the venue/locale for this race was around the orillia youth leadership camp which also served as the course for the Race TWO event. this meant at least a somewhat familiar course - complete with a hairpin inclined turn and an uphill homestretch.
a few of the usual suspects were on hand for this race - several of the 'running ninjas' (so called because of our group runs with the one and only Optimism Ninja, jim willett) including lewis, rick, jason, pat, chris and jo. also spotted darren from the barrie roadrunners when lewis and i pulled into the parking lot - a very fast and seasoned runner.
just a few of the 'running ninjas' (photo courtesy of MEC)
as they would say in pizzaville, it was a rainy day - alternating between mist and steady droplets by the start time. this was all forecast of course, but between that, a noticeable breeze and the 12°C temperature it made for borderline miserable conditions - at least for standing around. having already identified that darren would likely lead the pack and then noting at the start line that natasha (a girl who beat me by several minutes in the last MEC 10k that I ran) was also entered, i knew that i'd be working - and sweating - hard to be competitive.
natasha at far left and darren at far right (photo courtesy of MEC )
i'd already determined to try to run this race 'digitally blind', meaning that i would not consult my watch at all during the run. i'd had a couple of great workouts exceeding my expectations when i done that over the last two weeks, so i figured it was worth trying to 'run by feel' again.
from the start darren took to the front, followed by natasha and then me (with my good buddy rick hot on my heels). the early part of the race had some noticeable elevation changes, and after the first 400m or so natasha assumed the lead position with a burst. i managed to stay in third spot until about the 2k mark when a girl from the pack behind me put on a bit of a surge (or did i slow down?) to skip past rick and i and put a bit of distance between us.
middle four kms: 4:08, 3:59, 4:04, 3:55
while staying in control i kept the 'elastic' intact between this new runner ahead and me - but as we hit the bends in the road i chose to take the tangents (even though it was not a closed course) while she did not. i can't say for certain whether or not this bothered her, but what it did do was allow me to gain some ground - enough to overtake her to resume third place by about the 4km mark.
i was working off of my planned "comfortably hard" mental cue for these middle miles, and it seemed to hold me in good stead. not having any statistical feedback on my paces, i would not have guessed that i'd put in two sub-4:00 min. kilometres during this stretch.
last three kms: 4:12, 4:00, 4:04
perhaps one of the downsides of running by feel and not by digital readout is that you do run the risk of zoning out ... in a less-than-optimal way. that happened to me during the eighth kilometre and it took me a bit to realize that my stride had shortened and turnover was not quite as quick. so with a shake of my head and a few bursts of driving knees i shifted into "uncomfortably hard" mode and tried to bring it home.
i managed to pick off some of the 5k runners who'd started 10 min. after we had - what i didn't realize is that there was another guy behind me who was picking off the 10k runners in search of this third place spot which i'd held for most of the race. by the time that i crossed the finish line i was sucking air for just two brief seconds before i felt a pat on my back and a "nice run - i just couldn't catch you".
although the weather was sucky enough to not encourage any post-race lingering, i decided to head back out on the course to try to track down a few of my fellow running ninjas who were still working it. i first found lewis who was trucking his way to a 46 min. 10k - a clear PB for him. after confusing everyone at the second line with a second crossing, i turned back out to go find jason who was putting in a 15k - we connected with at about the 3k to-go mark, and i tagged along for the ride as he powered it home.
this was again another outstanding event put on by MEC Barrie - from the loads of post-race goodies to prizes for win/place/show to free coffee and massages/medical. the attendance numbers showed that they are definitely growing some head-turning events with both a professional feel and personal touch.
all in all i'm happy with my performance as this was basically a tempo run in my scheduled training week - plus it was an opportunity to once again race in my ever-lovin' Skechers GOMeb Speed 2 and don (for the first time) my new-to-me Skechers racing singlet (graciously sent over by my friend Stefan Albinsson).
next stop on the racing circuit is the County Marathon where i'll be an official pacer for the first time, hoping to help anyone who's interested to cross the finish line in 3:30.
see you on the roads - and as always #GOlikeneverbefore!