Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MEC Race 3 – 15K

Back out to Fanshawe Conversation Area for the next installment of MEC’s low cost race series.  This time around the plan was to run three loops of the course and get a comparison time for my 15K.  After suffering in the cold on Mother’s day, it seemed like Mother Nature was going to continue wreaking havoc.  When I last ran on Tuesday the temperature was a sweltering 34C (94F).  The weather broke during the weekend and at starting time it was a near perfect overcast 13C (55F).

The only other occasion I’ve run this distance in a timed event was last Augusts’ Mid Summers Night event where I surprised myself by running an amazing time of 1:10:32 dressed in an apron.  The goal heading in to this event was to attempt to match that effort on a bit more unfriendly course with two hair pin turnarounds that tend to break up nice steady pacing.  After looking at the times from the previous event, I’d actually considered only doing a single 5K loop and then heading out for a 20km cool down around the lake trails.  A good run at my current fitness level would have put me in medal contention in either the 5 or 10K.  Since my next goal is a 25km trail race in a month, I manned up and registered for the 15K.

For my warm-up I ran on the gravel parking road in my HokaOne One Bondi B2 shoes.  I got close to a hundred miles on them and other than wishing at times there was a wide width version, I’m very happy with the way I feel after a run in them.  My feet and ankles are much happier campers than they were in trail shoes.

Continuing to warm-up using the start line hill, I decided that I might was well try running the race in the Hoka’s.  I had thought about it for Rock the Road but some of the conservation area paving was heaved and crumbled making it easier for me to justify staying in the Hoka’s this time around. I met one other runner who recognized the shoes but as far as I know, I was the only one wearing them in the event.

Looking around the start line, there weren’t too many familiar faces.  Carl and I chatted about mid-pack waiting for the start.  My plan was to go out a bit slower than normal and ease through the traffic once things opened up during the second loop.  Like Reach the Beach, I was hopelessly blocked until the sprinters began to realize their recklessness about halfway up the hill.  I found a couple of people in front of me running a pace I liked and eased into it comfortably for the first kilometer which beeped on my watch at a 4:29 pace.

Understanding that the pace was too fast I thought I’d ease off a bit, the second kilometer was 4:23, nowhere near the 4:40min/km average I was hoping to run over the entire distance. 

About this time, it dawned on me that perhaps I was using a couple of 5K runners for my pace bunnies.  At the turn around by the front gate, I peeked at the bibs and compared them to my own.  Only one of them, in a bright green shirt matched my bib, he became my semi-official pacer.  I was also able to see that the father and son pairing of the Fenton’s were also just ahead of me by about 25 meters.   I had my race plan in place with 12km to go.  Follow these guys and hang on for dear life.

The 5K first circuit clocked in at 22:34, after I was passed on the downhill by the first women’s finisher in the 5K.   Back up the hill and away for round two saying hello to the volunteers and offering the obligatory “I’ll be back”.   I was also back behind my pacers by about 30 meters wondering just how fast these guys really were.

Second time around the 5K loop, I was better able to find the 4:40 pace I was hoping to maintain.  I knew I was still running too fast but didn’t seem to be laboring too badly.  At the water stop, I did walk just long enough to get some Gatorade down the correct pipe, then refocused and started to reel in my pacer.  At the top of the hill, I was on his heels and cut inside across the broken pavement as he went wide to stay on the flat and level.   Down the hill, past the race clock showing less than 46 minutes and thinking if I pressed the pace a bit more that I may have a shot at finding the Fenton’s on the uphill.

Behind by about 40 meters, I wasn’t making up any distance, but I also wasn’t losing much either.  Across the dam and to heading to the water stop, I was starting to wonder if I should have had a gel last time I was at this point.   The Fenton’s paused just long enough to grab drinks and I did the same.  It was a close call but my split for that kilometer didn’t go over the 5:00min/km.

Running back across the dam, it became obvious that catching the Fenton’s wasn’t going to happen, and not wanting to get caught from behind, I wanted those last two kilometers over.  It was tough getting to the 4KM marker but my math skills seemed to still be intact and I knew there was only one more to go.  The split wasn’t as bad as it felt being just over my goal pace at 4:41.  I was sure I had a PB but wanted to finish strong and use that downhill to its full potential one last time.

Finish Photo by Mike @3CheapRunners
The race clock was under 1:10, I stopped my watch at 1:09:38 which strangely also turned out to be my official finish time.  I gave up half a minute over the last 5Km but had a PB of just over a minute. 

Ugly race strategy but it seemed to work.

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