Monday, February 25, 2008

Hatley Castle 8km Race Report

What an amazing weekend! Some fantastic weather will always put a smile on my face! I got a pedicure at the Aveda institute as part of a Christmas gift from Kim, did some errands and shopping around town (picked up a sweet new hoodie), watched a Capoeira perfomance at the McPherson theatre, and ran in the Hatley Castle 8km road race. This race was the 4th race in the Island Series and the second race that I was able to do. Kim and I hopped on our bikes in the morning and cycled the 25km out to the race start at Royal Roads University. It was really nice to cycle my old commute on the goose and revisit the school that I attended not so long ago. We arrived with just enough time to spare which was good as I don't like waiting around for long and was thoroughly warmed up from the ride. In no time, it was all go.

To put it bluntly, this race fn hurt. The Hatley race is the not much of a 'road race' compared to the other courses as at least 3km of it is on gravel and/or trail. Also, it probably has the most elevation gain/loss of any other course in the Island Series. I knew the course, had a race plan, and stuck it out as best as I could; this consisted of going really hard for the first 3km which is where most of the hills are, getting into a grove as best as I could for the next 4km, and leave a bit left to not die on the last two small hills before the slight downhill into the finish line.

I took off the start line and let the slight downhill take me as fast as I could to get a good position in the field. I felt really good and found myself hanging in around 10th place before our first climb. I found a comfortably hard pace and stuck it out until we reached the 'big hill'. I basically kept pushing hard and just tried to make it to the top without my lungs exploding out of my chest. I started to hurt but knew that as long as I could reach the final crest, without totally blowing up, I'd be able to recover on the flat. This strategy worked out really well as I was now in around 10th spot, had 3km of the hardest part of the course under my belt, and just needed to hang on to a pace that I could manage to keep till the finish. Over the next 4km, I had only four people pass me which I knew meant that I was just where I should be. I typically go out a little harder in races and tend to get caught by a handfull of people before the finish. While I've been told that it is best to keep your second half of the race faster than the first, I still haven't found that line although I'm getting better at it.

After a super fast downhill run on gravel, I hit the bottom and my legs became blocks of lead. My pain moved from hurt to suffering. I knew the race was almost over but also knew that there were a couple small hills left before the line. I had a small pack of runners ahead and some chasers in the distance which made me start to think, 'you can just walk the hill. Come on, you're dying here.' And I was dying. I was breathing so hard at the bottom of the hill that any harder and I thought I might collapse. After realizing that if I made any effort to slow down that I would be extremely disappointed in myself after the race, I pushed up the hill as best as I could, hit the crest, and ran down into the finish shoot. I say 'ran' but if you saw me it was more of a dazed and sloppy non-sprint to the line.

Kim came over and congratuated me but I couldn't even look at her let alone talk. I was huffing hard and knew that if I didn't lie down immediately, that I would lose consciousness and be lying down soon regardless. I spent the next two to three minutes in this post-race daze until my breathing subsided and I got back some mental clarity. I have NEVER died that hard after a race before!
I definitely did not leave anything on the course and came away with my best Island Series finish to date;
14th overall and 2nd in my age category in a time of 29:21 on the tough hatley course. I couldn't have been more happy!

1 comment:

Gary Robbins said...

Dude, slow down, I don't want to have to train any harder!!