Monday, June 04, 2007

Iron Knee 25k and Mt. Doug Gutbuster

Two races in one week. Two different results. 49 seconds.

The Iron Knee 25k is a fun up and down race on the North Shore of Vancouver. I took the Club Mud crew over as their culmination race of the clinic. Their performances were inspiring! A great finish to a great clinic with an amazing group of people!

My race started well. The Iron Knee always begins with a loop of a parking lot before heading up an extended climb. I am always conservative at the beginning of a trail race as I am not the strongest climber and going lactic too early will lead to a lot of pain later.

The first hill went by quite uneventfully. I found myself running behind some people, trying to maintain a steady pace and heart rate. It was on the first downhill that I began to pick up the pace. I went around one guy and ended up behind Mark Bates. Mark Bates. For those that don't know, Mark Bates was one of Canada's top triathletes before triathlon blew up thanks to Simon. Mark Bates won this race last year. Needless to say that I was surprised to find myself behind me this early in the race. I was a little concerned. I shouldn't be this close to this man this soon. But I felt good and we were still a little ways back from the leaders, so I sat in behind Mark on the downhill. And then reality kicked in....

HOLD UP! I can't run behind Mark on the downhill! He is going to CRUSH ME on the uphill. I need to get ahead of him!

And so I did. I went around him, knowing that I would likely see him again. I bombed down the hill and hit the flat between the hills at full stride. I made my way back to the people ahead of me until they left me at the beginning of the next hill. I put my head down and proceeded up Powerline Hill wit my head down, with fleeting glances of the runners ahead of me. About halfway up the hill, Mark cruised past. I continued on, cursing the hill. Going over the top I knew that the time to go was fast approaching.

I passes a guy that was looking a little rough, commenting that I was going to go for Bates. "Have fun," he said. Knowing that my technical downhill skills were better than Mark, I went for it. To my surprise, he came back to me pretty quickly. We exchanged some pleasantries (I mean, this guy is somewhat a legend within the Canadian triathlon community), and we tried to catch the guy in front of us. At that time he was only ten seconds ahead.

By the time we finished, he was thirty seconds ahead. I had forgotten about a number of little climbs on the last descent which slowed me right down. My mind turned to staying ahead of Batesy (yes, we are BFF now). I knew that I had to be quick footed on the downhill in order to stay ahead of Mark. If we were side by side when we hit the road 300m from the finish, I would be in trouble. So, staving off some cramping, I kept moving quickly down stairs and over roots.

I finished the race at 1:41:18, about 6 minutes faster than previous fastest time. Mark, to his credit, didn't have a great race when compared to his previous races. I was fortunate to be near him and to run with him. But it was a nice moment to share the trail with someone I thought I wouldn't be near, not for some time at least. I ended up 5th overall; however, I was only 40 seconds from being 3rd. I wonder if I had run harder earlier....

The Gutbuster at Mount Doug a couple of days ago was fun. It was a tough race and I felt heavy after being at Swangard Stadium at the BC Track and Field Championships the day before. My warm up felt great, but after about 5 minutes into the first climb, I knew that the uphill was going to be tough. It was an interesting race though. Because of a major trail race on the same day on the mainland, there were none of the favourites at the race. It left Shane and I as the top runners. Neither of us had ever won a Gutbuster and this was a new course, so it was wide open. To boot, Shane had also raced the Iron Knee the previous weekend. Shane is a better climber than I am, and I can outrun him on the flats, but we are pretty equal on the downhill. I knew early that I would have to let him go on the uphills, using the extended flats to put some time into him. It worked the first time, as I pulled within 5 seconds of him, but on the way to the second summit I ended up walking, struggling to keep the legs going. Shane, to his tremendous credit, ascended like it was nothing. In very little time I lost sight of him, not to regain it until the very end of the race. I pushed pretty hard on the mile long run out to the finish, closing to within nine seconds, but not enough to win my first Gutbuster. Shane earned full points for his gutsy wire to wire win in this race, pushing hard early and often. I was happy with my race, but wished for 200m more of road at the end of the race.

40 seconds from 3rd. 9 seconds from 1st. 49 seconds. But they were both good races.

Sunday saw a 20k tempo with Jasper and today was a massage with Rene. Tomorrow begins my build for Iceland. I have one more race, Comfortably Numb, before Iceland. I am excited with where my training is at. I am putting up consistently faster times than last year and I am energized to train.

Now, if I can just survive school....
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