This past weekend, I decided somewhat last minute to get off my running ass and push hard in a race to get the blood flowing and to inspire me to run more. I haven't been running too much as my love of cycling and in particular, mountain biking always seems to take precedence. I've been doing some Sunday morning group rides along with the infamous Thursday Night Ride to keep my legs up to speed. The weekend prior, I made the mistake of hooking up for a run with Shane after my Sunday morning ride (that ended up being 5 hours door to door). I got home from the ride late, quickly changed (transitioned), and was running up Jocelyn Peak on the Gowland Tod trail in no time. Now, running with almost anyone would have been bareable but... I was running with Shane so after 1.5 hours of climbing and descending, my legs felt like they haven't felt since the Diez Vista 50km trail run.
Having said all that, my legs seemed to be in good shape for the race and my warmup with Garth and Jo seemed to give my the green light. I've done this race before and although the course had changed, I really planned things out as I wanted to really race this one smart.
I've raced enough running races now that I know I tend to go out a bit too hard, fade in the middle to end, and usually have a bit of a kick at the end. Overall, my back half is usually always slower and this I'm determined to change. I still remember the Pioneer 8km last year in which I came to the halfway point and Bob Reid was there yelling splits.
"13:30" he yelled.
I knew then that I was going way too fast and ended up with a back split of 15:00 even to finish in 28:30. The Gunner would be different.
Before I knew it, the race was on and all the fast roadies led out. The pace wasn't crazy although I was going a bit faster than I wanted. My plan was to go hard for the first 500m to get a good position and clear the crowds, then to ease down into a decent pace with a good push on the hills and leaning into the descents hard. My plan was to keep this pace as I could until I hit the last 2.5 km where I would pick it up and push hard to the line.
My plan was going well at the beginning as I pushed passed several runners and finally gained a good open spot. I should have been a bit further up at the start line but not a big deal. Once I got into a rhythm I had a fellow mtn bike rider friend pass me but then ease off into a similar pace as my own. This worked out very well as I now had someone to push myself with. I found myself making a bit of time on the hills, losing a bit on the flats and then gaining on the downhills. Actually, the downhills surprised me the most as I was really letting it go and making up easy time on other runners.
After 5km into the course, I knew I was right on track as I was feeling good but not too good, and no one had passed me. Then we hit the climb. There is a short but steep climb in this race that seems to just kill me everytime. Every year I just seem to crumble after the climb and this year was no exception. My breathing just went to the red line and it took me a good 5 minutes to get things under control. Even so, everyone must hurt here as only one person passed me and no one else in my sights really let go. This was easily my slowest section of the course but it was also the toughest and I expected it to be so. However, it wasn't long until I hit the bridge on the end of the lake and it was all back to the finish line from here.
Looking at the race map, I knew that just after the bridge is where I would make my move. On a small downhill, I picked it up, passed my fellow mtn biker friend and continued to push up the opposite hill to put in some distance so that he would not hang on. This was my plan from here. I'd push up to the next runner, ease off slightly in their draft, and then push hard for long enough to drop them. I did this with about four runners until I got Lucy Smith, the top female runner, into my sights. I put on a push but was obviously starting to fatigue as my push was much less than it had been. I was still making up some distance but there was just too much to make up by the line... or so I started to tell myself (damn thoughts!). Just as I was going to call it in and give up the fight, Angus, an orienteering friend of mine, was beside the trail and started to cheer me on to catch her.
I put the push back on and came down the final hill to the lake where you have to do a short water run, followed by a beach run to the line. Lucy had too much of a gap on me but then, she took a sharp turn pretty slow and was slowed by the water as well (my long legs definitely helped here), that when we hit the beach I knew I could pass her. I put on a sprint and just grabbed the line ahead. Yes, yes, I am talking about sprinting to beat a girl but I'll take it as she's an amazing runner and I think this is the first time I've been able to beat her at the line. I will say that she probably slowed down on purpose and didn't really care because I wasn't a chick but hey, I'll take it!
Overall, my race went like clockwork and I can honestly say that this was the smartest running race that I've ever done. Yes, I might not be in my top form but I definitely raced as fast as I could have based on my current level of fitness and man did it feel good pushing by people at the end.
My watch said 10.18km so I'll go with that.
Helly Hansen shorts and short sleeve top
Shoes - Montrail Continental Divides
Fuel - body fat ;)