Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sooke River 10k

We couldn't have had a better day in Victoria than this morning. 11 degrees Celsius, no wind, gorgeous sun.

Heading into this race I was hoping to run well, thinking that at 34:30 would be a very good day. Also, there was the added incentive of this being the final race of the Vancouver Island Race Series. I was in second place in my age-group at the beginning of the race today. A friend, Shane, was leading the division by three points. I not only had to beat Shane, but I had to beat him by more than 35 seconds. So it was this in mind that we lined up together at the start of today's 10k.

With most of the fast kids in Vancouver for the Sun Run, there were only a couple of fastees in Sooke today. Nick Walker and Paul O'Callaghan, both very strong runners, were the only ones there that would usually contend for titles, so it was going to be an interesting race.

The gun went and we started and the downhill start was parlayed into a fast first couple of km. The course was about to take a nasty turn. I am glad I drove the course prior to the race, because the hills were acomin'.

Nick took the early lead quite easily while Shane, Paul, and I raced the first couple of km together. Paul put a surge in, testing out his recovering Achilles tendon, and bridged up to Nick. I jumped on Paul as he went by, but once I realized what he was doing, I put on the brakes, opting to run within myself instead. The plan was to run a consistent race and throwing in a huge surge early on was not in the plans.

With Paul gone, it was Shane and I running together. We have had two sprint finishes in the past, so I knew that I had establish an early lead. I used one of the long downhills to establish a little gap and then worked hard to maintain consistency. I thought that if I could hold a 3:30/km pace then it would take a lot for Shane to make up the ground, but with lots of hills on the way home, there was opportunity for Shane. He is one of the stronger hill runners in Victoria, so I knew that I had to run well after the hills to maintain my lead.

At 5k I felt good, but knowing what was ahead, I put my head down and focused. I saw Shane at the turnaround and figured I had 20 seconds at that point. Running hard I pushed on the hills, trying to maintain consistency. I passed Bob Reid, Victoria's running guru, who mentioned that my lead was 80m. I knew that was good, but not enough. I continued to run the tangents and think of form and cadence. I used the flats to try to establish more of a lead. I finished strong. 34:33. A good time. The came the wait.

10 seconds.
15 seconds.
20 seconds.
Shane comes into view of the long straightaway for the finish.
30 seconds.
40 seconds.

Shane ran 35:20, a personal best for him by 15 seconds, which is incredible as the course is about as slow as they come. We thought that the time was enough for me to have won the age-group, but really, the constant challenge that was provided throughout the series was more satisfying than any "win". Shane pushed me to compete better and run faster and for that I am thankful. He has improved so much that when we line up together on the Gutbuster start lines, I fear that I will not see him after the first hill. I am also excited to see how he does at the TC 10k - I am predicting 34:30.

I ended up 3rd overall today and was pleased with my time. After this weekend, I am hoping that the TC 10k will be another breakthrough race for me. I will run well this week and then take a little taper into race day. I am definitely looking forward to it.
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