Saturday, October 17, 2009

Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km Race Report

At last! A race report I am super excited to write about. I can honestly say, I haven't felt this good about a race since Iron Knee (late May). With my injury taking me out for 2 months of the summer, this is the first time in a long while I felt like I was fit enough, to go out and give everything I had. I was able to execute all the things I have been practicing over the last couple of months in training. And, I was finally able to have fun again pushing my ass to it's limits. All the hard work has paid off. I was third overall and I set a new woman's course record by 6 minutes and took 8 minutes off of my own time from last year. All this considering the conditions out there were less than favorable. It rained like hell and the mud was horrendous...but SO MUCH FUN!

Even though this race is not an 'A' race of mine, I came into today knowing I was going out there to give it all I had. In the days leading up to it I kind of threw out to Pete that I should probably just tempo it because Mountain Masochist 50 miler is in 3 weeks. I had already ran 5 hours in the 3 days leading up to this event. I really wanted to do this race so I could test out my fitness. As I had done the race last year, I had something to gauge my fitness from. Last year however, I walked a lot of the uphills. That is something I have been trying to avoid ever since I realized how inefficient power hiking is for me to do. Today, I pretty much ran everything. There were only a few moments where I put my head down, had my hands on my knees, and had to grunt it up the hill. I even ran the steepest of hills today, something I would have never even thought about doing a year ago!

The race begins by circling some flat road and rounding out back along through the start/finish area at Cultus Lake. Immediately thereafter, we start the first climb of the day. This hill goes up relentlessly for about 4 km. There are a few breaks in the hill but only enough to let you catch your breath before heading straight back up. I am pretty sure my heart rate reached 187 on this part. That would be my max! Even though everyone around me was power hiking, I just wanted to see what would happen if I ran. My breathing was under control and the legs were only slightly starting to burn but not fatigue. I think I was in 8th place or so before we hit our first downhill.

Hallelujah!!!!!!! A chance to recover!!!!!!! WOOOHOOOOO!!!!! I immediately passed 2 guys I had been working so hard up that hill with. They ran with me for the next 10 or so minutes and then I never saw them again. I passed one more along this downhill. It was super muddy and you were slip sliding everywhere. Its not a very wide trail and there is pretty much a mini ditch smack dab in the middle. You either have to run in the ditch or pick a side. Going to the outside was a tough call because it was so muddy, you risked sliding right off down the hill. I did a combo but ran a lot in the middle. There were puddles everywhere and I just prayed that when I stepped in one, I wouldn't roll and ankle from hitting a hidden rock. Thankfully, nothing happened, just 2 very wet feet. The downhill I must say is my favorite part of this race. You get to go down for quite a while. The trail has lot's of turns and keeps you well engaged throughout. The trail levels out and widens before going down once more. I passed 2 more guys on this section and was feeling amazing. Eventually it spits you out onto this big open field of grass. It was here that I saw Matt Sessions. I don't know why I have such a hit out for this guy. We have raced each other a few times now and he has become a good racing acquaintance. He has beat me a bunch of times and I have beat him as well. It's always close and it's usually not until the very end of races that I catch him. He's always motivating me (secretly in my head) to finish strong.

He was holding a great pace going back into the tree's. Shortly after, the trail spits you out onto the road. You run down a hill, flats, and then uphill until the 1/2 way aid station at 15km. I couldn't catch him on the road section. We were pretty much running the same speed so I wasn't able to get an inch on him. Once we started up the hill, he was gone and I wouldn't see him for a while. Meanwhile, I had a guy in a blue shirt chasing me down which kept me focused. I blazed through the aid station without stopping because I had a camelbak full of water, enough to last me the entire race. I also had gels stuffed in my shorts pocket, glove, and bra.

This next section is very hilly. You climb up some switchbacks for a while, descend slightly and then undulate for quite some time. There is enough overall descending to recover and the undulations make for some good running. The terrain was making me work. The guy in the blue shirt caught back up to me on one of the ascents and we continued to go back and forth a few times. I was trying to keep up to him on the hills and he was making me work to keep up. There no doubt about it, I was pushing myself. Sometimes when your alone in ultra's, it's hard to push yourself beyond your limits. I was thankful he was there, even though he was kicking my butt.

I eventually passed him again on the down and then we started up our last climb of the day. Thinking back from last year, I really couldn't remember how long this hill was. We climbed for a bit and then these motivational signs popped up. Although they served as a good distraction, there was one that said "you are almost at the top". I turned to the guy in blue, who had passed me again at this point, and said "I really hope they're not lying". Every switch back we crested I kept wondering if it was the last one. The sign said we were almost done, so this has got to be it. I don't think we reached the top for about 10-15 minutes after that damn sign. Whoever wrote it, should have put it a hell of a lot higher up the hill!!!!! Sorry, I'll stop whining now. We finally got to the top and blue was out of sight. I ran as hard as I could to catch him and I finally saw him up ahead. It took me a while to get to him as I am sure he wanted to stay ahead of me. By the time I had caught up to him, he had caught up to Matt Sessions. It wasn't long before I passed them both with only had 3km to go.

The trails spit you out one more time. I was now in 3rd place and really wanted to keep it that way. I had Matt and Blue behind me and was running scared. I ran along the road one more time and Peter was there and told me I was on pace for a C.R. I really didn't care at that point and just wanted the race to be over. The road section was short and before long I was on my last km along the beach at Cultus Lake. I kept looking behind me to see if Matt was on my tail but for the majority there was no one. I tried to run as fast as I could. That last km seemed to take forever but the finish line came into sight and I was done. I finished in 2:29!!!

I was really happy with my finish. I gave it my all and that is all I could ask for. I pretty much ran every single hill and that was my main goal coming into today. I congratulated Matt and Blue for pushing me up those hills and quickly jumped in the Lake to soak the legs.

This race is awesome. I am surprised it doesn't draw more people. I think the rain kept a lot of people in bed today. The organization is great. They must have given out a hundred draw prizes and the overall winners receive handcrafted walking sticks. The food is amazing because they get all the volly's to bake. There is always homemade pie (and a plethora of other treats), meat and cheese platter, and soup/chili...YUM!

I must say, I really needed this day to happen before Mountain Masochist. I needed a solid hard effort day out on the trails and something to confirm my fitness. There is still 3 more weeks until the race and I am looking more forward to it than ever.

See you in the trails!



Excellent report! You really captured the race experience. Loved the "mini ditch" muddy run, and the part about the signs saying 'you are almost at the top'-yeah, right! You rocked the course and I'm sure you will do the same at Mountain Machoist.

Rob Lang said...

Awesome run and CR Nicola. Thanks for
reminding me how to run the downhills.
You'll rock at MM. Say hi to David Horton for me.


Darin said...

Hey Nicola nice report and congrats on the CR. Imagine if it had been dry!! Can you or Peter send me any pictures you have of me? I'm pretty sure I saw Pete taking some. Thanks.


Leslie said...

She's baaaaaack!! :)

giljay21 said...

Way to go Nic. I might have to come out and watch one of your races