I ran this race last year with some friends, and afterwards we went out for lunch and discussed the possibility of doing it again this year as a team. As such, when I was planning my races this season I sent out an email and we signed up as planned. When the other races came into place, it ended up being less than a week after Around the Bay, so it was evident that I wouldn't be able to run it at full speed - but as it's a relatively pleasant (albeit challenging) course, I figured that it was still worth it.
After my recovery run on Wednesday with the group, however, my left hamstring was a bit sore so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it. I took Thursday and Friday off to let it rest, and it got much better but was still a bit sore this morning. I headed out anyway, and figured that I'd just go slower than usual and just play it by ear. Worst case scenario, I figured that I'd just skip the race and simply join everyone for brunch afterwards.
I got down to High Park just as the 8K race was starting (which one of our team-mates, yumke was running as well) and headed down to the staging area to grab my chip and check my bag. Once I was done with that, I jogged around a little to see how the leg was doing. It was still sore, but it was significantly improved so I elected to go ahead and see how things went. I did a few extra stretches to make sure that everything was lined up, and then set out to look for everyone else.
I first found Sean, and as he was grabbing his chip he found the rest of the group and we met up prior to heading out to the start. We lined up about 80' from the starting line as no one was really planning on pushing too hard and waited for the start. While there, I ran into Walter from my half marathon clinic (who was also at Around the Bay) and after a brief conversation we wished each other good luck and the race was started.
1K 4:51.2 159bpm
At the start of the race, the hamstring was a bit sore but as it warmed up it got progressively better and after about 500 meters the pain was almost completely gone. I still didn't want to push too hard, but it did give me the confidence to stick with the rest of our group as we were maintaining a pretty comfortable pace. Traffic was pretty light as this is a smaller race, and wasn't much of an issue at this juncture.
2K 4:35 169bpm
After we rounded the curve and started heading downhill, we picked up some speed and I settled in with yumke as his pace was about right. As neither of us was going all-out, we were able to comfortably talk durring this segment. While he is a significantly stronger runner than I am, he had run the 8K race a little over an hour before so he wasn't treating this as a competitive race either. Sean passed us on the hill and remained just in front of us for most of this segment of the race.
At the end of the second kilometer is the start of a pretty massive downhill (~300m/-10.7%) that was pretty hard on me last year. I held off on the brakeing as much as possible and let myself barrel down the hill and it worked a lot better this time around. Average pace for the hill was 4:17/km, with a cadence of 102spm thanks to my shortened stride.
3K 4:30 175bpm
4K 4:30 178bpm
About half way through the third kilometer we passed Sean and continued forward along the course. This is a relatively flat segment, with a few small rolling hills but with the big hill comming up at the end of the race one has to keep things under control so that there is enough reserve left for that final push. As the leg wasn't giving me any trouble though, I pushed a little harder in the fourth kilometer to increase the challenge a bit.
5K 4:36 185bpm
After the 4K mark, my breathing had become a bit more laboured (as it usually does in a short race like this) so we weren't talking nearly as much as we did in the early kilometers. Before we hit the incline, we were averaging a 4:21 pace and it felt a lot more like this sort of race generally does. With the hill comming up, however, I couldn't push too hard as I had to make sure that there was enough left to get to the top.
For the first 250m of the hill, I managed to maintain my speed but as the grade increased (+3.2% to 8%) so did my heart rate and I had to back off a bit. At this point, Kenny was breaking away from me but I had little choice but to slow down to make it all the way up. I managed to keep my pace above 5min/km for this segment, but that's a far cry from the 4:21 that we were doing leading up to the hill.
Once I crested the hill, I made the right turn and then opened up for the last 20 meters - hitting the finish line at an even 4:00 pace. In the end, I covered the 5K course in 22:56.4, about four seconds slower than Kenny. Sean finished a little under a minute afterwards, and after we caught our breath we grabbed some gatorade and our finisher hats and headed out of the chute. Frank caught up with us as well and we headed back to the staging area where we agreed to meet up.
We got our bags, did some stretches and after the rest of the group made it down to us we headed out to breakfast. The restaurant (Dr. Generosity) was quite busy thanks to the crowds generated by the race, but once we got our table the food was great.
Chip time: 22:56.4 (overall results)
Gun time: 23:06.3
Place overall: 90/1359 (93.4 percentile)
Place in men: 81/653 (87.6 percentile)
Place in age group: 11/117 (90.5 percentile)