Teeth in the Grass

Folks, I dislike when these blogs come across as diary entries so I’ll do my best to tell a story. I have been going through some pretty sweet training out here since Vancouver’s The First Half. The recovery went as planned and I was feeling the legs were ready to race some shorter faster races. It’s amazing how well organized the races are out here and how rich the talent is that lines up — not to take anything away from the races in Ontario.

I guess I should start back at the St. Patty’s 5k in Stanley Park, which I began hearing about almost the minute my plane hit the tarmac in Vancouver (chuckle chuckle). I was picked up at the airport by the race director, Steve, who is also a fitness model and area manager for the Running Room, and he told me about the speedy times that had been posted on what he described as a fair course. So by the time March rolled around I was excited to finally get to the race.

People, I know I was telling you in the last post how much I like taking public transit, but when a ride is offered you can bet I won’t be one to pass it up! So when Luc Bruchet (course/mile record holder) kindly offered me a ride to the race, I took it. Thanks!

But back to the course….I have to tell you, that this course plays games with your heart and lungs! It is set for a quick first mile, an even pace during the flat middle, and then you just try and hang tough for the last mile uphill. If you look at the mile splits, almost everyone’s looks just like that. There is a bonus prize for the fastest first mile (peanut butter money, which I joked I will take every chance I got, but realistically I knew it was out of my grasp). The kicker is, to get the bonus, you have to finish the race within a minute of the winner. A number of hearts have been broken and paydays have been missed by a blazing first mile that misses that 1 minute window!

I cruised through the first mile in 4:32 with nothing but smiles. I saw Dylan Wykes cheering us on. He gave a “looking good, keep it going”. I was in about 10th place at this point and knew I would really have to put in some work to move up. I was able to move into 5th with a couple of wolves on my heels that were ready for me to die up the final hill.

That last hill is a 1200m grind. All those blazing fast times through the first mile are thrown out the window. It turns into a game of survival. Once again, I ran by Dylan and this time it was a different story. He gave me a “Rob is catching you”, but I’m thinking, “hold on, he’s gotta be hurting too”. Even though I was fading like Christmas lights in July, I survived Watson’s surge and placed 5th in a time of 14:52. Let it be noted he did a very long workout before the race and he is in the middle of a marathon build. He has is eye on the big prize, the London marathon!

The after party is the best I’ve ever been to. There was Granville beer, cupcakes, chili, coconut water, and tons of other delicious post-race food. After the awards were handed out, there was a DJ dance party. It was a really fun time! I was talking to Rob Watson and he suggested I message Cliff Cunningham about getting into the Modo 8k next weekend. I finished the day by keeping the party rolling for the rest of the sunny afternoon and into the evening. You have to let your hair down sometimes!

Check out the photos at

http://yaletownphotography.pixieset.com/stpatricksday5kmrun2016/

 

Modo 8km

I messaged Cliff the next day and asked if I could get into the Moto 8k. I am really sorry I misheard Rob when he was describing the race. I didn’t know much about the course except that it was run around the seawall. I was going into the race with only one plan, stick with the lead as long as I can before having to use race smarts. Just like the St. Patrick’s 5km, we opened up with a blazing first mile (4:38). There was a good pack of runners (Trevor Hofbauer, Rob Watson, Kevin Friesen, Terence Attema, Ryan Brockerville and me) for the first couple of kilometres. After the half way point Terence, Ryan, and I realized the pace might be a little to rich for our blood on that day. We turned into a race for 4th. Ryan and I pulled away from Terence. I was trying to make him do a lot of the work on the windy side of the seawall, sorry man. Around 5k, I had to pick up the pace/effort a bit because Terence’s conservative approach was paying off. The 15:01/5k was going to make or break me and the hardest part of the course is in the last 3k. It starts off with bends on the Devonian Harbour Park and finishes with a steep hill. Terence’s race plan appeared to work out for him. He put a 10-15metre gap on me before we hit the hill. I knew I had a little gas left in my legs and if he didn’t go I was going to dig deep and push past him. Having my girlfriend, Kyla, there and cheering me on gave me the energy I needed to pass him in the closing metres of the race. After all the cheers and watching people finish we all warmed down together. It was really nice to catch up and meet up with everyone. It was amazing how we all just got together and compared notes! It was a wonderful event. My first Canada Running Series on the West Coast. These guys know how to put on great events from coast to coast!

Check out the Canada Running Series West on Facebook for some cool race photos.

 

I am learning you can develop a much better approach to races by racing more. Like most things in life, the more you practice, the better you get. I was reading an article about how Bill Rodgers use to race 15-20x a year and how he would value races by always keeping the big ones as his focus. I guess that’s how I am planning to race this season — learn everything I can from the racing and the competitive workouts.

Hold on, are you still with me? If you are, I have to tell you what’s next! I am going to be gearing up for the Sun Run 10k, then maybe the BMO half, and finish off the spring with some races back home (Ottawa 10km, Kingston Beat Beethoven, and Reddendale Ramble).

Thank you for your minutes and hope your training is going the best it can wherever you are!