Race report: 2012 Harry’s Spring Run-off 8k

Two races in eight days? That might be a record for me. After last weekend’s semi-relaxed half marathon at Burnaby Lake, I went to Stanley Park to run race at one of my favourite events, Harry’s Spring Run-off.

This race is special because it’s a fundraiser for prostate cancer research (a cause that’s near and dear to me), but also because most of it is on the Stanley Park seawall. This year, the direction has been reversed: runners go counterclockwise along the seawall, on the south shore of Lost Lagoon, and back toward the start/finish area at the miniature railway (moved from Lumbermen’s Arch).

I was cautious going into this run; I probably shouldn’t have eaten the dinner that I had had the night before (suffice to say that some of its ingredients conflicted with my lactose-intolerant self), and one of my hamstrings had tightened up over the previous day. But after warming up, and getting psyched up with a few of my favourite warm-up songs (the newest of which is Ingrid Michaelson’s “Fire”), I was ready.

Also new this year was a corral system; the corrals are not really separated, so it’s more voluntary than anything else.  I put myself at the front of the red corral, which would get me around my goal time of under 44 minutes. The first kilometre was quite fast, but on pace, so that gave me momentum heading on to the seawall proper. Once there, I settled at around a 5:15/km (8:27/mi) pace and started passing other runners. 5:30/km is all I needed to get to 44 minutes, so I was aware of watching my effort level. Given my tight hamstring, I didn’t want to exacerbate it further by pushing myself unnecessarily.

By kilometre 6, I felt some fatigue, but not enough for me to ease up. At 5:15 pace, a quick mental calculation told me I could break 42 minutes. When I got to the 7 km marker, and felt that I could get under 42, I increased my speed. Not even two uphills in the final kilometre (including in the last 50 metres) slowed me down, as I recorded my only sub-5:00/km (8:03/mi) split, finishing with a chip time of 41:47. Not only did I exceed my race-day expectations, but I broke my PR for this distance by more than two minutes!

I wanted to take advantage of a complimentary massage after the run, but the wait was too long. I’ll just rest for a few days, but that’s all I’ve got. The final push toward the marathon is coming up, with three straight weekends of 30+ km, and then the three-week taper.

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