My first race of 2013 was fantastic! It was a reminder of why I love running, racing, and sharing my love of running with others who feel the same.
The short version :
I convinced Nikki to run with me, and we had an absolute blast. We both had very strong races, both beating our guesstimates of overall time, and then we celebrated with brunch, a little shopping, and some good ol’ race planning/goal planning sesh. It was a perfect race day, I wish every race day was as great as Sunday!
Spoiler alert : I finished in 37:19 officially, and I felt awesome. I’ve never raced an 8km before, so it’s an automatic PR, and thankfully, it’s a PR that I’m very proud of.
Nikki & I chilling in the car, pre-race :
So, how’d I decide to run a random 8 km race? Well…
I was contemplating the Chilly Chase in downtown Vancouver, which had a 10 or a 15 km option, when I stumbled across the Steveston Ice-Breaker 8 km. The race was almost half price, and it’s a bit logistically easier for me to get to/from Richmond, so I started to bug my runner friends to join me.
I really want to have a solid half marathon at the First Half in a few weeks. I believe, if everything goes smoothly on race day, that I’ll be able to run a 1:45 half. January has been a month of building up mileage, starting marathon training, and doing quite a bit of speed work, so I feel relatively confident in this goal.
Not quite sure how it happened, but Nikki and I have been discussing adding speed work to her training for a while now, and somehow I agreed to “coach” her through some workouts, in an attempt to get her a shiny new half marathon PR, also at the First Half.
If you follow Nikki’s blog, you’ll have seen that she’s been invading my privacy and posting our text convo’s to the interweb lately…AND she keeps calling me SCARY. Me?? I don’t know if I’ll stay friends with her after this next race…just kidding.
I’ve been giving her some of my favorite speed work treadmill workouts, and am hoping that after the First Half goes amazing for her, that she’ll give the track a try next!
Anyways, back to Sunday.
The race started at 8:30, from the foot of 1 Road, in Steveston, Richmond. There is a free parking lot across from the Community Center, where the package pick-up and post race awards and food were located. We were parked and had our bibs & timing chips by 8am. We hung out in the car, and discussed temperature. I decided on a thicker long sleeve, my beloved Ron Hill running jacket, Sugoi tights, Merrell socks, Patagonia undies, Nike sports bra, and Lululemon hat.
We were having so much fun that we almost forgot our timing chips! Ooops!
A quick little jog down to the start line, and we were feeling good. I felt really good about my clothes choices, and I was very thankful that the running gods decided to let us run while it was still dry out!
The race started right on time, and we were still busy talking. Luckily we had our Garmins ready to go! Off we went, and my last words to Nikki “Good luck, make yourself uncomfortable!”
I plugged my headphones in, and settled into around a 4:40 pace. I decided that this would be great for the first few km’s, and then I would re-evaluate.
I didn’t REALLY know the route, but I know the general area, so I knew it was flat and along the water front. I didn’t realize it would be a mix of paved roads and gravel paths, but both are A-OK in my books.
My race was pretty uneventful. I felt super strong on the way out, I was gradually passing people, and I was hanging onto my 4:40/km pacing goal. I don’t think I had anyone pass me the entire race, which is an awesome testament to where I seeded myself, and that I only grew stronger during the race, instead of dying out.
The only part that I had a bit of a problem with, was I decided to run with no water bottle, because the website said there was water on course. There was, BUT, this was the first water station I’ve ever seen with no volunteers. There was water in little plastic cups, but no one handing it out. I actually was running past the table before I realized what it was. This was just past the 4 km turnaround, and I knew I needed water. I stopped in my tracks, backtracked to gulp down 2 cups, and got back to running. This was a bit frustrating for me, as I felt like I really lost my groove, and had to struggle to catch up and re-pass the few people who got ahead of me due to my stop.
On the way back, the field has considerably thinned out, but there was always a few people around me, and I was able to reel them in, one by one, and pass them. I was somewhat counting my kills, and I think I had about 10-12 kills on the back 4 km.
It was tough, but I just focused on the next person in front of me, and slowly making my way in front of them. I felt really good, but when we hit 2 kms left, I felt like I was going to blow up and have to slow down. At this point, I was definitely thankful to have other runners in front of me to keep me moving fast. As we came up to the last km of the race, there were 3 girls in front of me. I didn’t think I could catch any of them, but the front girl slowed down considerably, and the middle 2 pushed ahead. I was able to pass 1, and focus on the remaining 2. As we took the last couple turns, I knew there was less than .5 of a km less, so I started to pick up the pace, and caught the 2nd girl. I could now see the finish line ahead of us.
I turned up the speed, and tried to keep pace with the other girl. I have confidence in my finishing sprint, but I turned on my jets a bit early in an attempt to sneak attack the girl and get ahead of her before we got too close. Well, starting my sprint that early, ended up being a very good thing. I blew past her, and managed to hold my sprint into the finish line. It felt amazing. I looked at my watch, and the time was 37:17, and I had thought between 38-39 would be do-able for me.
After gulping down some water at the finish line, I headed back onto the boardwalk to see Nikki finish. I slowly walked back, catching my breath, and before I knew it, Nikki was coming down the last stretch. I jumped in beside her to run her in, and help her find a “Beast Mode” finish line sprint. She was doing great, except for the cussing me out part, and telling me she hated me, and was going to fall. Coming up towards the finish, I knew she had another gear in her, but wasn’t sure if she was going to turn it on. I looked down at my watch, and told her if she sprinted in, she was going to be sub 45 mins, well this made her move. I was so proud of her digging deep and pushing through.
Nikki’s original goal was 48 mins, so to come through in under 45 mins is AMAZING! So proud of my baby beast, and all she accomplished in just a few weeks of adding in speed work to her training!
We headed back to the community center, and were greeted on the way by Muscle Milk workers, and a coupon man from Cora’s. We both love our chocolate milk, so we eagerly grabbed a drink. We both were disappointed with the taste. I wish they had given out smaller samples, as I hated to waste such a large bottle. The man from Cora’s gave us a coupon for a real fruit smoothie, and let us know it was a great brunch place. The menu that he handed us looked so good, that we decided to ditch our original plans, and check out Cora’s.
In the community center, they had a great spread of food – bananas, oranges, watermelon, canteloupe, cookies, cinnamon buns, etc. They also had Starbucks coffee in 1 corner. I didn’t see any water, but we were in a community center with water fountains. The only thing I would’ve really liked to have, would have been chocolate milk, but obviously with having the Muscle Milk sponsor at the finish line, I guess they can’t have both!
They also had a ton of draw prizes, maybe 20 different prizes that had been drawn by bib #. It was really hard to read the board, as all the #’s were between 1200-1400, so they all looked the same, but in our search, we found that Nikki had won a prize, a marathon book!
We decided to not stay for medal ceremony, as we knew with the competitive crowd, we didn’t have a chance of placing in our age groups.
We headed over to Cora’s for brunch, and it was fab! I would definitely recommend this as a great place for breaky!
It’s very rare that the menu pictures identically match the food you’re brought!
During brunch we did what any runner would be doing in January – race planning! I’ve never really sat down and planned out my life of races until this year, but it’s fun, and really gives your training more meaning.
2 weeks until we take on the First Half, where we both go searching for PR’s, and Hilary gets to rock her first ever half. Can’t wait!
Our official stats :
Me – 37:10 – 8/12 in 25-29 age group, 33/109 women, 97/199 overall
Nikki – 45:02 – 11/21 in 30-34 age group, 66/109 women, 163/199 overall
And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :
Overall, how would I rate this race?
Terrain/Course/Difficulty : A. Great race course. Fantastic views along the course. Well marked, no chance of getting lost, good volunteer marshall’ing. The only complaint on the course was that the only 1 water station was not manned. I felt like there was enough volunteers that 2 people could’ve easily been spared to do that job.
Affordability and Value : A. This race cost $33 the week before, and that just included bib, chip, and post race food, no t-shirt or medal. But, I personally am A-OK with that. I don’t need another shirt or medal, and would rather have the cheaper race, especially a race with so many draw prizes!
Organization : B+. Everything seemed to run smoothly to me. Other than the un-manned water station, I don’t have any complaints.
Overall, I’m glad I ran this race. It was a beauty of a morning, and this flat and fast course was a great way to get in a good speedy workout/run. I forgot how much fun it is going to these races with a friend, and being able to not just celebrate my own triumphs, but their’s as well! And, you can’t forget the brunch after, mixed in with a bit of shopping? That’s a winning combo for sure.
First race of 2013 will go down in the history books as my first ever 8 km race, a wonderful morning spent with a friend I’m so happy to have met basically through my blog. Can’t wait to run many more races with Nikki, just wish she lived closer than a 30 min drive away…especially since she STOLE my baby water bottle on Sunday…