Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mount Doug 11 km Gutbuster

July 26, 2009

This was my last Gutbuster of the season as I will miss the Mount Washington race because Sonja and I will be in Norway for two weeks doing some traveling with Todd and Kim. We have actually been having a summer here so I knew this race was going to be a pretty hot one. The course summits Mount Doug 2 times and Little Mount Doug once. While most of the course forested, there are significant exposed portions, many of them on the climbs where overheating is the most likely.

I had taken my normal one day off before the race and had taken it a bit easier during the week. I race way too often to do proper tapers, but I do like to go into races with relatively fresh legs (particularly one with significant climbing involved). Since I was pretty well rested I expected to have a decent race unless the heat got to me too much. I've suffered in the heat in past years, but more recently it seems I have been able to take it better.

While the field was fairly small for this race, there was still fairly deep talent pool. Jason Loutitt was in attendance again and ended up taking off even sooner than at Royal Roads. He was out of sight even before the main start of the first climb. Kelly Guest was also running, but he had just finished a hard 1.5 hour cycle to the start line so was not going as fast as he normally would. The first climb up Whittaker and Irvine Trails is challenging and was hot near the top. I felt reasonable on the climb and managed to make the summit in 3rd place just behind Kelly.

We descended from the lookout on a trail composed mainly of bedrock. It is quite technical, but I feel pretty comfortable flying down it when it is dry. A fall here could really hurt though so you have to be extra vigilant. I managed to pass Kelly and was just ahead of Shelby Drope by the bottom of the decent. The next slightly uphill segment to the base of Little Mount Doug is also technical with a lot of rocks and roots. I have run it many times before with no issues, but this time I caught my toe on something and found myself careening off the trail right into a large patch of blackberry bushes. I uttered some sort of profanity and I extracted myself and got back onto the trail just ahead of Shelby. Luckily, It was a minor incident that only cost me a couple of seconds and left me with a few minor scratches.

After a short, but intense climb to the top of Little Mount Doug we were treated to quite gnarly decent complete with a good dose of loose rock and dirt. After this, I was expecting the course to descend all the way Mercer Trail as it did last year, but the course had been changed and that section short cut. Unfortunately, with my head down and my mind expecting to follow the same route, I completely missed the turnoff. I am generally competent with navigation during trail races, but I have screwed up a few times in the past. It is never fun to work that hard and then blow it all by not paying attention, but it a reality of trail races sometimes. I knew I had made a mistake before too long as I didn't see any course flagging, but since I didn't know exactly how far back the cutoff was and I knew I would get back onto the course before too long, I continued on. Unfortunately for them, Shelby and Kelly followed me. I apologized as it sucks to be led astray even if they also missed the turnoff.

The blunder cost us six positions which was of course discouraging. I decided not to give up though and challenged myself to see how many positions I could earn back. One the first part of the final climb I reeled in Ben Kingstone and Mark Nelson and managed to get some more time on Shelby. Kelly, however, had moved ahead and gained a bit of time on me. I also caught up to Lowell Rockliffe, but he managed to hang in strong during the final climb. It hurt a lot, but we ended up pulling almost even with Nick Walker and Kelly. The final decent is yet again technical with loose dirt and I again moved well managing to get ahead of all three. The final couple of kilometers is fairly flat, however, so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to hold out against the speed of Kelly and Nick. I was feeling really good though and I cranked the strides out. Nick nearly caught me near the finish though, but I managed to stay ahead by 2 seconds.

I finished forth in 46:28. Based on the times of Shawn Nelson (who ran very well) and Michael Liedtke I would have most likely ended up in 2nd place had it not been for my navigational blunder. Kind of annoying, but at least my fitness felt strong. In the typical pattern, Jason blew the field apart, winning in under 42 minutes. My time was actually over 2 minutes faster than last year even with my mistake, but because the course was a bit shorter it was difficult to judge if I was actually moving faster or not. Final results are here. My next race will probably not be until 5 Peaks Butzen Lake on September 19, so I will actually have nearly two months break - this may well be my longest break since 2006.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Half Monty and Hurricane Ridge

July 18-19, 2009

This is a quick report from last weekend. On Saturday, I took place in the 5th running of the Full/Half Monty Trail Race. This is a very low key Club Fat Ass event. The event takes place at Gowlland-Tod Provincial Park starting at the McKenzie Bight entrance and the course follows the main trail south through the park, going over Jocelyn and Homes Peaks. The course turns around at Cabeb Pike and traces the same course back to McKenzie Bight. Total distance is close to 25km round trip and includes a good amount of climbing and lots of moderate difficultly technical terrain all on single track. For those who like trail running, this is a really great place to run. The Half Monty does one out and back, the Full does it twice to make 50km.

I had run this exact course a couple of times in the past and this time I just wanted to run it as a race to see what time I could get. So far the event has not attracted any elite level runners so the course records of around 2:30 was readily attainable. The conditions were hot and I suffered a bit on the way up to Jocelyn Peak although I was still moving pretty well. I managed to recover somewhat on my day down to Cabeb Pike and I cooled my self down with water, which the race organizer, Carlos Castillo, was kind enough to leave at the turn around. I felt good on the way back, but on the final climb back up to Jocelyn, it was tough to keep the legs moving. I was able to run all of the course though which I was happy about. Despite some fatigue in the last few km, I moved well to the finish, posting a time of 1:56:57 which I quite please with as it was over 2min faster than my previous best time. It was too bad there were not a few more runners out as that would have made the event a bit more exiting, but I think everyone enjoyed the challenging terrain and great views. Carlos has a short write up here.

On Sunday, Sonja and I got up at 5am to join over 30 other Prairie Inn Harriers on a running trip over to Hurricane Ridge on the Washington Olympic Peninsula. The main run too place between Deer Park and Observation Point (about 12km) . Some people (including myself) also added another hour+ on some other trails. The vista were spectacular as is evidenced by these photos.

You can see the rest of my photos here. I spent most of my time running with Jeff Hunt who kept moving well really well for the entire day. Jeff has a great write up on his blog so please have a look there if you are interested in more details about our trip. I didn't know how the legs would hold out after the 2 hours of punishment I gave them the day before, but they felt pretty decent. Fatigue did catch up to me after about 1.5 hours though and the final climb that Jeff and I did was pretty tough. After a quick stop at Hurricane Ridge itself, we returned to Port Angeles for a late lunch/early dinner before heading back to Victoria. Thanks to Bob Reid for organizing the event - it would not have happened without him! All in all it was a great running weekend for me, with nearly 50km of challenging trail running completed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Royal Roads 13km Gutbuster

July 12, 2009

Royal Roads is probably the easiest of the 5 Gutbuster races as it does not have as many sustained climbs as the other courses and less technical terrain. However, this is not to say that it is easy as it still includes a ton of small climbs (some of them very steep). This year, Royal Roads Running club redesigned the course making it longer and adding even more hills. The official distance was 13.8km and although I never really trust measurements given for trail races, it was about 2km longer than last year.

My last race was the Kusam Klimb which felt like quite some time ago (although it really was only 3 weeks ago). My training has been steady, but not intense in the last few months. I didn't expect anything amazing from this race, but hoped to still put in a respectable performance. How I would place would be mostly dependent on who else showed up. The Gutbuster races usually seem to attract a good number of talented runners and I expected nothing less for this race. I spotted Jason Loutitt on the way to the start line so knew who was likely to take the race.

The legs felt pretty good during the warm up I did with Sonja so that was an encouraging sign. For the first time in quite a while, I decided to wear my heart rate strap for the race. I didn't expect to really use it to pace myself, just more for interest sake to see what kind of heart rate I can sustain for an hour.

Once the race was underway Jason stayed with the lead pack all of about 300 meters before accelerating away. I could have tried to match him, but not without killing myself after a km or two. The course included a large number of small, but steep climbs, the first being only a few hundred meters in. Shortly after the climb, Jason quickly disappeared and wasn't seen again.

I was working hard, but feeling in control. During the first couple of kilometers I took a look at my heart rate and was surprised to see it edge over 170 on one of the climbs. Since my maximum heart rate is about 175, anything over 170 is getting into a range that I can not sustain for very long. Despite the fact that I felt in control, I did need to be careful not to push too hard so soon. I took it down just a notch, hoping I could maintain that effort for the remainder of the race.

I was in second place behind Jason for the first few kilometers. However, Shelby Drope and Shawn Nelson were not far behind and slowly pulled ahead of me. Knowing there was still a lot of racing left, I choose not to pace them and instead kept myself moving at a manageable effort that I thought I could hold for the remainder of the race. They would either have enough endurance to push to the end ahead of me or I would reel them in the second half of the course. I was a bit surprised at both their speeds. Shawn is a talented runner, but I have generally been a bit faster. I've seen Shelby at a few Island Race Series races and he tended to go out pretty fast and then fade somewhat. His fitness seems to be improving fast though and he held strong in 3rd place just in front of me until the half way point (Shawn was in 2nd).

The short course veers off to the finish line at the half way point. I had assumed that Shelby was doing the long course, but when I didn't seem him after the courses diverged I realized that he was only doing the short (which he solidly won). Nick Walker was close on my tail at this point as I expected he would be. He tends to start fairly conservatively and then speed up considerably on the later parts of races. I was holding steady, but he was speeding up. We ended up running a few kilometers of single track together before hitting some wider trails where he was able to use his greater speed to pull ahead.

Unfortunately for Shawn, he was having some sort of side ache problem and Nick and I passed him a after the halfway point and it looks like he had to pull out. It was too bad for him as it looked like he was having a great race. While I couldn't match Nick's speed once the trails opened up, I was still feeling pretty decent and continued to move ahead at a good rate. Most of the additional distance in the course this year was made up in a large loop up past a gravel pit and out toward the the edge of the University grounds. While not particularly difficult, this section drug on longer than expected. Then on the return we had to climb up the side of the gravel pit. Its not a big climb by any means, but was steep and composed of loose gravel which made running up it quite a challenge.

After some more downhill we moved onto the last major climb. Nick had perhaps a 45 second lead on me at this point. I didn't expect to catch him, but still kept the pressure up to make sure that I maintained my position. Most of the final 2km were on gravel road with some little diversions onto single track. The final run to the finish is on an uphill grade just to make sure everyone had enough climbing on the day! It is a good thing that I kept my pace up as Michael Liedtke was moving fast. The final results say he was only 4 seconds back, but the timing must have been off by a bit. I estimate that he was actually 10-15 seconds back. Not that time really matters much in a trail race anyway.

I crossed the line in 1:00:38 in 3rd place, about a minute behind Nick and a full 6 minutes behind Jason who must of flown on his broom to post such a smoking fast time. Harrier, Andrew Pape-Salmon ran strongly to a well deserved 7th place. Care Wakely won the woman division in 1:10:50, just 5 sec ahead of 2nd place. Overall, I was happy with my race and felt like I held together well for the entire distance. My time was about 9 min slower than last year, but I feel this is sole result of the increased length. My average heart rate ended up being 163 (93%) and it peaked out at 173 (99%). Final results are here. for the Mount Doug I hope to see a good crowd out on July 26thGutbuster - probably my favorite race in the series.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hornby Island #2

Here are a few more videos (I had to split them to get them to load).

Picking up the pace on Mr. Toads Wild Ride Trail #1


On "No Horses" #1


Gary Behind the camera on "The Way" #1


That should be enough running video to bore everyone!

Here are a few photos as well.

Helliwell Provincial Park


Evening Light

Mt Geoffrey

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hornby Island

July 4-5, 2009

If you only read my blog you may get the sense that I do nothing but race. For the first time, here is a non race related post. Sonja and I went to Hornby Island last weekend. Horby has some pretty interesting topography and vegetation variations. More than 30% of the island is protected and these areas boast some great running and mountain biking trails. We would do a bit of both. Fellow Harrier, Gary Duncan was good enough to host us and show us the best trails while we were there. Thanks Gary!

For the first time, I also played around with taking some video while running. If you have ever tried to do this while on a trail (especially somewhat technical ones) you will know that it is challenging. Trying to hold the camera still while keeping the runner in front in the frame and also paying attention to your footing adds a bit of difficulty. They are not going to win any video contest, but hopefully will be somewhat interesting. It is proving difficult to upload some of the larger videos so I'll post some now and more later (with some photos as well).

Sonja, Gary and I (taking the video) running in Helliwell Provincial Park

Running on the High Salal to Halliwell trail just outside Helliwell Provincial Park

More fun on the High Salal with Gary holding the camera

Sonja coming down Mr Toad's Wild Ride trail near Mt. Geoffrey

Sonja on "The Way"

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