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Harriers Pioneer 8K – First of the Series!

This past Sunday was the first race in the Frontrunners Island Race Series, with the Harriers Pioneer 8k. It was a nice course through Saanichton, starting and ending at the Fairgrounds. Despite warnings of a big hill, I found it fairly flat, a nice course to run. It was smaller than the Goodlife and TC events I’ve run in the past, and a nice chance to connect with some running friends before and after the race.

I set out with a plan, and a goal. I was going to start slow, considering the first 1-2km sort of a warmup, and build speed to end strong. My time goal was to finish under 47minutes, which I thought was definitely do-able, and not too ambitious for my first race in a while. My training hadn’t been a intense or consistent as I’d like either, so I was trying to be realistic.

I started the race feeling really good, not pushing, just finding my rythm. I actually found speed sooner than I thought, with just a little effort. I ended up chasing Kathryn (of Boring run Blog for much of the race. She’d pass me for a while, then I’d pass her, and we ended within seconds of each other – pace buddy! I find it helpful to find someone near my pace, then when I have energy and power I can push to pass them, or if they’re slipping away or I’m flagging, trying to catch up can be that refocus I need. My coach ran with me for a bit near the halfway mark and guided me to pump my arms and pass folks on the hill. I listen to my coach, so I pumped my arms and passed 16 people on the way up the long slow hill, and 10 people on the way down and to the finish.

In the end, I finished in 44:50! WAY better than I expected, a pace of 5:33, pretty much the fastest I’ve ever run, even in training. I’m pleased with that, and looking forward to even better times this year.

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This was the only one of the photos from the event that I appeared in, I’m off to the right, in blue long-sleeves, black tights and a black hat. The race is JUST starting, that’s why we all look so slow.

My First Half

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3 months later, I’m finally sitting down to write about my half marathon experience. I wish I hadn’t waited so long, the details are very fuzzy, but better to write something, than nothing at all.

When my coach first suggested I’d run a half someday, I laughed, I may have even told him he was insane. I certainly thought that many times as he worked with me. He’d set out a training plan, I’d read it and think “this man is crazy to think I can do that!” and then I would go ahead and do it. Somehow he could always see past the limits I placed on myself. I grew to trust him more than my own judgement.  This race was another example of that.

I remember feeling some nerves as I got ready for the race, but mostly excitement. I love the feeling in the air of everyone’s anticipation, of being part of something so big. Looking around and seeing the variety of people, all the different bodies, joining the race together, so inspiring. I found two friends at the start, women who impress me with their dedication to push their personal limits, and we wished each other well.

As the race started, all I felt was joy. for 6 or 8 kilometers I was just so darn excited to be there. I almost cried I was so happy, and proud of myself. I was actually DOING this. I was running a HALF MARATHON. It was a perfect day, there were tons of spectators cheering us on, and I could not stop smiling. It was so much fun.

Around the midpoint I started to feel a bit more tired. I’d run a long way and was starting to feel it. Not pain, just the results of a long effort. Thanks to the great coaching and training I’d had, though, I knew I had a lot more in me. I’d run 22km before, so I knew I could do this, and just kept going. At the 14km mark I saw Simon Witfield on a lawn, cheering runners on. It was inspiring to see someone who is such a strong athlete, an accomplished runner, taking notice of our race and cheering us on. I felt like “somebody” at that moment 🙂

half_runMy coach kept popping up at random places on the route, to offer advice and encouragement. That was fantastic, not just for the regular boosts, but knowing he could be anywhere! When I was tempted to walk, I always had the thought “What if Dominic shows up now and sees me” and it kept me moving. Accountability is a powerful motivator for me.

As I approached the final 5km of the race, Dominic shows up and says “ok, now it’s time to speed up, only 5km to go!” You can guess what I thought when I heard that. (“CRAZY!”) but, I trust my coach, with good reason, and somehow, I did. He cycled along for most of the rest of the race, shouting things to keep me moving. He told me to pick off runners one by one and catch up to them. Then he told me they weren’t runners, now they were victims – take them out! Near the very end of the race, when I am simply willing my legs to keep moving, he issued one final challenge: “See that guy in red up there? He passed you. Are you going to let him do that? No, go get him, pass him, take him out!!” I don’t know how I was still upright, let alone running at that point, and yet, somehow those words let me dig deep. I found something left, deep inside, and I passed the guy in red. My last km of the half marathon, was my fastest. That still blows my mind, that after 20km, I still found speed.

I finished that race and felt like a new person. I’d done it! I was a half-marathoner! My goal was to complete it strong, and enjoy the experience. I accomplished that, AND a good time. 2:11:30 (6:09km pace) is a very respectable first half, I’m very proud of what I did.

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2012 Resolution Run

This year I signed up for the Resolution Run hosted by Frontrunners Westshore. I’ll admit the fancy running jacket swag was a big draw, but so was starting off the year right, by running a race. I questioned that decision early on the morning of the first, not so many hours off sleep between me and our partying, I will say. (and the GORGEOUS running jacket I got doesn’t fit! They said sizes ran large, as they were unisex, but my size M is too big – boo!)

I really enjoyed the run. It was a casual affair. A stop clock was set up, and many of us wore our gps watches for timing, but there was no pressure, no real competition. The race was through open (though quiet) streets, and some trails. The director said something about it being hilly, but I didn’t think much of it….until they started. I haven’t run hills much, other than some hill repeats in training, and it’s definitely different. Since I didn’t know what was coming, and none of them were too long, I quiet enjoyed the variety they brought. It kept things interesting and fun.

I ran 5.11km in a little over 32 minutes. Slower than my “race pace” when I’m training, but I haven’t been training in a long while, and there were those hills…….Also I woke up this morning with a BAD cold, so the grumbling in my lungs that I thought was a lack of sleep and fitness in the run, must have been the start of this bug. So I’m pretty happy with my performance on the run, and I enjoyed myself to boot!

Times Colonist 10k – Race Report

I’ve been too busy to sit down and write my report from the 10k over a week ago.  Work’s been nuts, and I just spent the weekend playing in a Field Lacrosse tournament in Kamloops.

I feel like I  did ok in the Times Colonist 10k race, but felt a little bit dissapointed afterwards.  Some of that was the letdown that comes after an event with a big buildup.  I’ve been training for 4 months for this race, so there was definitely a bit buildup!  Just like Christmas, when it’s over, you feel a bit of letdown.

It was great weather for the TC 10k.  Cool, but not cold, and very little wind.  I got there with plenty of time to warm up, but headed to line up a bit early, nervous I’d have to fight the crowds.  I wish I’d warmed up a little longer, and closer to start time, I was cooling off again by the time the race started.  The start was really slow, even though I lined up in the right spot for my pace (50-59min) It took more than 2 minutes to cross the start line.  And even then I was shoulder to shoulder with so many runners for the first couple of kilometers.  You can see how packed it was, right out of the gate, I was hardly moving.  (It’s not a great photo, I look pretty unhappy, even though I was really quite happy at this point, but it’s the only photo of me from the race!)  It was difficult to run, or find my pace, when I was so concerned with stepping on someone’s heels or bumping the people beside me.  I worked on weaving through the crowd to move forward, but it was difficult and tiring.   I didn’t like the race being so busy,  the crowds are less fun when you’re trying for speed.

I spotted my coach as I was stopped drinking after the first water station, just after 3km.  Great, he finds me the one moment I’m standing still! Off I went again…..The course had some short hills, nothing too steep, and they actually kept it interesting.  My right leg felt tight, but no pain in the first half of the race, and once the crowd thinned a little, running felt better and smoother.

Around the halfway point I was getting tired, and my leg was bugging me more.  The portion all along Dallas Road was beautiful, but it was getting harder for me there.  I had to take a break for about 20 seconds, just walk, deep breaths and regroup.  I was struggling a bit, but determined to finish this thing, so I got going again after that short break at around 7.5km.  I felt like my pace was all over the place, but worked through it and just kept going.  It was still busy at this point, not a ton of space to just work at your own pace, and that was frustrating.   The last few kilometers felt longer than the early ones, but that’s to be expected.  The last kilometer hurt, but I pushed and ran my hardest.  I found some energy to finish strong with effort, so I guess my pace was ok through the race.  The finish line was as blocked up as the starting line, so I ran to it as fast as I safely could, but people were stopped a mere foot after the finish, so that slowed us down some.

My official finishing time was 56:03.  That’s more than 15 minutes off the first time I ran it, 2 years ago in 2009!  My pace was 5:37, and looking back at most other races I’ve done, my pace was 7:09 or thereabouts.  That’s pretty significant!  I worked really hard with my coach, training three times a week for 4 months (minus a couple weeks for a head injury) so I’m happy to see results from my hard work.  I’ve lost about 30lbs over the past year as well, another factor that I’m sure improves my running performance.

So what’s next?  My coach mentioned a race in July, but I’m not sure which one it is.  The 8k in October tied to the BMO Marathon is another I have been doing for a few years, so I’d love to go for a fantastic PB in that one.   I know I want to race more, and be faster, so after a short break to rest my leg and heal it up, back to training!