Not in recent memory have I not wanted to run a race. Sure, there have been races where I was nervous or anxious beforehand, but I always looked forward to the run. In this case, after a couple of days of ‘man-cold’ – followed by a nearly sleepless night – I was feeling just sorry enough for myself to consider skipping the event entirely. The race in question? The Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k.
Have you ever seen the TV show Once Upon a Time? If so, you’ll recognize Steveston as Storybrooke, where most of the action occurs. It’s a small fishing village and historic salmon canning centre about 30 minutes south of Vancouver, and now a popular tourist destination.
And as you may have gleaned from the fact that I’m writing this race report, I heaved myself out of bed in time to catch the train to Richmond, where Lucy kindly met me at the station en route to Steveston.
It was Lucy – my Forerunners buddy – who encouraged me to sign up for the Ice-Breaker. In turn, I persuaded Susan (who did her first half marathon back in October!) to participate. And since I had picked up bibs for both of them on Friday night at the Running Room, I clearly had no excuse for not showing up. We arrived at the Steveston Community Centre, meeting up with Susan and a bunch of Forerunners folks, just as the rain started to fall.
Standing shivering and damp at the Start/Finish Line, I knew that my first race of 2016 was going to be a tough one.
The Ice-Breaker is an out-and-back course along the Steveston riverfront and dyke. Arguably, it’s a fast and flat course. But to say that today’s weather was punishing could be considered an understatement. For the first kilometre, we zigzagged through some residential areas, and the rain started in earnest. Then we passed the historic Britannia Shipyards (well worth a visit in the summer months!) and headed onto the dyke.
Now we were fully exposed to the elements. I had been squinting into the rain, but the wind picked up and it felt as though tiny needles were being hurled at my face. Not exactly cold, but fighting the gusts off the water made moving forward a chore. The path turned to gravel, mud and puddles. My feet were soaked and aching. And although I was wearing a Buff, the buffeting wind in my right ear was a constant roar.
Because I could barely open my eyes, I couldn’t see much scenery beyond what was right in front of me. On the grey, rolling river I saw a couple of chip barges, with more grey sky in the background.
Then we turned around.
Maybe the rain let up a bit. Maybe it was because the return route was on the road, rather than the path. Maybe it was the wind at our backs. But heading back was so much easier. No more stinging needles on my skin. A bit more downhill.
And a negative split – the second four kilometres nearly 2 minutes faster than the first four!
I managed to pass a few people in the last few hundred metres, and crossed the Finish Line with a result that was better than I had expected, given my nasty, self-pitying man-cold and the miserable weather.
And I was thrilled to cheer Susan across the finish line!
We all gathered back at the Community Centre, where we were supplied with hot soup, pizza, bagels, fruit and coffee. Age group awards were doled – including to a few speedsters from Forerunners. That was followed by a bevvy of door prizes, and once again some of our posse reaped the benefits. We all headed out for lunch in Richmond.
And then I went home to bed.
Unsurprisingly, my results were mediocre in comparison with what I’ve accomplished in the past. But I have no regrets about doing this race and plan to better my time next year!
**NOTE: Special thanks to Debra Kato (@debrakato) and Susan Kristiansen for kindly sharing their photos!**
Chip Time: 40:12
Average Pace: 5:01 min/km
Place Overall: 117/273
Age Category Place: 10/16
A very low-key affair at the Running Room – a table and a volunteer with bibs and a list of names. Quick and painless.
Nothing – this is a minimalist event. Cheap and cheerful.
As described, a flat out-and-back course. On a sunny day, this would be an extremely scenic route along the South Arm of the Fraser River, past some local historic sites. On a rainy and windy day like today, it was just rainy and windy. The volunteers along the route were troopers, though – cheering and encouraging with their umbrellas and rain gear. There was one water stop at the turnaround point – but I think most of us had enough water falling on us that we didn’t need any more!
Muscle MLK at the Finish Line, followed by a good array of food back at the Steveston Community Centre (soup, pizza, fruit, bagels, coffee). It was nice to have a place to gather inside given what was going on outside. And although I didn’t win a door prize, there were some pretty awesome items to be won, including gift cards from the Running Room, MEC and local restaurants, and even free flights with Harbour Air. Not bad, considering there were only about 275 participants in total!
Would I Run It Again?
I’m committed to bettering my time next year! This is a great local race – and although it has none of the frills (like t-shirts and finisher medals) of larger races, it’s got a positive atmosphere with a lots of familiar faces. See you in 2017!
Since my week consisted of 1) being sick and 2) running a race, I’m going to link up again with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! Join in by visiting either (or both!) of their pages!