07 April 2014

race report - 2014 MEC Barrie Race Series One

if you've read through The Rendezvoo Point to a certain degree you'll have picked up on the name yuki kawauchi appearing time and time again.  yuki is the 'everyman runner' from japan - a civil servant with a full-time day job and a race schedule that would put almost every other elite distance runner on the planet to shame.  he is a hero to many, and in so many ways i aspire to emulate what he is accomplishing in the sport.

which is why i've added a number of races to my 2014 schedule.

in previous years i'd only target two, perhaps three races and gear my training plan towards peaking for those events.  last year i had five races (four and half since the beaches jazz fest run is really a tune-up) - and this year i have nine races on the calendar, with room for some other smaller ones in-between.  while it's far from going at it every weekend, it represents a significant step up in competitive focus for me.

this weekend's MEC Barrie Race Series One event marks my second race for the year, and my first as a Skechers Performance Canada brand ambassador.

as i'd noted in the one other MEC Race Series event that i'd entered, these races are put together as a grassroots, no-muss no-fuss low-cost opportunity to get the local community out and running.  in a way it has a bit of a parkrun feel (although that breed of event is even more grassroots and no-cost) and is very easy for anyone to access.  i registered in-store for $15.00 and after signing the appropriate waiver sheet was provided with a decent race kit including my bib, a free iRun magazine, a CLIF bar and the option for various promotional materials about other races.  

boom.  in and out in 10 min. flat.  in fact, the process would have been even faster except that i ran into my friend rick whom i'd planned to pace to his 5k PB of 21 min. - and so we chatted it up a bit.

given that i would be running a 5k race on a day that i would normally have put in about 33k, and would be doing so at a pace that is slower than my personal 5k PB (19:57), i wasn't stressing myself out at all over being ready for race morning.  except that all through the night before i could hear the wind howling like mad outside the bedroom window, and that got my mind going about ways that i would have to try to accommodate for the adverse conditions if i was going to help him cross the line in time.

race day
i parked right near the start line to get in a pre-race warm-up of about 5k.  after a quick chat with my pal jim willett (who was the official timer for the race) i headed out - into a brutal headwind that dropped the temperature from about -3°C down to -11°C.  my fears were confirmed that this would be less-than-ideal conditions for rick to hit up his PB ... but given that the run was around kempenfelt bay, we would have portions where the wind was going to hit us from about every side.  still no bargain - but at least the footing was solid enough.

rick arrived a bit afterwards and we got in a couple of kms in warmup plus some strides.  we then posed for the requisite pre-race photo:

we were freezing our buns off ...!

the 10k racers started off first, and then 10 minutes later the 5k racers.  rick and i positioned ourselves near the front of the pack, hoping to take advantage of some group drafting as the first 800m or so was dead into the wind. 

1st km - 3:56

we shot out of the gate.  it was clear that rick was primed and eager to run a fast 5k - however i was concerned that we might fall victim to the 'start fast and blow-up later' syndrome.  as his pacer i definitely let him know that we should dial back from the 3:32 pace that we were hitting, and we did - a bit.  gotta admit that it's hard when you're feeling fresh and fueled.

2nd km - 4:10

this was a much more manageable pace, and close to the target time to get in under 21:00.  at this point we'd turned a corner and were running a stretch where the wind was coming at us from the side, so it felt much less daunting.

3rd km - 4:15

a slight incline on this patch of bayside trail and the hairpin turnaround point.  just after the 2.5km mark we were back into the wind, and following a runner pushing a buggy with his kid in it.  it must have been like running with a parachute on ... and while we admired his effort, he was taking up a good lane-and-a-half of a two lane bike path, so we had to work on timing our pass appropriately as other runners were coming at us the other way.

4th km - 4:25

with the headwind again rick started to feel the effects of the fast start.  he had to take two short (5-7 sec.) walk intervals, and i slowed to a jogging pace to keep moving ahead but not allow the 'elastic' to break.

5th km - 4:12

rick put in a final push - and if it weren't for his dummkopf pacer taking him down the wrong stretch of path in the last 150m (!) we might have saved ourselves a second or two.

official race gun time:  21:04 / garmin GPS 5k time:  20:59

i know that there are always variances in both the accuracy of any GPS-enabled device and the measured distance of a race course, so i'm not going to claim that either result was definitive.  but all things considered, this was a great race for rick, and i had a fantastic time taking it on with him.

if rick's bent-over pose was any indication, he'd given just about everything that he had for that day - which is exactly how you'd want to finish up with a PB.  there was a tent with hot apple cider, bananas and CLIF bars available which was a nice touch for a budget-conscious event.

i stayed for a bit to watch some more runners cross the line - including my friend lewis who hit his targeted time of 25:00 for 5k:

now that's a finish line expression!

i also saw one other 5k runner sporting the Skechers GORun 2 - and he was maybe 7 years old!  i high-fived him as he crossed the finish line, but he was spent and his dad went off with him having to help brace him up ... otherwise i would have snapped a photo with him!

as i intended to log another 15k or so afterwards, i decided to carry on along the course route again to wrap-up my morning.  about 1500m from the finish line i came across another friend named marc who was running the 10k race, and so i turned around and helped pace him (allowing him to draft a bit behind me) through to the end and a PB for him of 56:06.  not bad - my first go at pacer and i help two guys hit their PBs for different distances!

i've got to say that at the end of it all i felt really good - about my first pacing experience, my first MEC Barrie race, and even getting in a solid 5k tempo run.  hopefully this will set me up nicely for an attempt next week at my own PB at the Spring Thaw 10k.  i hope to #GOLIKENEVERBEFORE!


  1. I am a huge fan of the MEC Series...they put on a good race at a bargain price. Did you know you also get 10% off your purchase when you pick up your bib in store? I've raced for free with my savings there before!

    Nice job pacing and congrats on (both) PR'ing! You may have a line forming with your success rate ;)

    1. ha! thanks mike - definitely kudos to MEC for a fantastic initiative in the running (and wider) community!

      i'd forgotten about the 10% discount ... shoot!

      as far as PR'ing goes ... let's see if i can make it happen for me this weekend!

  2. Great pacing, congratulations!

    1. thanks anna! we did it - and it was a great effort on rick's part. i'm glad to know that i can help someone else achieve their goals!