Sleeping in past my alarm, I did my usual breakfast thing and rolled the van out of the drive by 8:40. The plan for the day was to do the race and meet with Mike afterwards to jam out a mountain bike ride in the South Surrey bike park as he prepares for the Dirty Duo in March. I am just getting back on the bike after an extended autumn off of the two wheels, traded in for a variety of trail runners. Riding after a race? I thought it to be totally doable.
|The course map...|
|...and elevation profile for two laps.|
"If you want 3rd place, and the UVIC track team shows up, then what?"
Good point Mike. So a quick readjustment of my goals was drawn up--finish the race 2 minutes quicker than last year? Run sub a 40 minute 10k? Suss out my opposition and try for 3rd? Using Brad Issel as my soineur to pack all my pre-race crap (Brad--I owe you a beer for being awesome), I toed the line behind Mike and waited for the race to start. I was resigned to give up on running with Mike, but thought maybe I could make something else happen.
|The frenetic start. 5k and 10k runners go off at the same time! Purple shirt is on the right of the pic. Photo: Peninsula Runners|
The descent into the valley was steep and fast, as always. I was running alone in the single track until Darren caught me just after the 4k mark. We exchanged words, and agreed to work together in the race to keep the race away from us, as the lead group was not going to be caught.
4th and 5th place hang in the balance between us.
Up the hill out of the valley, we backed off the gas, and took it conservatively going into lap 2. We had come through the first 5k in just under 20 minutes. Considering the hill, that was good. Over the next 5k, the race between me and Darren took shape.
|Working together, and kicking each other's a$$es. Photo: Caroline Walton|
The whole time, I was able to gauge my effort, constantly assessing my feelings, pace, and foot turnover. I feel like this was a race that I was in total control of--I had not put myself into the red, although by all accounts, I should have been there. But 10k is a short race, and I had not burned a match in the first 7k--yet. I had hoped that I had saved my effort for the last two kilometers, where I though the race would be decided.
Into the valley, I challenged him just a bit on the downhill, every so often testing him with little surges to see how he would respond. At the valley bottom trail, he took the lead in front of me, and gaped me just a little. I fought to catch on to his lead and we ran through 8k over the roots, rocks, and ducking tree branches until the boardwalks at the end of the trail. This year there was no snow, no water or flooding in the valley. It was bone dry and a little bit greasy with mud.
Darren turned an ankle over twice in the last mile or so--I called to him to be careful on the first one. Over the last set of boardwalks, I took the lead back from him, hooked right onto the main path, and put another dig in on him before the big hill, all the while listening to his footsteps, his breathing rhythm and depth, and concentrating on keeping my own steady.
I pinned the hill, and created a gap. Knowing he would be right on my arse, I took no time to recover at the top, going into the red zone with the finish within striking distance. I sprinted for the line, not knowing where he was, but that I could no longer hear him at all.
|Into the finishing straight. Darren (just) in behind me. Photo: Peninsula Runners|
|4th place of 113 racers. Still 4 minutes down--It is crazy how fast Mike is!|
|Chris 2nd, Mike 1st, Tyler 3rd. Photo: Pen' Runners|
I was really happy to run with Darren--comforted to run with a pretty straight up dude, fast racer, and gentleman. I knew that he would not pull ahead drastically and blow his race up trying to dust me as we are so evenly matched. Don't ask me how I know that, I just do. We both raced a smart race, with the final climb being the determining factor between us. It is almost fitting that we let the course decide who would place in front of the other. Today was a good day.
Over the years, I have run this race in snow, floods, bone dry, and just plain cold. Today the conditions were perfect: shorts and short sleeves at 6 degrees, no rain or wind to boot. This was by far the fastest that I have run this race over the four kicks at it.
Results by the numbers. Notice the progression over the years:
2014: 41:20--New personal best on this course. 4th overall (Full results are here)
2013: 43:20 10th overall of 102
2012: 51:28 Snowy/ icy course 12th overall of 45
2011: 46:53 Wet/ Flooded out course 18th overall of 104
I am certainly on track for running fast in 2014. Compared to 3 weeks ago at the Resolution Run, this 10k was a piece of cake (my foot pod measures the course at 10.7 kms; I ran a sub 40 minute 10k). At no time did I feel like I wanted to die, heave a lung, or quit. The effort was more consistent, and I think that is thanks to the fact that I have had way less beverages and crap food, along with some pretty solid runs as of late. The post race 4k run and mountain bike ride will benefit me more down the road.
This run definitely builds more confidence for those performance goals.
Thank you again, Peninsula Runners, for a great race! 2 weeks until the Aldergrove Mud Run. 8K. I will be better at that one too.
4 weeks until the First Half Half Marathon. Sub 1:20? That would make my winter. A very lofty goal....
The mountain bike ride in the bike park was a nice touch to finish off the morning of heavy efforts.