I signed up for these two races about 3 weeks ago, and mainly signed up for the two of them to see if it was, in fact, possible to complete the double. The Esquimalt 8k started at 9 am on one side of town, while the Mt. Doug Gutbuster started at 9 am on the other side of town. Always looking for an adventure wherever I can find it, I seized the chance to register for both.
As great as my summer training has gone thus far, the week leading up to this race Sunday would be nothing short of awful. The Monday evening following the Hurricane Ridge run I came down with a chill and fever. For the next two days, I was on a diet of Tylenol trying to get my fever down, and needless to say, running did not happen. On Wednesday I went to the doctor who confirmed my suspicion: bladder infection.
I was put on antibiotics for the next 7 days and I was hopeful that things would improve quickly. And for the most part, they did. I tried running the next day (Thursday) out of guilt more than anything else, but the run lacked the usual quality. I also found that my heartrate was much higher during the small 6k training jaunt, so I knew I was, by no means, out of the woods yet.
Two more days passed without running. My back was still sore from the bladder infection, but my fever had subsided. I was definitely ready to run, I just had no idea now if I was 100% or just how fast I would go.
Race #1 - Esquimalt 8k
Race Sunday was a gorgeous day. The weather forecast was hot; highs would eventually reach 30. Staying hydrated was difficult in these conditions. Janelle and I drove out to Esquimalt and I began my warm-up. During the warm-up I saw a few fast runners, but no famous faces were seen. I knew what I was capable of, and I had run the course before last year, so there definitely was the potential here for a PB.
The race began with a false start. Dave Milne had by accident hit the wrong button on his megaphone and all the runners were forced to go back a few meters to the start. It was quite humorous really. When the race began for real, I positioned myself near the front of the pack and after the first kilometer I was in about 9th place with my split 3:37. Perfect.
Kilometer 2 and 3 would also be right on pace and I was right beside one of my training partners, Mike Janes. The big hills in the course were now over, so it was just time for my to put my foot on cruise control.
Easier said than done. After kilometer 3, I struggled to continue my pace. The heat was intense, my heartrate was again much higher than it should have been, and my feet were now dragging. The rest of the race would be a struggle. I lost my mental edge as well, and was simply distracted and found myself thinking of external factors and of my sickness rather than my own performance. I over the next few k's, I was slowly passed by a handful of runners. At one point, I considered pulling out of the race, but the reality was that the only fast way back to my car was to finish this horrid race.
With about 1/2 a k to go, I saw two runners just infront of me that I thought I could catch. I got a second wind and surged ahead of them and sprinted to the finish. I would finish in 31:39, good enough for 14th place.
Now although this result may sound decent enough, it was well below my potential. My result last year in this race was 31:23, and I know I am way faster than I was last year. Whether it was the sickness, the heat, or simply just a bad race, I didn't get the result I wanted. I figure that I should be hovering around 30:00 in this race. In summary, a mediocre race and result.
I did a cool-down jog with Janelle to the car, and then we were off to Mt. Doug for Race #2.
Race #2 - Mt. Doug Gutbuster 6k Short-Course
While the Esquimalt race was hot, things were only going to get hotter for the second race. I had finished the first race in enough time, and I figured that there was definitely enough time to get to the second race. The only bad new is that I forgot my waterbottle at home. With little hydration, Janelle and I arrived at the Mt. Doug start line at 9:59 am. Perfect. The race had not begun yet and I got my gear on that I had pre-laid out the night before. Different shirt, different shoes, and I was ready to go.
I overheard someone say, "He's here!" and apparently the race directors (Mark and Nick) were actually delaying the start of the race, waiting for my arrival. Wow...what tretment. The reality was that when I signed up to do the double, I figured there would be a handful of others who would do the same thing.
On the start line I felt in good shape. Of course, this is easy to say because I hadn't run up the mountain yet. There were some real hot-shot runners there, as expected, but I knew that few of them, if any, would be opting for the 6k option. I mentally made it my goal just to get up the mountain as strong as possible. I knew that once I got to the top, that going down to the finish would be a breeze. So here we go.
The race began and the fastees all jockied for a good position at the front. As for me, I was mainly just concerned about staying close to this pack. I did just this, and I entered the single track trail just behind mainstay Gary Duncan. I actually was running well up the trail, and managed the first section to the road without walking. I was still within eye shot of Gary, so I knew my race was decent thus far. However, the climb was about to get difficult. The Irvine Climb at the top is a true test of your climbing skills. It comes at a time when you gotta be tired, and sections of it are certainly steep. However, I have run up its entirety in training for sure, but with difficutly. It wasn't long before my power hiking skills came to the forefront. People around me did the same and a couple poeple passed me, but I also passed a couple myself. I was pleased to get to the upper parking lot in good form, and I rounded left where the short course goes. At the summit, I could see two runners only abour 10 seconds infrnt of me and I suspected one more fastee infront of them. However, as we bagan our decent down the sandhill, I could see no such fast runner up ahead. This gave me great optimism that I had a solid chance of winning this race, provided I could make the most of the flat sections below.
I decided to decent cautiously behind these two guys. I could have gone crazy and flew by them, but in doing this, I would be running unsafely down the sharp decent, and the last thing I needed this day was an injury. So I drafted behind these two guys and bided my time, knowing that I probably had them on the Norn Trail below. After all, I would consider the Norn Trail to be my favourite of all time, so I really now thought I had these guys in my back pocket.
When we hit the Norn Trail however, these two guys showed that they could run downhill. In fact, they were quite a bit faster than me and it took me a conisderable distance for me to catch them back up. The guy immediately in fornt of me reached for his waterbottle, and I took no hesitation in passing him. I then thundered ahead to the road crossing with the leader only a few seconds in front of me. Chris Callendar was there cheering for me and he told me that I had this one. And for the moment, I thought I did. I gave Chris the thumbs up and entered into the final single track. As I did this though, my right calf cramped unexpectedly and I was forced to walk to stop the cramping. I was passed once again, and my heart sank. Perhaps I got too cocky this time. Perhaps I could still muster a 3rd place finish if I could shake this cramp off. After about 15 seconds of walking, I tried running again and my cramp was gone.
I accelerated through the Norn Trail and I hammered into 2nd place yet again. I kept the pace going, and was curious to see just how far the leader was. I could see him way up ahead, and it appeared like I was gaining on him. I used my home-court advantage to get close to this guy, and I was now probably 5 seconds behind him as we left the Norn Trail onto the final pavement section.
The downhill again seemed to be this guy's forte and I made up no ground coming down to the lower parking lot. His strides were long, and he showed no sign of weakness to my threat from behind. As I crossed the finish line in 27:00, I was only 5 seconds off the leader.
It was a great race for me (2nd place), all things conisdered. Had I been 100% and only running this one event this day, I would easily have been 30 seconds to a minute faster. The climb in particular could have been stronger for me, and the sandhill down also was a little slow. However, I did underestimate the other runners infront of me and I really did think I had them. Overconfidence can kill you, and this race it did.
I visited with Chris Callender after the race and jogged home just in time to see Jason Louttit win the Long Course Option. In total, the day would be a total of 17k of distance. Some road, some trail, some hills and alot of heat.
With one final long training run this coming week, I should be in excellent shape for the Nootka Trail in 10 days.