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HSRO 8k – Hunter and the Huntress

Race: Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k
Date: April 7, 2012
Course PB’s:  33:41 (2004), 32:51 (2005), 31:21 (2006), 31:02 (2009), 30:00 (2012)

Know your competition. This has been my personal mantra. But it’s not like I am trying to beat everyone faster than me, rather these people I hunt are just for the purpose of executing a decent race plan. They are my pace bunny for the day.

Today my mark was Team Running Free athlete Scott McDonell. I have chased him around previous races to my detriment. Until now, he has been out of reach. This time I was positioned a few rows behind him as he toed the start line. Truth be told I had not planned to tag onto him. But he was still in view after the first mile, so from that point onward I cautiously tried to stay within distance.

I was not going to overcook this race with Boston on the horizon. The Tuesday before ATB I had run an 11k tempo in 42:20 at my marathon effort. By coincidence, that is equal to 8k in about 30:00 according to the pace wizard I use.  Therefore a goal time of 30 minutes today should not be too hard on my legs. That is, for a flat course!

The HSRO 8k route includes two rather steep downhill sections around 2k and 5k. You have to make up the elevation with a rather long climb just before the halfway mark, and then again just before the finish line – a nasty 400m long climb that makes the HSRO the monster it is. This race is one of the hardest around, but we just would not have it any other way! I actually keep a separate record of my HSRO race times; it is not fair comparing it to others. But I will: I booted around a lot of 8k races trying to break 30:00 and it wasn’t until 2010 that I finally did so. Hitting 30 flat at the HSRO today is a special moment!

While I was keeping McDonell in my sights, around the 4k signpost I sensed a presence on my right flank. Yes, I was being marked too. The hunter was also the hunted. The huntress’ identity was soon revealed by a spectator: “Go Lioudmila!”  Ms. Kortchaguina was on my tail, and she would stay there right to the finish. Lioudmila is an elite with a 2:30 marathon to her name. She had locked her sights on me to pace her through. That is a fine compliment. Thanks, Lioudmila!

With less than 1k to go, I finally caught up to Scott. He had dragged me along quite nicely, so it was only fair to offer him some words of encouragement as I passed. The toil of closing the race was heavy on his breath, and I was feeling fresh! Up the final hill we blasted. With less than 100 m to go, my legs finally had had enough and I watched Scott pass me, throwing himself fully onto his sword. Boston was coming and I had to raincheck on this horse race. Scott cleared the line a couple seconds ahead, and doubled over the side railing, where I congratulated his sacrifice. I would have to get him next time, or so I thought. Scott’s chip time was 30:00.3 and mine was 30:00.2!

The HSRO was a questionable addition to my race calendar. I thought twice about running it at all with my focus totally on Boston. However, the result gives me a top ten master’s finish and a ranking in the CRS standings, a 2nd for age category medal, a check mark on my race bucket list (HSRO in 30) and a small step upward into more competitive runners. They are all mine for executing a sensible race plan.

Now, at last, onward to Boston!

Here are my splits by km:

1k  3:34 (3:34)
2k  7:07 (3:34)
3k 10:52 (3:46)
4k 14:56 (4:03)
5k 18:31 (3:35)
6k 22:10 (3:39)
7k 25:55 (3:45)
8k 30:00 (4:04)


Born and raised in Hamilton & Stoney Creek. Ran X-Country in high school, but not really special at it - a middle of the pack finisher. But then again, really didn't know how to train. Didn't run after Gr 12 due to nasty shin splints. Really never ran in proper shoes back then. Didn't try to run again until age 30. Then tried. And tried. And tried. Shin splints every time. Finally got it going for good at 38 in proper shoes and I have vowed never, ever, to stop running again.

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