If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Around the Lake Give 'r Take

This 30km run that happened yesterday, the 17th, should have been called "Around the Lake Give 'r Take a Few Big Long Hills Near the Lake". When I saw the topt map of the course from the website it looked like any other trail around a lake. This usually entails a flat course because most terrain near a lake is relatively flat. This course around Cultus Lake was by no means the hardest I've ever done but it had it's steep moments.
It's been a long time since I've raced in the trails and about three weeks since my last trail run. I had forgone a speed session on the road this week because the plan was to add some quickness in the meat of this run. The plan was to go easy up the first large hill to the aid station at 6kms. Then I wanted to pick it up a bit and keep the intensity and heartrate high for most of the race then ease back down for the last few kms.
I spoke a bit with Matt Sessions, who's run this race before and done many editions of it, and asked him as much as I could think about in regards to what the course was like. I guess it's really nice on a dry day but today was a crapshoot because of the continuous rain the day before and this morning. It was supposed to get worse as well. Something like 50mm was to fall that day. Luckily the worst of it hit after I had finished.
The race was off and we had a pacer to show us the way to the first aid station. When two guys passed him after about 4km I knew this would be interesting. Would they slow down or continue to fly like I've seen guys do in the past? I was partially right on both accounts. There were four of us running sort of together up until the first aid station - Matt, Dirk, Devon and myself. Devon and Dirk slipped out of view halfway up the first long hill. After the aid station I left Matt, executing my race plan of speeding up. I eventually caught up to Dirk and Devon. I ran with them a bit and waited to get my breath before politely asking if I could pass. Until I did though, I followed Devon down this very steep, slippery section which had to be a motorcycle path because the path was shaped like a deep "V" with water down the bottom and muddy slopes. We were going down at break-neck (at least for me) speed and I was actually laughing watching and listening to Devon barely keeping on his feet. I knew it was the same for me but it's always funnier seeing it than actually doing it. I know Dirk behind me was going through the same thing.
I finally had a flat stretch to pass and the trail turned more into a dirt road with a gentle downhill to it. I really began moving feeling really strong. There were so many branches hanging down on the course I was doubled over a lot of the times keeping them out of my face. The puddles as well consumed the trails at times and one was forced to try and skirt the edges and find drier, more solid ground. Sometimes there was a deep section with the choice of going straight through the water or do a "Matrix-like" run along the bank while trying to avoid slipping back into the water. Seriously, after an hour I got over the puddle-thing and just plowed right through.
Dirk was flying up behind me and we emerged from the trails to go through a field of knee-high grass with me barely in the lead. I guess I was going a little off course because a woman yelled at us from a ways away to go more to the left. As we curved over that way, Dirk took up the lead and really started pouring it on. We hit some pavement and I stopped to tie a shoe and he hit the afterburners on a long downhill section and it was all I could do to keep him from gaining too much. This quick a pace was not part of the plan but I thought if I didn't stay with him I'd lose him on the second half of the race. The paved road started going uphill and I made up some distance on him. We reached the next aid station and when I next saw Dirk he had his hands on his knees like he was tired and just standing there. I saw another person running up the hill after the aid station and it took until my tiny brain registered on the ground the spraypainted words, "Relay Exchange", that I put it together that Dirk was on a relay team.
You've got to be kidding me, I thought. I went almost all out to stay with him and now he had a woman with fresh energy taking off on the second half while I was withering. It actually worked out okay in the end because this speedy lady, whose name I found out later was Mel, was a great rabbit and made me push myself more than I would have if she wasn't there.
She was running strong up the hills while I powerwalked them. I tried to catch her on the flats but it was only at a very long decent that my flailing paid off and I caught her. We shared a brief word and I kept going.

A shot of me almost hitting the beach section
Photo by Peter Watson

Towards the end I was told to just run along the beach and when I did for a minute or so I couldn't see any of the pink ribbons we'd been following. I looked back to see where Mel was and it took a couple minutes before I saw her behind me and figured I was going the right way. I finally saw the finish tents and was grateful because I was feeling a bit cooked.
Through the finish and straight into the lake I went to clean off my legs and shoes. I dried off and changed and waited for the awards. One of the coolest winners' trophies I've received in any race was this one today which was a hand-carved walking stick made from a Hazelnut tree. At the top was carved a Wood Spirit which apparently every tree has, as the superstition goes.
This was a great, fun race made even better by the weather and mud and great food at the end. I can't believe I've missed this one for so many years. I may be back next year in prep for the World 100k in Gibralter. Of course I should take it a little easier because my legs are still killing me. I guess it pays to do a bit more trail running before I race one.
I can't see H2H being this fun but the weather should be about the same.

One hundred feet from the finish line - notice the still present heel strike, damn!

Me telling Mel how much she helped me keep up a good pace

In need of a lake bath

Ooohhhh yeah

A taste of the rain I missed by only a few minutes

The first and last five pictures courtesy of Vedder Running Club.

The inscription burned on the walking stick

The Wood Spirit


Nicola Gildersleeve said...

Nice work! I knew mel boss was running it but I assumed she was doing the entire thing as she does many ultras. Glad she was pushing you instead of me!

Good luck at H2H! Hopefully see you in Gibralter!

garobbins said...

Nice work Darin, congrats on the win and another solid season!!