Sunday, May 15, 2016

Seaton Soaker 25K Race Report

I have been considering running the Seaton race for over a decade.  With the river crossing and single track trails, it was never on Lee Anne's wish list, so it never made it to mine.  This year, we are mixing up our races, skipping a few we have frequented and trying a few we don't normally do, or have never done.  If you read one of my earlier blog entries, yes, the list has changed.  Quebec City marathon is a likely candidate for 2016.  A marathon is a race of medium length, typically run on roads.  I know, you're thinking what type of daft idiot would want to run one of "those" races, but marathons are surprisingly popular.  Some even attract more people than the 250 that show up at my race.

It was time to try the Seaton Soaker.  Missing Pick Your Poison and skipping Sulphur swayed the decision.  On Saturday, Lee Anne elected to run 32K in Toronto, so friends Kinga and Stephan Miklos and I headed to Pickering.

Colin Arnott (Seaton race director) and a plethora of volunteers did an excellent job of staging the race.  Colin has a fantastic race base, in a large high school.  Plenty of hot showers, bathrooms and the cafetorium was ideal for registration, awards and food.  The trail is mostly single track, although there are many areas of double track and even some pavement, in which to pass or be passed.  The 12.5K course was well marked and the trails were perfect for running, aside from being slippery due to the rain.  The temperature was optimal for running, although the trails soon became greasy in the rain.  I fell twice, not because of the slippery conditions, but because of 2 small rocks or stumps that I stumbled over.  The first fall was an impressive head first glissade through the mud.  It was quite enjoyable to be sliding along and the Russian judge gave me an 8.3...  Which brings me to a tip that I should pass on to the visually impaired.  I don't run trail with my glasses.  This has nothing to do with the difficulty in seeing through glasses during a rain storm.  Without my glasses, I don't see obstacles on the trail, so I don't slow down.  Perfect!

Since I recently got over a battle with the flu, I took it easy on the way out to the 12.5K turn-around.  Footing was an issue, but I doubt it slowed us down all that much.  I ran for a while with a fellow for whom Seaton was his first trail race.  He picked his inaugural race well, as footing required considerable concentration around the curves and up and down the hills.  He mentioned that he was surprised at how much effort trail running required.  I suggested that he should not focus on his max VO2 (typical in road races), but concentrate on maintaining a steady level of effort.  He asked "what about the stairs?"  Alas, I didn't have an answer!

12.5K of mainly single track in slick mud takes almost as high a mental toll, as a physical one.  Since it was less than a week ago that I was not able to breath while running (and I kept having to stop and pick up a lung - such an annoyance), the outbound leg seemed fairly easy.  Not that I broke any land speed records.  The first place runner passed me near the 9K mark.  That means I had run 9K and the lead runner was already at 16K!  I reached the 12.5K turn-around at about 90 minutes, turned and decided to pick up the pace slightly.  On the way back, I was able to run a few kilometers with JD Begin, an old friend who was in the 50K race.  JD had taken a couple of years off running and was just getting back into ultras.  It was good to run with JD and he helped me to maintain a hearty pace for the last 6K.  At 22K, there is a river crossing.  On the way out, a different trail is used that crosses the river on a bridge.  On the way back, runners must negotiate about 8 meters of open water.  Great!  I thought.  I can put all my river running to good use.  On hot days in Creemore, I run about 2K along the Ganaraska trail, then hop into the Mad river and run upstream back to the house.  It sounds incredibly dangerous, but falling into a foot of water is quite gentle and very refreshing!  Since I was running at a good pace and did not want to slow down, I took the shortest line through the river, at race pace.  With some luck, I did not face plant in front of the volunteers, who were positioned at the river as a safety measure.  A woman who was navigating the river by using the rope, talked to me at the finish and mentioned that she was impressed with my river crossing method.

My A goal for Seaton 25K was to be under 3 hours, so it was nice to cross the finish in 2:56.  I don't think I would have been any faster if the trails were dry, possibly slower on a hot day, so I was happy with my start to the OUTRace season.

Many thanks to Collin, the volunteers and the fellow runner who redirected me when I was about to go off course, about 1K from the finish.  The post-race pizza and refreshments were great, although the hot shower was pivotal in my opinion.

It was also great to talk with all my racing buddies, both on the race course and after.  May you all do incredibly well this year, except those in the male 50+ category...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pick Your Poison "Bed" Report

In Ron Irwin's race report on Creemore last year, he states that after running the 50K distance 8 times, the score stands at Creemore 7, Ron 1.  Until April, I thought I understood perfectly what he meant.  That is, until I contracted the flu in April and was too sick to volunteer at Pick Your Poison.  As posted previously, I delayed the decision to sign up for either the 25K or 50K until PYP sold out.  Perfect!  I can volunteer.  For those who have not vollied at a trail race before, let me assure you that it is a LOT easier than running 50K, or even 25K.  There is also a bit of a mean streak in me that enjoys watching other people struggle in a race while I stand around and shout out "GET YOUR PRETZELS HERE!".  Fun times!

But lying in bed running a fever and wishing I could "get out there", either running or volunteering at PYP is no fun.  The flu won that round, although in my fevered state, I was trying to figure out what clothes I should wear, in order to stand at an aid station beside a ski hill for 8 hours and assist runners.  It wasn't so much common sense that kept me home, but a desire to avoid the embarrassment of asking a 50K finisher if he or she could drive me to the morgue.

And yes, the above convoluted segue is a recommendation to watch Jeff Rowthorn's Youtube PYP race report for Get Out There magazine.  Maybe I could have worn a parka?  Jeff had an impressive finish, at 7th overall.  Well done Jeff!  In 2016, GOT magazine will undertake to videotape most of the OUTRace events.  Hopefully it doesn't wear Jeff out!

Tomorrow I will attempt the 25K distance at the Seaton Soaker race.  You would think that after completing 6 ultras last year, a 25K should be a walk in the park for me, but the reality is that it might just be a walk in the park...  In the last 4 weeks, I have run further than 10K once, and it was not what I would call a quality run.  I am able to breath again, which is really important in races.  Training was abysmal, so I will run slowly and see what happens.

Preparation for the Creemore Vertical Challenge goes well, although I am still looking for 100 meters vertical, to add to the course.  This is to satisfy the minimum requirements for the Canadian Skyrunning Series.  I have my eye on a cute little hill, which I am sure people will love!