Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Race 3 of 2013 - The MEC Highlander Citadel 5K

So this past Sunday I took part in the next of the MEC running race series, as put on my the Halifax MEC. These are meant to be grass roots, simple, cheap and accessible races. In my experience they deliver a great bang for your buck timed event with a fun atmosphere.

This was the third time I ran this specific race, which takes place on Halifax's hilliest course. In the past I have run both the 5K and 10K options. This year I opted again for the 5K as I like to see what sort of speed I can put on with the incredibly steep hills on offer. Last year I won this event and was at least hoping to better my time from last season.

The weather was decent when we arrived before the start but it was obvious that the wind was picking up and the sun was disappearing behind the clouds. I had opted to run in shorts and just did my best to keep warm prior to the start (heavy coats do a good job).

Thanks to Parks Canada, the send off for this race is great. The Historic Sites Highlanders show up and send us off with a booming fire from a black powder flint lock gun. Nice.

In this racing series all competitors start at the same time and for this race we race the same course (the 10K does 2 loops of the course). So if you want to find your competitors you need to look for the colour of the bibs and do your sleuthing ahead of time. Not really knowing the speed of most of the other runners, I opted to just go for it.

The course starts inside the fort, then you pop out across the drawbridge and onto the perimeter road. At this point in the race I was in third place overall and running a fine pace, of course this was maybe 400 meters in (ha ha!).

As it turns out the guy right in front of me was actually running the 10K race, so I wasn't too concerned about him and put my sights on the 1st place runner.  Sadly as we approached the first drop to street level (and quite the drop it is) I was becoming aware that the guy in first overall was darn fast.  His lead started to increase by the time we reached the second drop to street level and my legs were burning on these super steep hills. So I was starting to settle for holding my decent pace and not worrying too much about the win.

I also started to realize that second place was mine for the taking or losing. I had a clear advantage over third place and was happy to even be second in the race overall. Last year some of the runners from the 10K were so fast they stayed ahead of me the whole way, whew!

Now having second place in your sights and losing sight of the first place runner starts to make you a little complacent and at one point on the back side of Citadel Hill I noticed my pace sliding. I wasn't over extended, I was just mentally not there. So I talked a little smack in my head and picked up the pace back to where it should have been.

I entered the fort for the last time and ran up to the ramparts, dodging the guns and watching my footing as best as possible, all while taking in a bit of the view.

As I was starting to approach the finish I actually checked the time on my watch and it was at 18:40. I kicked it up a bit again, really trying to see if I could go sub 19. I pushed through the finish line and stopped the clock at 19:19. Darn, but still close to 10 seconds faster than last years time. I also know I could have run this faster, had I had the first place runner in my sights and not had a mental laps. But that first place guy ran a staggering 16:50, and I had no chance of keeping anywhere near him. Huge congrats on that time. I can only imagine what he could do on a flat course.

So two races into the MEC series and 2 second place medals for me. Though they now have a nice new look!

Last season I managed 3 second place medals and 1 first. We will see how things go.

Okay, other than second place, how did I do from a racing stand point and how is my training going. Well, I think I can say it is going really well. I have limited any serious injuries, put in a lot of low intensity Zone 2 training and it is paying off really well. Here is my chart from the race:

As you can see from the bottom graph, the hills are in green and quite up and down while the red and blue lines are pace and heart rate. I would normally have expected to see those go crazy all over the place as well, but I managed to keep them nice and steady. That bodes well for a strong aerobic system as the season of longer races is coming up. But we will visit how this are really going in the next post as I just had another Blood Lactate test with Jeff Zahavich at Kinesic Sports Lab.

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