Another weekend another race, right? This is my third straight weekend racing and I had the MEC Race Series on tap.
I woke up on Sunday morning and it was POURING. Serious downfall…great. I had just come off a crappy weather race at last weekend's Lakeside Triathlon and it was shaping up to be more of the same. I got myself ready to go though and set off across town to Fanshawe Conservation Area.
The rain ended up clearing on the drive over and the sun even made an attempt to peek out from the clouds…maybe it wouldn't be such a bad day after all. I parked my truck and headed over to the start area to get ready to run.
I always rave about the MEC Race Series…$15 gets you a timed event as well as a bit of swag and goodies at the end (including my favourite, Fireroasted Coffee). You really can't beat it. They are also getting better organized with each race they put on. Today there was a bit of a wrinkle though, as the rain delayed them a bit in getting the races started. There was a 5/10/15K road race as well as a 6/12K trail race, and the rain made it difficult to get out to have the trail properly marked, so the start was pushed back about 20 minutes to allow for that. The trail runners went off first followed by the road racers about 10 minutes afterwards.
I was running the 15K race and it would be three loops of the 5K course. I've taken on the MEC 15K twice already and I was shooting for a new PR on the day…my previous best was 1:01:59 from almost a year and a half ago. My running has been better than ever right now, so I knew I had a shot.
We set off and I quickly realized that the course had been changed slightly since the last time I ran it…we ended up doing a longer stretch on one of the roads just outside the park as there was construction on the dam we normally run across. Adding an extra kilometre out on the road allowed us to avoid the construction hazard on the dam…good call by the organizers. The new stretch of road took us past a Buddhist Temple and there was a big crowd gathered there for Sunday services. Lots of music and stuff…kind of neat to see. I didn't even know we had a Buddhist Temple in London, this place is really out of the way.
I was cruising along really well the first few kilometres and there were only a few people ahead of me; one 15K runner, two 10K's and one 5K. The gap was growing between me and the 15K runner out front, which was to be expected. I see this guy at many races and he is seriously fast…he usually wins these 15K MEC races with times under 55 minutes! As we came around to finish the first 5K loop I checked the clock and I was at 20:07
I was keeping the pace fairly consistent through the first 5K and the plan was to just maintain the pace as best I could. I was running just slightly slower than my 10K pace so I was hoping I would be able to hang on through 15. As I came through the start/finish I knew there was a guy right on my heels. He was too close behind to see which bib he was wearing, so I didn't know if he was running the same distance as me. By the time we made the turn out onto the road for the second loop, the wind had really picked up. It was a stiff headwind on the 750m stretch and I commented on it to the guy behind me. He laughed and said he was fine drafting me. I asked what distance he was running and he replied "15", so I said "Cool, me too"…then I asked him if he wanted to take a turn running up front and doing the hard work I don't know if that comment messed with his head or something (I didn't mean anything by it), but I almost immediately dropped him. By the time we hit the turnaround 750m up the road I had already opened up a 400m gap on him. Once we hit the dam turnaround about 2K later, the gap was nearly a half mile. So long as I didn't blow up, second place was mine. 40:39 through 10K.
I caught a glimpse of the leader as I came through the start/finish to begin my last loop…he was waaaay out in front. That meant I just had my own goal to race for…I wanted to beat 1:01:59. I was on a good pace to beat it, I just had to keep it up. My first 5K was at a 4'01"/km pace (6'26"/mile), but I had dropped a bit for the second 5K to 4'06"/km (6'34"/mile)…I had to maintain my pace and not let it drop any more.
There wasn't really anyone else around me for the last loop, I was running solo. All I had to challenge me was my watch. It was motivation enough though as I dug deep and gave a strong finishing kick. I covered the last 5K in 20:09, finishing the race with a time of 1:00:48
I finished in second place and had beat my previous best by over a minute…it was a good day!
I hung out at the finish for a bit cheering runners on and chatting with a few people I knew…I also snacked on some bananas and had a Fireroasted coffee. I stuck around for the awards ceremony to collect my medal and then said my goodbyes before heading home. The weather cooperated and we ended up with a great day to race…plus I placed and PR'd…what more could I ask for??
Thanks for another great race MEC! I'm sure I'll be there in November for your last race of the year (and I may even try the trail!)