Date: November 10, 2013
Distance: 8k (5 miles)
Pace: 10:09 min/mile
Finish Time: 52:06
Overall Place: 32/48
Organized races around the Stanley Park Seawall are a dime a dozen. Honestly, they’ve gotten a bit boring. But how often do you find one that ventures into the park itself and spends most of the time on the trails?
Like many races, the inaugural Poppy Run 8K started out at Lumberman’s Arch and followed the Seawall around Lost Lagoon, but instead of cutting toward the Second Beach pool, the course headed into the forest. The autumnal foliage was just gorgeous, and there was something eerily spooky about running on trails covered in fallen leaves that muffled the sound. I left my iPod at home, and tried to make a conscious effort to listen to the sounds of the forest and notice the little details that usually don’t register when racing.
If you only ever run on the Seawall, it’s easy to forget how hilly Stanley Park can be, but there was a lot of ups and downs on this course. Three days later, my knees are reminding me of just how tough hills can be when you’re not prepared for them. I also learned that for races with a 9:30am start time, I need something more in my belly than a mandarin orange, a spoonful of almond butter and a pre-race espresso Gu. I usually perform well with little food before an earlier race, but this one started just late enough that I got pretty darn hungry halfway through.
To distract me from the hilly terrain and rumbling tummy, I practiced my ‘sniping’ technique: picking out a person ahead of me and committing to overtaking them before the next KM marker or water station. With limited success — I would pass someone, but since I was also taking a one-minute walk break every mile, they’d usually pass me, and then I’d pass them again, and so on. More like leap-frogging than sniping, really.
The course was well-marked, and the volunteers cheerful and enthusiastic. Instead of race shirts, toques were handed out at the start area. A very smart idea for a winter-ish race — and who needs another race shirt, anyway? There were only 48 participants in the 8K, but I hope they see some growth for next year’s event.
I’ll be wrapping up the Year of Running with the MEC North Vancouver 15K on December 1.