Sunday, August 7, 2011

SOUTH HURON TRAIL RUN 8K - Runpiker Series #5

This is my blog post from last year's run. A little bit different than the one I am writing today. :)

"On your mark, get set, go!" Start
Bib tag collection Finish

I do not have an official time yet from today's race (it's not posted yet), but this is my unofficial Garmin time - 54:08 (6:43/km). I am quite sure my official time will be in the 54:20-30 range (Editor's note: official time turned out to be 54:23)

For a change, I brought along our camera and took photos of quirky signs and places between Exeter and London, as well photos of the event set-up itself. Sorry - no photos of the trail or race itself because I was too busy running to stop with my camera! :) This photos will give you a much better idea of what these smaller-in-size community runs in the Runpiker Series look like in comparison to larger city venues. (As a head's up, Blogger is very basic so often the way I arrange photos and commentary does not turn out the way I intended. The "Preview" option is useless so the odds that this post will look disjointed are very good!)

I drove up to Exeter solo (~45 minutes). My race partner is currently in the Bahamas visiting a friend so she was not going to be there (too bad, too, as she does a good job pushing my pace in races!). The weather forecast was looking quite accurate - it rained overnight and it was already warm and muggy first thing in the morning. I knew this race was going to be a sweatfest!

I headed to the registration area to pick up my race bib and swag. I was really, really surprised when Bib #3 was pulled out for me. When I expressed surprise at receiving a single digit bib for the first time, the volunteer told me it was an indication of how early I registered. Different races have different methods for assigning numbers so this was cool for me for a change. :) Photos of my swag are at the end of this post.

After dropping the swag off at my vehicle and grabbing my racing gear, I headed over the finish line to see the participants in the Fun 2K arriving.

For fun, I took photos of some kids as they ran in. The look of excitement on their faces was priceless. This also gives you a perspective on what my finish would look like - taking a path through a cornfield, turning the corner onto the community centre grounds, catching a good whiff of manure, and then running to the finish. :) I love this pic of of the little girl, with her ponytail flying behind her and both of her feet in the air. :)

I tried taking a photo of me in my bib and pre-sweating, but ended up laughing my head off after this first and only amateur attempt. I am sure that whoever was in the washroom at the time was thinking that I was a freak (I would!). I didn't take too much time to experiment with this because I had to go warm-up before race start.

This is where I ran to warm up - by the gate entry to the community centre. Do you see the police truck on the left? The O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) drove up while I was warming up to attend to a call - a car in the driveway had the back window smashed in. :( I am not daring/rude enough to start taking pics of the home owners while they were talking to the police officer. They probably thought I was odd taking photos of the sign. :(

This was my last photo before starting the race - a pic of other runners taking their places behind the start line (grey duct tape!). :) I stood somewhere in the middle - there was a lot of people up near the front, most likely because this race wasn't chip timed and they knew that the additional time it took to cross the line would be added to the total time. :( One of the organizers said a few words, thanked everyone for their support, warned everyone to be careful on the slippery boardwalk, and then literally called out, "On your mark! Get set! GO!" And then we were off! :)

This was Race #34 for me - my 4th 8K in two years. I would like to think that I have the whole "starting rush" thing mastered by now. It's amazing how many different kinds of 'starts" there are! I've been in crowded starts where everyone is pushing and jostling because we are trying to all fit through a narrow area, I've experienced slow starts in which it's challenging to get up to speed because there are so many people in front starting slowly, and I've experienced the swooooosh! in which it feels like everyone has just passed me with lightning speed, leaving me in the dust.

Well, today was a "leaving me in the dust" type of day - LOL! It was a very, very fast start and I went with the flow for bit before gaining some sort of control over my pace. As always, it is a little disconcerting to see how many people are flying by me and flying ahead when I am running at a faster-than-intended speed for me. I've written before on this blog how a race size seems to determine the average pace of participants. I don't have the official results yet as I am typing this, but I bet that when I analyze it, the average runner in this particular race will have had a much faster pace than what I see in larger, city venues. At this point of time, I just have to maintain a healthy attitude about racing against myself and beating my own pace as well as having fun. If I were out there to compete against others, I would have a very bruised, black & blue ego by now! LOL!

1 km - 6:17 / km (10:07/mile)

Not only did I watch as the majority of runners flew away from me, but I kept having runners come up from behind to pass me, too. :( It really began to feel like I was going to be running at the tail end for awhile! I keep reminding myself of the game plan, and to run this race "well." Fortunately, this faster start didn't burn me out (I've experienced that before at races) so I was not panicking about whether I could make it through the race to the end.

2 km - 6:48 / km (10:57/mile)

I currently hate running over grassy ground. We started the race running on pavement along a few streets, and in order to access the entrance of the trail, we had to run across a section of park grass. I'm not accustomed to it, and it doesn't feel as easy and smooth as pavement. I am sure it makes for a better workout, but I'm not in the mood for that at the start of a race. :) The gravelly path is nice, but the boardwalk sections do prove to be damp and a little slick from the rain the night before. I slow a little on the boardwalk because I'm a nervous nelly about slipping and falling. :)

3 km - 6:52/km (11:03/mile)

This is when I start passing several runners. I am yo-yoing with a few run/walk runners ... I pass them when they are walking/they pass me when they are running. A few of them look like they are purposely using the walk/run method, whereas others look like they were caught up in the fast start and are now paying for it. :( There is a group of us and I start to pass each one steadily as we swoop up and down and around on this trail.

4 km - 6:59/km (11:14/mile)

Last year, it rained a little on us and it was great in the heat and humidity. No such luck this year - it's just thick air and mugginess. :( We are not running hills, but there are a lot of inclines, and I am pretty sure we are running a slight incline at all times because I can feel that this isn't flat ground. I like the path - it feels good under the feet, but it's slower than asphalt. I am very pleased to see the 4 km marker because it's the hump and because I have just finished passing 7-8 people so I am now on my own in the woods. I didn't stop at the water station (I'm wearing my water belt) so I lost a few people who did stop, and I ran up a few inclines that slowed others down. I think at this point that I might be running the rest of this race alone.

5 km - 7:02/km (11:19/mile)

I see people! I see 2 Purple Ladies, an Orange/black lady, and the Woman in Black. much further ahead. I feel good knowing that I have just caught up to the tail end of another group of runners. :) I'm hoping to run closer to them as a way of making me run faster ... I just checked my average pace and I am slower than my established minimum goal (6:45/km; 10:52/mile). :(

6 km - 6:54/km (11:06/mile)

Once again, we are running over grass in another park to connect to a laneway leading to a road, and it's on an incline so I am finding this tough. :( Just ahead is where the second water station is set up. The two Purple Ladies keep running past it, but both the Orange/black and the Woman in Black stop for water. I follow the Purple Ladies and I am pacing behind the slower one. We start running for stretch on the paved road and I run faster to make up for some lost time on the trail. I move to the left to pass Purple Lady #1 and soon after - swooosh! - the Woman in Black sprints through the middle between us - she clearly has a second wind and prefers the speed of the pavement like me. :) I pass Purple Lady #1 just before the turnoff back onto the trail, and then I am following Purple Lady #2 for a stretch. She starts to slow after awhile so it leaves me chasing the Woman in Black. She is setting a good pace and I see my average pace finally declining. Woo hoo! And although this trail is tougher to run than what I am accustomed to, I am feel okay. :)

7 km - 6:26/km (10:21/mile)

I catch up to the Woman in Black and because she is not wearing headphones, I decide to say something. She clearly knows that I am on her tail, too. I tell her that she has done a great job setting the pace, and that I have been following her. She tells me that she's finding it tough. :( I tell her that she might feel like it's tough, but she's looking good so keep it up. :) She then does what I am was hoping she would do - she surges ahead. She's either inspired by me or thinks I'm a weirdo, but it doesn't matter. She is doing what I needed her to do - run faster! And I can keep pace behind her - go go go because we are in the last km and I need to bring my average speed down a little more to meet my goal! We run past Blue Dude - he suddenly appeared on the path in front of us - and then I see walking runners ahead. It looks a like a group have tired just near the end. I follow the Woman in Black until we reach a 90 degree turn off the trail onto a dirt incline path to the left beside a cornfield. Most of the tired runners who were walking are still walking up the incline. To my surprise, the Woman in Black comes to a complete stop at the corner because she has decided to walk up this incline, too. I'm gunning for the finish because I have a PR to set so I run up this incline past a few walkers, and then turn another 90 degrees to the right onto the community centre grounds and head straight for the finish. Some of the walkers have started running again and I pass a couple of them, but I am not able to pass them all. I don't have my usual faster running reserve at the very end, but I am running steadily (between 5:20 - 6:00/km) on this stretch before I pass the timing clock @54:23 (I think- we'll see when the results are posted).

So in conclusion it was a good, fun race for me. :) I enjoyed running it because it's different from what I usually do. My achilles on my right foot is a little tender today because of a rock I stepped on that was on the path (I'm lucky I maintained balance and did not turn over on my ankle), but other than this, I am really glad I did it. I am a little disappointed with my time - I was hoping to see a "53" in my time. :)

After the race, I headed back to the Ag building for watermelon, Gatorade and pieces of bagel. I checked out the prize table and woo hoo! For the third time this year, I won something - these socks - LOL! They happen to be my size and with the extra cushioning in the heel and ball areas, they will be great for winter running when I can hide them under running pants. :) I'm assuming they were donated as a prize because they weren't selling. :)

I didn't overdo it at the refreshment tables because I had something else in mind for the drive home - ice cream from Dairy Queen. Terrible food choice, but I was hot, sweaty, and in need of cold. I couldn't resist because it was located right there at the gate of the community centre. And what I like about this photo is that there are two volunteers in that ATV staring at me, wondering why the heck I am taking a photo of my ice cream cone in the parking lot! This is the saddest looking cone ever, don't you think? The photo doesn't capture how ugly it looked. It tasted good. :)

On the way home, I stopped to take all the photos in this blog post. I noticed many of the signs on my way up to Exeter, but didn't stop because of my timeline. It was a slower, meandering drive home.

I always try to stop in at Lucan Architectural whenever I am in the vicinity. There are some very interesting things here - recycled items from old homes for sale to people who are looking for authentic items for their century homes. Wrought-iron gates, bird baths, statues, and benches surround the store on the outside and old windows, cupboards, hooks, etc. are inside. They have also branched out and are selling colourful tin items made in Mexico, which are attracting more people to stop by the store. These colourful tin items really do catch your eye as you drive by, and as you can see by the next photo, I couldn't resist this:

To end my verbose post, I have photos of the swag. I was confused by the bag at first with the one reinforced corner and drawstring. I thought it was very odd until Ben pointed out that it was probably a pocket bag ... he was right. :) Two mini lotions, post-it notes, future run brochures and a United Way temporary tattoo. :)

I am off tomorrow and then it's back to HM training with Week #8 on Tuesday. The weather forecast this week looks rainy and less hot so I'm hoping it will be a good one, especially after reducing my mileage last week to give myself a bit of a break.
Happy running!


  1. As always, excellent recap! And thanks for the shout out in your previous post!

  2. Excellent recap and a great strategy. you stayed with the plan and overcame a lot who passed you at the start. Almost at your goal and that was really good. You get it next time. It sounds like you need to run a little more grassy trail areas for these races...

    OUTSTANDING job and you earned the treat at the end.