25km run + 30km bike as a relay team
25km run + 30km bike as a solo
Something for everyone. I chose, surprise, surprise, the 50km. I received this entry in a draw at the 2006 Haney to Harrison race but couldn't use it last year so Heather MacDonald graciously let it carry over to this year. I'm glad I did it.
I'm two for two in the beautiful weather department for racing this year. For the beginning of March we were greeted with overcast skies but no rain. The sun came out briefly on the run and more afterwards.
Again I was treating this day more as a training session but wanted to slightly push the pace but still have the legs feel less thrashed than Orcas Island. A lot to ask for and all have come together for one event. I talked with a few people whom I hadn't seen in a while - Matt Sessions and Bruce Grant to name a couple. Both are fabulous athletes that I plan to extract as much ultra expertise from as I can over the next few races. Matt is even venturing into Ironman territory this August in Penticton. Get on the bike, man, for goodness sakes!!
I drove up with Scott Corsie who was doing the relay, as the runner, with another Burnaby Fire Fighter, Greg, riding the 30km.
There were a few speedsters starting out, namely Matt, who did a 100 miler in Texas a month ago but looked amazingly strong and light going up the first steep stair sections. I thought about keeping him in sight but kept the mantra, "Chuckanut in two weeks, Chuckanut in two weeks", repeating in my head to slow myself down. It worked because I never felt over-extended in the first few miles and, again, walked the steep sections or at least walk/ran them.
After a couple of miles I figured I was in third place after passing Jen Segger from Squamish, first woman at Orcas Island and the youngest competitor in Badwater this July at 27. As it turned out today she was third overall. I ran on my own for a number of miles, always worried if I was on the right track, grateful every time I saw the orange flagging tape. There was never a real worry as the course turned out to be very well marked (nonetheless I took a map this time, lesson learned from Orcas Island). I never really thought to be in contention as a top finisher as I was only on a "training" run. Even so, going up a the long steep Old Buck trail the aid station personnel informed me I wasn't far behind the leaders. The competitor switch turned on and it only got worse when I could see Matt and someone else way up the hill in front of me. Turning onto the Baden-Powell trail the second place guy was even closer, with Matt still floating up there the same distance away.
I think it was around eight miles when I went into second place, right in the snowiest part of the route. There was a lonely outpost of an aid station up there that made me feel glad to be moving and warm. After that it was a steep, technical downhill through Ned's that I caught and passed Matt. I'm not overly great at the downs but for some reason I felt really good - feet landing okay and seeing the trail well ahead.
At the Gazebo aid station I grabbed my two other bottles and left with Matt about one hundred feet behind me. One volunteer directed me where to go as there wasn't a person manning the turn back into the woods about a kilometre down the road. I wasn't sure where I was turning off but sure enough when the time came it was so well-marked there was no way to miss it.
I took off through this loop and after a couple miles we reversed down the same path to do a second loop of Old Buck, Ned's, back to the Gazebo. My footing on Ned's wasn't like the first time, fatigue setting in, slowing me down so I wouldn't go down.
Once past the Gazebo it was a few miles to go but they were TOUGH miles. After some flats we had to go up and down and up again stairs and more stairs. It was the Grouse Grind of stairs. Then it was past the last little aid station where two girls directed me down the path saying, "You're almost there now". I've heard that once or twice in races and never trust it. This was a very muddy section that zig-zagged through a swamp and you felt like you weren't geting anywhere. Once through that and into the sunlight it was all down hill to the finish. Time 4:11.
I couldn't believe how good my legs felt on the flats at the end. I definitely felt tired on the last sets of stairs but all in all I was in good shape. Even Sunday and today I felt none of the soreness like Orcas. Maybe the trick is to race every couple weeks. Wait a minute, I'm doing that anyways.
Scott had already finished his 25km run and we were waiting for Greg to come in. Finally we saw him finish and he described his day of getting lost and climbing numerous switchbacks, bike on shoulder, for no reason other than to find the course again.
This was the first race that I taped my toes and the balls of my feet. I did it for my interval training last week but knew that the feet take more of a beating through the trails. All in all it worked well with no blisters. I'll try again at Chuckanut to see if it works again. Pictures from the website to follow shortly.
Thank you to Heather MacDonald for the picture!
Only 1161 kms to go ...