Sunday, January 28, 2018

MEC Winter Classic 2018 - Race and Pace

So I got up today with a plan to go for a long run, and watch a 5K race in the park. I had hoped to do some work with my friends during their warm ups before the race as well.

Then a spare race bib popped up and the opportunity to pace a fellow racer came up. Not my plan originally, but hey, what could it hurt.

Another warm up and soon I was on the start line, the new day's plan was to help pace Lindsay (and anyone else) to a sub 20 min 5k, and then we were off.

Now this day was a huge change from a couple of weeks ago. Back then this race was postponed due to extreme cold. Today it was 5C and overcast. Warm enough that we ran in singlets (and I wish I had changed to shorts but there wasn't really enough time for that. That made the course interesting. The ice was gone (for the most part), but replaced with puddles and soft muddy ground. Not ideal conditions for speed, especially when taking into account the very hilly terrain.

So maybe this wasn't the ideal 5km course for a PB, but that shouldn't stop us from trying. 

My goal was simple, try and even the pace out and particularly slow it down at the start. Also I had to take into account the hilly nature of the course and while not pushing my runner too hard.

So the race started well. I held the pace back to 4 min/km. Then we picked it up a little before a big hill, which I knew would slow us down. I wasn't too worried about loosing speed in the beginning as the second half is fast. By kilometer 2 we had slipped to a 4:08 average pace but the course flattened and we were back at speed again. Then one more steep hill and our average pace stayed the same.

Then the downhills began. The trick here isn't to try and crush the downhills, but to use them to gain some time. And that we did, and by kilometer 4 we were at 3:59 for an average pace and Lindsay was hanging tough.

The final kilometer is kind of rolling and with the muddy ground, it was important to not lose focus. So I kept up the chatter to help focus us on our goal. Finally the time came. We were 400m to the finish with a small uphill. Another runner had stuck with us, and I wanted to make sure we pushed Lindsay through for a high placing finish. So we picked up the pace slightly. I pushed us over the hill and sent Lindsay on her way. She finished in 19:28 (chip time) and 1st female. I ended up 1 second behind and 3rd overall.

Soon Craig came in just behind us for a sub 20 min 5km to start the year, also awesome. A lot of other BLT Runners came pushing through as well, and it was great to see them all.

So maybe it wasn't the plan, but heck, it was a fun Sunday run (we followed it up with an easy 11 km in the park to end the morning).

This year is looking good.

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