Sunday, July 25, 2010

Q Track Series 3000m

July 17, 2010

This was to be just the 2nd track race I have participated in since taking up running back in 2004 (I raced a bit on the track in high school, but was never very serious about it). A couple of years ago, I raced in a 5000m in windy conditions and had a mediocre performance struggling to maintain form in the last couple of laps. I had never raced 3000m before so I didn't know exactly how it would go. I resolved to try my best to run a smart race and split my laps evenly so as to avoid falling apart on the last lap or two. My 'A' goal was get under 9min, but I knew that pretty much everything would have to go right for me for that to happen.

I was placed in the elite race with quite a few other very solid runners. Simon DeJong, Nixon Kiprotich, Willy Langat, Keith Mills, Shawn Nelson, and Nick Walker were all in attendance. I fully expected to be closer to the back of the pack than to the front when we got to the finish line. Before we began, I got to watch a kids 800m, an open Mile, an Elite Mile, and a open 3000m while I did my warm up on the infield. While track may be more tedious than a road race for the racers themselves, they are certainly more entertaining for spectators and it was great to be able to cheer on everyone.

It was soon our turn and the 7 of us lined up and were off. I expected the pace to be a little faster than it was as I was only slightly behind the leaders after the 1st lap (which I completed in 1:13). Shawn, Nick, Willy, and Nixon were in front of me with Keith and Simon were just behind. After the first lap Keith pulled in front of me and knowing that we are similar speeds, I resolved to sit behind for a little while and let him do the pace making. However, after the second 400m passed at a slightly slower 1:14 (which put me behind my 1:12 goal), I knew that I had to speed up or I would definitely not get close to my goal time. I pulled past Keith and picked up the pace just a bit. I went though 1km in about 3:03, a little slower than I was planning, but not bad either.

The first lap (I'm hidden behind Willy in forth place). Photo Credit: Sonja Yli-Kahila

I was feeling relatively comfortable at this point and felt I would be able to put in a solid effort throughout the race. The next 3 laps passed in 1:12, 1:14, and 1:13 respectively so I was maintaining the pace pretty well. Midway through the race, I was surprised to find Nixon coming back to me. Earlier in the year he posted some good times on some of the Island Race Series races, including a 49:02 at Merville 15k which was over 2 min ahead of me. I understand that he has been injured for a while, however, and not able to train or race at his peak which is really too bad.

Midway though the race. Photo Credit: Sonja Yli-Kahila

With 1km to go, it started to get tougher to maintain the pace as the lactic built up in the legs and the cardio system started to reach its limits. With a concentrated effort, however, I was able to sustain my pace and hit the final two full laps at 1:13, and 1:14. With about a lap to go, I found myself running right in the middle of the group with Shawn, Nick, and Willy running about 80m ahead of me and no one right on my heels. Unfortunately, the leaders were too far ahead to try and catch, but I decided that I felt good enough for a finishing kick anyhow and started to go with 200m left. I pushed hard, right up to my limit, but also trying to keep some semblance of decent form. I closed the final 200m in 34 sec which I was fairly happy with.

official finishing time was 9:06.7 good for 4th place out of the 7. Willy managed to out kick Shawn who had led for most of the race for the win in 8:48.8. While I was a few seconds off of my goal, overall I was pretty happy with my inaugural 3000m outing as I raced smart. In retrospect, I may have been able to shave a couple seconds off if I had kicked a little earlier since I seemed to have a bit of reserve in the tank, but it would not have made a huge difference. I definitely think that with just a little more training in the bank and a good day I could get under 9 min. Thanks to Chris Kelsall for putting this track series together, its great to have some different options for racing this year.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mount Doug Gutbuster Long Course

July 11, 2010

First of all I'd like to hand out a belated congrats to Gary Robbins, who placed an impressive 6th overall in the Western States 100 a couple of weeks back. Western states is the oldest and probably the most prestigious 100 Mile ultra in the world so placing this high puts Gary among some of the best ultra runners in the world. Some 50k and 50 Mile ultras are definitely in my future, but I've yet to convince myself that I want to do a 100 Miler. It just seems really really far - do I really want to run 4 back to back trail marathons? I will never say never though and the challenge does appeal to me.

The Mount Doug Gutbuster was just the 2nd and final Gutbuster that I was able to do this year with the other 3 coming on weekends where I was away or had other races. I didn't worry too much about this race, just resolving just to do what I could. My training has been progressing steadily so I'm feeling pretty confident about my fitness level. I knew Shawn Nelson was yet again racing so an overall victory would be a bit of a long shot even if there we no other top notch guys out, but I hoped to be a little closer to him than I was at Westwood.

Just before the race was about to begin we were informed that there would be a short delay as someone had been sabotaging the course markings. Nick Walker had to run out ahead to re-flag it so he needed a head start. This is not the first time this race has been sabotaged and it is really a shame that some individuals want to hinder other people's enjoyment of this public park. If they have a legitimate concern about the race they should deal with it though proper channels rather than resorting to vandalism. Nick did a good job of resetting the course though and I found it well marked. However, there were a number of racers who took wrong turns although it is unclear if this was due to a lack of flagging or not.

The day was quite hot so I made sure that I was well hydrated before the race began and stripped down to shorts and cap only. There are several exposed sections on the course and it can cook you pretty good when you are fully exerting yourself. Within about 5 min, Shawn and I pulled ourselves a little ahead from the rest of the field. We pushed up the first extended Irvine climb at a steady race pace. Overall, I felt pretty good although my legs felt a touch heavy. I was starting to feel it near the top of the climb and I let Shawn lead for the last 100 meters or so. I dumped a cup of water at the aid station at the top and headed down after Shawn. This decent is quite technical with a lot of loose rock and gravel, but I've done it many times before and knew exactly what to expect. I may no longer be able to match Shawn's overall speed, but I can still descend on the technical terrain a little faster and I was nipping at his heels the whole way down.

Soon enough we were climbing again up to Little Mount Doug. I didn't feel quite as good as I would have liked on this climb and fell a few seconds back. The southern route off this peak is the most technical portion of the whole course and a fall here could be very damaging to your body. I took a few risks that paid off and closed the gap to Shawn again. Unfortunately, as soon as the trail turned upward again, I could no longer match his speed and he bolted ahead and within a couple of minutes he was out of sight.

While the climbs hurt more than I would have liked, I felt pretty strong overall so despite there being no one in sight ahead or behind, I pushed pretty hard. I struggled up the final climb (which only went halfway up to the summit compared to a full climb last year) and was happy to know that there were no more significant uphill segments for the rest of the course. I passed a number of short course racers as I pushed toward the finish. I felt good on the final stretch and crossed the line in 40:44 solidly in 2nd place. I was about 1:30 behind Shawn and 1:15 ahead of the next runner, Nick Sunderland. I was satisfied with my performance although I could have had a bit more power in the legs for the climbs. Once I decide to focus on trails again, I will definitely work on my hill climbing more consistently.

Andrew Pape-Salmon ran an amazing race, placing 4th overall just over 2 min behind me and Care Wakely raced to an amazing 7th overall. In a month Care and Mark Nelson will be racing in the Trans Rockies Run stage race. I expect that they will do well.

Final Results.

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