Sunday, January 27, 2008

Steveston 8k

They actually call it the Steveston Ice-breaker 8k Run, which was apt for this morning.  Spinning the wheels of the car at 7:00am as I tried to drive out of the alleyway behind our house, I wondered out loud to myself about whether the race was going to go ahead, and if so, my intelligence about competing in the race.  You see, while the forecasted 20cm of snow hadn't materialized overnight, the thin layer of ice that coated the car this morning was evidence enough that the course was going to treacherous at best.  Fortunately, the major roads were salted and driving was fine, but after arriving in Richmond, we found that our fears were valid.

It wasn't a worst case scenario, but since the race follows a path by the waterfront of Steveston, the ice on the blacktop asphalt was hard to see and quite slippery (as ice tends to be).  Simon Driver and I warmed up together, discussing the best way to navigate through the icy sections - we decided that grass was the way to go.  It wasn't an impossible to run on kind of ice, but rather the kind at has your foot slip just for a moment each time you push off, sending your balance and stride out for a split second.  It causes you to change, but allows you to continue.  

The race started 10 minutes late to allow for the volunteers to throw salt on the worst parts of the course, but the icy conditions didn't stop the leaders from opening up with 3:02 first km.  Needless to say, I was not with them.  I had settled in and felt comfortable running a bit back from Paul Krochak, who was in turn a little behind Simon.  We navigated the first few corners well and then proceeded to the straighter section of the course.  By this time I had settled in behind the same guy who had caught me at the Vancouver Gunner Shaw (incidentally, the Swedish guy who won the Vancouver Gunner Shaw was here as well and came in second after falling on the ice).  This was a good place for me as the pace felt fast, but comfortable.  I sat on his shoulder, in his draft, for a few kilometers, before taking my turn in the wind.  This was the respectable thing to do, but may have cost me in the end.

I wasn't able to see any kilometer markings, so I had no idea what my splits were until the turn around.  We hit 4k at about 13:15 (ish).  That put me on 26:30 pace, but that was not to be.

I love trail races because there are so many turns and things to be aware of.  This was the opposite of that.  The race was basically a straight line out and a straight line back.  Of course there are corners, but you can see people the whole time which was a little tough on me as I began to slow down.  Watching the others extend their lead on me, the guy from Gunner Shaw included, I started to find reasons (read: excuses) for why it was happening.  Snowshoe yesterday, bad conditions, general fatigue.  It took a moment, but I was able to finally get back into a better headspace and concentrate on "How do I run faster even though I am not feeling great?"  That question helped me to refocus on what I could do and I held on from there.  

The end of the race came for me at 26:59.  I was pleased with this, and was fighting hard to hold off two guys I had been listening to behind me for the last 400m.  It is a personal best and one run in not great conditions.  I faded in the last 3k, but I can deal with that.  Overall, I good first race of the season.  I am farther ahead now than I have been in the past (consider my time for my first race last year, an 8k, was 28:48), and I have two weeks until the First Half Half Marathon.  It should be an interesting race and really give me an idea of what to expect at Boston.

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