A good first race of the season

Team Running Free

Team Running Free in St. Catharines at the Valentine’s Day 5k. That’s me on the left and Philip Moreau on the right.

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.

City crews did a great job cleaning the streets after a major winter storm blanketed St. Catharines with the heaviest snowfall in 29 years two days before the race, but the course was still alittle snowpacked.

City crews did a great job cleaning the streets after a major winter storm blanketed St. Catharines with the heaviest snowfall in 29 years two days before the race, but the course was still a little snow packed.

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.

Finished third overall and first in my age group and added the most delicious medal to my collection.

Finished third overall and first in my age group and added the most delicious medal to my collection.

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.

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cat h. bradley

writer | traveler | food❤️er | yogi | runnin' fool

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