Holy crap!! That was tougher than i expected...
Like usual, let me jump back a few days. Wednesday of this week, I snuck in to Vancouver really early so that i could run the Coast Mountain Trail Series, Buckin’ Hell course before work. I wanted to get a bit more familiar with the top section of the route before the race (Saturday). The trail was in great shape for most of the way up, but once i got to about 900m elevation, i ran in to some serious obstacles.
I’m all for tough and technical, but there were so many big trees blown down along the trail, that it was un-runnable for big chunks. I soldiered through it all on the way up, but there was no way i was going back down it. Add in some major post-holing in the snow, and coming down would have been a recipe for injury. (I ended up taking another route back down). Sadly, i knew that this meant that Gary and Geoff would have to re-route the race. Sure enough, the email went out on Thursday: detour near the top, onto the road. For safety sake, it was definitely the right call.
Race morning, and i’m ready to pin it. I had put in some good volume this week, and I had raced last Saturday, but my legs were feeling quite good (it must have been the bag of cookies i ate the night before ...carbo-loading...hahaha). As usual, i was pretty much the first one to arrive to grab my number. I always like to do a long, slow warm up, well before race time.
10.6 km and 3500’ elevation...each way. We were a determined bunch at the start line!
The game plan was to be pretty controlled with my effort for the first half of the climb. Go out somewhat easy, because it’s only going to get tougher. I also wanted some redemption from my sissy-last-quarter at 5Peaks last weekend: really honest effort to the line this time.
I was in my ‘steady-grind’ mode through the whole Old Buck section (7km or so); right on plan. We then got kicked out onto the shoulder of the road, one switchback below the CBC trail entrance. It was tough to stay on the gas this whole section, but i was determined to suffer. Without the technical bits to navigate, i had to keep reminding myself to dig deep. That 3.5km seemed to take forever. There was thick fog, so you couldn’t see more than a 100m or so ahead, AND, it was starting to rain...HARD. The last couple hundred meters was back onto trail (and snow), which was a tough way to finish ‘er off. I pushed hard right to the line; really honest effort. Plus, I think that i was the only one lucky enough to dodge the worst of the monsoon on the way up. Pretty much everyone behind me came across the line totally soaked.
I went straight to the chalet to grab some warm clothes (and food) from my drop-bag. I had planned to actually keep running for the next hour, until the down-race started. I was hoping that easy jogging would keep me from cooling down and locking up a bit. But, as i changed clothes inside, the rain started to really hammer down. There was no way i (or anyone else) was going out into that. Absolute buckets of water hitting the ground. A bunch of us inside were actually starting to laugh...it was going to make for an interesting second leg.
I did my best for the next hour to keep moving. I was walking around the chalet, and jogging up/down a set of 10 stairs inside. Not exactly running, but better than sitting. The new game plan for the down-race was to run the road section as a warm up, then work hard on the trail section down to the bottom. Miraculously, about 3 minutes before the down start, the rain eased off to a light spray. You could see the smiles spread across peoples faces. This leg was going to hurt on it’s own, it was a relief that we wouldn’t freeze also. Mother nature must have known that we needed to get home, so she granted us a temporary reprieve.
Haul ass down!!
My legs took a (predictable) beating. Plus, it takes a lot of core strength to run hard for a long downhill. By the finish, my quads and lower abs were pretty cooked. Surprisingly, my time on the downhill was slower than what i would run for 10km on a flat road! I guess the ripping fast sections didn’t make up for the technical switchback sections.
Thankfully, the rain at the top hadn’t followed us to the bottom, and as the rest of the competitors came in, you could see the satisfaction (and relief) on their faces when they finished. This was a tough race. The people who did the full Buck (up and down), definitely earned their cookies/beer/massage/nap today. I can guarantee that the DOMS will be setting in by Monday....a well earned badge of honor.
Like at the Cap Crusher (a month ago), Gary made the awards fun and definitely worth sticking around for. The results were in quickly, and they gave out lots of draw prizes. I’ve said it before; the atmosphere at trail races is great, and that was definitely the case here.
Next up for me is the Oliver Half Ironman in two weeks. I guess i need to dig my TT bike out of the ‘bike pile’ and get outside for a ride on it. One of the best things about the Oliver race is the camping. The campground is right beside the course, and it’s full of racers’ families. My girls will have a blast playing with all the other kids. If i’m lucky, i may even avoid embarrassing myself out there. And after Oliver....round 2 (for me) on CMTS Survival of The Fittest. That, i guarantee, will be fun.
Last, but not least, i need to acknowledge the photos that Rob has been taking at the races. I’m blown away by the one at the top of this entry. Check out his work at robshaer.com