Well that title's a mouthful…now on to the recap. You heard all about Michelle's race yesterday and she did so well and I am very proud of her. Way to go Michelle and Mum as well!
The Forest City Road Race is probably the biggest running race on the calendar here in London and it is certainly one of the best organized races in these parts as well. I always look forward to running it and this would be the third year in a row for me to take on the half marathon. I have had some success here in the past and even took home the age group win last year. I was fresh off a PB a couple weeks ago at the Run for Retina and wasn't really sure what to expect from myself this time out. I had just run a 1:23:20 and would love to go a bit faster, but just wasn't sure if I could.
Race morning was cool but bright and sunny…really great weather for racing. We all headed down to Victoria Park for the start of the race and I got a little warmup run and some stretching in while chatting with some fellow runners waiting for the horn to go off. I don't usually go right to very front of the group but thought today I may as well…I was going to go for it.
The race started right at 8am…there wasn't much of a countdown, I just heard someone say "10 seconds" and then about 3 seconds later the horn went off. Jackson and my Dad were just around the first corner where they had a good spot that they could see everyone from and I had a plan…I was taking a page out of Derek Yorek's book and decided that I would bust it off the line in the hopes that I could come around that corner in the lead so that Jackson could see his daddy "winning" the race. It's a good thing they were standing in that spot and not another 100m down the road, because they were able to see my short-lived lead.
The leaders swallowed me up well before the 1km mark despite going way faster than I ever should…first kilometre was 3:32. As I waved the top 4 runners goodbye I briefly ran with another guy until the 2K point. I was going good but his pace was just a little too rich for me and I didn't want to try and hang with him either. Just after he left I was joined by one more guy and our paces matched up well and we took in the third, fourth and fifth kilometres together before we hit a hill heading into the University of Western Ontario and I broke him. I then ran solo for the next 8K.
After a quick sprint through the university I turned into the park system and headed towards the course's big hill. As you exit Gibbons Park you have to tackle a solid climb up St James Street, a 20m incline (65 feet) over 800m. This was my slowest kilometre split of the race at 4:03. I finished the hill and continued with the long uphill climb through the beautiful Old North subdivisions to Adelaide St and hit the halfway point. I had been running all by myself for a while now and the only energy I had to feed off of were the great volunteers that were lining the course and cheering like crazy. Their encouragement really helped me push on!
It was around 13K that I noticed the runner ahead of me was getting a bit closer…as he made the turn onto Windermere Road I checked the gap…he was 250m ahead of me. There was another decent climb coming up on Windermere and I figured I would do what I could to try and chip away at the gap. I was keeping the pace quick at 3:53/km (about 6:15/mile) and just tried to keep it there knowing I was making up time on him. I had a couple of surges along the way as we came back to the university again and I was able to use some short downhill stretches to speed up my legs and by the time we were back into the park system at 18K I had closed the gap to just 50m.
I guess that was the point that he realized I was going to overtake him because he decided to pick up the pace. I tried to answer as best I could, but chasing for 5K had taken it's toll on my burst. I did pick it up a bit but not enough…I finished strong with my last kilometre clocking 3:35 (a 5:44/mile pace) which was proper fast and left me feeling appropriately gassed as I crossed the finish line.
It was great coming down the finishing chute and hearing cheers from my Dad and Jackson, as well as Chris and Strava buddy Abe. I crossed the line with a new PB of 1:22:15 (3:54/km, 6:14/mile) which I had figured was good for 6th overall. All the runner-geek details can be found here. This is the face of someone that has left it all on the course…
Once I crossed my Dad said he thought I was 4th place…I was almost positive I was 6th but was happy no matter what. We waited around for a bit and went to cheer on Michelle and my Mum, then headed over to check out the awards ceremony. I had been checking for results for a while, but none had been posted yet. The ceremony started with the overall winners and then moved to the Age Group awards. When they called up the top 3 in my age group and I wasn't among them I knew that something was wrong…at 6th overall there might have been another old guy like me, but I knew that the top guys were Western University runners. I went to the results board and there was finally something posted…but my name wasn't listed ANYWHERE. I ran into Abe and Spencer and Abe mentioned that he heard a couple of the leaders took a wrong turn out of the park and went off course, so maybe the 4th place my Dad thought I had was accurate. I set off for the timing trailer to try and get things straightened out.
It turns out that there were some issues with the bibs and timing, especially in regards to people with the same last name. Michelle mentioned that when she crossed the line they called her Mike, and apparently when I crossed the line I registered in the system as Michelle. Once they figured everything out it turned out that I had placed 3rd overall! I asked them if they were sure because I thought there were a few guys in front of me and they said that there were issues with a couple of the leaders getting DQ'd (perhaps validating what Abe had heard?), and yes, I was indeed 3rd overall. ell that had me pretty excited! I took the good news and let the family know and Michelle decided to get a picture of me on the podium since the awards ceremony was already finished.
Well there was a little bit more to the timing issues apparently as the final results posted online showed me in 4th place…I chatted briefly with the Race Director and he said that the timing company spent the night going over the finish line video to make sure they got everything right. So I guess after some confusion it was settled…4th overall out of nearly 500 runners!
Thanks for reading folks…