Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Start to July... a week of races.

I realize that I've missed posting any sort of updates for June (I ran a couple of races.. I will backtrack and post about them soon), but now it's July and I already have a few races to mention! It's been a busy, but fun week and this has the potential to be a long rambly post.

Race #1 - Great Canadian Trail Run 10K (mix of dirt, grass, asphalt, and crushed gravel trails)
On Tuesday, July 1st (Canada Day), I headed down to Brantford with a van full of runners (Deb, Dave, Heather, Lynn, and I) to run the Great Canadian Trail Run. There were 5K and 10K race options; Deb and Lynn were doing the 5K, while Dave, Heather, and I did the 10. 

We Arrived at the site about 45 minutes before race start. Obtaining our numbers, t-shirts, etc was quick and painless, so I had plenty of time to get in a short warm-up run and stash my bag under the stands at the track near the race start/finish. 

The race itself was well organized and there were no course issues this year (last year there were a couple of unmarked turns and one spot where the trail came to a T and the marshals had their backs to the course, causing me to actually have to call out for directions). The weather was far from ideal as it was quite hot, very humid, and windy. This combination did not make me want to race. I lost motivation by 6K, but at 8K when a woman passed me, motivation quickly returned. I decided that I would not drop back a place and I got back in the game. 

I finished the race in 3rd place female, running almost 2 minutes slower than my fastest road 10K, but over a minute and a half faster than the same race last year. 

Race #2 - Creemore Springs Vertical Challenge 25K (hilly, hence the name)
I had been on the fence about signing up for this race and I actually didn't decide to do it until I finally registered on Wednesday evening. I figured it would be a good training run for Stage 5 of the ENDURrun, which is coming up next month, and that's the type of mentality I took to the race. This was going to be a training run. A hard effort training run, but a training run nonetheless. 

Greg, Craig, and I arrived at 8:05, so we just missed seeing the start of the 50K, but still had plenty of time to get ourselves organized, warm up, etc before our 9am start for the 25K. Having never run this race before, I was surprised to see how beautiful the location was (the race director's property). I had heard great things, but you still never truly know until you see it. I was already glad that I had decided to do this. 

After some socializing and then stashing my stuff next to some trees on the lawn, I did a very short warm up run and hung out near the start line. A couple of very quick announcements were made, and a shot gun was fired to signal the start of the race. 

Going into this race with 'training run' mentality worked well for me to ensure that I started at a relatively conservative pace. I was running comfortably (or comfortably hardish) and it felt good. 

A race volunteer told me very early in the race (*maybe* 1 km into the race) that I was the second female at this point... I made a mental note, but I didn't let it get to me. The woman ahead of me was Jessica from my running club, and I could see her blue singlet ahead. A few km later, when I had not been passed by anyone, but I had passed a couple of runners, I decided that I would continue running at my current level of effort, but if a woman was to catch me, that I may have to kick it up a notch to not lose my position. Luckily, this didn't happen. 

As the race went on, there was climb after climb after climb, some were country roads, some were rocky trail, some may have been other types of terrain as well.. I'm not really sure... I didn't pay too much attention to the hills... I just got up them and then eventually down. There were two hills that I had to walk part of, but other than that, I was pretty consistent (effort wise... pace goes out the window on this course). 

I ran a good chunk of the race with Rick (someone I had met on the course around 7 or 8 km into the race), we had a brief chat and realized that we were of very similar running ability based on past races, so we ran together from that point until just after the final BIG climb. He had told me earlier on that after the last big climb, the final 5 or 6 km of race is mostly downhill. So, as it started to level off at the top, I said "It's run time" and I picked up the pace. The long downhill country road was incredibly fun to just open up and run down. Also at this point the 50K leaders were heading up on their 2nd loop, so it was great to be able to see them, to offer some encouragement, and even just to say 'hi' to some friends along the way. 

After the long down, there was a farmer's field, then some trail with some steep downhills that were a little tricky in spots. When I saw the rope to pull yourself up a short and steep muddy hill, I knew the end was close. I got up that hill and I was having a lot of fun running through the twisty single track in the last mile of the race. I came out from the woods, saw the wet and dry options (bouncy bridge vs water crossing - I took dry since there was nobody around me and also since I was told by some other people that it really doesn't make much of a difference time wise), turned to the right, and ran across the finish line. I had finished in 2nd place of the women. I congratulated Jessica on her first place finish, got myself a beverage, and chatted with other runners and the race director for a bit before I took a look at the results... which confirmed that I was 2nd female by 40 seconds. I had no idea that I was that close. I thought I was at least 2 minutes back. I felt great at the finish. I definitely felt like I could have kept running, which made me very happy.

Post race beer, pizza, sitting in the Mad River, and hanging out on the grass was fantastic. I stuck around for 5 or so hours after I was done my race, so I had lots of time to chat with 50K runners and to just enjoy the wonderful weather outdoors. All in all, it was a great day.
Creemore 25K Results

Race #3 - Dirty Dash 8K (wee bit of road, meadow, trail, water crossings, muddy hill, and finally bales of hay and a mud pit in the finishing chute)

Since I already talked so much about the other two races, I'll keep this one shorter. This morning was the Dirty Dash. There is an 8K, a 4K, and a 1K kids run. I did the 8K. One of the main reasons I like this race is the fact that the course is almost exactly the same as Stage 3 of the ENDURrun (just 1 km shorter on the loop, and ER doesn't have water crossings or a mud pit). I guess that makes this weekend ENDURrun simulation training... I did Creemore for a Stage 5 type race and then Dirty Dash for a much shorter version of Stage 3. Ok.. back to the race. At the first turn I could see that there were 3 women ahead of me, 2 turns later, I was in 2nd place female, where I stayed for the remainder of the race. I felt strong today and did not feel like I had run all those hills the day before. I enjoyed this race and enjoyed catching up with some people I hadn't seen in a while. Placing well was an added bonus.  

Race swag and prizes. The maple syrup, coffee, and bowl were all prizes from Creemore.
And now, I sit here finishing up this post, having just come home from running.... at Chicopee.