We were out biking yesterday, and we saw the kilometer markers set up. I remembered this race, looked it up when I got home, and somehow ended up at the start line the next morning.
This race is probably the hardest course I've done. It's hard to really sum up how brutal in a chart, this comes kind of close...
The first 7km are mostly road (with two trail sections tossed in) and gradually uphill. I settled in pretty easy and felt good, tried to really dial it back on the uphills rather than attacking them. Everything felt really good, pace was better than I was thinking (under 5:00/km to the highest point in the course).
8km-14km - Trails!
Around 8km the real trails start, true off-road stuff. As a bonus, there was still snow (!) covering the trail in a bunch of sections, a bit slippy and tricky at times! There were a few sharp climbs, a few fast descents.
I'm a particularly good descender. Not just because I weigh more than most runners... I've really honed my technique thanks to some words of wisdom from an old ultra runner I knew. I let it go, let the hill fling my legs back, no braking, go for it! It's more controlled falling than running... and if you get it right, it takes little energy, just courage. I always pass people downhill, today was no exception.
Last 7km - Wooden Sticks Golf Course
Truly a beautiful golf course.
We ventured out onto the golf course cart paths. I thought "whew, should get easier from here!". Wrong. It got worse! The surface may have been nice asphalt, but the cart paths curved and undulated. There was pretty much no point from there to the end where we weren't going either up or down. And some of the ups were so steep they slowed me down to almost a walk... it was brutal stuff!
Much more suited to golfing and driving a cart around than running on.
Somehow I managed to really hang on to my pace. I picked off a few guys late in the race, which felt amazing (typically on the downhill!).
The closing kilometer is diabolical. All I wanted was a nice flat zip to the finish, instead there were two steep climbs left to tackle. The last one is almost literally a wall... you can see the building at the finish, but a long windy trail to get up there!
There was a guy behind me that I had passed a few corners earlier, I could feel him hunting me down, so I knew I couldn't let up... somehow I dug deep and dragged my sorry carcass up that thing, but it hurt. Hung on and charged to the finish.
1:42:47 (4:53/km - 26/179 overall, 4/21 Men 30-39)
I'm totally stoked. I mean it's way off my best, but this course was way off the kind of course you'd go for a best on! I was just hoping to come in around 5:05-5:10/km, but my heart rate stayed low and it felt really good so managed to find more than that today.
Feeling really great! This is shaping up to be a solid season.