Sunday, 25 October 2015

Half marathon, XC, and other races

After the race, Heather and I enjoying the valley view
On Thanksgiving Sunday I awoke at 5:15 am, ready, more or less, to finish the last of three races in the first annual RNS Performance series*. Race number 1, the Lung Run 5k was won in May with a time of 15:08 just ahead of Cal DeWolfe. Race number 2 was the Natal Day 6 miler, which I lost to Matt McNeil.

Neither Cal nor Matt were registered for the Performance series, so I knew going into the last race it was pretty likely I would win outright. Still, I had no plans to run slack. But neither was I sure it'd be a solid race. Strange thing about running is that the language used to describe your body, legs, mind, etc are in their infancy. Doesn't help either that the feelings you have before doing well seem eerily similar to ones before a lousy run. It can sometimes come down to voodoo and the like.

My goal for the race series had always been to run it under two hours. In other words 5k + 10k + 21.1k = 36.1 km of running, so to complete that in two hours means averaging 18 km/h. My cumulative time until Sunday morning was 47:22, well within reach, balanced by knowing too that a sub 73 minute half is never 'trivial'.

The winds were calm and the race went smooth, so despite running alone I finished in 1:09:06, an 8 second PB compared to my Calgary run in the spring. And all that before 9 am on a Sunday. A whole day left to explore Wolfville. Running a PB wasn't planned; it just happened. I didn't even look at my watch until 18k was done. Maybe it was the excellent pacing from the lead cyclist, or the my odd enjoyment of rolling back roads. My net time of 1:56 won me $500 and the time itself can be a marked point for next year's competitors. Perhaps someone like Matt McNeil will take a crack at it. If so, it's vulnerable. Very vulnerable.
Victory wine, and framed print to boot
You can see the final men's 2015 series results here, the women's (handily won by Erin MacLean) here. An aside about prize money, which I argue in favour of despite the amounts will never impact anyone's bank account in this part of the country. The reason is simple: it's more fun to win a few hundred dollars than nothing. My combined expenses for the three races were $50 for race #1 (though also won some shoes), 0$ for race #2 (comp entry), and $60 entry + a car rental/gas ($110) for #3. Effectively then I actually won $280. That's certainly better than being out of pocket for the win. Were that the case I might have done three different races instead, so that'd be silly. Glad I did those races, however, as all three were great in their own way.

What's left of the season is a big one, nationals cross country (in Kingston, ON). We will race as Halifast , comprising myself, Lee, Matt, and Matthias. The east coast rarely gets much notice on these competitions, so hoping to better the situation. We'll see what happens. I got bumped by Freake from top east coast half spot so let one final race be on! For now I will say this much about XC, that it makes road racing look easy. I credit a part of my accidental PB to all those hills. Not rolling roads, but real steep grassy hills, wet with mud and all. Real hills are tough.

*Before 2015, Timex had generously sponsored top provincial road athletes to compete at the Toronto Zoo run. I guess their analytics department didn't see the return on investment they had hoped for, but it was nice to have that kind of support for 9 years. Who knows what the Performance series could evolve into. I'm still in favour of a fall face-off with other eastern provinces. For now Nationals XC will do.

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