Why Do I do this?

 

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At about 3K, I begin asking myself why I do this? Why do I chase these silly goals I put in front of myself? By the time I finish….my face pretty much shows how I feel.  But magically…within 3 minutes…I’m already thinking ahead to the next one.

It’s funny, an article sent by a friend recently reminded me that at 45, I am by all scientific evidence, beginning to slow down and that the wonderful effects of aging are starting to show. Not a lot, but a little. It also went on to say that I’m probably in denial about it. Yeah…pretty much.

The truth is, my entire athletic journey has been one built on denial.  I’ve refused to believe that anything is outside my grasp if I work hard enough. I’m smaller , less muscular and for the most part getting involved in most of this really late. Yet, in my mind, I am within reach of so much and I will keep reaching as long as I can..which is probably the rest of my life.

Earlier this summer, after coming off my win at the Bad Beaver Ultra, I decided to revisit my goal of running a sub 18 minute 5K. My personal recorded best in a race is 18 min 13 seconds. (My personal best is 17:50 or something..but that’s unofficial and only by my Garmin so I can’t count it.)

It’s been tough trying to retrain my fast twitch fibers, but I truly believe I can do this.  If not this fall, then I’ll patiently wait until spring and continue training for it through the winter using snowshoe racing as the spring board.

If age has shown me one thing, it’s how to be more patient with some of goals. If my experience has shown me anything, it’s that denial can sometimes lead to me achieving my goals.

So, why quit now? I have big plans! For those of you who refuse to accept the status quo or are denial…keep on keeping on!

Cheers!

North Face EC Ontario 50 Miler

Wow, what a race! Incredible course, incredible scenery! I am still a bit awestruck.

On Saturday, I competed in and completed the North Face 50 miler Endurance Challenge in Collingwood. Knowing little about the course, but enough about the Blue Mountains, I have been spending A lot of time training in Gatineau and Frontenac. This race was my “A” race for the year and I knew it was not going to come easy . Running anything over 35K can have unique circumstances so running 80K up down a ski hill and on the Bruce Trail was going to be something else.  I learned that this is what North Face is famous for, tough vertical challenges. I love it.

For each serious race I do, there always seems to be a song that sticks with me. For this race it “Bleed it Out” by Linkin Park

Race Distance – 80K ( Garmin is reading 83.5)

Total Time – 10 hours 7 mins

Elevation Gain – 2233 meters

Total Calories Burned – 5876

Standings – 13th/95 overall, 3rd/6 age group and 11/61 men

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….Yeah here we go for the hundredth time
Hand grenade pins in every line
Throw ’em up and let something shine…

Training and Strategy Going In

I won’t bore you with all the details of my training. Suffice to say, I feel my coach Neil and I prepared a solid plan and execution strategy.

Since April, I have been spending almost every weekend running in Gatineau or Frontenac. I knew the NFEC was going to be hilly, and since hills have been my weakness I was not taking any chances. Waking up at 4:00 am sucks on a weekend, but this was my “A” race. I was not going to screw it up with lack of training and then wonder what happened.  Our plan was to stay around a 6:00 – 6:30 pace, picking up speed on the flats, but not the point where my heart rate picked up and started kicking me out of aerobic. I wanted my body to burn as much as fat as possible and use the limited Glycogen stores sparingly. My issue in the past has been bad judgment on pacing early on in races, and I was not going to deviate off plan!!

Specific areas of training:

Wolfe Trail off P13 in Gatineau.

Slide Lake, Big Salmon and Arkon Trails in Frontenac.

The Race

Up at 3:00 am. The race starts at 5:00 am, so I need to eat and prepare everything. Drop bags must be dropped before 4:30, so this left me only 1 hour and 15 minutes to leave the hotel. In typical fashion, the night before was a write off for sleep. I prepared my drop bag. Extra shoes, Extra shorts, Extra socks, Extra shirt, Extra gels and food. I left the hotel at about 4:05 am and drove out to the mountain. It was humid with a nice gentle breeze coming off Georgian Bay.

…Truth is you can stop and stare
Run myself out and no one cares…

GO!!!

If you check the elevation profile above, you’ll see that this is a very hilly course with a lot of up and down. It’s also a hilly course with some pretty steep vertical sections. If you had not prepared, it was going to be tough. This meant periods of walking when I knew I could run and letting people go by me. This was perhaps the greatest challenge , but Ultra running, as I have learned is about patience.I followed the race strategy closely and it meant saying goodbye to some people on the first lap. I knew instinctively that I would see some of them again, and I did. The course kept coming back for more and as the heat of the day built, new challenges presented themselves to go along with the hills. The course itself, was a 2 loop x 40K. I paid very close attention to the entire 1st loop so I could guess where some of the trouble spots would be on the 2nd loop. Believe it or not, some of the toughest sections were the ones you had to descend. In particular for me,  the last 1.8K down to restart the 2nd loop or come home. It was close to torture. Hard packed, loose shale rock with uneven, steep and loose stairs. Each step sent your ankles, knees and hip flexors into a scream fest. Slowing down prolonged it, speeding up made the impact that much harder. I loved it because these are the moments that define us.

I was very happy that Lap 1 was executed perfectly, most of Lap 2 also saw the plan, but the last 7K were tough. I started leaking time because I was not able to take advantage of the downhill sections like I should have.

My Mantra for this race : “I’m tired, I hurt but I’m not quitting!”

…this hurts, I won’t lie
Doesn’t matter how hard I try
Half the words don’t mean a thing
And I know that I wont be satisfied
So why try ignoring him
Make it a dirt dance floor again…

 

There is a little bit of everything on this course. Single Path Trails, Stairs, Dirt Roads, Pavement, Ski Runs and bush hogged paths through a forest. It really is a quick run from a perception as terrain moves fast and KM’s do tend to roll by.

 

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Energy and Nutrition

Some of my training, was not just running. It was training my body to reduce the need to constantly takes gels or sport drink. I purposely pushed myself during my running  and cycling with only water. It was rough early on, but I found that it got much easier to go longer without starting to feel that heavy, bonk like feeling. Regardless, you still need some nutrition and I made sure I stayed on top of this. The aid stations were well stocked and I had no problems finding whatever I needed. This ranged from ice, water, M&M’s, skittles…you name it. At my last 50 miler in Haliburton, I hit a bonking wall at 60K. I was very happy to push through without seeing that monster this time. I was tired, but I was always able to draw on energy.

…I bleed it out digging deeper
Just to throw it away…

Physical

Ouch. My body was tired and sore but I’d be more concerned if I was not hurting. In particular, my feet felt like hell. I wore my compression socks, and I think that friction was causing some of the issues as the foot slides around in the shoe. I wore my Trailroc 245’s and I’ll look for something with a little bit more cushion on the long events. Inov8 now has an Ultra shoe  (Trailroc 295 ) and it’s on my list to explore. Climbing the last few hills, I could feel my calf muscles threatening me..they were quivering with each step up the hill but I managed to hold hem off.

Overall

I am happy!

This was my A race and I came away with no questions on whether I could have done anything different. The course is excellent ad the race organization was great. My training got me exactly where I was hoping it would have. Icing on the cake was where I placed overall. This was only my second 50 miler ever.

But don’t ask me about a 100 miler…I’m not considering that beast yet.

Time for Tri!

Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series

 

I started writing my race report for the event in Frontenac, when I realised that I was probably not going to say much different then I did last year. So I decided that maybe I’d write a quick report on the entire series.

 

Why?

If you love to run, you need to try Snowshoe running. It’s unlike anything you have ever tried, but three times as fun. It is hard work, but you are always in control of the amount of effort you put into it. Being able to run on trails that would be (otherwise) inaccessible is an amazing feeling. Whether you are running through an open field or a snow lined canopy within a bush, winter running does not get any better than this. I should also add that if you are after a cardio workout, you get all the benefits of working your hardest interval session without the pounding of running on pavement.

 

Who?

The series is sponsored by Dion Snowshoes, directed by Spafford Health and Adventure and hosted by different people who have fallen in love with the sport. You will see the hosts ( and the directors ) pulling on shoes at some of these events.

 

When and Where?

Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series – Race Dates:

· Saturday, January 11, 2014: Summerstown Forest Snowshoe Race – Cornwall, ON
· Sunday, January 19, 2014: Frontenac Snowshoe Race – Frontenac Provincial Park, Sydenham, ON
· Saturday, January 25, 2014: Brighton Winterfest Snowshoe Race – Brighton, On
· Saturday, February 8, 2014: Westbrook Snowshoe Race – Westbrook, ON
· Sunday, February 16, 2014: Frozen Ass Snowshoe Race – Batawa Ski Hill, Batawa, ON
· Sunday, February 23, 2014: Switzerville Red Barn Snowshoe Race – Napanee, ON

* February 28 – March 2, 2014: Dion US Snowshoe Running Championships – Bennington, Vermont, USA (Open to International/Canadian racers too. Note: Not part of Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series).

 

 

 

What is the atmosphere like?

Picture yourself arriving at a friends house for a day of skating. It’s light, jovial and fun. In fact, you may not even recognize that this is a race at first. Once the start comes, it becomes purely about business for some but good fun for all. On the trail, there is a good chance you will be encouraged at least 10 times by someone. After the race, it returns to the light and fun atmosphere. During the awards, it is normal to hear jokes being cracked and laughing as people drink their coffee and eat their post race meal.

 

I don’t have a pair of snowshoes!?

There are some limited pairs you can borrow from Derrick, but you need to contact him early to make sure a pair is reserved. And no…they are not the same type of shoes your parents may have used to trek through the bush.  

 

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What’s my favorite part?

I have to say, post race is my favorite. Sitting around and chatting with people while the awards and draw prizes are handed out. There is never a shortage of draw prizes and they range from books, fleece socks or other useful gear that runners can never be short of.

 

How do I find out more?

Check the website out, drop me a line or contact Derrick or Sara directly!

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers!

Haliburton 50 miler, or the first 80K run of my life Race Report

So the big question I am getting asked. Is the 50 miler harder than an Ironman? After thinking long and hard, I have an answer to this but I will wait to the end.

Strategy

I went into this race hoping to land a time around 9:30 – 10:30. Having never ran the distance, I was not sure what to expect. What I did know, was that Haliburton is not a course to take for granted. There are a lot of climbs and some very, very tough technical sections that require full attention. The course is an out and back, so everything you may breeze though going out could get you coming back.

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1) I sent my drop bag to Aid station 6 ( ~ 30K ), this would give me access to it twice. Once on the way out  ( ~ 30K  ) and once on the way back ( ~ 60K ). In it, I placed  extra gels, a couple of natural energy bars, my extra clothes, an extra water bottle belt and an extra buff.

2) At the start of the race, I planned to run quick and create a gap ahead of the main group. I did not plan to stay with the leaders, but I wanted to have free movement on the trail when I entered it. I planned to run/race hard for the first 50K, and then see what the legs had left. I was fully expecting, and was fully prepared to have the wheels come off at some point. I purposely wanted to give myself a full test of physical and mental capability in this race. This may sound strange but I was looking at this as a culmination of the last 6 years of training. This was what I was considering  the end of the first period in my training and a start of a new one.

3) From an nutrition angle, many people with experience kept telling me to keep eating. I am used to this for my Ironman races, but a reminder is always welcome. I figured I better keep eating. I was targeting to consume gels, fruit bars, Larabars and then some goodies at the aid stations. Typically, once every 45 minutes.

4) For liquids, in my Ultraspire vest ( review coming soon )  bladder, I carried 2 liters of Heed going out and also a 650ml bottle of water. Refill as needed.

Race Day

“…Well I woke up to the sound of silence , The cars were cutting like knives in a fist fight..”

The First Half

haliburtonstartThe race began on Saturday morning at 6:00 am. It was dark and cloudy so I chose to wear my headlamp as I was very afraid of finding a pothole early on and rolling my ankle. As some of you know, I spent a great amount of time with my PT Jenn Keller at Podium Sports rebuilding it all winter. The ankle has been holding up, but it is not 100% nor will it ever be again.

The call to the line went out and the Bag piper piped us to the start line. Something beautiful listening the pipes that early.

The start came quick and off we went. The first 6K or so is all road and rolling. I stayed with the lead group for the first 3 or 4K, and then backed the throttle down bringing myself closer to where I wanted to run.  When we went into the trail around Macdonald Lake, I could see two guys in front. Both disappeared within the first 10 minutes and that was the last time I saw anyone for a while. It was cool on the road, but the humidity inside the forest was high and it was not long before I was sweating. The first 17K seemed to fly but suddenly I got a wave of self-awareness. The enormity of the run in front of me went from being a post or two on Facebook to one long bitchin’ day. I swallowed some anxiety , put my head down and adjusted my form. I promised myself that regardless of what would happen, I would try my very best and never give up.

To quote a friend of mine. “Quitting is not an option”

Running across the trails, deep in the forest is both humbling and enlightening. When you get into “flight mode”, you feel like you are flying along the trails and its magical. But the enormity of the forest can be overwhelming at times and being alone inside it is not like running or riding on a road. On the road, you’re rarely more than a minute away from a car, or a house. In the forest like Haliburton, you are not accessible to other people and can run for long periods of time without seeing people. Your foot fall can echo and branches snap loudly.

One of the other things about running on trails, is that it’s much harder than road. For example, a hill on a road has been smoothed and levelled to reduce it’s grade, but not so much on a trail. Walking is a normal part of a race and there are some hills you cannot climb while you run. It requires much more concentration because zoning out with loose rocks could give you a broken ankle. At about 35K, I lost focus and went over hard on my ankle. I yelled, grimaced and had to stop. I quickly started doing the self-analysis and tried to determine how bad it was. This hurt and I knew it was going to impact the rest of my race. The question was, would it stop me? I had no choice but to walk a little bit and during this time, two runners went by. Both asked me if I needed help. I was about 2K from the nearest aid station. I told them to go on and decided that there was only one way for me to figure this out. It hurt, but I slowly started gaining momentum again and it subsided slightly.

The biggest piss off, is that this was very early for me and I now needed to uber careful.  My ankle had nothing left to protect me from another roll. I had no choice but to pull back and take no risks.

The Second Half

Photos Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/andys_camera/

“…If you’re lost and alone, Or you’re sinking like a stone, Carry on, May your past be the sound, Of your feet upon the ground, Carry on…”

I proceeded through the next aid station and ran to the turn around at 40K. I was now one marathon completed, and was going home.  My ankle was hurting and my legs were showing signs of fatigue. The pace started dropping and the hills started grinding more. I doubled up on my fuel hoping to get a bit of a boost and ran the next 15K at about a 7:20 pace.

I crossed the 50K mark with a time of 5 hr 25 minutes. That was a best for me and to do it on a tough course like this (with a rolled ankle) I was happy. Small victories right? It gave me a boost for about 10K

Things got dark ( figuratively ) for me around 60K,  I started missing  and time started slipping. I was tired, grumpy and sore. My knees were bothering me, and I could no longer run down hills. There was no food I was carrying that seemed to be working, so I started taking ginger ale at the aid stations to try and get some sugar. In my head, I started wondering if I could make my goal. Could I make it? My body and mind had gone to a dark room and did not seem to want to come back.

I did a motivation roll over and tried  to reboot my thinking process. “Goals are self-imposed, Limits are meant to be broken  and whether you think you can or you can’t….you’re right”.  I had a very good run up to the 60K, so I should be very happy that I was still moving and was able to finish. Somewhere around 65K, I looked back over my shoulder and saw two friendly faces coming towards me. I can honestly tell you, I felt a huge rush when I saw Dave Yona and Dave Bohn. Mr. Bohn, ever the gentlemen gave me a handshake, a smile  and quickly invited  me along. “ Come on, we’re finishing this thing together! All of us!” he said. He said it not with authority, but with the tone of someone who had been to the corner and someone who would steer the ship home. I found myself bouncing backing and joined the duo. We were now a GGT trio. Choo Choo Choo!!!!

“…Cause we are, We are shining stars, We are invincible, We are who we are, On our darkest day, When we’re miles away, So we’ll come, We will find our way home..”

That was the last time I struggled during the race. We stopped at the next aid station and I grabbed a mouthful of jelly beans. This gave me more energy and I started resetting my form to conserve energy.

-Shoulders Down,

-Swing nip to hip,

-Foot fall under the knee,

-Straight back, head up

– I said head UP!

We ran through Aid Station # 2 and retraced our steps for the second loop around McDonald Lake, the reality started setting in that we would finish this 80K run and we would most likely do it around 9:30. I did not want to get too greedy and banished all thoughts of coming in sooner. We would finish together regardless of how that finish looked. I was still hurting on the downhill’s and my ankle had ballooned, but it was allowing me to keep going. I was in constant “contact” it with it assessing whether I had crossed the line from “hurt” to “injury”. So far, it was only hurt…and that I can deal with just fine. If it crosses to injury, decisions need to be made about potential risks and how long-term the impact could be.

We came out of the forest, and off the last trail for the run. We plodded our way along the roads, talking, distracting and walking when needed. The KM’s ticked off and the minutes rolled by. We stopped quickly at aid station 3, thanked them for their assistance and off we went. No more stopping, it was time to run home. We rolled back through Aid station 2 with a smile, a wave and headed out of the forest.

All of us, all together. The finish line came fast as it always does, and within seconds, we were standing there absorbing what we had just done.

9 hr 21 minutes.

5400 feet of climbing

50 miles / 80 kms

“…May your past be the sound, Of your feet upon the ground, Carry on…Carry on Carry On…”

So finally.

Is the 80K harder than a full Ironman. The answer is “ There is no answer”. You cannot compare the two of them. The only similarity is that they are both endurance events that test you physically and mentally. That is the end of it. There is no way to compare a 3.8K swim, 180K bike and 42.2 run to a single 80K run on the trails. Sorry..just can’t be done. But both are enduring and to be respected.

Breakfast with Team GGT, the day after!

Special Thanks

My wife  – I often forget to mention the most important crew I have. My wife and soulmate who never, ever drops her support and is there at every finish line, whether she comes to a race or not.

My Coach Neil Rosenthal – amazing runner and a great guy. Taking me to places I am excited to go!

Dave Bohn – Dude, you rock. Simply put.

Good Guys Tri – My team and friends, great folks, great support..amazing way to spend a weekend.

My best friend Dale – Dude, we kicked another one in the ass.

My Sport X Family – I took a different direction this time, but you guys supported me as always. Thank you.

Serena, Suzanne and Augusto – Awesome sharing the weekend with you!!! Serena – did you hear those wolves?

Cornwall Race–A Time of Change

 

On April 27th, I set a new PB running a Half Marathon. I ran it in 1 hr 23 mins and 1 sec. Yeee- Freakin’ Haw!!!

 

I went into this race, for the first time, with a very specific goal and detailed strategy.

I went into this race, for the first time, with a totally different run form.

I went into this race, for the first time, with a new mentor and new training style.

 

Holy Crap!!

 

I was probably more nervous then I had been in many races.

I had come to the conclusion that I would hit my goal or drop out trying because there was no going back. Yes, I was nervous, but mentally I was determined and focussed. My goal was a 1 hr 25 min Half Marathon.

 

Friday Night – instead of my usual pre race run, I was actually requested to do some drills with strides. My youngest daughter Keira spied me on the road and laughingly called to my middle daughter “ Alina, came quick! Daddy’s doing Irish dancing.” I finished up my drills and strides, and came in and  stretched for about 15 minutes.

 

Saturday Morning Pre Race – my usual cup of coffee, followed by my usual pre race breakfast. A bowl of cereal, a banana and a glass of juice. I gathered my things up, and left the house sipping on some sport drink as I drove to Cornwall. Once I got the urge to pee, I realised I had had enough and shut the sipping down.

Arriving at the college in Cornwall, I quickly got my kit together and headed outside.

I had to pee

I had to pee again

I had to pee one more time.

The Race

The race is quite nice. Cornwall has some spectacular trails for running and biking and the Half saw us running along the river and through some of the parks. You can view the Map here

 

Pre race warm up – I opted to do some drills, with race pace picks ups as opposed to running the light 2K I normally do. Took 1 gel 20 minutes before race start. It was still about 4 degrees and overcast so great racing weather.

We lined up and did our salute to Boston by pausing for thought. Then, I mentally eliminated everyone around me and became very focussed on what I was trying to do. I placed myself towards the front and decided to latch onto Chris Belair ( sound familiar? see Somerstown SnowShoe report ) for the first portion. I knew I was not going to be staying with him, but I wanted to follow his lead out and open a bit of a gap. I also was very aware Dan Contant was around and I was going to do everything I could to stay close to him.

msrun123The first 2K – The plan was to go out a little faster, probably around 3:45 pace open up a bit of gap, then slow it back down to my target pace of about 4:00  – 4:02 min/km pace. I went out pretty much as described, except Chris pulled away much faster then I had thought.

3K – 12K –  Right around 2 – 2.5K, I could hear footsteps coming up behind me quickly, and I knew it was Dan Contant. As Dan flew by me, I watched him go about 10-15 meters ahead and then I shut down the growing space. I had dropped my pace, but I decided to keep the gap with Dan as constant as possible. We were bouncing between 3:50 and 4:00 pace and I was feeling really good. We were running into the wind slightly with a slight incline, but it was not enough to hurt. The bridge between Dan and I worked like a rubber band for a while but around 8K I decided to try and bring it in. By about 9K I was within 5 meters and at the turnaround I bridged up to a couple of strides. In good sportsmanship ( as all Cornwall folks are known for ) Dan congratulated me on running strong. ( sub note – this is why I love these guys, competitive with pure class. I have yet to meet anyone up in that area who is not an excellent sport. )

12K – 16K – We were into some light rollers, and I sensed Dan had slowed slightly, so on one of the climbs I moved ahead  to share the load. I had no trouble taking my turn as Dan was more then willing to let me stay on heels . We chatted as we ran along still jumping between a 3:50 and 4:00 min pace. At one point we were side by side, and I have to say, that running alongside Dan felt pretty awesome. He’s an amazing athlete and had this been mid summer…I can almost guarantee he would be ahead hands down. As we came upon the 16K mark, Dan started to pull away and opened up a gap of about 50 meters.

16K – 21.1K – I grabbed my last drink off a table, looked at my watch and realised I had a really good shot at breaking my original goal. What I was nervous about, was whether or not there was some monster hiding that would take me down. I decided not to try anything fancy, I was ahead of my goal and shifting to a different gear was not worth it. I continued on running the sub 4:00 min pace……and then we crashed into the 5Kers. It was a sea of people and I started dodging them left, right, center…on and on. I managed to keep a pretty consistent pace, but I did drop slightly. It was fine, I was still ahead and I was enjoying this last little bit of the run.

 

Finish – I crossed the finish line feeling really good. I realised that it was without the usual finish line stress or post race exhaustion. I regained my composure quickly, grabbed a drink and shook hands with the guys who came in ahead of me.

 

Much has changed for me in the last few months, and given I went into this race with so many unknowns, I am very happy with the results.

I was just asked tonight “Where do you go from here?”

My answer is “Dunno, but it’s going to be fun!”

 

My thanks to Mike Stashin of Run Effortlessly , Neil Rosenthal of Sole Fit and Good Guys Tri for their support over the last few months!

 

Course

Distance – 21.1K

Technical Challenge – 6 out of 10

Scenery – 8 out of 10

Race Atmosphere – 10 out 10

Probability to do it again – Definitely

Time : 1 hr 23 mins 1 sec

Place – 4th overall, 2nd age cat

 

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WestBrooke SnowShoe Race Febuary 9th, 2013. (3rd OA – 39 min 38 seconds)

I do love these races! You notice quickly how friendly and “Grass Roots” they are. There is excitement with competitiveness, but a sincere friendliness.  The locations are often laid out in a such a manner, that people sit together and actually have conversations. Strangers meet and become friends, and people from the last race remember your name. But despite being Grass Roots, the prizes are really great and most people come away with something pretty cool.

However; There is also nothing Grass Roots about the competition field, once that “Go” command is yelled…all hell breaks loose and jockeying for position begins. Todays race was no exception.

As  I pulled up, Derek and Marco were busy hanging the Cliff Bar sign up. Cliff Bar is also sponsor for the Dion Snowshoe series now. No surprise a big name wants in!

Derek I might add, is not even home a week after competing in the Yukon Ultra 100 miler last weekend! I am in awe of this feat, it’s my hope to complete a 100 miler in the next year to year and half, but to do one in the Yukon is beyond my comprehension right now. ( Although…it has me curious ).

Anyway, The race was located at the Westbrooke golf course just past Kingston. Very easy to get to, and the location is ideal. After doing a nice little tour ( about 1K ) on the course itself, it hasus  run up and into the Woods to the local trail section.  This is beautiful and amazing, and even as you run ( with a HR at 90% ), you cannot help but realise that heaven is not as far as you might think.

Conditions

With the biggest snow storm of 2013 only 1 day behind us, I was not sure if I was actually going to make it. But as promised, the snow stopped overnight Friday and the sun came out in the morning. With the Plows clearing the roads, it was smooth sailing all the way to Kingston. I would estimate that we had about 20 – 30 cm of fresh, fluffy, soft snow to race in. The trails has been packed by Derek, but the snow was loose and the best way to describe was “slippery” even with snowshoes.   Temperature was probably around – 10 with a slight NW or NE wind, it was hard to tell which way..but the sun was bright and very warm. To sum it up: PERFECT!

 

Race

The course had been shortened because of the snow fall to 6KM. We started at the golf course and went out and around for about a 1 KM, before we climbed a hill that lead into the Wooded trail section. The start of the race was the usual cluster and sprint for position. Some go out too fast ( I have in the past ), others too slow ( I have in the past ) and others just hoping to land somewhere close to their ability ( pretty much my race strategy ). It was clear right away, that this was not going to be a Frontenac. We were working very hard for our pace and it was going to be a job. No 5:00 min / km this time.

I settled into 3rd position behind and Joe Turner and Keith Iskiw and continued to push forward. All I could think about as we moved through the snow was the Title of the Ultramarathon book “ Relentless Forward Progress”. That was the type of race it was without a doubt.

At about 2K, I started feeling my Achilles acting up and if this had of been a normal run, I would have stopped. It got to a  point where I was no longer even landing on my left heel because it hurt. (This does nothing to help the situation I might add)

Keith, Joe and I stayed grouped up as we ran through the woods. We entered the “Lollipop” portion of the field and it got deep and hard very quickly. We each took turns leading for a few minutes and then falling back to take a bit of a break. It  was my first real experience doing this while running and it was great. I can’t speak for Keith or Joe, but placement at that point was not a real concern. I pretty much knew it would sort itself out once we got back into the woods.

Finally we broke the loop of the field and started climbing back into the forest.  Quickly, we picked up our pace again and spread out. This time, the gap stayed true and Keith really turned it up a notch. Our positions settled and I was pretty content. Keith – 1st, Joe – 2nd and myself 3rd.

Coming back in, the trail was broken but still slippery and I still could not get any forward spring.  As we came down the hill and back onto the Golf Course, it was a quick run back in. I could see both Keith and Joe in front and I knew bridging the gap was not going to happen. My HR was already at 90% and it would have taken a BIG leap to bridge. I settled and allowed myself to hold pace and glide in.

westbrooke snowshoerace

I ended up rolling at at 39 mins 38 seconds, placing 3rd overall. I’ll happily take that!

Course

6KM

Technical Challenge – 5 out of 10

Scenery – 10 out of 10.

Race Atmosphere – 10 out of 10

Probability to do it again –  Definitely

Just to note, Keith also has a great snowshoe magazine going. See more of it here. http://www.snowshoemag.com

Richmond Road Race Report–a PB is born!! Broken 40 Min barrier for 10K

Ah Richmond! You beautiful, inconsistent, never know what you are going to get race!

 

For those that have never raced it, Richmond Road Race is put on each January and never has the same weather twice. It’s a running joke that we love to start talking about in early December. But despite this, Richmond is a top notch small race with a big feel.

For starters, they have the local high school opened up for us. This means full access to cafeteria tables, change rooms, showers, bathrooms and ample space for everyone. It provides a very quick way to get out of the elements once you are done racing. After the race, we have an awesome lunch with warm soup, buns, fruit and a drink. The cost of the race is probably one of the cheapest around and the prizes excellent! For a race gift, last year a Toque (that I still wear) and this year running mitts!

I cannot say enough good about Joe Duvall and his crew that put this race on!

 

Conditions

This year saw another interesting year. The weather had warmed and it had been raining .  Unbelievable considering 4 days before that we had cold weather and snow! It was about 2 degrees and foggy, so overheating was a real possibility and like the day before at the snow shoe race, I stripped down as far as I could go.

 

Race

 

This was an interesting one, I had no idea what to expect because I had done the Somerstown snow race just the day before. I was a little tired and tight from that, so I really went into this race willing to take whatever my legs gave me. I decided early on, that I was going to go out as per normal and then fade as I needed to.

I went for my normal 2K warmup run and felt pretty good. I was watching my heart rate for signs of fatigue and didn’t see any real issues. Once the legs got blood flowing, they seemed to loosen off and I actually caught my first glimpse of possibility.

It’s no secret I have been chasing the 40 minute barrier on a 10K for the better part of a year,  so in the back of mind…I started switching from whatever I could get, to what I wanted to get. richmond2013

I lined up beside my friend Graham Ross. Graham is a great athlete and a bit of a mentor to me. We do tend to work really well together in a race because although we do compete, we don’t mind sharing the load as we move through the race. The gun went off ( or bullhorn anyway ) and we started out. After the first KM, I felt pretty good and the pace was staying around 3:50 min/km mark. I decided to stick there and Graham had the same idea. We were pretty much side by side as we turned out the highway.

At this point, my focus was actually less on my pace (and who was beside me) and more on my cadence. I’ve been trying very hard to boost my cadence at the advice of two physiotherapists. ( Shannon @ Podium and Francine at PSI ) So, in my ear, the recorded sound of a metronome chimed off a 180 step cadence. It’s not easy unlearning bad habits and relearning good ones, but it is needed to address some of the issues I have been having with my silly ankle. 

We turned down the “dodgiest” part of the race which is a dirt road that was slightly ice covered and pocked with holes. I become acutely aware of my surrounding and was very cautious about my ankle. Stepping in any of these holes could set me back months and I was a little timid. This was the first time I have ran without my brace in probably a month and could just see turning my ankle again. Soon enough, we turned off the dirt road and hit the highway again. Although wet, it was smooth sailing with just the fog to greet us.

We rolled through the 5K split at 19:40 and I called it out to Graham. I am not sure what he said…but he  might have mumbled something about “shutting up”…or “thank you”. Winking smile

At that point, it seemed a real possibility that we could hang on and break the 40 mark. Right around 7-8 K, my bad habits jumped out and and I felt myself sink back into my familiar over stride and lower cadence. I tried like hell to get it back, but gave up and just allowed myself to finish the race.

Graham and I continued to run beside each other up until the 8K mark when the road started banking. He was on the lower portion of the road and I ran on the higher side. It was here a small gap opened. He later explained that he tried to get up a little higher with me, but in doing so, allowed a gap to open up. Seconds count at the Olympics, but amongst friends they mean nothing in my opinion. Both of us of came in under 40 minutes (quite safely) and far better than the previous year!

 

Final Time 39:26 , 11th OA and 3rd in my age Category. 

Course

10KM

Technical Challenge – 5 out of 10 ( pretty much flat )

Scenery – 7 out of 10 ( not really looking around much trying to break a PB )

Race Atmosphere – 10 out of 10 –

Probability to do it again –  Definitely