After a slow build-back from injury, it felt so great to be out racing again at an official Vancouver Island Race Series event. And what a great first race to come back to!
The first of its kind, the McLean Mill 10K on April 2nd. It is a scenic course set against stunning mountains with an epic start and finish at the old McLean Mill, a national historic site. Having never been to McLean Mill, I had no idea it was such a cool place to visit, let alone race. Nestled within the forest, the start line begins at the entrance to the historic site and weaves down along a rustic dirt road before merging onto the main paved road.
McLean Mill 10K race start with Mark Cryderman (left) and Jonathan Walker (right) leading the pack (Photo credit: Joseph Camilleri)
The first four kilometres are an undulating yet relatively straight and slightly net downhill stretch with only a couple of turns. I went out for the lead with the goal being to practice my A-goal pace for TC10K, and pretty soon found myself in solo territory. I kept focus on the bike marshal in front of me and dug in. By halfway, I realized my pacing was a bit ambitious and knew I’d be in for a wild ride! And that it was, grinding a positive split into the second half over a fairly hilly net uphill stretch to the finish. While this wasn’t the day to reach my A-goal, I was very pleased with the overall feeling and satisfaction that came with an all-out effort. Of course, a debut course record and the win was also fun too!
The key learning I took away from this race was the importance of controlled pacing based on my current fitness (not goal fitness). I learned quickly that I’m not in 32:30 shape, and that was humbling! But by not forcing the pace too soon in a race, I think we can all give ourselves a better chance at reaching our goals with time. “Stay smooth, controlled, and let the pace come” will be my mantra next time.
So yes, lessons were learned at the McLean Mill 10K, but not only that, there was amazing post-race food, local craft beer, and great times reconnecting with the awesome Island Race Series community. Big shoutout to Port Alberni for hosting a great event, and gratitude to Sean Mitchell and the Prairie Inn Harriers for the carpool and great chats with the Prairie Inn Harrier lads to and from the race!
With the comeback from injury, my coach suggested I choose either the McLean Mill 10K or the Westcoast Sooke 10K. I would have loved to do Sooke, but the timing worked best for McLean and I am happy with that decision.
Next up – Bazan Bay 5K!