“Wow, you are really looking at things from a glass-half-full perspective today, aren’t you?” That was a comment from a friend during a long run yesterday, and it nicely summarizes my attitude about my running lately. Saturday’s race was far from perfect for me, but it was a good race and I took away a lot of positives from it. I am looking forward to some continued improvement this spring.
Early Saturday morning my friend Rob and I drove over the border to run the Birch Bay International Road Race. "International" because it attracts about equal numbers of participants from both sides of the border, most of whom from British Columbia or Washington state. This was the second year for both of us in this race, Rob in the 30K and me in the 15K. Last year I finished with a time of 1:14:28, and was hoping I could better that this year, or at least break 1:15 (5:00/km). Since Rob was planning for a similar pace, we decided to start together, lining up near the "8:00/mile" cone in the starting chute. (Funny that the paces were always described in miles (as they are in the results), but the course was only marked in kilometres.)
In the first 5K we were going a bit faster than 5:00/km with a tailwind. The new course surprised both of us- last year we turned around at about the 2K mark, but this year we continued to about 7K before turning around. This made for an overall flatter course, and in the first 4K I felt like we were flying. The nice tailwind had something to do with that, and I knew we would feel the effects of it after the turnaround. Rob and I stayed together for about 5K, but then he told me to go on ahead. He caught back up to me around 7K and I thought I could try to keep up with him, but he would eventually pull ahead. I always had him in my sights, but could not keep up.
We came out of the park at about 7K but did not feel the full effects of the headwind till about 9K when the shoreline turned. Perhaps I went out a bit too fast at the beginning or I was fighting against the wind too much, but every step felt like a struggle in those middle kilometres. I also had to stop to retie my shoelace at about 8K (boo! not again!). I passed the 10K mark at just over 50 minutes and knew I was still on track for a good finish if I could hold on. I kept pushing, repeating my mantra "run hard, run happy." I slowed a bit, but fought hard to make sure I didn't slip too much. I accepted a gel from the aid station at about 11K and choked down half of it, taking some water at the next station. We turned around at about 13.5K and I thought about Rob and the 30K-ers continuing on for another 15K, glad I wasn’t one of them. I saw Rob up ahead in the distance about a minute ahead of me, and had a feeling he was going to have a good race.
If we had the benefit of a tailwind for that last kilometre along the bay, I couldn’t feel it. At 14.5K we turned up the hill to the finish. It seemed like forever at that point, but I crossed the line at just under 1:16 on my watch. The timing company had some mishaps, partially because of a rear-ender accident on the way to the race. Their printer was broken so no results were posted; I thought I had a chance at an age group award so I waited as they announced the winners and awards for the 15K. When they got to F44-49 they gave the third place award to a woman with a slower time than I had, so I figured they must have messed up my chip time when I switched distances. I went to the timing truck to sort it out, and they said they would take care of it—sure enough the official results were corrected with me listed as third in my age group (out of 37 women). Unfortunately waiting around for the age group awards meant that I almost missed Rob coming up the hill to finish his 30K. He finished in just over 2:26 with a sizable negative split—his hard training is really showing now, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do in the Vancouver Marathon next month. Being there to share his awesome finish was worth the trip alone.
My official results:
Overall place: 48/285
Overall place: 48/285
So my time was a bit slower than last year by about a minute, but over a minute faster than what my other races this spring would have predicted. I learned that I can definitely benefit from some practice at the longer sustained hard runs and know I can continue to improve. I earned an age group award and placed in the top 6% of all females in this race. And I was able to be there to share my friend’s great result. It’s all good.