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!