Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dirty Duo 25k

March 12, 2011

I have been falling woefully behind in this write-up as life has been busy with packing up for a move to a new house Sonja and I recently purchased. I figure if I wait just a few more weeks, the writeup will be only 2 sentences long as that will be all I remember!

A few time a year it is fun to head over to the mainland to race at some different venues. The main premise of the Dirty Duo (and where it gets its name) is due to the face that it was originally envisioned as a combination mountain bike and run event (either as a relay or solo). In the preceding years they have added additional events so a total of 6 are now offered (relay 30k bike, 25k run; solo 30k bike, 25k run; 30k bike; 50k run; 25k run; and 15k run) so it now caters to nearly everyone.

I briefly considered doing the solo bike/run as it would be a good challenge to test my mountain biking skills, but decided against it since I have not been out on my mountain bike in months. However, since the first MOMAR is only two months away, I really need to get out on the saddle again.

I headed over to Vancouver on Friday evening with Sonja (who was also doing the 25k run) and managed to get a reasonable sleep in the night before. Fortunately, it was a 11am start time so a 5am wake up time so common to these events was not necessary (although the 50k, and duo events did start at 8am). The venue at Jaycee House was the same as it was for the Hallows Eve race we had done back in October so I suspected that at least some of the trails would be the same. I spotted Jen Seggar there who was also doing the 25k just as a little prep for Coyote Two Moon 100 Mile race in California the next weekend. Because of this, she was just going to cruise this 25k (she still ended up being 2nd woman at around 2:30).

For me, this was not a A goal race for me, but more one just to experience and have fun. Of course, I always like to perform well and do what I can to race as well I can. Based on previous year's results it didn't seem like a particularly competitive field although you never know who is going to show up at these kind of events. I did know that it was going to be a relatively long day out there since the actual distance was 27k and winning times seemed to be around 2:15.

Unlike Hallows Eve, this race started with a downhill run to the river and then turned upstream. The first few minutes were on road and very wide trail, but after a little while it turned onto some pleasant single track. I started out at a comfortable race pace, but very soon I started distancing myself from the field. I was both relieved and disappointed by this. Being in the lead tends to take a bit of the pressure off since there is no one to chase and you can hold a bit in reserve in case someone catches up (unless you are trying for a course record). On the other hand, running to an easy victory is much less satisfying than winning a hotly contested one. In any case, I hoped to be treated to a fun course.

We soon joined into trail that I had run before at Hallows Eve and the stairs to climb were still there as well. Either I was moving a little slower, or my additional hill training is paying off as they seemed easier this time around. Back on some double track, the course intersected with the mountain bike course and for most of the remainder of the race I was seeing a lot of bikes (passing them for the most part).

I passed an aid station and then started to make my way down to another river. I had examined the map prior to the race, and knew we had to make the decent, but at one point I passed flagging on the left at an intersection and some flagging on the right, there were a couple people around, but it was unclear whether one of them was a marshal or not so I continued along the main road assuming the other way was the return trail. After several minutes of seeing no flagging, however, I started to doubt myself. Since I had a solid lead, I figured it was better to turn around and confirm that I was on the correct route. I'd lose some time, but better to lose 2 minutes and find out that I was on the right path then continue on and risk losing way more. So I turned and after a minute of so of running saw the 2nd place guy (David Smith) coming towards me. He said that the marshal had directed him this way so I turned again and we ran together for a while. And of course, just around the next corner from where I had turned, just 200 metres away was a piece of pink flagging!

We passed through another aid station and then crossed the river over a good sized bridge. Before too long we moved onto single track again and started a bit of a climbing. David dropped back a bit at this point and the trail continued on to rolling terrain for several kilometres. The single track was fun, but went on for longer than I was anticipating. I knew the main climb of the course was still to come so I just wanted to get on with it. Eventually, I passed another aid station and the trail tilted upwards. It was gradual though and not as steep as I had expected. My legs were still feeling pretty good so I ground it out. I was passing a lot of bikes now and also quite a few 50k runners on their 2nd lap hiking up the grade. After about 10 minutes I reached snow level and the trail became a bit slick. Luckily, it was nearly the top and the snow was not a big factor.

Then the descending came and it was a blast! I almost ended up on my ass after hitting some ice at the top, but after that it was great. The course was designed for mountain biking with a lot of rock work in place to keep the trail from getting too chewed up. It was great to run if you like technical stuff and if you have the guts, you could really rip. It was somewhat tough on the body since there were a lot of little drop-offs to navigate. Even on the downhill, I found I was passing some bikers as it was just too technical to be really fast on a bike.

Soon though the fun was over and I popped out back on the road near the bridge. Back across the bridge and upriver on another gravel road - it was a bit tedious, but easy at least. Then came the hardest climb of the day in terms of steepness as the course climbed back out of the river valley. It wasn't too long, but coming around 90 minutes in my legs were certainly not pleased with me! I persevered and was just able to run it all, but couldn't have done much more. After that, it was simply a matter of repeating most of the trail that I had come up on although the last 2 kilometers were different. I was completely soaked by this time as the rain had started falling lightly about an hour in, but I was working hard enough that it didn't matter. The last little hill nearly brought me to to a crawl, but I managed to run it (barely). More than likely it would have been more efficient to hike it, but usually I'm too stubborn to hike when I can run.

After that it was just a bit of muddy flat trail and a final road section to the finish. My watch said 2:05:10, but the official results say 2:03:49. I'm pretty sure they had the timing off somehow (since it was chip timed), it doesn't really matter as long as everyone was given the same relative time. David took 2nd about 9 minutes back and Ross Greenwood took 3rd. Louise Oram edged out Jen for the woman's title. Sonja started the race feeling tired, but picked up the competitive spirit not far in and ended up having a one of her best races ever, finishing 20th overall (out of 94) and was the 5th woman.

This was a well run event. Thanks the organizers and volunteers. Next time, I'll have to take up the challenge and do the bike/run!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bazan Bay 5k

March 6, 2011

Just a quick report before I race again this weekend over in Vancouver at the Dirty Duo 25k. Bazan Bay always attracts a large and fast field largely due to its fast and nearly flat course. It is an excellent course to try for a PB. This year, it was easier for some elites to come over from Vancouver because the start time had been shifted from 9am to 11am to match the rest of the Island Race Series races.

I figured a PB for me was certainly possible since I had been racing well so far this year and I had set a 15:30 as an A goal (last year I ran 15:47). I decided for the fist time in a while not to look at my km splits while I was racing and just race based on how I felt.

Once we got underway, I expected a fast start since there was plenty of talent in the field (including Jim Finlayson, Steve Osaduik, Matt Clout, Jon Bird, Sean Chester, Trevor O'Brien, Andrew Russell, and Craig Odermatt). I was surprised, however, since what we got underway, it didn't seem that fast at all and by the time I passed the 1km marker in 3:04 I was still with the front pack running beside Steve. Even before I have been running competitively, Steve has been a fixture in the local racing community and one of the better runners in the county with an impressive resume. Needless to say, racing next to someone of this caliber is not something I am used to doing and I briefly thought that I must be going way to fast. I pushed the thought aside though since I felt very light on my feet and I decided to continue on and and see what happens.

The second km also went by quite quickly in 3:01 (I only looked after the race) and I was still feeling great. There were only a half dozen or so guys in front of me and I was ahead of some people that I normally only see the back of so I knew I was doing pretty well. The turn around came just before 3km and Paul was there on his bike shouting encouragement to his Aspire Runners. I wasn't expecting it, but after the turn around we encountered some wind on the return stretch. It wasn't brutal, but was still a factor, especially at this point in the race and combined with a slight uphill. I had passed Trevor earlier in the race, but he passed me in the windy section and I tried to tuck in behind him for a bit, but then I decided to put a bit of pressure on him and passed him back. As usual, I just found I don't like to follow although I should learn how to use others to improve my racing.

I stopped feeling great with about 1.5km to go as things started to get hard. I know I slowed down a bit, but other that my dueling with Trevor, I didn't seem to be losing much ground. I bore down and did all I could to keep my pace up. As usual, the last km seems to last as long as the first 4 and felt twice as hard. I don't know what my last 3 km splits are as I missed the 3k marker and the 4th was placed in the wrong location too near the finish. I picked up the pace a bit on the final stretch to the finish, but didn't have a ton left in the tank. Trevor managed to push by me and finish 1 sec ahead. My official time was 15:36, good for 7th place in a competitive field and 7 placements better than last year. Without the wind, I'm confident I could have got pretty close to my A goal of 15:30, but I am quite satisfied with a 11sec PB for a 5k race. I also managed to finish ahead of a few guys that I have never beat in the past so that was a confidence booster.

Despite imperfect conditions a number of other runners had great performances, with Jeremy Lawrence taking over a minute off his 5k time to finish in 17:20 and Garth Campbell posting a 13 sec improvement over his last race here in 2008. Many of my Aspire training partners also ran well, with Sean capturing 5th place overall, Shawn Nelson just behind me in 15:50 and Claire Morgan running as solid 18:06. Jim edged out Steve for the overall win in 14:58.


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