Did I PR? A Pioneer 8k race report

Pioneer 2013

You’d think that the question of whether I PR’d a race would be pretty easy to answer: I either ran faster than last year (my previous PR) or I didn’t. But like so many things in my life, it’s more complicated than that. I’ll describe the race, and then I’ll explain.

For those not in the know, the Island Race Series is a group of 8 races in various parts of Vancouver Island that run from January through April. The Pioneer 8k in Saanichton is the first race of the series (and I think my favourite). This was the third time running it, and I’ve managed to have a good time each time. Last year I set a (then) stunning PR of 44:25, 3 minutes faster than the year before. This year, I was supposed to run it as a “training run” but I confess I was hoping to beat my time last year.

It was a lot colder this year. It was sunny but there was frost on the ground, even with the 11am start time. I had brought my racing flats to see if they would help my time, but I didn’t feel like they would be able to handle any slippery spots. So I stuck with my regular shoes (too bad because the flats are way prettier). It took a longer time to warm up too. Run buddy Kat and I ran from her house to the Saanich Fairgrounds (the start/finish line) which was a decent warm-up, but we got there a bit early and did another small loop with other #yyjrun buddies just before the race.

Unlike last year, the timing chips apparently did not come in for the race bibs, so the only time we would get was the gun time. We started near the back of the pack, so it took 31 seconds to cross the start line. I started my Garmin then so I could get my “chip” time. Then I took off, trying to get past the mob of people and get my pace going. If you’re a real numbers nerd, you can see my km splits here.

Effort wise, I felt really good until just after the 5k mark. Then I hit the worst part of the race. It’s not especially hilly or anything, but I have found it to be mentally challenging every time. If you look at the map on my Garmin data page, it’s the stretch along Wallace Dr to Hovey Rd and back. It’s only about 1.5 of the route, but it seems to take forever. The way out is a gradual uphill, and I actually thought I was going to bonk right there. Right after I turned around on Hovey Rd I saw Kat, and realized she wasn’t far behind me. I considered slowing down and waiting for her, but I kept going. I told myself that as soon as I was going downhill that maybe I would feel better. And I did. The last stretch to the finish is uphill but I ran it as fast as I could. In fact, as I crossed the finish line, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I had a whole paragraph to explain why I probably PR’d from last year, but I actually didn’t (BOOOO). Here’s why:

  • My official (gun) time from last year was 44:25. My chip time was 44:10.
  • My official time this year was 44:55. My “chip” time was 44:23.
  • The course was actually about 85m too long last year, due to a slight measuring error.

So, according to my Garmin, I was 13 seconds slower this year than last year, not accounting for the extra distance. Kind of a bummer, but I am still happy with this race. Here’s why:

  • My splits this time were much more consistent. I really thought my last two km would be significantly slower than the rest of the race, but they were about the same. And, unlike last year, I didn’t start too fast.
  • I really don’t know if I could have run faster. I felt like I gave it all out there.
  • I crossed the 4k mark at 22:55, so I got a negative split by about 30 seconds (after accounting for the 30 seconds it took to reach the start line). Last year, I was about 20 seconds slower in the second half (again, probably because I started too fast).
  • I got to see my run buddy, Nikki, finish her first timed race more than 5 minutes faster than her goal.
  • I got to hang out with my awesome #yyjrun buddies before and after the race.

So what’s next? The Cobble Hill 10, in about a week and a half. I have only done this race one other time, 3 years ago, as my first race ever. I got a time of 1:07:01. I know that I can beat that, but I wonder if I can beat my current PR of 57:25, which basically means I have to maintain my 8k pace for another 2k. I guess we’ll see.

(Photo courtesy of Kirsty Sheldon).

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