New PB... 1:36:05 (previous: 1:38:54)
26/229 overall, 8/29 M30-39... all in all a great outing!
It was tougher this year than last year for a few reasons...
First, course changes - they took out a flat out-and-back they used to have near the end and replaced it with an earlier out-and-back that was full of short hills. On the bright side, you don't have to see the finish then have to run a few more kilometers... on the down side, the new section is tougher!
Second, the trail conditions - they use a gravel trail for a section that last year was hard-packed and pretty easy... this year it was wet and mucky! It was almost like a trail run, I even came close to losing my shoe at one point. It's about 750m each way, so 1.5km - not the end of the world, but tough.
And finally the wind seemed to be in my face most of the day... going south, east, it just seemed like every time we turned the wind was still there!
Started out feeling great (especially for 7am), had a tail-wind for the opening kilometers, and a slight downhill. Went out a bit faster than the goal 4:30/km pace, but still well within myself.
When we turned south, I thought it was going to be downhill and easy - instead we had a headwind and I think it was still uphill for a bit! Used the 3:35 pace bunny as a wind screen as best I could.
Hit the new section, there were a few little sharp hills. It was early enough in the race that it didn't bother me too much, I let my pace go a bit. Average pace was still in the 4:30/km range, still feeling like the 1:35 could be there...
... but then we got to the trail section. It was mucky and wet, I could really feel my pace drop and it became tougher. Add to that a rather steep climb with loose footing and my pace was shot. Once we hit the road I tried to find that 4:30/km again, but it was a struggle. I never quite knew if I was going up or down, and when we turned back south that headwind took its toll.
Then the trail section again, and more really washed out sections... in one I lost my shoe (almost)! I shouldn't complain too much, I actually passed several people who weren't as adept at trail running... I could hear a lot of grumbling.
The rest of the race I struggled for pace. I could tell my 1:35 target was gone somewhere around 16km - I knew I had to make up time in that stretch and it just wasn't coming to me. There is this silly little steep uphill as you leave Victoria and go back south - it is so short and simple, but I went way into the red there... took me a minute to come back! I was on the edge. Pace ultimately got worse, last few kilometers were around 4:45/km... so finished 'er up just shy of my goal.
Garmin said I only ran 20.89, which is about 200m short... I suspect it just lost some accuracy on the curvy bits.
Ultimately I was left wishing I had done Mississauga or Toronto last week, I really think I could have hit that sub-1:35 on one of those courses. Still, the race was mostly well organized and if you're not obsessed with every second it's a nice challenge.