Monday, May 13, 2013

CheapRunnerMike's MEC 15K Race Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

On Sunday I had the chance to run in my first ever MEC Race Series event across town at Fanshawe Conservation Area. I've been pretty excited about this race since CRM brought it to my attention a few weeks ago...a race put on by a really cool outdoor's company? And only $15?? Yes please!!

Registration was a breeze, I signed up online without any issues. There aren't even any hidden fees like so many other online processing fees or anything, just the $15 registration fee plus our wonderful 13% tax (we'll take a quick break here while our American readers laugh at us). Any additional info or support you required were easily obtained brought twitter or email...I'm guessing Facebook as well but I'm a tool when it comes to FB so I just ignore it. I did send one email and received a reply with my answer in under an hour.

Kit pickup was easy as well, with the option to get your kit at the MEC store on Friday or Saturday or on site race day. Michelle and I went into the store on Saturday since it was on our route and it gave me an excuse to get out to the store. One additional bonus for race participants was that you could show your race bib until race day and get 10% off anything in the store. I had my eye on a Garmin Bike GPS, and the 10% savings almost covered my race fee...excellent! The swag bag was also top notch for such a low cost race...I had two mini Clif Bars as well as a full-size package of Clif Shot Blocks.

Kit Pickup at MEC London

I signed up for the 15K race, a distance I've never raced before. I didn't really know what to expect and didn't have much of a strategy going into it. In fact, this was what I settled on the night before as an amazing pre-race meal...

Texas Hold 'Em Burger - as good as it looks

Okay, so a burger topped with pulled pork and onion rings (on a pretzel bun no less) along with Cheddar Jalapeño soup and a cold beer might not be the best meal before a race...but it was good!

Race morning was pretty eventful...we were about three quarters of the way across town to drop off the kids when Michelle realized that she forgot her race bib at home. Awesome. Turned around and headed back home to get it, costing us an extra 20 minutes and also resulting in a near-miss by some punks in a BMW that nearly sideswiped us. We made it to to the race with 20 minutes until the start so no harm done. I used to go to Fanshawe Park as a kid (the fact that I still call it 'Fanshawe Park' is proof of that), but I hadn't been in years. It's still a nice little place that really doesn't feel like you're anywhere near the city.

Jumped in my plane before the race to snap this pic...
oh sorry, credit

The race started right on time at 9:00. There was a 5K, 10K and the 15K I was doing and we all started at the same time. Not a big deal as the crowd was by no means overwhelming. The race was gun-time only, no chip-time (not that I expected it for a $15 race).

The course was a 5K out and back that took us along the roadway through the park and across the dam back near the entrance (and the turnaround). The 10K runners did two loops and us 15Ker's did three. It was a really flat course with the only hill being right after the start line. Like I said, I had no clue how to run a 15K...I've done half marathons, 5K's and 10K's but this was a new distance for me. I told CRM before the race that I would be happy to run a 1:05:00, and I wanted to shoot for a pace between 4:10 and 4:15 per kilometre. I started out quick (too quick), running sub-4:00 for the first half kilometre, and I knew if I wanted to finish I needed to pace it a bit so I pulled it back and settled in at 4:15. It was a pretty chilly morning for mid-May, only 6 degrees Celsius, but the sun was poking in and out enough to energize me. The wind was absolutely howling every time I had to cross that Dam though!

The race volunteers were awesome and shouted out both encouragement and helpful advice all along the route...these guys were top-notch. Big thanks to all of them! The girls running the water station at the turn-around even took my Gu wrapper from me...gross!

Every loop of the course I found myself getting faster and I was able to sprint it home after the last turn-around with the sleet raining down on me, cranking out a 3:57 14th km and a 3:40 (wowza!) 15th. I ended up exceeding my goal of 1:05 by finishing with a 1:01:59...way faster than I had hoped for. The weird thing is I actually felt like I still had gas left in the tank so I could have probably run a bit faster if I knew what I was doing, maybe even cracking an hour. Good lesson learned for the Disney 10-miler I'm doing in October, though I'll probably stop slow down to smell the roses check out the Disney Villains at that one.

CheapRunners Michelle & Mike with Twitter friend @Runs4Coffee

All in all it really was a great event that MEC put on...nice spot, really good crowd (got to meet Daily Miler's Thirstyboots & Gazelleheart for the first time) and an amazing value. There was even a really nice food spread (inside and sheltered from the cold thankfully) at the finish, including bagels, cookies, bananas and Mother's Day cupcakes along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate. I encourage everyone to check out their local MEC for more races; there are two more scheduled in London for this year in September and November. Thanks a lot MEC!



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