E/B, attempting to do 4 loops. This was supposed to be my peak distance run leading up to the Orcas Island 50k, which is now only 2 weeks away. The first 3 loops went well, but at 33k I felt my knee tweak so I stopped immediately. It was in fact nothing, but I felt being cautious in this circumstance was wise. I did jog 2k of it back, so I covered 35k.
The next day, I felt exhausted after yet another crappy night of sleep. I took Friday and Saturday completely off, in hopes that I could land a PB at the Cobble Hill 10k.

Race Report:
I arrived to the race in good time, and was satisfied with my warm-up. I put myself in the second row and was lined up behind the Westshore Frontrunner Boys, and beside training partner, Gary Duncan (the guy left in the photo). The race started, and I picked my place in the pack. The pack eventually dispersed somewhat over the first kilometre, and I was at 3:30 on my first split. So far, so good.
I had heard very little about this course. I had heard from some of the talk last year that the course was fairly flat (and fast), with some rolling hills. I also heard in the warm-up from someone that there is a little bit of a hill at the 2k marker. At this point in the race, there was a downhill that took us to the 2k marker. I tried to not go crazy down the hill, as it appeared that there was a 180 degree turn-around right at the bottom. I pivoted around the turn-around and posted another fast kilometer. Now I began the uphill, and I tried to take it in stride. I could have gone crazy here, really making a move, but there was no point in that so early in the race. I just held my own pace and eventually got back up to the top of the hill and cruised again along the flat. At the 3k mark, I was right on 11:00.
The course then appeared flat for the next 2k. During this time, I didn't feel especially enthusiastic, and a few runners past me. I began to feel a bit sluggish and felt my body trying to reside in a half-marathon training pace, rather than a 10k speed event. I kept trying to keep myself engaged mentally and kept trying to remind myself that I was racing here. Eventually, I meandered my way to the 5k marker, and I was very disappointed to get there in 18:50.
I knew now that I was going to have to work hard to get under 39:00 for the run. It was a bit weird though. I still was ahead of a few fast guys for sure, but it seemed that we were all going slow. Was the course marked long today or were a bunch of people, like me, having an off-day? It didn't make sense. Although my time didn't seem very good, I knew my effort was decent enough. And at the 6k loop back, the leaders were not really that far infront of me.
I completed the loop around and searched for a 6k marker, but didn't see one. At around 6.5k, I was pleased to see the course do a slight downhill, and I was hoping I could take advantage of it. I still felt strong, and I did my best to speed up, and recover at the same time. At this point, I was passed by Simon Pearson (the guy right in the photo), and he turned to me and urged me to stay with him. I think it was friendly trash-talk, but I really couldn't hear what he was saying. All I know is that I made it my goal to stay with him as best I could.
And I did. While he was infront, I wasn't planning on letting him go. I took advantage of the downhill distance and kept Simon around 10m infront of me, letting him drive my motivation and adrenaline up. At the 8k marker, I was right on 30:00 and it looked like I could have a good finishing time, provided I could stay strong and provided there were no surprises in the course. The last 1.5k was a slow downhill/flat, but surely this good fortune could not last. I actually tricked myself into thinking that I may have an outside shot of doing 2 final 3:30 kilometres for a 37:00 finish. Ya, right.
The course then took a left turn and went into a forested section. We were still on pavement, but the road went rolling down then up, then down again. I felt like I was still hammering along, and before I knew it, I was at the 9k marker. I didn't even think to check my watch. Simon was still only about 10 seconds infront, and I now had thoughts of closing that gap. I felt like a had a last push in me, but I didn't want to make a charge too soon. I knew there must be racers fairly close behind me, even though I couldn't hear anything. The last kilometre was not downhill anymore, and in fact, it had parts of being slightly uphill. This fact took away my desire to charge after Simon, and besides, it appeared as though he was now speeding up to the finish.
As I rounded the last bend, I could see the finish line in the distance and I added a little extra drive to my arms and a little extra knee lift to accelerate me to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 37:18.
This time would be a PB for me. It was a solid race for me, and for one of the first times ever, I actually ran faster in the 2nd half of a race (negative split). 1st half- 18:50, 2nd half - 18:28. I would finish 6th in my age category, and take 32nd place overall in a field of just under 600 runners. This would be a PB of 1:38 (my previous best was a TC 10k run in 2007 of 38:56).
I was definitely pleased with how the race unfolded. I think that there were parts where I could have gone slightly faster, but realistically, I don't think I could have gone a whole lot faster on this course on this day. With nailing a time of 37:18, it makes me think that if (a) I ran in the Vancouver Sun Run and (b) ran in racing flats and (c) didn't do ultra training at the same time that I actually am capable of running 36:xx. Pretty crazy thought.
Now, I look ahead. I am in the taper phase of my ultra training. Orcas is just less than 2 weeks away, and I hope that I have done enough long-distance training to survive the distance. I will go into that event with no expectation of time, or placement. I am just wanting to enjoy the race, stay strong throughout, and survive the distance. Should be fun.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pioneer 8k - Jan. 10th, 2010

It was surprising to me how excited and nervous I was for this race. My first main goal of 2010 is nailing a decent Orcas Island 50k event, so I initially treated this 8k road race as just a short tempo run in my overall schedule. However, as the race grew closer, I started to think that I had the ability to really nail a solid road race time.
My speed improvement at the TNWs, coupled with the fact that my fall season was one of serious improvement made me think that this day would be a PB day. But the hard part for me was knowing to what degree my improvement was, and what kind of splits I should have for an 8k. In one sense, if I started too fast or hung with the wrong runners, my race could be an ugly one. On the other hand, if I went too slow for the first bit, making up the time could be very hard, especially when you consider that I have never really negative-splitted any kind of race.
The day before the race, I came up with 3 finishing times. My A time for this race would be to go sub 29, my B time was to get 29:30, and my C time was anything that was 30:00+. I was fully expecting a PB on the day, and anything less than that would have been very disappointing.
I arrived to the race in good time, and I was especially excited to have Janelle and Teagan there cheering for me. I was really excited to see just how excited Teagan got...for a race that didn't really involve her at all. What a wicked family.
After pinning on my race number, I took to the roads for an adequate warm-up. It was then to the start line, and I wedged my way into the mass of runners. In all, nearly 800 runners would participate. And not just any runners. The cream of the crop was at this race, and it looked like I'd need a sub 29 to crack the top 50 in the field.
The race began, and I was simply just lucky not to fall down. Feet were flying everywhere, and I took to the left edge, where there was a tiny bit of room. I quickly found my stride however, and settled into a relaxed pace. A whole pile of runners were infront of me, but I was firm in my belief not to start to fast - especially when you consider that the first kilometre is mostly a slow downhill. As the race went on, the runners spread out somewhat, and as I rounded the first bend, I saw Janelle and Teagan cheering for me wildly. My 1k split was 3:15. Soon thereafter, I could hear the footsteps of Gary Duncan behind me, and I was pretty determined to stay with him - or ahead of him - for this race. Looking at his recent results on this race, he has been a consistent low 29:00 guy, so I knew I should be around him. The course flattens out for another 1.5k, before you round the Brentwood Bay intersection and start up a long, slow uphill. I was comfortable on the flat, and was at the 2k mark at 6:55. On the uphill, I held my ground as nobody passed me, but at the same time, I passed nobody else. People all around me were now in their groove, and there were a few with the same groove as me.
After the uphill, the course turns right for a long, slow downhill that I'm sure some runners take full advantage of. At this point, I was determined to hold some kind of a pace, as this is the section of the race 2 years ago where I slowed right down. However, not to be this year. My pace was maintained and I was quickly approaching the half way split. I saw my coach, Bob Reid, at the clock and he announced my 4k half-way split time of 14:30. It didn't take me any more than a second to figure I was on a 29 minute pace. Awesome race so far, and I felt good.
The course then goes on a slow up for about 200m, and for the first time, I felt my pace slow down a little. I told myself just to push myself over the bump, and then I could relax on the down after. I did just that. My 5k split was 18:12...and I was thrilled. I just did my best 5k time ever. Only problem was: there was still 3k to go.
What I remember of the 5k to 6k stretch is that it was a bit of a struggle for me. The course is basically flat here, but I knew my pace had slowed a little, and I fully expected a runner of two to go by me. At the same time, the front runners were now coming back the other way on the opposite side of the road, and I caught myself a couple of times spectating, and losing the focus on my own run. I didn't happen to record my 6k split, but I knew it wasn't stellar. At the 6k turn-around, I found a bit of adrenaline in my body and upped my pace. Perhaps it was the fact that I knew there was only 2k to go. Perhaps I knew I wanted to post a really good time. Perhaps it was because I didn't want to be beaten by Gary Duncan.
Just after the 6k mark, in spite of my upping my tempo, I was passed by two runners, one of whom I recognized as Kevin Searle. He was a great runner, and to finish with him would be an accomplishment in itself. I stayed with the two runners, and figured I maybe able to get them on the home stretch. As we rounded the last corner just after the 7k mark, I wanted to push hard for the finish line (and I did have it in me), but I resisted the temptation. I still thought a burst at this point was too early. I still could see a slow hill infront of me for the next 500m, so I just sat behind these two guys. I now could see the finish line up to the right, and for those of you who do not know the course, the finish is on a pretty big 100m gravel hill. I rounded the corner and prayed that I had enough gas to take over these two guys. Just as I was about to gun passed them, one of them - Jerry Loeb - beat me to the punch and hammered ahead. I sat back and watched him kick, and in that moment of sitting back, it now put me out of reach of catching him (and Kevin for that matter). As for my final hill, it wasn't terribly pretty, but I did survive without getting passed. I crossed the finish line at 29:38.
The time was a good one. It was a new PB for me. It wasn't the A standard time I wanted, but it was close enough to my B standard. I beat Gary Duncan by about 15 seconds, and many other solid runners. Overall I finished in 62nd spot, but that actually doesn't mean that much when you consider that the field was stacked.
I figured I could have been 10-15 seconds faster this day. If I could have been a little more focused at a couple of key points in the race, then it could have happened. As for getting sub 29, this would require far more work in shorter distance training. However, I am an ultra guy, and I prefer the long stuff. When you consider that I had done a 37k training run just 72 hours before this event, perhaps my 8k time was really good. Who knows? All I know is that I ran my ass off, and recorded a 5k & 8k PB.
Now, my distance training continues. I have 2 more full weeks of training ahead in preparation for the Orcas Island 50k. Staying healthy and getting in some quality sessions is vital at this point in the training schedule.
I am signed up for the Cobble Hill 10k race in 2 weeks, so this will be my next event. I may be lined up for another big PB that race, but perhaps not: I will be doing a 40k training run 3 days before that race. These conflicts have been I am determined to perform at both the short and the long distance stuff.

Monday, January 4, 2010

10k Memorial Run - Jan. 1, 2010

This was a low-key club event that took place on New Year's Day. It is a cool run in the sense that it is a predicted run. How it works is that the clock starts at 60 minutes and then counts down to 0. You can leave from the start line whenever you want, and the closest person to 0 wins. Cool idea. Anyone can win.
And as it turns out, there was a real mix of talent. Everyone from the Kenyans to the barmaid showed up. 70 runners in total.
I left at 42:30. I planned on just taking this as a 45 minute recovery run (as I ran 34k the day before), but also figured it would be a little bit faster seeing as people around me were actually racing.
I hung out with Gary Duncan most of the way, and then with 2k to go, I sped ahead wanting to separate myself from him. I figured there was no point in actually finishing with someone...we should really all be spaced out a little bit. However, around the 9k mark, it was evident that everyone had done a great job estimating as there were now heaps of runners on the trail.
In the end, I was pleased to finish in 41:45 (which was 45 seconds too fast). I figured from about the half-way mark that I was on a slightly faster than predicted race, but I also figured winning the race (just by the numbers) was damn near impossible.
I had a great time, and the club did an excellent job of the event. The event started off by the runners standing around the memorial PIH bench, and giving a moment of silence to those standout club members of the past. It was an excellent tribute.
This 10k run was the end of a high mileage week for me, with 3 of the training days being headlamp runs. It would be an 83.5k week for of my highest ever. Hopefully I can put together another solid 2 weeks of training and then the bulk of training for the upcoming Orcas Island 50k will be done.
Things seem to be really good right now with the speed and distance both reaching new heights.
Next weekend begins the Island Series 2010, at the Pioneer 8k.
As I have posted before, anything less than a sub 30 minute (PB) for me would be disappointing.
My expectations are very high for 2010.