I raced Comfortably Numb again this year. Last year, this was a watershed race for me. In coming third, I ran faster than the previous course record. The bad part was that my good friend Adam Campbell ran faster than I did and thus set the new course record. Adam, a stellar runner and extraordinary at going uphill, had to slow down substantially on the very technical downhill on the course. This allowed me and J.F. Robert to eventually catch him, only to have him run away from us on the gravel road leading to the finish.
Without the company of J.F. this year but with two great runners, Aaron Heidt and Mark Bennett, I knew that the course would fast once again. What I forgot about was how relentless the course is. It is a mountain bike trail, so there are lots of little bridges and many many switchbacks. A point to point race, I believe it is only about 13k from the start to the finish, as the crow flies. The race is about 25k, which means that for about half the race, even though it is point to point, I am running away from the finish.
After the Iron Knee I wasn't feeling so hot about training, so I took a 10 break, as prescribed by the venerable Jim Finlayson. It did the trick, and after the 10 days of doing what I wanted when I wanted I felt refreshed mentally and rested physically. The frustration of not being able to replicate the 1:12 half marathon from earlier this season was weighing on me. My own expectation that I should be setting PBs every time I race was setting me up for disappointment each time I toed the line.
The past week has been good training. A couple of great of 90+ minute trail runs and a good 18k tempo with Simon Driver over 4 days launched me back into training. I ran a workout with VFAC, doing 5 x uphill 800s holding 2:45 which earned a "that's pretty quick" from Coach John. Not quick like Jay's 2:33, but quick nonetheless.
So with all that in my legs heading into Comfortably Numb I was still hoping for a good race. I felt decent throughout the first 1:20 of climbing, which was positive. That is something that I have been working on this spring and I think I am starting to see some of the results. Unlike last year where I ran the second half of the race with J.F, I didn't see anyone after the first 15 minutes of the race, and thus my desire to push hard on the second half of the course wasn't as high as last year. This was part of the reason that my time this year was about 5 minutes slower than last year. However, in a display of trail running prowess, Aaron Heidt took almost 10 minutes off of Adam's course record. Incredible.
So, I am back at it and I will continue to update things as both Knee Knacker and ENDURrun approach with increasing speed!