Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trail Bait

Even though it seems otherwise, I’m not putting too much on my event calendar this year.  I have no planned “A Race.”   In the fall, I had other plans, an easy winter.  Stay injury free, maintain a base, be ready to start training hard in the spring.  The “plan” was to be ready to attack and make a serious BQ attempt in Amherstburg in September.  It’s an early fall marathon, it may too early and therefore too warm but you take the day you get.  Heck, Hamilton turned out to be too cold but too cold to me is perfect for other people.  The key to me was early, it allowed for a back-up  plan.

Then life got in the way starting with big changes at work.   The oldest child becoming more independent while struggling with her emotional challenges, and then the youngest child following in his big sister’s footsteps and starting his battle with anxiety.    Committing to an intensive training schedule while feeling emotionally drained and chronically tired didn’t seem like a recipe for success.    I’m still undecided about what the future will hold but I did make some good decisions along the way.

I was somehow talked into running a 25km trail race.  Likely the convincing took nothing more than asking.  I figured if I could finish a half marathon what’s another couple of miles.   I joined up with a local trail group for a few training runs and found a unique and dedicated group of runners that have more fun running than I could have ever imagined.   I’ve rekindled a connection to the outdoors I haven’t felt since running cross country in high school.

So with at 4am I was out the doorto pickup a friend.  Brief pit stop to reprogram the GPS mid-route,  and I found myself on the starting line of the Sulphur Springs25KM Trail Race in Ancaster, Ontario at 7:30 in the morning.

It was sunny but cold at 2C with a promise to warm –up as the day went on.  I had no clue what to wear.  My ankles had been bitchy about my running in both my trail shoes and the Kinvara 3’s so at least my shoe choice had been narrowed down to my New Balance 890V2’s. Full tights for the lower half and I layered the top with a long sleeve technical shirt, short sleeve cycling jersey, and a light nylon jacket.  Didn’t cover my ears but made sure I had gloves.   Theoretically, I could shed layers.

Off we went on time and downhill into the Dundas Valley Conservation Area for a 5k loop before having to climb back up to the start line and through the timing maps.    The plan was to have fun, I wore my watch more to have a record of the event than for any other purpose.   I did check my heart rate during the first few kilometers.  The pace felt relaxed and easy , from behind me I heard we were pushing it a bit much.  No worries, backed it off and used a friend’s bright pink arm warmers and calf sleeves as an unofficial pace marker for around 10km.

Slowly our plan for the day formed.  Walk the hills.  There were a lot of hills.    Really open up and fly down the down hills.  Which made sense if the course was open enough to pass safely and if the route was free of roots, rocks, and not so steep you couldn’t  let ‘er rip.    It was interesting, that other than trail markers pointing the way, there were no distance markers on the course.

It was so much fun.  We stopped and took pictures and tweeted whenever we felt like it.   We talked and laughed and were having a fantastic time.   When leading the way, I was calling out poop (horses use the trail too) and rocks and roots.  And then around 18km (by my watch) I went splat, as I called out a rock or a root or both, I missed one and went down, landing on my right side.  My twitchy calves took this as an opportunity to remind me I wasn’t going to be getting up in a hurry.  Physically, I was fine, checked on by a number of people passing as I was me sitting on the ground.  With nothing more than a little bit of dirt on me, I wanted to get up but needed to wait for the calf cramp to ease off.  Once I was up, I had to walk for about 5 or 10 minutes, I don’t really know.  It felt a lot longer than it probably was.  Then we were off again.  Not quite as fast, as I was struggling with fatigue while making sure calves behaved themselves.  As I was beginning to fade, my friend was getting stronger.  There were some spots with deep ruts that I just couldn’t run through and had to walk.

As we seemed to be in the home stretch, we were moving well and again and chatting away when runnrgrl went full superman and landed on the path.  Her smile told me that all was good and we kept on moving.  I jumped a small streamlet and proceeded to try and dislodge a large rock with my right foot.  I never saw the rock, sure felt it, but never saw it. 

Climbing out for the final time, we saved just enough to run across the finish line for the photographer.  

Already there are plans to be back next year.


CheapRunnerMike said...

Nice recap Jeff, sounds like a fun race!

Samantha said...

It sounds like you had fun. My physio therapist ran the 25km and a couple friends ran the 100mi ... crazy people! I'm hoping to do the 10km there next year. I grew up in that area and still run those trails occasionally, it's gorgeous. If you're looking for another well run trail event I've heard Run for the Toad is great. My husband is running the 50km there this year (his first 50km).

CheapRunnerMichelle said...

despite the little tumble - it sounds like you had a great time! I know Mike is super interested in trying a trail run