First up this year was Pick Your Poison. Usually PYP is the second race of the season but this year it came first with Seaton being moved to the middle of May. Apparently the organizers of Seaton must have decided that the water boarding that they gave us last year constituted torture after all.
Being that I was in full training mode with a pile of races set for May I decided to do the big one day taper for the race. Who needs more than a day off anyway. I would run the 50k while Kim was going to run the 25k.
Race plan was simple, just like the last 2 years at PYP I would run semi hard but not race full out with my spring goal race being Sulphur. The course is a 12.5km loop over, under and around ski hills with lots of fast sections but also with a good deal of climbing. I am told its about 1100ft of climb per loop but I cant say for sure.
We got up early on Saturday April 29th, picked up April B. and drove up to Barrie. Weather looked near perfect for the race just above freezing at the start climbing to 7 degrees and sunny. We got to the race site with lots of time to spare and got ready.
The field was a lot bigger this year and I spent most of the time before the race chatting with lots of other runners that I hadn't seen all winter. Before long we were lining up at the start getting last minute instructions. I met up with Morgan (one of the Leadville group) and we decided to run together at least to start as both of us were using the race as training.
The race starts and we are off. I know there are some changes to the course but I have no idea what they are because that would require me to look at the map on the website. The early part of the course is fast and flat, first on dirt road then into single track. We end up getting caught up in the early run to hard out of the gate syndrome running around a 4:30k but both of us catch it and slow it right down. There are some running the 12.5k race and I think we might have been caught up with them. No worries after some joking about our own stupidity we slow down.
My plan for loop 1 is simple, run it at 50k pace, run all the hills and most importantly stay on my nutrition. For this race that means a gel every 30 minutes all day long. It will suck but outrunning the puke monster in my next 100 miler means getting used eating gels non stop, forever.
Soon the course is getting hilly with the first big climb up the ski hill coming around 4k in. I can see a group of around 12 runners up ahead as we work our way up the hill. They are running in a group which includes Ron G and Charlotte V. We think about pushing to catch up with them but we are not suppose to be racing so we decide to wait as we can always push in the last loop.
When we reach the top of the hill Morgan grabs some stuff from the aid station here which is being manned by Ken Moon and Scott Garrett. Weird not to see them actually racing or as I like to call it leaving me far behind but with Scott running a 100 miler a month this year I figure he is probably resting up.
Soon we are back into the woods for some double track then up the huge hill next to the golf course. This is the third time I have run PYP so I have a close relationship with this hill which I dubbed Mount Evil back in 2010. Even after all this time this hill still sucks big time.
The last part of the course is more single and double track with lots of climbing. The course is the same as previous years and familiar but very different. We end up running most of the same course as before but it is laid out in a new (and better) way with much of the race course being run in the opposite direction from previous years and with some sections being run in a different order then before.
Last year there was some confusion on the course with some runners getting off track, misdirected etc. Have to say the RD Adam Hill did I really great job with the changes this year. It was pretty hard not to stay on track even for a directionally challenged runner like me.
Before long Morgan and I were cresting the top of the ski hill and heading back down the steep downhill to the start finish line.
Loop 1 time 1:18
Once again it was a simple plan for loop 2, run comfortably hard and slow it down just a bit. This loop seemed to fly by as Morgan and I chatted about training for Leadville (or lack of training) and plans for going to the race. I am scared poopless about Leadville while Morgan seems more relaxed about it. He as the advantage of having run HURT and also the advantage of never running at altitude. I have been above the treeline and know just how hard it is to breath up there, scary stuff.
Often we could still see Charlottes group a minute or so ahead of us but we once again felt no need to speed it up. The pace we were running seemed to be working well for both of us. Morgan is much faster then me normally but I am in peak condition so it works well for both of us.
Before you know it we are stumbling back down the giant hill and into the start finish again.
We do the loop in 1:20, a little faster then planned but not stupid fast.
With the last lap being a bit faster then expected we decide to make sure we stay slow on this one.
Morgan is running 50 miles at Bear Mountain next weekend. I am running the Toronto Marathon and 50k at Seaton the week after that. We are both idiots but smart enough to not totally trash our legs.
Once again we can see Charlottes group about a minute ahead. Its beginning to break up some and over the next hour we end up passing most of them while keeping a steady pace / effort. The loop goes really well. I eat gels like there is no tomorrow and my legs are slightly tired but feel good. We pass a handful of people and only get passed twice once by another runner and once by a blur of churning legs and arms as the race leader laps us just before the end of the loop. If your keeping score that means we were only passed once because the other guy was already ahead of us to begin with.
Then it was into the start finish to get ready for one more lap. Loop 3 completed in 1:25
As we head out for the last loop the plan is to just take it easy. We will keep around the same effort level as the last loop but that will make it slower as by 38k your legs are beginning to feel it. We stick to this plan for the first few K. On the big ski hill climb we can see Ron and Charlotte ahead of us. There is no more group just a couple of runners but they have picked it up some and are a few minutes ahead. I toy with the idea of pushing it but try to remember the purpose of the run so I keep things to a dull roar.
Some where around 5k into the loop we hear and then see a couple runners behind us. One of them passes us and disappears up ahead. This does not sit well with me at all. Its not that we have been passed (hey I am slow and I know it). Its that we have been passed while we are running conservatively. This makes me feel like a total slacker. I know that must seem strange as we had just run around 45k but I felt like a lazy, lazy runner so I picked it up some.
Now Morgan and I didnt open it right up but I wanted to just speed up enough to drop the other guy that was still behind us. Well that was easy said then done. That guy just kept hanging on about 50 meters back. Son of a .... This guy was going to make me work.
Before long we started running faster and actually working the uphills pretty hard but to the guys credit he hung in there. At some point Morgan reminded me that we said we were going to run this easy but I told him I wanted to drop the guy behind us. According to Morgan running faster to drop some random runner that you dont know in order to finish ahead of them is called "racing". Who knew?
Finally we seemed to have left our pursuer behind and even ended up passing a few more runners in the process. Then it was up the final climb and down the hill to the finish for a last loop done in 1:26.
This ended up being a really great run. The course was great, the weather was great and I cant think of anything to complain about.
I ended up finishing in 5:30:54 29th/82 which was off of my PB by 4 minutes.
Kim PBed for a 25k trail race in 4:10:19
Read Morgans take on the race in his race report here
Next up my Toronto Marathon Race report