Steveston Icebreaker 8k

Last Sunday was the Steveston Icebreaker 8k road race, a race that I did last year for the first time, and figured it would be a great race to do again this year, as it’s fast, flat, and a good time of year to set benchmarks for my performance. Every year I try to put the same running races into my schedule, as it gives a good baseline for performance year over year, to essentially see where I’m at in my training. Although there are many factors that can change the outcome of the race (ie. what phase of training I’m in, fatigue level from training, etc, etc, etc,) it still serves as a great test. For example, if you crush a race PB from the previous year, and you were MORE fatigued from training, that can be a huge confidence booster. Going slower can be a bit flattening, but something you need to learn to take with a grain of salt, and move on. Sometimes it can be a bigger motivator for increased focus, a little more effort put into recovery, eating properly, etc. The bottom line is: I LOVE doing the running races, because they are just so dang fun!

Race Morning Surprise

This year was no exception, I was all ready to rock and have a blast. I was coming off a busy nightshift, with alarm bells ringing all night in the fire hall, so I was pretty tired toeing the line. I had some issues with my Garmin (busted wrist strap, accidentally LOCKED the keys, which I didn’t even know it could do, nor did I have a clue how to unlock it!)

Going out too fast? Naaaaawwwww……..

After a rather lack-luster and insufficient warm-up (see above note about problems,) I was JUST in time to the start line to make to gun (literally, the count-down was on as I was sneaking around the side of the line-up to the front!) The weather was somewhat cooperating, at LEAST it wasn’t raining (although the insane wind was NOT going to be a friend today, not on the way out at least.) Off the line, being all amped up on oodles of caffeine and Eload Energy Gel (I may or may not have had a few extra swigs from my gel canister before heading to the line,) I shot out front. It was probably NOT the best race strategy, not only because I knew there were much faster runners in the group, but because there was an All Mighty headwind. I, essentially, was the human shield for all the smart runners. Which was EVERYONE else. I realized my mistake, but very quickly a train of guys went by that I was helpless to jump on. So much for pack racing, I was on my own.

Fellow New Balance Vancouver runner Drew Nicholson had already pulled ahead of me by 1km in, but knowing his pacing strategy, I just kept my pace consistent as I was reeling him in, inch-by-meager-inch. Super-Coach Bjoern Ossenbrink and his wife Stephanie Ossenbrink (the Awesome-Duo that lead Team Ossenbrink,) were around 1.5km in on their bikes, yelling at me to “run faster,” “get up into the pack,” and Bjoern’s signature (that anyone who’s trained with him knows all too well,) “UP UP!” Giving me a slight bit of motivation (and a large amount of bitterness that I was dying on course and they were all wrapped up warmly,) I pushed on into the headwind, battling the negative thoughts in my head to ease off a bit, as nobody was close behind.

About 500m’s from the turn-around, I managed to pull up with Drew. The run back was fast (negative split by almost a minute,) and it was Drew and I, battling one-on-one, Mano-e-Mano, making surges and playing mind tricks. It was intense, and I was loving every second of it! Running by Bjoern and Stephanie again with 2k to go, I got another dose of “UP-UP” and a side-dish of “lean into it.” That was all the fuel I needed.

Do you know that noise your car makes when it starts to run out of gas? That ever so faint cough, or sputter? Well, unfortunately for my teammate Drew, my finely tuned mechanical ears heard a small little sputter-cough escape his mouth, and immediately I thought, “he’s just run out of gas!” Whether this was true or not, I have no idea. But he let off ever so slightly on the gas, and I made my move. Testing the waters with a solid surge, he slowly fell off the back. 1.5km to go, and it was time to punch it. Pedal-to-the-metal, I gave it everything I had left. Lungs searing, I came down the finisher’s chute to some cheers, finishing in a a decent 27:18. Fifteen seconds slower than last year, and :19 slower than I had wanted to go, but taking into account fatigue, and a vicious headwind, I was happy with my performance. I was more happy with my mental state, as every ounce of my body was telling me to let Drew go every time he surged, but I mentally couldn’t do it. I stayed mentally strong, and I was proud of myself.

Drew and I post race

9th overall, and 2nd in my age group (which entitled me to some ‘bling.’ Who doesn’t love a little ‘bling’ post race?) Good day I think! Post race, it was off to the pain cave for a brutal 2hr bike session (which was probably even worse than the race!!) It was really great to see my friends out at the race, the social aspect is one of my favorite parts of racing. At the finish line everyone just wants to chat and I love hearing peoples stories of triumph and pain from out on course.

One week later, I’m 7 days into a SOLID training camp block, over 30hrs of training in the last few days, and many more ahead of me until I finish this block. Then it’s a few more days at work, with yet ANOTHER training block after that! Train safe people, get out there and enjoy the unusually mild February weather!!

I leave you with this, my new musical interest, which seems to be able to amp me up and push me harder lately!! A little bit of the DUBstep, by Skrillex. This one is rather awesome: