The Bazan Bay 5k in Sidney (just north of Victoria, BC) is advertised as fast, flat and furious. It lived up to its name, being a 2.5k straight out and back along the ocean with zero hills. If you want a fast 5k course, come do this race! This year it is the 4th race in an 8 race series on Vancouver Island. The races in the series are spread all over the island and distances include 5k, 8k, 10k, 12k, and a half marathon. The races are usually scheduled 2 weeks apart. I’m doing the race series mostly for my triathlon training and to get in hard run efforts. Nothing can substitute the effort an athlete can put out on race day with other fast athletes to race against! I’ve been really focusing on my swim and bike this year and have only been running 20-40 km/week so far this year, however, those km’s are high quality. Not entirely sure where a hard 5k effort would put me, I was fairly confident that I would see 15:xx crossing the finish line.
Race morning was rainy and cool, the temperature hovering at 2-4 Celsius. Thankfully all the races in the series start at 11 am, meaning I could sleep in. I was able to sleep in my own bed and I didn’t have to leave for the race until 9 am. That’s definitely not a typical race morning, but much appreciated! I picked up my race number and hung out with one of my athletes near the race start until 15 minutes before start time. We did a good 10 minute warm up, doing a couple of 30 second efforts building up to 5k effort or even slightly faster. Effort for a 5k should be redlining almost the whole way, right on that line of going so fast you might blow up. Not usually an enjoyable experience, but at least you’re done faster! After we did our warm up and wished each other good luck, we made our way to the starting line, ditching my warm up top to my wife who was waiting on the sideline.
After the countdown, we were sent on our way. There was a big group who took the lead right away and I didn’t recognize any of them and wasn’t sure if they were just messing around and going out too fast as a joke (it happens all the time). Turns out they weren’t joking, they were from the University of Victoria and obviously quick runners, especially over a distance as short as 5k. I went through the first km in 3:04 and was already a few seconds behind the lead group. I decided to let them go and to focus on running strong until the halfway point and seeing if I could start to pick some of them off on the way back. I felt very strong running the first half and actually passed some of the runners who fell out of the lead pack. Once I hit the turnaround and started heading back towards the finish, I started hearing cheers for Nick Walker. Nick co-owns Front Runner’s running shop in Victoria and is a great runner. Hearing the cheers, I assumed (without looking behind me…never look behind you!) that he had caught up and was running right behind me. He beat me 2 weeks ago at an 8k race and I didn’t want to let that happen again! I dug deep and ran the last half of the race strong, holding off Nick and actually passing a few more of the runners who were in that lead group. I finished in a time of 15:52 and was 5th overall. The winner of the race was well ahead, in a time of 15:17.
I was happy crossing the finish line under 16 minutes, but most of all that I held off Nick and beat a handful of others who beat me quite easily only 6 weeks ago at a 10k event. It seems my very limited running volume has me still improving while I focus on my swim and bike training. I congratulated the winners and ran over to find my wife and steal her phone to take pictures of a couple of my athletes I still had out on the course. This race was my newest athlete’s first organized run and he finished in 22:30. I don’t know many people who go and run 4:30/km pace in their first race, but he did! Another one of my athletes finished 6th in her age group. I was very proud of both of them for having such good performances. After doing a short cooldown, I grabbed a bottle of water and threw in a couple scoops of Hammer Recoverite to get the recovery process started and we all headed over to the hall for the awards. A great race on a cold, wet day.