GOOD FRIDAY ROAD RACE 5K - RACE REPORT
Being away from the race scene since my bike crash last August, I was both nervous and anxious to finally make a commitment to get on a starting line. I have felt ready since the start of 2013 but nothing has worked in my calendar up until now so I knew I needed to get back on the horse.
Even knowing I was going to be a little rusty going into this first event, I still wanted to push for that elusive sub 17min result at this distance. Mentally, I prepared for an all or nothing approach and bought into pushing as hard as possible knowing my training was leading me in that direction.
When I arrived at the race location early Good Friday morning, I realized that my work was going to be cut out for me as the course was not exactly flat and fast in nature. I took the extra time to drive the route and noted a few places I would have to be ready for as the gradual climbs would eat away at my legs having spent a lot of time on the treadmill during this cold and snowy winter.
After taking the tour, I got parked and took the shuttle in from the train station set aside for a majority of the folks travelling in for the run. I still had plenty of time after picking up my kit and slowly got into warm up mode trying to pick out some of the bib numbers I read off the registration lists. Some of the speedsters I wanted to chase around the Burlington roads were familiar by name but I had never seen them in person so I had to resort to finding them in the crowd based on their race numbers.
Finally, feeling ready to leave the warmth of the school gym, I decided to get changed into my favourite racing shorts so I went to the men's room as not to scare anyone with my white compression shorts. As I entered the first change area I placed the shorts on a bench and went into the washroom section for a very quick visit. I wasn't in there for any more than a minute and then returned to the empty change room to discover someone had lifted my shorts! I was bumbed out as I only had my tights now and it was getting too warm to race in them.
Luckily, I knew Peter from www.mynextrace.com was working his booth and, thankfully, he was able to hook me up with some shorts. They were basketball style shorts but at least they would allow some ventilation so I happily accepted his offer. Thanks Peter!!!
Running to the line in Peter's Shorts
SO now it was time to race! I picked out my targets on the start line and then settled behind them in the second row leaving the younger runners to rule the left side of the road. We waited around listening to instructions before the sporadic countdown began. I remember a few call outs at a minute and thirty seconds with a little pause before we were sent off surprised not to hear a gun or horn.
As the youthful athletes sprinted out, the older side of the line cautiously picked their way through the field heading downhill to through the eventual finishing line. At this point there were a good 30 or so kids up ahead of me as we commenced the first climb of the route. It was a mild tester on the legs but seemed to slow down some of the teenagers so I moved up a little through the field still following my two markers who were closer to my age category.
We then zig-zagged around a few side streets for short distances before hopping on one of the longer streets we would run along. As we turned on this stretch, we had a quick downhill twister to negotiate where things started to string out a little more closing in on the first kilometre sign. Just around that section we started a long portion into the wind that took us back up the other side of the valley. I knew this would cut into the great opening km (3:06) I was able to roll off so I just wanted to minimize the damage and tuck into a few of the runners around me to help save my legs for later.
As we continued closer to the second kilometre one of my pacers had moved up the field and out of reach while the other gentleman was hanging right beside me flip-flopping with me as we both took turns cutting the breeze. Coming up to the halfway portion of the race we turned north as the road climbed up again through a mild S bend on the street before a few quick turns to get us onto Plains Road.
Soon after starting our journey east on Plains, we hit the 3 km marker where I finally looked down at my watch again and saw 10:12. At this point my legs were feeling good but also knew that I tend to fade badly around this part of a 5k before waking up again in the final 500 metres. Doing the math, and knowing we had a tail wind and mostly downhill final two kilometres to the line, I really felt like I had a chance to hit my goal on this challenging course.
Starting the third kilometre, I was still in contact with many young high school and university runners but one of the guys around my age was starting to find his second wind. I tried to pull closer in the following few hundred metres heading south off Plains but was not making any progress on the runner I wanted to stay tight with. I continued to dig deep but was running out of run and gas as we made our final turn onto Fairwood Place Road. The man volunteering on the corner mentioned it was 400 metres to the finish so I tried to muster up one final push knowing the downhill area where we started would keep the momentum going. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the wheels on this day and I saw the board hit 17:00 as I rounded the bend about 100 metres from the line. I still had a PB in mind but was not getting up to full sprinting speed. As I passed the clock it was just reaching 17:10 so I just tried to get it to stop as close to that as possible and settled for 17:12 on my watch but 17:14 on the results sheet. Not sure how that happened but have a feeling they used the second timing mat as I let up as I hit the first one.
In the end, I beat my previous best of 17:18 on a much tougher course so this was a very satisfying result coming back after a long layoff. I was able to place 1st in the 30-39 AG and tip my cap to Andrew Taylor and Paul Leduc for their impressive races in the 40-49 category. They were the two gentlemen I followed around the Aldershot roads, eventually coming up a little short of my ultimate running goal.
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