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)