On Sunday, October 7, I ran the 10K race in the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna. The marathon started at 7:15 AM, the half marathon at 7:45, and our race took off at 8:15.
As I arrived in City Park they were getting ready to start the half marathon, and I saw Dominic Gerelle, who I ran with in 3 halfs this year, near the front of the pack in the starters chute. I said "Have a great race Dom!" and he thanked me and reached over the fence and shook my hand. About 35 minutes later I was standing in about the same spot as Dom had been earlier, waiting for the 10K to start, when Craig Premack suddenly appeared, and said to the fellow standing beside me, "This guy's my nemesis today!"
Craig had finished one spot and 15 seconds ahead of me in the Surrey Marathon 5K on the previous Sunday to win our age group, and I'd never beaten him in a race. I reminded him of this, and he said "Yeah, but you're getting closer all the time! Today could be the day you beat me." I said thanks and that I'd do my best, we wished each other a great race, and after a short countdown we were off!
I ran out fast and since I didn't see Craig in front of me I assumed he was behind me. The faster runners were surging away up ahead, and a woman ran past me who turned out to be Deborah Buhlers. She would not only win the woman's race today, but would run down and beat all but 3 of the 30 or so males currently ahead of us as she passed me.
By this time we were out of the park and running along the streets of downtown Kelowna. For the first couple of kilometers the odd person would pass me, and I would in turn pass some runners who'd slowed up after discovering they couldn't keep up their initial torrid pace. After this we mostly just ran in much the same order in our loose, somewhat spread out chase pack until there were only a couple of kilometers to go.
I was checking my split times at every kilometer marker, and saw I was running them at a few seconds above 4 minutes steadily. I just concentrated now on keeping my pace up, as I was running a much faster 10K than I'd ever run before in my life. It helped that there was always someone behind me pushing me to go faster, and the course was extremely flat.
We looped around the streets and then headed back toward the park, on a different route than the one we'd come on. With about 2 Ks to go we were off the streets and running on what would be called the seawall if we were running along the ocean in Vancouver, except we were running along the shore of Okanagan Lake (the lakewall?) There were more and more people lining the route and cheering the closer we got to the finish. Many had signs to encourage a particular runner, or all the runners in general, and people clanged cowbells and called out our names as they were printed on our bibs.
With about a kilometer to go I heard someone right behind me gaining, so I sped up to try and shake whoever it was. The sounds of breathing and footsteps receded, but then came closer again, so I sped up again. This time when the sounds receded they stayed that way, but I could still hear them until I crossed the finish line.
We reached the park and darted in, and then they turned us into the finisher's chute and with 100 meters to go I saw the clock up ahead and it was hitting 40:30. I couldn't believe my eyes, as I'd never come close to finishing under 41 minutes in a 10K before, and now it was going to happen! I ended up with a chip time of 40:46 (gun time 40:49), and placed 18th overall out of 620. Craig came in a few seconds later, and told me he'd been following me the whole race, finally catching up with a kilometer to go, but then I'd suddenly taken off and he'd been unable to overtake me. I thanked him for pushing me, and he said that was why he made sure I knew he was there today, to inspire me to try and beat him. He envisioned it going differently though, with him leading and myself trying to keep pace, and then I'd try and outkick him at the end, but we'd switched roles and I pulled it off. Last year I was super happy to be third in my age group and capture the bronze, and was just hoping to do the same again, but I ended up winning gold this time, with Craig a close second for the silver http://sportstats.ca/displayResults.xhtmlracecode=103311 http://www.events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=7341&eventId=22985&vrindex=4 .
They gave us a bottle of water and put our finisher's medals around our necks when we crossed the line, and now we headed into the huge Expo tent to get some food. They had various cookies, plain chips, bananas, oranges, bagels, chocolate puddings, plus coffee, hot chocolate, chicken soup, and more water. Expo exhibitors also had plenty of free samples on offer of protein shakes, energy bars, etc. We grabbed some cookies and a bag of chips and went outside, and then Craig said he was going to his sister's place to have a shower, and he'd be back in an hour's time, before our awards ceremony was due to start.
They posted results and I went and checked mine and found out that I had indeed won our age group, and ran the fastest race of my life. Dominic had finished the half marathon and was waiting around for their results, and told me he'd run a good enough race, but when they put his up he was ecstatic. He'd finished 2nd in his age group, something he'd never dreamed he could do today, but he'd done it nonetheless!
I went and cheered in incoming runners for awhile, and then they announced that the 10K awards were starting. When they got to our age group I asked a woman who was a friend of Deborah Buhlers if she'd take our picture with my camera while we were up onstage and she said sure. They called out our names and the 3 women winners went up, plus myself and 3rd place finisher Duncan Banks, and we were presented with our medals. Craig wasn't there, but about 30 seconds later he appeared, jumped up onto the stage, got his medal, and then we posed for our photo op. Deborah's friend was nice enough to take a few pictures too, including one with just myself and Craig, much appreciated!
Craig said that he and his sister were walking into the park when he heard the announcer call my name, and then his, so he knew they were doing our awards and ran to the stage, getting there in the nick of time! Rick from the Barriere Fun Run, participating as a pace bunny today, came up and congratulated me, and we talked for a bit with Craig and his sister. They then said their goodbyes and left, and since I had to drive back to Vancouver and run another 10K on Monday morning, I headed out too.
My next race was the Turkey Trot 10K on Thanksgiving Day morning at 8:30 AM on Granville Island, in support of the Vancouver Food Bank.