Monday, May 27, 2013

Racing Update

May 13, 2013

It has been far too long since I have updated this blog.  I have been racing again so should get at least a bit of race reports up here.  Life has been full this year so far.  Sonja and I welcomed our little girl, Kyla, into the world in January so that has been pretty exciting.  I also purchased a motorcycle because I heard somewhere it is the normal thing to do when you have a kid.  Despite all of this, I am still finding time to train and race although not quite a much of either as before.

My glute injury that sidelined me for a couple of moths has almost entirely cleared up although I still feel twinges now and again.  I did have a foot issue a few weeks ago that came out of nowhere, but that too has fixed itself.  My running volume is only hovering around 40-50k per week right now although much of this is done at intensity.  I did manage to complete four races in April and here are brief write-ups on each.

April 13th: Bob Reid`s Magical Mile

The Mile distance is not one that I compete at often.  In fact, this is only the second one I have ever done.  In  support of a Prairie Inn Harriers event and to try something a bit novel, I decided to give it a shot.  The course took place on the Galloping Goose Trail near Thetis Lake Regional Park.  It took the form of an out and back course which isn`t ideal with such a short race but didn`t turn out to be as big of a factor as I originally thought.   Since the trail is relatively narrow and was to have two way traffic, there was not a mass start.  Each runner started a few seconds apart based on their estimated finish time.  This meant that there wouldn`t be a lot of passing going on.  For the most part, you would be racing against the clock which is not something that I have done much in a race environment.

In my age category, I was the third seed runner behind Byron Trajan and a runner I didn`t know, Cobus De Klerk.  Normally, I have been a bit faster than Bryon in longer races, but Byron is a very good sprinter and I was not in top form so this seeding seemed appropriate.

Once we started, the race really flew by.  Before I knew it, 400m were gone, then 600m.  I could see that I was gaining on Cobus and by the time we hit half way, I had gained 3 seconds on him.  With about 300m to go, I managed to pass him.  I sprinted the last 100m coming in at a 4:51.03.  Slower than my best 4:38.5 that I ran on the track in 2011, but considering that this course is slower due to some elevation plus the turn around, I was satisfied with my time given my fitness level.  Byron ran about 6 seconds faster.

Results.

April 14th: MEC Lochside 10k:

This the the second year Mountain Equipment Co-op has put on a run series in Victoria (they have them all of the country as well).  They are meant to be inexpensive low key events.  At just $15 for entry they are certainly inexpensive.  I really like to support these more minimalist races as I feel that too many running events are too elaborate and profit driven with shirts, other swag, piles of food, aid stations etc.

This particular race was similar to the one I did last year around this time.  The main difference was that it was changed from a 7k to a 10k race.  The start and finish was the same location at Lochside Elementary and the first 6k was close to the same; an out and back on the Lochside Trail.  This year though, just before the 6k mark the course veered into the residential area.  Once off the nearly flat trail, the course was much slower with a lot of rolling hills, corners, and small connecting trails.  My pace dropped considerably.

Eventual second place finisher held on with me for the first 1.5 km before fading back a bit.   I averaged a 3:27 pace for the first six km on the relatively quick trail.  Once on the slower sections, I slowed down by about 20s/km.  I didn't feel great during the race, but not terrible either.  I concentrated on just staying steady  and getting the job done.  I finished in 35:46 - nothing spectacular for sure, but on a flatter paved course, I was confident that I could do a least a minute faster.

April 21st: Sooke River 10k:

The last race of the Island Race series, Sooke River is an out and back race on a rolling course.  It is not particularly fast but not brutal either.  I had no illusions that I would run a spectacular time here, but instead wanted to run smart and finish feeling strong.  I'd be happy with anything approaching 34 min.  

I started out with the lead group consisting of Nick Walker, Jonathan Gendren, Logan Roots, and Derek Vinge.  However, after a kilometer or two they started to pull away as I settled into my own pace.  Things were feeling fine, but I knew that even a few seconds per km faster could push me too far.  Looking ahead the front group had started to splinter with Derek dropping off the back.  I noticed that I was gaining on him and I was able to push past him just before the turn around.  It also looked as if Logan was having a bit of trouble and had fallen off the front.  Logan has been racing quite well this year, so being near him was better than I expected.

As we tackled the hills on the way back to the finish, I thought I might even be able to bridge the gap to Logan as I did make up some ground on the climbs.  However, I just couldn't do enough and he held on to 3rd place.  I had a decent sprint to the finish crossing in 34:18, well over a minute slower than I ran on this same course in 2011, but within my expectations of where I am fitness-wise.  Nick opened a huge gap on Jonathon to win in 32:45.

Results.


April 28th: Times Colonist 10k:

To my surprise, I realized that this was my 11th consecutive time doing the TC as it was my first ever race (outside of track in high school) back in 2003.  I knew next to nothing about training and racing at that time.  I did run for a couple of months mostly on the treadmill and managed to run a sub 45min time which wasn't too bad considering I wasn't  really a runner at that time (the next year I didn't train at all and faded to an painful 48min finish and was sore for a week).  Fortunately with some actual training, things have improved a bit for me since then.

Falling just a week after Sooke River, I hoped to improve on that time a bit on the easier course and more people to pace off of.  I was gunning  for a sub 34 time.  For the first few kilometres things progressed more or less as expected although I  was moving a bit faster than a 34 min pace (3:24) at around 3:20.  The biggest hill climb comes just before the 5k mark and this year this is also the time where some headwind was felt.  Nothing too fierce, but strong enough to be a factor.  On this hill up to mile zero, I was able to make up quite bit of ground on a pack of runners ahead of me and pass about 5 of them.  As I neared the crest of the hill just passed 6km, things were definitely feeling tough for me.  I had to ease back a bit and as sometimes happened to me, some of those I passed on the climb fought their way back ahead of me on the gradual downhill.

I ground out the final few kilometers feeling just in control which is about as good as you can expect at this point in the race.  With half a km to go, I picked up the pace, managing to pick up a place or two in the process and just edging out Adam O'Meara, but not managing to catch Mark Cryderman who had been in the pack I had ducked in and out of.  My final km was completed in 3:09 so it was a pretty strong finish for me.  My finishing time was 33:48, slightly ahead of my expectations and especially surprising considering the wind factor.  Overall, I was happy with how it came together.

Results.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Injury Update

February 11, 2013

I'm happy to report that I am running regularly after being sidelined by my piriformis strain.   I'm uncertain if it was the treatment, just time, or both, but it has slowly improved over the weeks.  Either way, I'm quite happy to be able to get out there and run again.  While it is still not 100% and I still feel it much of the time, it does seem to hold up to fairly tough runs.  Long runs and tough workouts do stress it, but it seems to heal pretty well. 

My fitness is coming back fairly well although I have definitely lost some endurance. I just don't have the ability to finish off a big workout at the same intensity that I did a year ago.  I'm confident I will gain it back soon though.  I'm not planning to do any racing until April at least.  This is both to make sure I don't overdo it and re-injure myself and also to get myself back into a level of fitness not too far off from where I was last year. 

Stay tuned.  I hope to have new races to report on in a couple of months.

Happy running!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Update

Its been a while since I've posted anything here, so here is a quick update.

At the moment, I'm injured and unable to run.  A workout a little over a month ago stained my piriformis and other than racing the Thetis Relay solo (which aggravated the problem) I haven't really run since.  Overall, it is much better now than it was for the first couple of weeks when just walking around was painful, but any running motion pisses it off quite a bit.  I've been getting treatment which seems to have helped somewhat, but has yet to fully resolve it.  Tomorrow, I'm trying something called Structural Dynamic Therapy which I've had others say has been successful with their injuries.  It has been frustrating not being able to run as it is such an important part of my life.  Fortunately, I have been able to do other exercise such as cycling, spinning, stair climber, and weights so I have been doing a fair amount of these.  I still know that I am losing some fitness and specifically running fitness, but hopefully the loss has been somewhat mitigated.

Before my injury I did participate in a few local races and here is a brief summery.

October 14:

5k Salmon Run Run.  A low key charity race taking place at Goldstream Provincial Park that raises funds for environmental education.  It was an extremely wet day, but this didn't deter runners and a record number (over 100) showed up for the event.  Due to the rain, staying warm was a bit of an issue and I was inching to get moving but first had to get though 10 minutes 'warm up' exercises (I got colder).  Eventually we were off looping our way through the campsite roads.  A young guy from Shawnigan Lake started out with me, but after a few minutes faded back a bit (he ended up maintaining 2nd).  I pushed it pretty hard and felt reasonable doing it.  It wasn't a flat course so I knew my time would not be great, but it didn't matter.  I cruised to the finish crossing with a completely soaked shirt in 16:33.  Nothing spectacular, but decent enough considering that I hadn't done as much speed work over the summer.

October 28:

MEC Victoria Fall Classic 10k.  Another low key event paired with a 5k.  I think these events are great since the low frills nature (no shirt, basic food, etc.) keep the cost low.  For many avid racers such as myself, how many shirts do you really need?  I have never liked races that include a shirt with no op-out option.  Anyway, the race was a out and back on the Galloping Goose starting near Johnson St Bridge with a loop around Swan Lake at the for the turn around.   I started out a bit too hard doing about 3:20s for the first couple of kilometres and had to ease back a bit to avoid a poor finish.  No one challenged me for the lead so it was really just a race against myself.  The trail around Swan Lake certainly slowed things down, but after that, I managed to pick it back up a bit.  My finishing time of 35:32 was quite slow for me, but I was still happy to get a solid run in.  Overall a well run event, but I wish these low key events would get the placement of the kilometre markers down properly.  They don't need to be exact, but with inexpensive GPS technology available to anyone with a smart phone or a running or biking GPS there doesn't seem to be a good excuse to not have them fairly close to where they should be.  Some of the markers for this race were over 100m off.  I'm sure that the organizers will get the hang of it on some future events though - next year I understand 3 are being planned.

November 11:

Thetis Lake Relay (solo).
In retrospect, this was probably a race I should not have done since it aggravated my aforementioned injury in a big way.  The first couple of laps went pretty well, but things started to feel a little off by the 3rd and quite bad by the 4th lap.  My splits tell this tale pretty effectively: 18:31 (shorter lap), 19:07, 19:35, 21:56.  I could barely walk after getting it done so was bummed because of how much it messed up my injury.  Despite my lackluster time, I still managed a 9th place overall finish in 1:19:11, only 2nd to Simon Witfield in the solo category...

Results.




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Squamish 50


August 11, 2012

Since I had endeavored to try out some longer races this year I had decided late last year that I would test myself on a 50 Miler.  Squamish was a new race designed to replace Stormy (a 50 & 100 Mile race) co-directed by ultra runner Gary Robbins.  I know Gary from meeting him on many adventure and running racers over the years.  Gary loves some good single track so expected that any course he would be involved with would likely have some pretty sweet terrain.

My training up to this race was OK and I got in a couple of longer back to back runs on Sat-Sun, but I knew my overall volume wasn't a much as is should have been if I wanted to achieve my potential on a race of this distance.  I had little doubt that I could complete the distance, but knew that I was likely to suffer quite a lot.  Since my prep was sub par my goal was to finish running strong and not be forced to hike the last 30k!


The course starts and ends in the town of Squamish.  As the elevation profile below shows, the starts off with  over 10km of flat terrain in and around the town.  I guess this is supposed to be the warm up?

Having spent the night right in town just across from where the finish line, I found my way to the start line a couple of km from there.  It was a early 6:15 start, but that is to be expected with a race of this length.  Once the race started I settled in to a comfortable pace, pretty much ignoring a bunch of guys who went bombing ahead.  Some were doing the relay so you couldn't reliably use their pace as a good indicator.  This was not a race to test and see if I could hang on to someone.  After a short time, I found myself running near Ellie Greenwood, a world class ultra runner who I have raced against a couple of times.  I decided to stick with her for a while as I knew that if I could stay with her, I'd be having quite a good race.  We chatted a bit as the kilometers ticked off.  Once we got out of the urban area and started the climb I was surprised to see her fall back a bit.  I didn't expect it to be the last of I would see of her.

As you can see from the profile below, the first climb is the steepest.  It was indeed fairly steep although there was nothing insane and it is all runnable.  At one point I passed a guy wearing five finger shoes.  That seemed pretty impressive for a 50 Miler although on second thought, I figured he was probably doing the relay rather than the whole race.  I gained a couple of places on the climb and the body was cooperating pretty well at this point.

Elevation profile of the race from my Garman GPS.


I had opted to wear a Salomon hydra pack I had won at Kneeknacker.  It had a single bladder which I filled with water and had a holder in the back for a bottle.  I had to rig up a string so that I didn't lose the bottle when trying to get it in or out of the pack. I had to fiddle with it a bit during the race, but overall it worked well.  I was working on hydrating and fueling myself regularly  knowing that was critical for a race of this length.

The climb lasted a bit longer than expected, this notion aided by the fact that I guy I was running near kept saying "I know this hill, the top is just around the next corner"  I think he may have shut up after saying that for the fifth time.  Eventually, I topped out at the peak above Alice Lake and headed down a fairly steep and technical decent.

There was a good size aid station around 17km prior to the course heading out for a 5+km loop with some modest climbing.  I moved fairly well through this section keeping my pace solid although with 75% of the race still to go, I could tell it was going to be a long day.  After returning to the aid station, we passed by Alice Lake and Stump Lake on the way to the northern most section of the course.

Around 30k, after passing another small aid station, Ellie decided to fly by me.  Knowing her tenacity, I wasn't at all surprised to see her again.  I kept her in sight for a few kilometres and was actually able to catch back up on a small climb.  It wasn't to last though, and after that she gradually pulled ahead.  Trying to match her would have been unwise.  I was feeling OK, but there was a lot of race left, I had to run my own race.

After a bit more trail, the course went onto road for a few kilometres as we neared Quest University.   Unfortunately, there is a bit of a climb up to the major aid station at the high point of the university.  Since the course passed through this aid station again, I knew I would have to do the climb twice.  After a pit stop there and a few moments to grab some liquids and snacks, I headed out again.  

Mid race.  Photo credit Trevor Richmond

Ahead of me was the longest climb of the course, about 8k, most of it on a gravel road.  It wasn't as steep as the first climb, but definitely ground me down.  For the first 4 or 5 kilometres I continued to feel reasonable, but as I headed back onto trail, I started to fade and had to hike some sections even though it wasn't particularly steep.  Everything just started to hurt and I just didn't have it anymore.  It felt more like a muscle issue more than a classic "hitting the wall" although it retrospect it was probably a bit of both.  As you can see from my kilometre paces below, my pace plummeted around the 50km mark from around the 7min/km rate at the beginning of the climb to slower than 10min/km.  Each kilometre seemed to take forever (because it did).  I finally made it to the top of the climb and I hoped I would be able to get some speed back on the downhill section.  While I accelerated a bit, I was still moving very slow.  The legs just felt destroyed and my pace hovered around 9min/km, pitifully slow for a downhill section even though it was somewhat technical.  It didn't help that I was basically out of water.  Given my snail like pace, I know it was enviable that I would soon get caught and after a few kilometres, I was caught by a couple of guys.  One was good enough to offer me an Ibuprofen, which I took, hoping it would take the edge off.

My kilometre pacing for the race.  My 'bonk' is evident from km 50-60.

Since I was out of liquids, I stopped at small creek to fill up my bottle.  It turns out that I was almost back at the university, but I didn't know this.  I took in a lot of fluids and calories at the station and then headed out.  I had started to feel better even before getting to the aid station and once I left it, I felt much stronger.  The difference was quite dramatic actually - instead of barely being able to run, I now felt relatively fresh again (as fresh as can be expected after nearly 60km).  We had to head up the same road climb again and as I did so, I began to pass many races on the first time up.  Fortunately, this time we only went about half way up the climb before taking a different single track back down.  I continued to feel quite good and was able to make good time on the downhill.

Once I got back down again, I had to make my way partway up the road climb for a 3rd time.  While I was still feeling good, I can't say I loved having to go up the same hills 3 times - overall, the course was great, but this repetition was my only complaint.  Luckily this climb was much shorter and I was soon hitting some fun single track again.  After a few more km's I had a steep decent on Powerhouse Plunge followed by a bit more on gravel road.  It was a bit hot in the exposed area, but I was still moving well and was pretty confident that I could finish strong.  I hadn't been able to reel in anyone ahead of me as they must have had quite a gap on me, but I figured I still might and I was pretty sure no one was going to catch me.

 As I approached the last aid station, my Garman GPS indicted that I had traveled 74km.  Assuming that the course was close to 80k, I figured I had 6k or so to go.  The marshals informed me that it was 8km to the finish.  Now 2km may not seem like much extra on such a long race, but while I was still holding in fairly solid, I was more than ready to be done.  Still, there was nothing to do but suck it up and finish.  I had to do one more decent climb through Crumpet Woods and while it was tough, I manged to run it all.  After a decent through those trails, the last few kms were on road.  I pushed on finishing the last few kms around a 5 min/km pace.  Eight hours, forty six minutes and forty nine seconds after started, I crossed the finish line in 9th place. I was quite close to reeling in 8th place who was just over a minute ahead, but it didn't matter.  While, I wished I hadn't suffered and slowed so much in the middle, I was happy to get the job done and finish well.  I'm not sure if I will do another, but it was good to get this one under my belt.  Jason Loutitt won overall with a pretty amazing time of 7:25:22, 7 minutes ahead of 2nd place Aaron Heidt.  Jason also posted a 37min 10k opening time!  Ellie ended up finishing 5th overall, 40 min ahead of me.  Kudos too to Jeremy Clegg who has trained like a beast over the last year and managed to stag an 6th place finish in 8:09:14.






Perhaps the longest run I will see on this watch?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mount Washington Gutbuster

July 28, 2012

I decided to make the 3.5 hour one way trek up to Mount Washington so I could could get in this final Gutbuster race.  I have not done all the races in quite a few years so this was a nice oppertunity.  Luckily, I was able to catch a ride up with Larry Nylan and Valarie Bell which made the trip much more enjoyable.

Once we arrived I saw a few familiar faces with Shawn Nelson, Brad Crowe, Andrew Pape-Salmon, and Matt Ceill in attendance.   It is always great to see everyone both before and after the race so we can talk about more running....  I've done the Mount Washinton Gutbuster once before several years ago when it was an ascent only race.  I recall it being about 4 min of running followed by about 15 min of maxed out hiking with a tiny bit of running near the summit.  It was high intensity for sure!  This time, I expected similar on the way up, but the course now returns to the start line via some single track trails so it would be a bit different.  Who arrives at the top first may not be the winner depending on their downhill technical prowess.

I knew my high intensity climbing skills were probably not quite as honed as I have had them sometimes in the past, but I still thought I could put out a decent effort on the climb.  In the first few minutes of the race, I gained a small lead on the field with Matt settling in behind.  I tried to expand my lead, but was quite near my limit and could do more.  I wasn't gaining more, but at least I wasn't giving up ground either.  After 17:54 of this pain (and under 2k actually covered), I reached the top nearly 500m above.  I quickly got my legs back and headed back down.  

At first I felt I had a healthy lead, but after a few minutes, I heard someone behind me.  Whoever it was, was gaining for sure.  I responded, picking things up a bit, but it was all I could do to stay ahead.  It turned out it was Michael Ravensbergen, a young cross country skier with amazing downhill skills. I was able to just keep ahead for most of the decent. Then, near the bottom, the trail turned on a service road for a bit. The direction we needed to go wasn't clearly marked, I had failed to hear the instructions that were apparently announced at the start (kids let this be a lesson for you to pay attention!). I went the wrong way and Michael followed for a bit.  Soon though Matt came down and told us we were going the wrong way.  Now, all three of us were neck and neck and it with only a few hundred metres to go.  It was going to come down to a sprint.

Michael didn't had quite the leg speed that Matt and I could muster so fell back, but Matt and I were close right to the wire.  I managed to get a single stride on him and that alone got me the win by less than a second.  Indeed, our finished times were an identical 29:13.  Micheal come in 24s later with Shawn taking 4th, Andrew 5th, and Brad 6th.   Top woman was Shauna Connaughton.   Larry had solid race with a 31st placing.   Not my best ever race, but just good enough to get the job done that day.

Thanks to Nick Walker and Mark Nelson for another great year of Gutbuster races and to all the volunteers that help make it happen.

Results

Monday, October 8, 2012

Knee Knacker 50k

July 14, 2012

It may seem as though I have dropped the ball on my blog, but I still have intentions to add my races over the last couple of months.  Sadly, I have probably forgotten a lot of details by now, but I'll do my best.

Once I determined that I wanted to taste a bit of the ultra scene this year, I decided to give Knee Knacker a try.  I've heard from others that is a great race with some amazing technical terrain and tough climbs.  It seemed to be something that would fit well with my strengths.  It is also very popular and has a cap of 200 racers so getting in is only by lottery.  Based on the numbers, I had better than 50% odds, but it was by no means a guarantee.  Obviously, since I am writing this, I was luckily enough to get in.

I did a few long runs, but should have done more to prep for this race, but while I knew I could have probably been more prepared, I figured that should still be able to pull off something decent.

I stayed in a friends apartment the night before.  Sadly, I tossed and turned for a while before sleeping despite knowing that I had to get up before 4am to drive to the finish line to board a shuttle to the start.  The night before, I had prepared my hydra pack with everything I planned to use during the night, I just needed to grab it and head out the door once I got up.  The alarm, went off, I ate a bit, grabbed my bag of extra gear and headed out the door.  I had just walked out the front door of the complex when I realized that my hydra pack was still sitting where I had left it.  Normally, this would not be an issue, but I didn't have a key and my friend was soundly asleep in his 2nd floor apartment with no active buzzer and with a phone on vibrate.  I had a sinking feeling - that pack was pretty important, loaded as is was with water, Gatorade, electrolyte tabs, gels, blocks, and bars - could I even do the race without it?  I tried calling to no avail and even went so far as trying to buzz some other units to see if someone would let me in.  Needless to say, one woman wasn't too impressed to be woken at 4:20am and promptly hung up on me.  I contemplated not doing the race and all then sat and thought for a few minutes.  I could carry an extra bottle I had or perhaps even borrow and proper hand bottle from someone.  I also had extra bars and gels and would probably get me though especially since there was going to be more at aid stations.  I could survive and decided to go for it.

Unfortunately, by now it was too late to make it to the shuttle in Deep Cove so I had to head to the start line directly near Horseshoe Bay.  It didn't help I didn't know exactly where it started and had failed to bring the directions so hoped to be able to find it somewhere along the highway.  Luckily, I was able to do so and make it there with just enough time to check in and hit the toilet before the race started.

After that gong show of getting to the start line, I  hoped the race went a little better.  The course starts with a couple km of flat and gentle climbing on single track and I eased into things knowing this was a long race.  After 10 min or so I was in in 4th place had slotted in just behind Gary Robbins who I felt would run smart and pace himself well.  Gradually the trail steepens and the main climb to the summit of Black Mountain begins.  The total ascent is 1000m so it is a tough climb.  Soon after things got quite steep I was surprised to noticed that Gary seemed to be struggling.  After a bit, he told me to move ahead as he was not feeling well do to a lingering virus of some sort.  He would later drop. 

I managed to be a bit of effort in and catch up to the 2nd place guy, Phil Villeneuve, a very seasoned runner whom I had heard of before, but never met.  I was feeling reasonable, if not amazing on the climb and Phil and I continued together to the summit.  As we started a small decent to Cypress Bowl, Phil opened it up and I realize that I no longer felt that great.  Since I was only about 12k in, this was bad news indeed.  I decided I had to throttle it back a bit if I wanted to survive so I didn't attempt to go with him.  I would have to race my own race and hope I recovered someone.

Fortunately, after the first major aid station and another few kilometers I did start to feel better.  I was still concerned that Gary (I didn't know he had dropped until after the race) would come whipping by me but no one did.  There was a modest climb out of the bowl which wasn't too bad, followed by a long decent that led to the halfway major aid station.  I had left a drop bag here in case I needed it, but didn't end up requiring anything from it.  I grabbed a bit of fluids and food and moved on.  There were a lot of enthusiastic volunteers and spectators which was a nice little boost.  Ellie Greenwood (a world class ultra runner) mentioned to me that Phil was only a couple of minutes ahead and wasn't looking that great.  I certainly had not expected to see him again, but anything can happen in this length of race and sure enough I soon spotted him on the road climb up to the base of Grouse Mountain.  This section was definitely a grind, but I was feeling fairly decent and was able to gain quickly on Phil who was obviously suffering somewhat.  I caught him just before heading back onto trail where we had to grind up another significant climb.  It hurt and I ended up hiking much of it with Phil just behind.

We finally make it to a to a plateau where I was able to speed things back up a bit.  The trail was technical which I generally like, but this far into the race, it does start to grind away at you.  Overall though, the legs were still working pretty well.  After a few minutes I realized that Phil was no longer right behind.  I took a look back and he was gone - I later found out he just hit the wall, likely a result of fatigue from another recent ultra.  Not a fun way to finish a race as his last 20k involved a lot of hiking.

I powered up another small climb which fortunately wasn't as bad as the last one and then had a long section of most flat and downhill to contend with.  At one of the aid stations in this section, Wayne Crowe (a seasoned veteran runner who son was also racing) told me that the leader had left only about 5 min ago and had been cramping badly at the time.  This information gave me a bit of new life.  Did I really have the chance to win the whole race?   That would be really amazing and unexpected.  At the time it seemed possible as I was still feeling pretty decent.  I picked a the pace a bit with the hopes of reeling him in.

Things continued to feel decent for another 5k or so until the final climb up the Seymour Grind started.  It wasn't steep, but my legs decided to call it a day and refused to cooperate anymore.  I was forced to hike even the slightest slopes and the climb seemed to last an eternity.  I knew there was little chance I was gaining time on the leader at this pace and thought it was quite possible someone else would catch me.  After what seemed like an hour (but which was certainly much less) I topped out.  It was a huge relief to hit some downhill, but my muscles were now so toasted that I could not open it up very much.

The course briefly pops onto a road before heading to the final stretch of 4km of downhill single track leading to Deep Cove.  Having done this section a few years back as part of the Iron Knee race, I knew what to expect.  This is a very technical section with roots, bridges, and a few little ups.  It is slow even when fresh and a bit of torture when fatigued.  It feels much longer than it really is.  I was thankful to finally hear the finish line and knew that I was just about finished.

I cruised in for a time of 5:18:04.  Not a spectacular time by any means, but considering my couple of low points in the race wasn't too bad.  My 2nd place was better than expected, but I was lucky to not get caught by the 3rd place guy (Colin Miller) would flew in just 2 min behind me.  The winner was Nathan Barrett who recovered well from his cramping finishing over 20 min ahead of me in under 5 hours.  An impressive performance for Nathen who told me it was his first ultra.  Phil managed to hold on to a top 10 finish coming in 8th and the first woman, Lisa Polizzi, finished 11th overall in 5:53:20.  Overall, I was satisfied with my performance, but know I could have performed better with more training.  Results.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kusam Klimb

June 23, 2012

This was to be my fourth Kusam Klimb having run it previously from 2007-2009. I have been fortunate to be able to take wins for all three of those previous attempts. This year though, would be much harder, as Jeremy Clegg was in attendance and he has been training like a madman. I knew his climbing skills would be off the charts and it would be tough to beat him.

Jeremy and I took off quite quickly on the first couple of flat road kilometers running about 3:40/km splits. Then we headed uphill for the start of the epic 1650m climb over less than 6km. The first couple of kilometres are not too steep and Jeremy stayed together. While I wasn't suffering too bad, I wasn't feeling amazing either and knew that the steepest part of the climb would be tougher than ever this year. Jeremy definitely seemed to be more comfortable than I was and I wasn't surprised when he decided to take off on me about half way up. I wasn't able to match him and he slowly pulled ahead. This was the steepest part of the course where we were gaining 400m for each kilometre - running is not really an option for most of this section and taking close to 20min is not unreasonable. There are many sections so steep that I was on all fours many times.

The trail finally eases off a couple of kilometres from the summit, but the snow also appeared on the ground making it a little more challenging. By this time Jeremy was out of sight, perhaps a minute or so ahead. There wasn't much I could do about it so moved as best as I could on the remainder of the climb and hoped that I could reel him back in on the downhill. Soon enough I make it to the false summit where the course descends to the alpine lake before the final push to the summit. Unfortunately, the course is not well marked here and Jeremy missed the turn up to the final climb. I helped him get back on track and we scrambled together to the pass.

The extreme downhill in the snow is my favorite section of the race, with very steep snow covered slopes. There are ropes set up that some racers use and others prefer to slide down. I personally love just to run down, but some sections are just on the edge of my control - luckily I held it together and was able to put a bit of time into Jeremy on this section. He fought back though when the slope leveled out. I knew it would be a tough remainder of the race. Neither of of would allow the other to have an easy victory.

Once we were out of the snow, there was about 4km on double track with several creek crossings before heading onto gravel road with a nice downhill grade. We were cranking out kimometers just over 3:30/km for this section. The next section is a decommissioned road which is flater and a little tougher. Then comes a bit more single track and a final creek crossing and a tiny uphill grunt. It is nothing really, but hurts after so much downhill and I always cramp here a little bit. The final 2.5km is partly gravel road and then a final kilometer or so on pavement. Jeremy and I were still neck and neck before the pavement, but he opened it up on a small downhill section. I just didn't have anything to counter with since we were already running at about 3:20/km pace. I tried to make a move on the final flat section, but there was nothing more in the tank. Jeremy crossed in 3:23:03, just one second faster than my previous course record from 2009. I came in 14s later for my second best Kusam time.

I was honestly a bit disappointed to not get the win and lose my course record, but Jeremy certainly deserved the win and it was good to be challenged for the first time in this race. Matt Cecill was 3rd about 10 min back. Top woman was Alex Gillett from Victoria. Congrats to Jeremy Lawrence and Richard Knowlton for there 7th and 8th place finishes for the first Kusam try.


 

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