13 days into the new year and I found myself heading down to Victoria (Saanich to be exact) for my first race of the season. I was stepping on the line for the Pioneer 8km which is part of the Vancouver Island RaceSeries and also part of the Timex Series. The race is hosted by the Prairie InnHarriers and is always well run and a fun event to start the year.
I worked until 10:15pm the night before the race, then came home and got everything ready before finally getting to sleep around midnight. Up around 7:30 and out the door by 8am for the drive to Victoria. First I had to stop for a bagel at Tim Horton’s and then also for gas in Ladysmith (just south of Nanaimo) as the price there was 110.9 vs 119.9 like Nanaimo. God knows why Nanaimo is now the most expensive place for gas on the entire island, I mean even Victoria was 114.9. While fueling up at the Co-op, they had a radio playing and I could not believe my ears to hear MMMbop by Hanson. Seriously? That was just terrible.
On the road and I made pretty good time arriving to the race site around 9:40am. I caught up with the Vancouver crew including Natasha(Wodak) Fraser, Sabrina Wilkie, Anne-Marie Madden and Shannon Thompson. The question of the day between us girls was “what are you going to wear?” You see, it was not extremely cold and it wasn’t extremely warm/mild either. That left us girls in limbo; do we wear shorts or ¾ tights, long sleeves, short sleeves or singlet and arm warmers?! We had no idea!
Natasha and I left for our warm up around 10:10 (11am race start) and when we got back I was quite warm, though technically wearing a few layers. I decided on shorts and compression socks. I normally don’t wear compression socks and really wore them more for the extra warmth rather than compression. Natasha went for the tights and I think we both went for long sleeved shirts with singlet over top.
A quick bathroom break and we were off to the start where I caught up with some other lovely island ladies, such as Lucy Smith, Care Nelson, Catrin Jones and Melissa Ross. Not to mention all my Bastion Running Club friends.
Anne-Marie, Catrin and Me
The race starts on a downhill which means the first km is fast. At the bottom of the first hill, which is 300-400m maybe (don’t quote me as I am horrible at estimating distances) another Bastion runner Byron Trajan took a pretty nasty spill not far in front of me. I think I muttered “oh no Byron” and I heard someone else say “are you okay” to which I think he said he was either “fine” or “good” and eventually he passed me again not long later.
I hit the first km in 3:24. Oops. I cruised down the back stretch and was running stride for stride with some guy. The 2nd km was 3:36. We then headed up a long gradual hill from about 2.5-3.5km so I hit the 3rd km in 3:43. Oops again. I still felt fairly good though as we continued to roll down a slight hill to the 4km marker (3:36). It was along this stretch that I saw Lucy Smith about 15-20m ahead of me and I zoned in on reeling her in. I have looked up to Lucy for ages, so I knew she could drag me to a pretty good time. Running with her was Garth Campbell, who won’t let me forget that I ran by him right at the finish of the Goodlife Fitness Half in October (report found here).
After a bit of down followed by some up I hit the next km in 3:34 and just before we hit the turn around I passed Lucy, but that turned out to be brief because I then royally screwed up the turn around taking it WAY WAY WAY too wide and she passed me back. When I passed her the first time, she gave encouragement to catch Jen. I did not know Jen; however, I did see the girl not far in front. I hung on to Lucy after the turn and ran the next km in 3:37 followed by 3:36.
We rounded the 2nd to last corner heading back towards the Fairgrounds in which Lucy again provided encouragement to focus on a tree halfway up the hill. This is why Lucy is so great, here we are racing, yet at the same time she is giving me a pep talk and in essence is coaching me mid race. She told me I could get Jen or to go after Jen or something, to which I replied that she could too! Together, we overtook Jen in the final km. We rounded the last corner for the uphill finish which was 3:37 and Lucy just held me off at the line to finish 1 second in front of me. She was 5th female and I was 6th (4th in my age group). Not bad considering I went into the race ranked 7th.
I finished in 28:46 officially, which beats my previous official 8km best of 29:31 from January 2010. I will say though that since that best time I think I have run only two other 8kms. One was in October 2011 after my injury and then Pioneer in 2012, which was actually measured to be 75m long where I finished in 29:49. I was pleased with the results and how I attacked the race, though I think I still have to figure out that next level of hurt. Yes I realize, easy to say after the race.
Long time friends and rivals! Myself and Natasha. She promised me she would eat lots and get fat over the holidays so that I could close the gap on her. No instead she slimmed down and got even faster! ;) It's okay, I forgive you Tasha!
I enjoyed a nice longer cool down with Natasha, in which we met up with Anne-Marie plus Sabrina and her husband Mark. Race winners were Geoff Martinson in 23:49 and Natasha in a STUNNING 25:28! A HUGE PB for her (over 2 minutes). She was FLYING! Now people are questioning whether the course was accurate and let me tell you, I hit my splits at each km sign and this is how my Garmin came out. Are Garmin’s exact? No, but this was pretty darn close. Give that girl some credit.
In other news, there was a girl who approached both Natasha and me and advised me that she reads my blog. In the moment, I was simply shocked that someone actually reads my blog and I forgot to ask her name, so if you are reading this, please leave a comment and introduce yourself! A special thank you and shout out to this girl and also to whomever else may read this!
Race results can be found here! Race photos found here! Tony gets photo credit for all photos but the one of myself and Tasha. Many thanks to Bob Reid and PIH for the entry!