Yesterday was the second annual running of the Cap Crusher, which is the first race of the 2014 Coast Mountain Trail Series. I don't think that Gary and Geoff could have paid off mother nature for a better March day. The sun was out, and everybody seemed to be really excited about tackling the tough course. The two options for the day were 8km and 13km: both of which involved a lot of climbing, descending, and technical North Shore trails.
If you have never ran/hiked/explored on the trails of the Capilano Canyon, you are missing out. Put it on your to-do list...it's amazing.
I got an early start on race morning (which isn't a surprise for anyone who knows me), and made it to the Cleveland Dam by 7am. Geoff, Gary, Linda, and a large group of volunteers were already getting going on setting up, so I did what I could to help their efforts for about 30 minutes. By 7:30, things were looking great, so I grabbed my race number and decided I would get in a nice long pre-run/warm up before the 9am start. I had enough time to jog the first loop on the 13km course (about 8km long) before heading back to my car to get changed and then do some strides. It was still pretty cold out, right around zero degrees, and some of the wooden features on course (stairs and walkways) were pretty slippery. I'm glad I got to check things out before hitting them at full speed in the race.
Right before sending us off, Gary introduced a rather speedy guy to the field: Alex Varner. He is the reigning US 50k trail champ, and was in town on a holiday. On short notice, Gary had convinced him to come out and race. Even though Alex was really on vacation, and running the race just for training, he definitely added some power to what would be the front of the race. With that said, my race plan was always going to be the same. I've had a solid 8 days of training since the Dirty Duo, and this was going to be my last really hard effort in prep for DV50 in 2 weeks.
I wanted to make this one hurt!
I'm never afraid to take the lead right from the gun, and that's how it happened yesterday. Except, besides Alex being right with me, there was someone else. I hadn't met him before, but Jordan Maynard was right on my shoulder. We ran side by side for the first 4km or so (until the out and back turn around), with Alex just a few steps behind. At that point, I started to pull away ever so slowly. The tough climbs were still to come, but I felt quite comfortable so I just ran my own race.
I pushed hard, especially up the long climbs. I didn't really know where Alex or Jordan were, but I stayed focussed on my own effort (**It's all about the process...)
The only slightly negative thought that was lingering in the back of my brain was my asthma. The pollen counts (especially from Alder) had been high for the last several days, and tree pollen can really mess me up in the spring. After going red-lined up the stairs to finish the first loop, I could feel my chest getting a bit tight. I was able to control my breathing really well for the next ten minutes or so, which brought me to the bottom of the last climb of the race.
That was the point in the race where I had made a little promise to myself:
No matter what...absolutely full gas to the top of the climb!
It was ugly. I had some crazy tunnel vision by the top. My legs were locking up, and my mouth was wide open...just gasping for air. I crested the hill, and turned onto the long downhill to the finish. My legs were wobbly. My chest , shoulders, and neck were all pulling as hard as possible to try and feed some oxygen to my brain and my muscles. Gary was about 400m from the finish, and he yelled something to me as I ran by, but I couldn't really hear anything and I didn't even acknowledge him (sorry about that Gary). With about 100m to go (still pushing as hard as I could, but moving pretty slowly), I was getting that 'holding-your-breath-too-long-under-water-and-your-extremities-start-to-tingle' feeling...
I managed to get across the line, but 2 steps later I was on the ground. I don't think I actually blacked out, but I was close. I couldn't open my eyes, and someone was talking to me and kneeling beside me. Turns out it was my friend James, who also got this awesome/funny/ugly shot of me crossing the finish line...
All in all, the Cap Crusher was a big success; both for myself and for the CMTS crew. Pretty much everyone stuck around after the race for the awards and some post-race sunshine. I really enjoyed just hanging out for a bit and visiting with a bunch of friends. From all the stories, it sure sounded like everybody had a great time. Here is a link to the CMTS Facebook page with some of the race photos.
As for me...I ran tough, followed my plan, and held on to win. Plus, even though the course was slightly longer due to a construction re-route, I was about 30 seconds quicker than I was last year. I'm feeling confident about Diez Vista in a couple weeks. It will be a real challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.