Well...yesterday was one of the most memorable of my running career so far, and definitely my biggest win! God is good! This was an important race, and my first in 3 months, so it has definitely been something that I have been keying on, and praying for a good result. I try not to put too much unneeded pressure on myself heading into a race, but for a few reasons, I was really praying for a good result in this one. Firstly it's the first race of the spring, and I find that the first race of the season really sets the tone for the next couple of races, especially for confidence. Secondly, I have been blessed this year with some support of shoes, gear, and powerbar products, as well as other benefits, thanks to Speed River and New Balance, so I really want to make it show that I am worth that investment. Nevertheless, I made an effort to not put too much pressure on myself, after all, God is in control, and he has a reason for providing me with the opportunity to be here in Guelph and train with Speed River. I have to constantly remind myself to trust in God regardless of my results. Also, I have the prayer support of my family as well as AIA (Athletes in Action), a Christian athletes group on campus that I have been involved with this semester. I am very thankful for that support
Now to get on with how the race played out. I was expecting a slower pace than last year, since it didn't look like there was any clear favorite in the race who was going to try to push the pace and drop everyone from the gun. I was right on that assumption, and actually ended up leading or co-leading most of the first half of the race. I felt relatively decent and in control for the first 20k, and my 5k splits slowed down at a linear rate from approximately 15:30 to 16:00. (This linear regression is much preferred compared to an exponential or quadratic rate of slow down which sometimes happens) I made occasional glances behind me once we passed the half way mark, and it appeared as if there was a pack of about 5 of us still. Even though the money is not the main reason why I run, it is still always refreshing when there is x prize money spots and x or fewer people in the lead pack, and naturally, it's a bit nerve racking when there are x money spots and x+1 in the lead pack. But anyways, at 20k, I was feeling okay, but I was definitely feeling sore in my calves. They were feeling a bit tight before the race, so this was not surprising. I'm pretty sure I heard one of the Kenyan runners mention something about 'mzungu', which I remember in Reid Coolsaet's blog about his trip to Kenya means 'white guy'. You got to do something to distract yourself from the pain, so I spent the next few km trying to think what it is they were saying. 'Let's drop the white guy'? 'Hey look, another white guy'? Maybe. (Lionel Sanders had made a move to the front at around this point) The next 5k was definitely slowest portion of the race though. (~16:30) This was probably done more out of precaution than necessity, since there's a pretty decent hill of about 500m length around the 26k mark. I was glad nobody tried to push the pace during this 20-26k stretch, because I sure didn't want to. The nice thing about the uphill is there is a decent downhill stretch going into it, so it allows your legs to recover a bit. I tried to take a bit of a lead going up the hill, and at this point, I'm quite sure it was just between me and Josephat Ongeri, my most familiar road racing opponent since hitting the road racing scene in 2011. After the hill is a relieving feeling, but I've still got to remember, there's still 3.5k left! I could here my coach Dave Scott Thomas encouraging me on the home stretch, and I could here Josephat making a pretty good effort to catch me. With about 2k left, Josephat made his move and put a bit of a gap on me. At one point, it looked as if I might have to settle for 2nd, but I told my self to stay mentally tough and close the last km with all that I had left regardless of what he did. As we approached Copps Coliseum, I saw he looked fatigued, so it was my time to make a move without looking back. Heading into the stadium I heard someone say I had a 20m lead, At this point I was about 90% sure of the win, and then into the stadium with a roaring crowd and my parents there at this finish was definitely an awesome experience! It's always exciting when a long race like that comes down to the final km! Both this year's and last year's Around the Bay road races were extremely memorable for me. Last year's time was actually 40 seconds faster, but this year being able to win the race was an even huger boost. I had a feeling if I could put up a performance similar to what I did last year, there was a decent probability of winning. Thank God he gave me the ability to run a similar performance! After all, a few months ago I was dealing with some foot pain and was unsure if I would be able to compete in March yet. Thankfully I was able to get in shape pretty fast. Another example of God's provision! There's something special about winning Around the Bay and being part of its history, since it's the oldest road race in North America. It's such an awesome and unique event.
A strong race for, Lanni Marchant who won the women's race in record time, that was an impressive performance! Also some solid results in World Cross Country championships in Poland, Mohammed Ahmed, who I trained with back in high school, leading the way for Canada in 22nd place.
Toronto Yonge Street 10k is what I plan to race next, and that's in 4 weeks. This week will be mostly recovery/easy mileage, and then hopefully I'll continue with some good training in the next few weeks after that, and hopefully have a solid injury free race in that downhill race. I would like to get in a half marathon at one point after that, and possibly a 10k on the track, but I haven't really committed to anything past TSY10k yet. A marathon debut in the fall is a possibility if things go well.