Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Other Races Were a Warm Up - Oh and a Race Report

Now it begins, the start of that period of time in the Spring where there seems to be a race or event every weekend. Well at least races that I sign up for. I guess this will be my fourth race of the year but this one I was taking quite seriously.  It is one week prior to my first A race and I wanted to really test to see how my training had been coming along.

Training you say? Well yes. I mean I train every year to some degree or other. And I often try to formulate some sort of training plan to tackle it all. And I almost, sort of, kind of, almost stick to that training scheme. But of course if you have been following me on my Facebook or Twitter feed, you will know that I have been very diligent about seeing what I can achieve this year, and therefore have been following my super special training program. I will get into all of that next week though, as the annual Atlantic Lung Run 5K race will be the culmination of this current training plan. Until then, Zone 2 rules! Okay enough of that.

Okay so this was the next in the series of Mountain Equipment Co-Op community races. They have a great series of races close to town that are inexpensive and minimal, though still timed and with water and bananas at the end! This race was held at the Halifax Citadel Fort, right in the center of town. And it was going to be a hilly crazy cross country adventure. Last year I did the 10K version of this race, but opted for the 5K version this year. 5K? Sure, I have found a love of 5K races. They are fast and they are fun and the speed work is really useful for the running portions of duathlons and triathlons.

For this race the 5K and 10K runners ran together, with the 10K doing 2 laps (well more like 4 laps but you had to be there to see this course). That of course makes things difficult for the 5K racers as you can't really tell who you are racing.  Anyway, it was a great start with a Highlander from the Citadel firing a rifle to send us off.  

Last year I was so bad at pacing (like many years before) and I took off like a bat out of hell (Meatloaf knows about that). This lead to me getting slower and slower as the race progressed and falling from 1st to third to eventually 4th overall. Boo. this year I took off a little easier and slowly built up my pace.

Of course the first big task was a big hill. At the bottom of said hill you turn around and pop right back to the top. I took this as an opportunity to bridge up a little to some of the other runners, passing a few people.

I then settled in to my pace for a bit, trying to make the corner s as straight as possible (and there were many). Then the next hill arrived and I managed to catch up to another runner. We determined that we were both 5 K runners and this sent him picking up his pace a bit. I stayed on his heels, but didn't push things.

Soon we entered the dry moat or ditch surrounding the Fort proper.

My competitor picked up the pace again. But as the ground was quite spongy and full of odd footings, I decided to hold station. Oh and I was really enjoying my choice of shoes at this point. Some nice Vivobare trail shoes. A big thanks to Luke @ Aerobics First for fixing them up to my liking. By the end of the ditch you had to pop up another rather steep hill to get to the main level. I used this as another opportunity to catch back up with my friend.

By the time we headed inside the Fort walls again, I was right on his heels.

So all that was left by this point was to run the ramparts. Strategically I had been watching my young running mate start to lose his form and start to breath rather heavy. But him being quite a bit younger, I was unsure if he still had some more in the tank. But I knew that the ramparts are fairly hard to pass in and begin with another steep climb, this time on gravel. So i went for it and sprinted up the incline.

I dared a look at one point and found out that I had in deed shaken my competitor. He was quite far behind. Then I finally dared to look at my Garmin to see my time. I ran this event in just under 43 minutes last year as the 10K, and I had ran 20:20ish at the first MEC cross country 5K of the year, so I had really hoped with all of my training to be able to squeeze under 20 minutes here. It was afterall a nice day, though it was a course with tons of corners and such steep inclines that I knew I would be setting a personal best). But I saw that at this point I was still sub 19 minutes.

So I picked it up a little more.

 Back down the incline, across the finish line and I ran a 19:25! My Garmin showed the course a tad short at 4.9km so call it a 19:30 5K and I was darn happy. And apparently I was also the winner.

Yes sir. My first running race win on a hard technical and crazy fun 5K course. I reveled in that for a bit, hugged and fist bumped the second place runner, who was rather happy with his finish as well. I was happy to beat a teenager, he was happy to beat a "seasoned" racer. Everyone was happy, you can't beat that.

Thanks to Kevin Besner for the photos.
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