Last Sunday, January 22 was the second event in the Vancouver Island Race Series. I had heard rumours of rolling hills, but never completed the course myself so I was mentally prepared for some elevation changes. Cobble Hill is about 30 minutes outside of Victoria, so the girls and I met up and headed over together. Just as we pulled into the school parking lot, the rain began dampening our spirits. It was also much colder than we had expected.
We grabbed our bibs, made the requisite 25 washroom visits and set out for our 20 minute pre-race warmup and strides. In spite of the weather there were still many others warming up alongside us so that helped. Once our warmup was completed we headed back inside to stay warm and get ready for the race, more washroom visits, suggestions of just going for brunch instead and gels. I had 2 on me as my target mileage was 19km, but ended up giving one to a running buddy. I took the mystery one with no expiry date. I am not sure whether to blame the gel, coincidence or what, but very shortly after taking the gel, I got a nasty stomach ache. I tried to ignore it and willed it to go away as we jogged over to the start line.
Going into this race the goal was to actually “race”, so if we saw someone a bit ahead of us, do our best to catch up to them and hold the pace etc. I decided I was going to try to do this with one of the other ladies in our group, Cris. I also wanted to beat my 10km PB 44:28, but wasn’t sure how realistic that was given the terrain on the course. The race began downhill and I made an effort to control my speed, Cris was just ahead of me and that was fine. The first 2km were controlled at 4:29 and 4:28 which was what I had planned. The 3rd and 4th put more distance between Cris and I though I kept her in my sight, 4:35 and 4:36. I was not feeling well, my stomach ache was very much still present. I resigned myself to just completing the race as best I could.
The 5th and 6th were the slowest of all, 4:43 and 4:46 -slower than half-marathon pace! I did recall hearing the last few km of the race are flat and decided to go for it. My time could still be salvaged I thought. I decided to start closing the gap between Cris and I. I could see Cris, but the distance was significant. I did the 7th km in 4:15, which helped make up time, but I still had more to make up in order to catch Cris. The 8th km had the final hill, but I powered up it in 4:30. I was getting closer to Cris for sure. During the 9th km I caught Cris and we started running together, it was a 4:10 km. I like to finish strong in every race and that means picking up the pace for the last km. We picked it up a bit, passing lots of people on the way. I finished the last km in 3:51.
The race ended up going much better than I thought in spite of my stomach ache and the cold rain. I ended up squeaking in a 5 second PB, getting a third place medal in my age category and best of all, I caught Cris.