Monday, May 25, 2009

Sulphur Springs Race Report

Saturday May 23rd was the Sulphur Springs trail race. This was my second attempt at a trail race this year (and ever) so I was "only" running the 25km version. I figure better to be safe then stuck in the woods with a sore knee whining and limping my way around the course, although I think I smell a 5okm race coming in the near future. Running buddy Steve Blackburn came out as well to run in the 10km and Kim joined us for moral support. Still haven’t been able to talk her into doing a trail race yet but don’t worry boys and girls I am pestering her relentlessly and can be a pain in the butt… right Kim. This race featured a 10k, 25k, 50k, 50 miler and 100 miler.

We arrived at the course just outside of Hamilton in Ancaster around 6:45 and picked up our race packages and timing chips. The 25k / 50k was scheduled to start at 7:30 and the 10k at 8:15. The 50 and 100 milers had already started at 6:00. Weather was excellent with no wind, dry trails and around 13 degrees.

As I got ready I was still debating on whether I should take my waterbelt with me or just use the aid stations as each has its own advantages and disadvantages. I really couldn’t make up my mind. Yeah I know, what a surprise. I decided that since the course does an out and back which brings you through the start line at the 5k point that I would just grab the belt from Kim if I needed it.

As we all lined up for the start which was in a pretty small area for around 250 runners to squeeze into I ran into fellow blogger Jayme Frank ( see his blog here). Somehow he managed to spot me in the sardine can conditions. We chatted a bit as we waited for the race to start (nice to meet you Jayme). As we waited for the gun to go off the start was delayed for 3 minutes to allow the first place runner in 50 miler to come through the start area. He ran the first 20k of his 50 miles in 1:33:00 .. WOW… and only 60k more to go.

Then we were off.

The race consists of a 5k spur out and back to the start/finish line on part of the main course and then a large 20k loop. The trails were much less technical then at Seaton (this means not as crazy hard.. LOL). My plan for this race was pretty simple. Run it very conservative in the first half and then reassess in the second half. Now those that know me understand that I am not very good at the take it easy approach so this was going to be a challenge. In order to hold back some I ignored my pacing time info and instead ran by heart rate trying to keep my average HR in my moderate intensity zone.

The first 5K of the race went pretty well. The course here and overall is very runable made up of mostly double and single track groomed trails. It’s hilly with lots of ups and downs but what do you expect its trails after all. It was crowded for the first 1k or so and then runners began to stretch out along the course. We headed out for 2.5k and then where turned back towards the start line which would be the 5k mark. Turn around was in an odd spot on single track trail with a sign that said 25k turn around and a guy telling runners to turn back if you were running the 25k. The 50k runners continued on down the trail. More about this sign later. At about the 4k mark you hit one of the two biggest hills on the course “the gulch”, very long and steep. I might have attempted to run up it but it was pretty crowded and everyone else was power walking it. By the way did I mention I really suck at power walking. I would have spent way too much effort and energy trying to get around people so I grumbled to myself and joined the marching parade. Oh ya I think I mentioned this but I suck at power walking.

At 5k you cross the start line again and head back out on the main loop. Kim was saying something to me as I ran into the turn. I was looking at her and confused until I saw the fuel belt. LOL totally forgot about that and I am sure I had this Huh look on my face as she was calling out to me. I finally got it but told her I didn't need it and continued on.

Really enjoyed running the main loop which was very good trails a bit of fire road and only one spot of paved road which was maybe 600 – 800 meters long. The course was very well supplied with 7 aid stations and generally well marked.

I managed to stick to my race plan and keep it conservative. Man did I feel like I was running slowly. I just keep reminding myself about my Seaton blow up and that I had no idea what the course might be like farther down the road. From 5 to 15k things continued to go well but I began to feel some soreness in my knee. It was around this point of the race that I had planned to crank it up to a quicker pace but my knee was an issue not a major problem but I could feel it. Push it and maybe no problem but then again maybe I crash and burn. I had an internal argument with myself about what to do. I really wanted to crank it up but I also had this stupid race plan that I said I would stick to. I debated this for at least a KM and then convinced myself to stay slower and steady and reassess again at 21k. I actually can’t believe that I didn’t choose reckless abandon; I think this is some kind of first for me. Oh by the way I always win internal arguments … okay well almost always.

Things continued to go okay from 15 to 20k with my knee holding up okay and not seeming to get any worse then mildly sore. I stayed on a pretty steady pace with only 2 people passing me. I passed 2 other runners as well and kept a group of 3 runners ahead of me in view. Second really big hill came around 18k and had to power walk it. I hate you power walking!! Two people passed me on the hill walking faster then me… What the hell. No worries though as they both stopped at the aid station at the top of the hill so I was able to quickly leave them behind.

I headed into the last 5k which had some good down hills and passed the small group of runners that I had been pacing behind for most of the last half of the race. A different group of 3 runners passed me here as well. I felt okay but legs were tiring so decided I would hold my present pace keeping close to this other group of runners until the last 2-3k and then run all out to the finish.

Oh the best laid plans of mice and men. I keep thinking that I had seen this part of the trail before and then there it was “the gulch” again. I had forgotten that I would be seeing this hill at the end of the race again. I slowly power walked it, no way was I going to be able to run it. Did I mention the sucking at power walking thing because I do and it was costly. I was right on top the group of runners ahead of me but lost ground as they walked the hill faster then me. That’s right THEY WALKED the hill faster then me. I keep thinking what the hell I can live with being out run, happens all the time but out walked…….. Gargamel!!

I came over the top of the hill and headed into the last part of the course. The runners ahead of me had opened up a 20 second lead but I could still see them up ahead of me. Sped up a little bit and thought I would close the gap slowly and then try and take them in the last 1 to 2k. Then suddenly I was at a main turn and a race marshal was saying 400 meters to the finish. DOH!!! Somehow I had misjudged the remaining distance. Hello ... McFly. I mean I had already run this part of the course just 2 hours ago and should have been well aware of how long it was from the gulch to the finish. Note to self your head can and should be used for more then just a hat rack. Cranked it up but to little too late but finished strong.

Post race
Was pretty happy with the race overall. Great course and I will definitely consider it to do my first 50 or 100 miler next year. If I lived closer to this course I would run it on a regular basis. Good race support, cool shirt but no finishers metal not a big deal but a souvenir is always appreciated.

There was also a glitch in the race which did not effect my time but maybe my placing. The person that was stationed at the turn around point during the first 5k of the race forgot to take the sign down that said 25k turn around here. This caused a number of runners to turn back at the end of the race making there race a 20k effort. No way to know who did this tho so maybe some ahead of me short turned maybe not. Just one of those weird things that can happen on a race course.

Finished 79th overall out of 178 runners gun time of 2:33:46

I could have probably run this about 10 minutes faster easily if I had been familiar with the course and didn’t stay conservative. The knee didn’t get any sorer then it was at the half way point and was fine the next day. If I could do it again I would have pushed harder in the second half but then again who is to say that I would not have blown up. I expect that as I get my trail and hill training up to speed that this will become a non issue. Only negative for me was my mental mistake in the last few KM of the race. I will schedule a lobotomy as soon as possible.

Steve ran well in the 10k finishing 62th overall out of 159 runners gun time of 56:02

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Training Update ... Sulphur Springs 25k trail race this Saturday

Time for a quick training update. Over the last few weeks (since the seaton trail race) I have managed to get myself back into fairly normal training routine. This was not easy with all the races I had in May.

The last two weeks I was able to get my base mileage back up to around the 45 mile a week mark and with a little luck should be back to running 55 to 60 mile weeks by mid June. Currently running 5 days a week including a long run (17 miles last week), a couple of recovery runs and Friday night track / speed work. Hope to go to 6 day weeks and as I get back to doing a more structured tempo run. Most of my tempo work has come this month in the form of racing but that will change as I don't expect to do any kind of distance racing again until mid July or August, just some short painful 5 to 8ks.

No track this Friday though as I am running the Sulphur Springs 25k Trail race on Saturday morning. This will be my second OUSER trail race this year. As with Seaton I am not sure what to expect from the course but expect it will be challenging. No time goal for this one, just looking to run it hard but pace better then Seaton. If I manage to get to the finish without a sore knee I will be very happy. Fellow Longboater Steve (my ankle hurts) Blackburn is running as well in the 10k. Watch for the race report sometime in the next little while.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mississauga Half Marathon report

Sunday May 10th was the Mississauga half marathon. This is the second time I have run this race so I guess that means I liked it the first time (or I am a sucker for punishment.. you decide).

Got up super early and headed to Mississauga with Kim and Steve as this race was a 7:30 start. Arrived at the starting line an hour early which gave us plenty of time to get ready and warm up. Conditions were okay.... sunny with a bit of wind but colder then anticipated. At race time it was only 2 degrees. I was really glad I had brought a long sleeve shirt as I had originally planned on wearing only a singlet. Did a warm up to avoid freezing and then got into the start corrals.

Longboat Roadrunner racers

I was running with fellow Longboater (and Sunday morning longrun buddy) Steve Blackburn. We were both hoping for a 1:40 time which might of been a bit ambitious as Steve was running on a well taped ankle injury and my legs were still sore from running Sporting Life. Just as important was my goal of making sure I finished at least one second in front of Steve in order to get bragging rights as are long runs are long. I also wanted to get my revenge for when he cut me off taking the inside on the final turn of the Nissan 10 Miler last summer causing me to go wide and finish 5 seconds behind him.

Got off to a good start and its nice to race with someone running the same pace you are. We hit our split times pretty closely over the first 6-7km. Course goes west and is mostly flat along this section with the exception of one pretty good downhill stretch. Things were bunched up a little for the first 3k but not to bad. This is the only section of the half that goes west which was into the wind which was about 20 - 25kh. Not really stiff but I had to work harder than I wanted to keep pace. For the second HM in a row my calf stiffened up and caused some discomfort including a bit of numbness in my foot. This happened to me at the chilly HM as well. Thought I did a good enough warm up but maybe not.

Next few kms 7-10 head south through a nice area, mostly flat, some downhill one small uphill. Splits were still looking good and things seemed to be going okay as my calf loosened up around 8k. At 10k you hit the one major hill in the course which is steep but not too bad (not ATB bad) and is about 800 meters long.

Course continues pretty much south from 10k to 16k with the full marathon splitting off and heading west again around 14k. Was still running okay but around the split I felt my legs beginning to tire. I think it was at this point that I realized I would not be hitting my time goal. My quads were just too burnt out to keep up the pace. I should have and actually did learn my lesson from last year. I burnt out at the end of Missy last year after running the mostly downhill Sporting Life 10k the weekend before. I swore that this year I would not do Sporting Life but alas I got a free entry so ended up running it anyway.

As I hit the 16k mark I could feel my legs starting to slow down. Somewhere around this point Steve ended up dropping off and I was running alone so I just tried to suck it up and keep reminding myself only 5k left.

Last 5k go back east right along the lakefront trail. Might be a nice run along here if I wasn't gasping for breath and trying to convince my legs to keep on working hard. Then we were around the last corner and headed down the last 200 meters to the finish. Man I was happy to see that finish line. Finished in 1:44:22 not great but not bad either and overall was fairly happy with the results. Had to wait to get my chip cut off as I was unsure of whether I might puke or not which for me is a good sign that I ran hard. Last thing I wanted to do was throw up on some poor volunteer as they cut my chip off.

Post Race
Steve finish 2 minutes behind me. I am pleased but my victory is tainted as he was (supposedly ??... LOL) running on a bad ankle. No worries man I will get you at the Runway Run. Kim also ran well taking 4 minutes off her PB.

A lot of Longboat Roadrunners ran this race again this year. With many of them putting up amazing times including at 5 members that placed in the top 3 in their age categories. You guys/ girls are amazing. Fastest Longboater of the day was Roger Moss who finished 12th overall in 1:16:22. Don’t worry Roger I will catch you all I need is a few more years of training and a rule change that allows me to take a cab to the finish line.

The good. I like this course and its well organized race.
A couple of gripes.
Metals and shirts were not nearly as nice as last year and this is an expensive race. Come on guys your shirts and metals were some of the nicest I saw last year. The cynic in me has to believe that you got this year's versions for a cheaper price.

Bag check. Guys your bag check was completely unattended. Bags laid out in the open and runners helped themselves. I could have walked away with anyone else’s bag. That should not be the way a bag check works.

Still... thumbs up to this race once again this year.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sporting Life 10k race report

Sunday Morning got up early ... AGAIN! and headed into the downtown core in Toronto to run the SportingLife 10k. This is the second time I have run this race and to be honest I had not originally planned on running this race with Mississauga coming up next weekend. Last year I found all the down hills really pounded my quads and left them a bit tired when I ran the Missy HM the next week. However Kim got us free team entries through her work so how could I pass that up. Once again FREE being one of my favorite words.

TTC ride was a pain with the subway not running yet. It appeared that there were no extra buses on Bloor but some extras on Younge. You would think that with an event with a start and finish line 10k apart and therefore a good number of the 12,ooo people running this race forced to use transit or cab it that the city might think about starting subway service early. Oh yeah its Toronto what was I thinking ... but I digress.

Kim and I got start line in lots of time, checked the bag, hit the washroom and did a warm up and was still in the corral with 5 minutes to spare. Great morning for a run, sunny, cool but not cold maybe around 8-10 degrees and no wind.

Race started right on time and with the new corral system this year was running a good pace right from the starting line. From there it was all downhill ..... literally.

The course for the first 6.5k was the same as last year, mostly downhill with a couple of uphills mixed in just for fun. This year the last part of the course was changed and in my opinion for the better. Instead of going west then down to Lakeshore and running under the Gardner the course went east on Richmond down Peter and across Front finishing at Fort York. This was so much better and a great deal more pleasant then being trapped under the Gardner so a big thumbs up to the change.

Finishing area was a bit of a cluster F......K. I had to wait in line for almost 15 minutes at the bag check. Once you got your bag to get to the food and post race area you had to go into Fort York which is a real bottleneck. I don’t want to be to hard on the race however as it was the first time with the new finishing line / area. I expect they will work out these kinks for next years race.

Overall had a decent race, ran a little bit slower then I wanted (shouldn’t have done a track workout on Friday night) but had a good time. Finished in 46:14. Kim ran a PB of 1:03:57 which was 2o minutes faster then her Sportinglife race last year... way to go Kim!!
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