Monday, June 17, 2013

Longest Day 5km 2013

For my last race of the season I decided to head over to Vancouver to take part in the North ShoreCredit Union Longest Day 5km (June 14th) because this was race usually has a pretty good field. Ever since the Montreal Half Marathon I had struggled to find my legs again. While I had some success in the Ottawa 10km, I still didn’t feel like they were truly back. Nevertheless, I decided to take part in this race to see what I had left before my midyear break. 

I headed over to Vancouver with Melissa Ross on the 12:50pm ferry from Departure Bay (Nanaimo) to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver). It was nice to catch up with Mel as we hadn’t really hung out since we caught the ferry back together after the Vancouver SunRun in April.
The race was scheduled to start at 6:45pm and while the 12:50pm ferry got us to the race really early, as in I think we were there by 3:30, the 3pm ferry (the next option) would have been too rushed, especially dealing with rush hour traffic on a Friday. That is okay; it gave us time to check out the course adjustments due to construction this year. 

I have only run this course once (last year) and it was memorable because I broke 18 minutes for the first time, finishing in 17:57. The course had a downhill start and a downhill finish with hills in the middle. 

This year, due to construction near the former start, they changed the direction of the course so we would run backwards. That way, by the time we hit the construction and had to go off road onto a side paved trail, we would be strung out enough to not have any issues (I imagine some of the 10km runners may have had trouble when they did 2 loops starting at 7:05pm). 

I ended up meeting up with Catherine Watkins for warm up closer to 5:50pm. We checked out the last few km of the course along with the first few. We chatted about how we both felt so tired and that even the warm up didn’t feel that great. We had hoped to break 17 minutes at this race, but now with the change of direction and the way we were feeling, neither of us was too sure anymore. 

At 6:45 we were on the line and ready to go. The gun went off and we were on our way. I quickly saw that Sabrina Wilkie took off out front and I found myself slightly behind Catherine stuck in the middle between her and this guy. I actually felt like it was affecting my arm swing and stride at the time and it probably lasted this way for almost a km, but I felt trapped. I would have really had to slow down to get around it, but eventually the guy moved over a bit and I felt free. 

I pushed on and pulled ahead of Catherine and simply ran. Sabrina held 5-10m on me pretty much the entire race after that. I pulled closer, she pulled away, I pulled closer, and she pulled away. I just could not close the gap. The course had a lot of corners on it where speed was lost, but I did my best to take them at an angle that wouldn’t slow me down too much. 

I didn’t look at my splits once; I just kept Sabrina in sight and kept pushing. I kept counting down, 2km left, okay that is no more than 7 minutes if I run 3:30’s. Running around this time I actually thought “damn it, I can’t seem to close this gap.” We headed down to W 16th Ave and this is where we hit the final hill around 4km. I kept working hard, but this hill hurt. I closed the gap slightly and when we took the driveway from the road to the paved path, which was steeper, I closed the gap a bit more. 

As the course leveled out we came off the path across some grass and onto the road. At this point I was right behind Sabrina with less than half a km to go.
We hit the downhill before we turned onto the grass field finish and she gapped me again. I actually thought “oh well, 2nd is awesome, hopefully it is a good time.” 

We hit the slight hill onto the grass and I heard Sabrina’s husband Mark yell at her that she had to kick. Up this hill I closed the gap again and found myself a few meters (if that) behind. I noticed that (no offense Sabrina) her kick didn’t really result in a huge change of speed so I decided to try and see what I had left. I kicked and I went by. I was just hoping that she wouldn’t be able to react. I kicked as hard as I could towards the finish and saw 16:xx on the clock as I came to it. I sped right through the finish and nearly ran into the fencing for the kid zone that was only 10-15m behind the finish. 

I sent my coach a text after…… it said “I won.” I was shocked. I went into this race with a 17:03 PB from March and I finished in 16:47 (Sabrina 2nd in 16:50 and Catherine 3rd in 17:09 PB). Sabrina had gone in with a 16:40 from the same race in March, so I honestly expected her to run away with the race; however, I did finish ahead at the Sun Run in April so I guess the race was more up in the air than I originally thought. 

I do owe a huge thank you to Sabrina for being there and for pushing me. I always feel bad passing people in the final stretch, but I know anyone would do it. I would have liked to help pace Sabrina as well, but unfortunately I just couldn’t seem to pull even with her in the race. I also don’t feel as though I sat on her throughout the race either. I raced hard; I just had a little more left at the end. 

So that is it, my last race of the first half of 2013. I am now on a break and while I was counting down for it to happen, I am on day 3 and I am over it already. I know in the long run it will benefit me though. It is simply hard to just stop after such an amazing race. Then again, it might be best to end on such a high note. 

This season has been more than I ever expected thus far. If you had asked me in January if I would have run sub 17 for the 5km and sub 35 for the 10km, I would definitely had said no. All I know is that it is nice to have my hard work and dedication finally pay off. I have reassessed some goals for the year and am excited to see where I can go from here.  I ran these times with sprint finishes, so I think deep down there is some untapped speed left in my reserves! Only time will tell! 

Results are found here.