One of my favorite local races, the Peachbud 10k was this Tuesay. It is part of the Niagara Running Series, and I'm glad they are keeping it going after the tragic loss of the race director Jerry Friesen last fall. I figured I would use this race just to see where I'm at, since I can tell I am starting to regain fitness. My best guess going in to the race was that I am about 8-10 seconds per kilometer slower than before the injury, so I figured my time from last year and the year before that of 31:21.0 would be a good goal. (Yup, I ran the exact same time to the tenth of a second 2 years in a row...2 years ago was a huge breakthrough for me, but last year I was a bit disappointed with the time) I actually ran a race in London 4 days earlier, but basically treated it as a tempo. My high school coach was taking a few of his athletes up to run the high performance 1500's that night, and the road race was an hour before them, so it was well worth my while to get a ride with them, and win a gift certificate for some shoes. I'm just about due for a new pair now so it's good timing. The London series used to offer prize money, but this year they switched to gift certificates for Runners Choice. In a way, its a good thing for me, since I don't have any shoe sponsor yet, and most people faster than me do, so most likely I can cruise to an easy victory in these races and get some shoes. That is a very good thing, because I'm a cheap dutchman, and probably put 1500 miles or so on some of my old shoes from university. That is probably not a good thing, but hey, I went injury free for over a year!
Back to the race yesterday. For the first few races, Niagara Running series decided to not offer prize money, probably because of Jerry's death, but for the Peachbud, they brought it back and the prize structure for 1st to 3rd was $500 - $300 - $200. I know Jerry loved the competitive aspect of the series, so it's great that they are offering prize money again. I might have run the race anyways, but when I heard there was prize money, it was great because it meant I wouldn't be all out alone in front, and...considering that Canadian Olympic trials are this weekend, there might not be too much competition, so despite not being 100% back to where I was, I had a pretty decent chance to cash. A few minutes before the start, I looked around and didn't see anyone I noticed. Then, at the last minute I saw Josephat Ogneri walk to the line. Of course! He is my most common road racing rival. Out of the 15 road races I ran since last June, 12 of them offered prize money, and he was in 9 of them. I'm 3-6 head to head against him, and tend to beat him in the longer courses with a few hills on them. Usually if he doesn't show up that means there probably was another race that day with better prize money somewhere within driving distance. One time for a half marathon, I thought maybe he wouldn't show up since he raced a marathon the week before. Wrong! He still showed up and ran a 1:05! For this race, I knew it wouldn't be realistic for me to beat him considering my current fitness, but I decided to see how long I could hold on to him. We went through 3k in about 9 flat, and then I started to fade. I was able to keep him within my sight, but when I reached 8k in 25:05 he was too far ahead and I was comfortably in second, so I thought to myself, "I wonder if I can run the exact same time in a road race 3 years in a row. I would need to hit 3:08 pace for the last 2k to do it, so it was definitely realistic. At 9k, I was 28:13, so I was right on pace. "Just keep this same pace" I told myself. As I turned the corner towards the finish chute I realized I would have to sprint it in, 31:17...18...19...20...21...22, crap! One second off! 1.5 seconds to be exact. But I'm pretty happy to be that close to where I was last year at this time, considering I lost a month of training this spring. Not to mention $300 that I didn't expect to earn! I probably wont be racing again until August. For now I am best off focusing on getting my mileage up and staying healthy.
Another cool thing about this race was two of my brothers also ran. One of them was Joel, who has a mild learning disability, basically something in between autism and aspergers. Last year at this time he was suffering with a little bit of depression, but this year that is gone, and the last month or so he has taken up running. He would've never done that last year. It's great for him, because I know for me that running can be a great stress reliever at times. He broke 50, and I didn't think he would. I was happy for him! My youngest brother Jared also raced, but he was in the 5k. He broke 21, not bad for an 11 year old.