Saturday, April 05, 2008

Race report: Harry's Spring Run-Off 8K

I knew it would be a bad idea, but hey, I live dangerously sometimes. I am a racer who follows a strict routine. I plan my pre-race meals and it usually consists of lots of carbs in the form of pasta for dinner the night before. I eat it early, so I can be sure to have clear -- um -- system.

Last night, I threw the textbook out the door. My group of friends do DinnerClub once a month and this month, we chose a wing joint. Mind you, I love wings. Hot are great. Mild too. But I knew when the invitation went out that it was BAD for pre-race. But hey, I have to see the gang. I ordered 20 (yes, 20) medium wings. I can take hot, but I thought that the night before the race, medium would be good. I should have paid attention to the ordering menu. Medium = hot.

I finished half the wings, and I could feel the vinegar and heat burn a hole in my stomach. I also had a beer.

Fast forward to late night, I downed some water and ate a little bread so it'd absorb some of the heat. This morning, I woke up at 4:45 and ate half a bagel (that's all I could bear to eat) with peanut butter. Yes, I was on fire.

I arrived at the race site and the weather was absolutely perfect. Today, it reached a high of 11C and sunny. Really, the most perfect weather for race conditions as it started off cool. I bumped into Fran. We hung out, and also bumped into an old college paper colleague Tom and national paper colleague Sasha. We checked out the steep hill that we hit on the down hill at the 2K mark and then at the very end.

My goal was to finish this race and not let the course defeat me. Last year, I was confident I could beat my time from 2005 of 35:47. I ended up with 36:46. In short, the course kicked my ass. This year, I'm better trained and in fitness so although my goal was to do better than 35:47, I thought it'd be a good idea to try for 34 minutes. To pull this off, I'd need to do kilometer splits of about 4:10 or faster for the first 7K as the final hill would slow me down. My pace band had a time of 33:30 but I knew it was an A goal probably unrealistic.

Sasha was aiming for a sub 32 so when the gun went off and he took off, I started to tail him, then realized it was foolish to do so.

The first two kilometres were textbook going out too fast. After the first kilometre, I saw my split and tried to slow down a bit. But I knew that we also had a downhill portion, so I let the steep grade get me.

1. 3:49
2. 3:53

The next two kilometres included an uphill portion, the first of two hills. This hill wasn't as big as the last one. At this point, I decided to keep on pushing it. The goal would now be to put some time in the bank and just hold on for dear life at the end. The runners around me were running at about my pace or faster. I was able to overtake some on the hills.

3. 3:56
4. 4:18 (hill)

The next section had downhill bits that I used to gain speed. I also noticed that my breathing was starting to get out of control. This was not where I wanted to be at this point in the race. The first three kilometres had me going at 5K race pace and the fourth kilometre had me putting a lot of effort into it. I hit the 5K mark (it could be off since my GPS measured the entire course as 8.1K) in 19:59 which meant I had almost a minute of banked time.

5. 4:01
6. 4:01

Then came the final bit. I think going out too hard was taking its toll. I tried to talk myself into the fact that 2K was not a very long distance, but I was clearly losing focus. I had been pacing off another runner since about the 5K mark and he started to pull away. A few other runners also passed me. I was also trying to figure out how I'd take the final hill and that in part led me to slow down. I did the 7th kilometre at about LT pace.

7. 4:17

By the time I got to the final kilometre, I really wanted it to be over. My heart rate was way up there and I was trying to push it hard. I was overheating and I was dreading the hill. But I wanted to take the hill strong. I knew I had a very good chance of having a great time, even with a slower final kilometre. So I beared down and tried to take it as quickly as I could. The final 400 metres is a steep grade (7%, Tom told me later) and I did the final kilometre in 5 minutes

8. 5:00
The Garmin also measured the last 100 metres as 38 seconds, which is pretty damned slow. I can't really remember if I was going that slow. I did hear my name and I did see the time on my watch that read 33:58. I then saw Fran, who finished right behind me (I mean right behind me) and we had the same chip time. We saw Sasha who got a fantastic 33:04.

The wing incident did rear its ugly head. I felt it in my stomach throughout the run, but I don't think it really slowed me down much. Who knows. I do know that this course demands a strategy. I may have gone out too fast at the start which left me running on fumes at the end. I wonder if I had paced myself more conservatively I would have been able to run it faster. It's interesting because Fran had a different pacing strategy and he definitely had a fast finish.

One thing is freaking clear, and it gives me much satisfaction. I now have a new 8K Pb for this course, besting my previous by 1:49. Even better (for my sanity) is that this year's time is 2:48 faster than last year! I did run this race aggressively and I am in much better racing and physical shape.

JellyP, who also got a PB in the race, Fran and I went to cheer on the 5K runners including my friends Sean and Tom, who are both new runners and had fantastic finishes.

Funny thing about JellyP, Tom, Sean and I. We were all editors at the university newspaper The Eyeopener. We also were photo editors and if you asked us 8 10 years ago whether the four of us would be racing, we'd laugh. So here is the reunion shot, us looking a lot more trimmer and fitter than ever! JellyP has a great post on it.

The swag was quite good this year. We got a polypro shirt, a hat and a finisher's medal for the 30th anniversary of this race.

We all enjoyed ourselves and there's now talk of creating a team next year. Can't wait.

Chip time: 33:57.3
Place overall: 98/1950 (94.9 percentile)
Place gender: 80/1046 (92.3 percentile)
Place division: 8/169 (95.2 percentile) - um, wow!
Pace: 4:16 kilometres


jellypepper said...

Excellent work. Excellent reunion (They were just handing out PBs today, huh?).
Can't wait til next year -- team mate!

Sonia said...

woohoo! Another PB, that's great! Now... you started this post with having us think that wings is a bad pre-race dinner!! They paid off! =)

Marky Mark said...

wow-great report!

I wasn't sure why my trainer recommended the 5K instead of the 8K but based on the course I was very happy when I finished yesterday, and I'm very sore today.