Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dirty Duo 25km race report

If you are one that is interested in 'what we ultra runners think about when we race' then read this post. This is a great look into the mind of a competitor.

Pre-race thoughts:
Because I had impaled myself onto a rather large boulder last Sunday (badly bruising my sternum) and I was going into this race just to 'participate' and get in some miles. This (just participating) of course is easy to say, hard to do. I managed to run twice (under an hour) this week and one small hike up the Grouse Grind. Actually, yesterday I was really bummed out. I went for a run in the afternoon and felt awful and I couldn't stop thinking about how 'behind in fitness' I was getting. Getting sidelined is a hard thing to swallow. I hate to be a Debbie downer but I am just speaking honestly.

I woke up around 8am and made myself a nice bowl of oatmeal for breaky. I then watched a few good T.V shows (saved by the bell, food network) and decided last minute to shave my legs. I couldn't wear my 3/4 tights with sasquatch legs now could I! The funny thing is, I had so much mud on my legs after the race, no one would have been able to tell. The race did not start until 11am and because I was just going to have 'fun', I left my house around 10:20, arriving with a little over 20 minutes to register and go to the bathroom (i.e- the bush). I chatted with a lot of familiar faces and we quickly towed the start line, pouring rain and all.

I have recently been reading a lot of running blogs that have mentioned the word 'sandbagging'. I finally asked Peter what it meant and even after he explained it to me, I still didn't quite get it. Well, I certainly do now! When people asked me how I was doing, I felt the need to let people know that I was going in with an injury (bruised sternum) and that I wasn't going to be 'competing' in this event today. I guess I feel like people have expectations of me and when I anticipate finishing in the middle of the pack, I want them to know why. I wish it weren't this way. I wish I could just show up, without expectations of how I will do, and not have people ask questions when they see that I didn't finish in the top 3 or pull off a great time. Of course, it's all in my head and if I could just let go of what other people think, I wouldn't feel the need to explain my situation. I'll work on that.

I started the race off not fast, but not slow either. I settled into a less than tempo running pace. My sternum felt better than it had in the past few days and I took advantage. I took it pretty easy at the beginning because it is quite hilly and I wasn't out here to make myself hurt today. I worked on my cadence running uphills, trying to move my feet faster when I noticed them slowing down. This seemed to work wonders for my speed. After about 45 minutes I saw a woman up ahead and as I was passing her she told me I was in 3rd place. I knew the 2 girls that were ahead of me and I assumed they were long gone as they are great runners. The minute I realized I was contending for a top 3 finish spot, my competitive nature took over.

Just after I passed 3rd place, I ran passed Peter and Gary Robbins (NSA) aid station at Twin Bridges. I gave Peter a kiss, which was my toll to pass over the bridge. It took me a while to catch Shannon as she is a great hill climber. We trained for our very first marathon together back in 2005. She has since become a competitive triathlete (Ironman) and I got the ultra running bug. I think this was our first race together in 5 years! Anywho, I am faster on the downhills and was able to take her over along Bridal Path, only to get blown by on our way up Old Buck. She was out of sight within a minute. At this point, I settled back into 3rd place and in my head, this is where I was going to stay for the rest of the race. I got out of competition mode and went back into having fun mode, or slogging up the hill mode. This pattern of thinking is often how I work. Once I start to pass people and get into a good placing spot, I get motivated and I work harder. Once I get passed, and others are clearly feeling better than me, I get a little bit discouraged. Suddenly, 3rd place doesn't seem so bad.

I continued the climb up old buck (which seemed way shorter today than normal) and got back onto Baden Powell, which climbs up towards the Powerline to Ned's. The trail was ugly. There was snow, rivering waters, and lot's of rocks to throw you off balance. I have run this route a million times with the trail clinic and I knew I could run everything that was given to me today, no matter what the trail conditions were. I was excited to get to the top of Ned's as I knew I could recover on this long section of downhill. I went a bit slower than normal as it was really wet, snowy, and slippy. I really did not want a repeat of last Sunday and concentrated extra hard on staying on my feet, even if that meant slowing my pace. I was passed by a fellow at one point and that sucked a little bit because (and I say this in the most non-egotistical way) I rarely get passed downhill. It was more of a reassurance that I probably wasn't working hard enough. I just kept doing my thing, taking my time, until I saw Shannon again.

I actually thought to myself 'dammit, now I have to try hard again'. I know, a horrible thought, but I thunk it. I find, you either have to go into a race with a race mentality or not. I went in without one, picked it up somewhere along the way, lost it for a bit, only to have it resurrect itself again. At this point, I dramatically picked up the pace because I knew there was a long stretch of downhill and I needed to take full advantage if I wanted to hold 2nd place. There was 1 more big hill and I knew if I could get to the top without her passing me, 2nd was mine. I ran as fast as my legs would take me along the flats, up the hill, and onto my favorite section of the race. I passed a number of men along the next slightly downhill, technical, muddy section, which only fed my fire. After one last small climb/power hike, it was home free. All I had to do was run diamond trail (flat) and back through the cemetery to Jaycee house (start/finish area). Diamond trail was pretty much a mud fest with mystery puddles everywhere. It is also a very technical trail which tends to slow some people down. As I was nearing the end of the trail, I spotted and ran by my friend Dirk Handke, a fast guy from Kelowna I never thought I would catch and Matt Sessions.

If you follow my race reports you will notice that I have passed Matt Sessions at least 3 times in the final minutes of races. I always find it satisfying, sorry Matt!!!! As I passed him I could hear him kick and I knew I was going to have to push hard to the end. However, the sound of his footsteps slowly began to fade and I finished comfortably hard.

I feel like a total sand bagger for telling all my acquaintances and friends that I wasn't going to be racing because I had this 'injured sternum" only to then feel good, run harder than expected, and come 2nd. Next time, I will not mention a thing and just go run and see what happens. Moral of the story, you never know how you are going to feel until you get out there and start running!

All in all, I had a wonderful day. I never went into that 'world of hurt' zone and I ran a great run, for me. I got in some great tempo training, worked on my cadence (a weakness) and ran all the hills (even though slow). The race was so well organized and the food after wards was killer. Lasagna, salad and watermelon never tasted so good!

Thanks again to all the Volunteers who stood in the rain for hours. Also, I'd like to thank the race director Heather (H-Mac) Macdonald for putting in so much time and energy to making something fantastic.

See you in the trails!



You are amazing. Doing so well after such a bad body slam into a rock! If this is you on a bad day, I would hate to race against you on a good day. Congrats!

tiktok said...
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SteveQ said...

Every race I go to, people in the front row are talking about their bad knee or their lack of training - but, they're still in the front row. Thirty seconds into the race, you know who's sandbagging!

mrf0rd said...

I really enjoy following your blog. Insights into the minds of the elites shows the rest of us how important the mental aspect of ultrarunning comes into play. Great run!

Dirk said...

There is NO SHAME in being passed by one of Canada's FINEST, NICEST, most INCREDIBLE Ultra Trail Runners :-) at the end of a
TOUGH RACE ! I have NO EXCUSES, but I DO (like to) WHINE :-o about ALL that ICE-COLD WATER, on the GROUND and falling from the TREES, those LAKES and RIVERS, those FENCE-HIGH ROOTS, the KNEE-DEEP MUD, the BOLDER-SIZE ROCKS, the SLUSH and SLICKINESS of that STEEP TECHNICAL DOWNHILL course. I felt like in an EPISODE of SURVIVOR MAN and was so happy to make it to the FINISH line. I still had BLUE LIPS the NEXT DAY ! :-) I GUESS I am just NOT TOUGH ENOUGH for those NORTH SHORE TRAILS! Some of the finishers had a BLAST out there, they enjoyed every minute of it, but they are also CUT out of a different wood than I. Nicola, you are like WEST COAST OAK, SUPER-TOUGH, HARD, UN-BREAKABLE. I am more like OKANAGAN PINE, brittle, soft and because of the beetle infestation hollow here and there, for sure no competition ! There, I said it... hahaha