Race Report: 2015 Harry's Spring Run Off 5 km

I am contented as I type those simple two words: "Race Report."

I love race season and all that it brings.  Back in the winter, you start with the exercise of writing and revising (and revising again) a potential calendar of events.  My list always starts out very long (will this be the year I do the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll half marathon?) until I'm forced to cut it down. As a result, I'm already adding ideas to my 2016 schedule...

Then you've got the race week traditions, like the taper (an experience I actually enjoy, which appears to put me in the minority of runners and duathletes), the checking of the weather forecast on a daily basis, the packing/repacking and the reviewing of Sportstats to plan strategy.  Somewhere in there, I send frequent emails back and forth with coach Roger of Ignition Fitness.

After a two month training hiatus over November and December, followed by three months back on my program in 2015, I am mentally in the mood to race.  In other words, I really want to shake off the winter rust and test myself.

This past weekend was the 2015 edition of Harry's Spring Run Off, which is my traditional season opener.  The staff and volunteers at Canada Running Series consistently put together fun and well-executed races that keep me coming back year after year.  Kudos to the team for yet another fabulous  day.

Looking at the forecast for race morning, I saw the temperature would be around 2-3 degrees and so I opted for a t-shirt and long sleeve on top and light tights on bottom, as well as my 2XU calf sleeves.  Those choices turned out to be warm enough but not overwhelming.

When I took up racing more seriously, I discovered
the King City weather radar station.

Usually on race morning, I'll wander around with my partner Rob until it's time for a warm-up (he watches from inside, where it's warm, while I warm-up).  This time, he was away visiting family, so I jogged lightly by myself and threw in some strides.  My legs didn't feel as nimble or perky as I wanted them to, which was likely as a result of the workouts over the previous few days.  That worried me, as I wondered how much strength I'd have for the killer hill at the end of the race.

I joined the red corral about 10 minutes before start time.  It felt crowded, with other runners bopping and weaving with nervous energy.  I tried to find my zen and focus on the race ahead.

When the gun went off, I struggled through the minor free-for-all, as hundreds of bodies attempted to push forward.  Within the first minute, I had surged to a sub-3:30/km pace, which is beyond sustainable for me.  Still, a sizable pack moved father ahead and I thought to myself, "Wow, it's a fast group of runners this year."

By about 2 1/2 minutes in, I fell into a pace that hovered between 3:40 and 3:50/km, and happily, it felt comfortable.  I took a brief moment to over-analyze that pace before settling in.  And so it continued and I gradually reeled in more and more runners.

I approached the final hill at Spring Road with a slight sense of trepidation.  I do enjoy running up hills, but I worried I didn't have the gas for this one on this morning.  Or so I thought, until two things happened.

First, I saw an official race sign announcing that the finish line was only 400 metres away.  "I can do that," I said to myself.  Somehow, I had imagined the hill itself was 800 metres long.

Second, rounding the corner to begin the ascent, I was greeted by the fun, fabulous and fresh cheering squad from Tribe Fitness.  They were screaming like wild for all of the runners.

Photo credit: Tribe Fitness

I waved and began the climb with a smile on my face, which is quite likely the first time I've ever raced up that hill looking so happy.

Photo credit: Tribe Fitness

Reaching the crest, I picked up a little speed and crossed the finish line in 19:18, a new PB for me (by 1:07) on this course.  Catching my breath, I got some Gatorade and water, and then proudly picked up my finisher's medal.  That time was good enough for 11th place overall and the gold medal for my age group.

And so, race season officially begins.  Next up, the Toronto Yonge Street 10 km on April 19.  See you there!