Steve Snags Silver (again!)

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Greetings from the world of me again. Time rolls on, and I’ve been delinquent on my ramblings. It is with good reason this time though. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve taken on a second job. Yup, I’m not only a public servant, but I’m also doing contract work with a local start-up company as well. I was solicited by Dragonwave through some of my friends that have landed there. It’s not full time work hours or anything, but between the two jobs, and training for my last race of the season, time is at a premium. During the week, I’m up around 6am to work all day at the CRTC, then putting evenings in at my 2nd employer! Although that may be riveting for all of you, I’ll move into the topic of this post. After all, as most of you know, work is a means to an ends for me. Although I have to like my job, I much prefer talking about my hobbies than my career. That’s what separates us from the animals! Or was it opposable digits. Either way, on with my (briefer than usual) tale.

Two weeks I was signed up for my second trail running race of the season. The second local 5 Peaks race, which this time was to be held at the Synergy Adventure Training site, otherwise known as ‘the Ark’ where Mike Caldwell, an old AR buddy of mine lives and works. He signed up this year as the race director. The race was supposed to be out at Mont Ste. Marie, but after scouting that area, Mike chose to host at his property instead. After all, he had the trails in place, and has his own facilities. Not to mention it was closer to Ottawa, thereby attracting a few extra runners no doubt. The other supposed bonus for me is the fact that I’ve done 3 snowshoe races there as part of the Mad Trapper race series, so I should know the terrain. More on how that back-fired in a bit…

I was joined by one of me team-mates who lives on the way out there in Gatineau. Steeve decided the night before the race to show up and register on site. I said I’d pick him up around 7:30am or so. Well, when I showed up, he was still in bed! So much for any pre-race rituals he goes through. Ha ha. He grabbed a couple apples, made some toast with peanut butter, and we were off. We ended up getting there pretty early, so I helped Mike set up the half-way aid station and chatted up some of the other racers. I had high hopes, given that I came in 2nd in the first race. I once again was doing the long course, and was the only person wearing a backpack (although it was only eLoad, not a heavy pack). Hydration and sodium are key, they’re the fuel the keeps me going at full speed, in spite of problems. More on that in a bit too…

The race started without incident. We were to follow the ‘well marked’ trails all around the property, ending in about a 10km course. Most of this was in the woods on Mikes trails, with a bit of the race being on gravel roads. Piece of cake. I pushed hard, and stayed with the front pack. There were about 5 guys really going for the win, who got out in front, then there was a pack of about 5-7 of us in a secondary chase group. I stuck with them. And that was my mistake (partially).

At one point, we came down a hill, and the guy I was following grabbed a tree trunk and swung right. I followed. Rookie AR mistake. Never follow the person in front of you. Make your own decisions. But at this speed, I assumed he was on course. Shortly, we passed the start line. How odd! However, he said he saw others in front of him, and sure enough, our group of 7 was still roughly together. We ran on the start of the course for the second time, now quite certain we’d screwed up. None of the volunteers were sure though! D’oh! Eventually, we all doubled back, and I bolted for the turn-off where I knew we’d screwed up. Sure enough, the arrow pointed the other way. We had inadvertently taken the path to the finish, and adding well over a kilometre to our race in the process. The only saving grace here was that we’d all screwed up, plus, on the way to the fork, another racer (Ryan Grant, my go-to guy for orthotics), came from another path, apparently also having screwed up (even worse than us). He would probably have been top 3 overall were it not for that. Ryan took off like a man possessed, and I never saw him again till the finish line.

From this point on, it was a full-on adrenaline-induced all-out madman sprint through the rest of the course. Although there was a long way to go, a few of us kicked hard to try and make up ground. Unfortunately, when you’re over a kilometre back in a 10k race, it’s rather futile. I was essentially Zone 3, borderline anaerobic the entire way. My heart rate registered over 180 for much of the race. It was insane, but I just kept hammering, to see if I could do it. Eventually, we (3 of us) started passing the stragglers, then even catching up to some of the main packers. What a rush. Towards the end, the other 2 guys that had stuck with me faded a bit. That’s where my hydration pack saved my bacon. Their fuel tanks were empty; I still had a spare tank. I crossed the line and almost collapsed, but I was ecstatic at my run. The cheers helped too.

I told Mike about our screw-up, but assured him there was no course problem, it was all our own doing. When it came time for awards, I hung back to cheer for the winners, you can imagine my amazement when I got 2nd place, and Ryan got 1st place in our category. Holy shit! I did over 10% more race than a lot of others, yet still pulled off a podium? Incredible. I was vindicated. What a glorious day, it was one of my best running moments ever, in spite of the screw up.

Steeve had a reasonable race, but he’s just not a runner I think. I had passed him pretty early, then again fairly quickly after my screw-up. Luckily, in adventure racing, the all-out sprint doesn’t get used too often, and the guy is great at keeping going when he needs to. Either way, it was a great training day. Afterwards, Steeve and I went back to his place, and proceeded to mountain bike about 2.5 hours from his place to Champlain Lookout and back in Gatineau park via off-road trails. That was the true test for me, after giving it all in the foot race, but we did it, and it was a lot of fun. Whew! Guess we’re ready for our race this weekend with Jim Doucette. We’ll be doing a 10-14 hour adventure race, the Salomon Adventure Challenge Canadian Champs, up at Bark Lake. Our goal there is top 5.

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