What a start to my 2013 road running season. I was on pace for a new 5k personal best despite a snow-packed course left over from a major winter storm in St. Catharines two days before the race.
Too bad the course didn’t quite stretch out the full five kilometers. But, it happens. And I was satisfied to hold on to a consistent pace despite the condition of the streets and the fact I wasn’t sure I was ready to run a race.
It all went down at the St. Catharines Road Runners and Walkers’ Valentine’s Day 5km Road Race Feb. 10 in St. Catharines. I placed third overall and first in the men’s 30-39 age group. It was my first race running for Team Running Free and while I don’t usually start racing until April I have to admit I was anxious to get a run in under Runnning Free colours.
The race featured an out-and-back course through some residential neighbourhoods in Port Dalhousie, a section of St. Catharines. The race was well-staffed with volunteers and Niagara Regional Police officers were controlling traffic at intersections along the course. The City of St. Catharines did a good job cleaning up the streets after the heaviest snowfall in Niagara since the mid-1980s.
Despite usually avoiding racing along snow-packed and icy roads I embraced the fun-run spirit of this event. Having said that, I was looking for a new 5k personal best. I’ve been training hard to increase my speed and wasn’t sure I could keep up my new pace for a full 5k. At least not yet. But I was confident I could nail a pace around 3:30 per kilometer. That would about 45 seconds faster than my current PB, which I set in November.
I also wanted to place high because the race was a part of St. Catharines Road Runners Race Series.
At the start I was part of a pack of four or five but the group quickly splintered over the first kilometer of the race. Kevin Moore was the overall winner in a very fast time of 14:48 and led from the start. I could see Kevin for most of the race but he lost me over the last kilometer-and-a-half. Jose Fuentes was second in 15:27.
I crossed the finish in 16:02. By my Garmin, the course was about half a kilometre too short, but organizers warned of a shortened course before the race began. I held onto my pace for most of the race but pulled up a little over the last kilometer when I knew I had third place all to myself. I regretted not pushing all the way to the end, I always do, but I almost bailed rounding a corner and decided to not risk falling into a snow bank in front of the spectators, residents and other runners for only a few seconds.
Amanda McLeod was the first female in a time of 16:44. Phil Moreau, my brother-in-law and Running Free teammate, placed third in the men’s 30-39 age group in a time of 19:37. Click here for a full list of finishers.
Afterwards, I picked up my medal, a chocolate heart, at Port Dalhousie Lions Hall. Organizers called the do the best post-race party in Niagara. With a live band, free food and good friends, they weren’t kidding. The race was a fundraiser supporting Gillian’s Place, a shelter for women and children, and was also in memory of Bob Meunier, a founding member of the running club. Read more about Bob here and here.
Looking forward to the Head for the Hills Trail Race in April.