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.

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