One of the (many) perks of being friends with a Race Director, is getting to be involved in some of the 'add-on' events, over and above the actual racing events. My friend Solana is the RD for 5Peaks in BC, and she was the driving force behind the (2nd annual) hill clinic that I held out at Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge.
About half of the group I already knew (or kinda knew), and many had raced Golden Ears before: Ed, Jamie, Andy, Craig... The other half were runners that I hadn't met before, with even a few 5Peaks rookies in the mix too. The weather turned out to be perfect; not too hot, not too cold, and a lot of sunshine. By the time we got moving, we totalled about 25 runners. My plan was simple...cover the bulk of the 5Peaks Endure course, and throw in a variety of hill work over about two hours of running.
After a nice long, easy warm up (putting us at the base of the Incline Hill), I did a quick talk about some climbing techniques and about appropriate energy expenditure on this part of the course (i.e.. DON'T go too hard here !). It seemed like everyone was listening, because no one was buckled over by the top.
At the top we regrouped and tackled the downhill section (Eric Dunning Trail) that immediately follows. It's a really not that long of a descent...or that technical...but it can be a killer during the race. After going a bit too hard up the Incline, it's fairly common to see racers sand-bagging the downhill as they try to recover. We tackled the descent fresh, and broke it down into some short, but very fast, intervals. The focus was on good form and running above ones comfort zone...but only in short, manageable bursts.
The third piece of the workout was a set of hard one-minute uphill intervals. These were at an effort well above threshold (with lots of recovery), but everyone ran 'responsibly' and managed to put in their strongest efforts at the end of the set. I have to say that I was really impressed with how the entire group really listened and followed instructions. It's easy for a group run/workout to turn a bit competitive and then sabotage the entire point of the session. In our case though, the competitiveness was kept in check and I feel like everyone got through the tough parts in good form.
I think/hope that everyone had fun...I know I did. I tried to cover a mixed-bag of trail skills, and hopefully everyone was able to take something from the clinic. It will be fun to compare stories after the race (May 9), and to see if what we covered helped out. I'm not sure if I'll have the legs to race on the 9th (after racing 50k on May 3), but I'll be out to volunteer and to cheer. And most importantly, my girls will be tackling their first 3km Kids Run at the event. If you have kids, you really should bring them out. There are both 1km and 3km options for them. If you are interested in racing, and haven't already signed up, you can use code: VIMFF, and register here to save $5