June 23, 2014

Coast Mountain Trail Series: Buckin' Hell 21.1km

As I frolicked down a technical descent, through old forests with soft pine needles and not so soft rocks and roots underfoot this past Saturday I had two thoughts:  (1) I'd forgotten how much I love technical trail running and (2) this is classic Gary Robbins :)  Gary, along with Geoff and Linda, host the Coast Mountain Trail Series, which are various mid distance to 50km races in North Vancouver and Squamish.  There is a reason why Gary is the course record holder at HURT - he likes technical and he knows where to find those type of trails in North Van!

In my training for Comrades I had done a decent amount of my training on trails but had stuck to the least technical trails I could find.  It was therefore a delight to be back on trails where it's less about speed and more about your ability to rock-hop, leap over roots, hurl yourself around tight corners and jump down rocks and other gnarly mountain biking features.  Ok, there was also a fair amount of plain slogging up hill, given Gary had packed some 1300m of climbing (and same of descent) into this half marathon distance course, but that was good to given I've got Speedgoat 50km in just four weeks time.

All in all it was a fantastic day on the trails; the sun shone, we got to hang out at magical Deep Cove at the end, and I got to watch my friend Kim nimbly tip toe up hill ahead of me (well at least until she got so far ahead that I lost sight of her - congrats on the win Kim).

A definite 'to-do' race and a North Shore classic.  I'll be back next year for sure.

Photo: Solana Klassen
Photo: Solana Klassen
Chilling at the Deep Cove finish line.  Photo: Nic Browne
Me (2nd), Kim (1st) and Chloe (3rd).  Fun times!

Sharman Ultra - New Ventures

For the 0.01% of you who read my blog meticulously, you may have noticed a 'coaching' tab appear on the top bar a few days ago.  That was indeed not an error and I am delighted to announce that I will now be offering my coaching services as I work along side Ian Sharman for Sharman Ultra.

Please check out Sharman Ultra here and Ian's announcement of me joining the team here.

I'm very excited to spread my knowledge and experience, and help fellow ultra runners achieve their running and racing goals!

Ian and I at American River 50 mile finish line, April 2011.

June 9, 2014

Thank yous, Photos and Race Memories

Comrades.  Wow, that was one tough race and a big battle but a battle I'm so happy to have fought.  It was an ugly win, but one I am so happy to have achieved :)

You may have already read my race report over on iRunFar which goes into how the race played out but I wanted to post some thank yous, some photos and some random race memories here:

The Thank Yous
  • Nedbank for including me at part of the Green Dream Team.  It was my 4th time racing for them and a great experience as always.  Personal thanks to Nick, Adriaan, Patrick and all the race day 'seconds' (crew).
  • My wonderful sponsors who support my running all year long, through the tough training and the racing highlights: Montrail, Mountain Hardwear, Clif, Flora, Drymax, CEP Compression Canada, Nuun Hydration and Petzl.
  • The Medical Crew: Chris Napier at Restore Physiotherpy, Dr. Jim Bovard, and Bobby Crudo RMT.
  • Ian Sharman for his coaching tips over the last few months, I'm pretty stubborn but I'm very glad I listened and trusted Ian!
  • My 'people' - my mum, dad, sister, brother-in-law and niece.  For their cheering, support and for a relaxing catch up post-race.
  • My friends, including Mikey P, Ran, Jackie, Susan, Ryne & Kristin.  I might not have seen you all much in the last few months but you were always there when I needed you!

The Random Race Memories

Ok, race reports are nice but there is not always room for the anecdotes that make up the day, so here are a few random memories :)
  • Pre-race I wondered where Kerry Koen, a South African runner was at this years Comrades as I'd enjoyed meeting her in previous years.  She then appeared at the sidelines mid-race just when I needed a friendly face and some moral support!
  • Nothing beats watching the sunrise over African farmland an hour or so into Comrades. 
  • As I stood right at the front of the runners on the startline, pinching myself to believe I'd actually made it, relatively, uninjured to that spot.
  • When I didn't need all the Clif electrolyte drink in my bottles I poured it over my head, I just hoped I wouldn't become a sugar trap for insects!
  • Seeing Frank Stebner of Vancouver for a hug at the startline and then he was one of the first people I saw at the finish line.  A little bit of home, half a world away.
  • When the wheels felt like they were falling off oh so early in the race, wondering if I'd be tough enough to death march 50kms.
  • Amy Sproston showing up pre-race with green nails to match the Nedbank kit, we all then copycatted her; ultrarunning is all about looking good afterall!
  • My physio appointment with Chris the day I flew out to South Africa, I think the advice for the mental approach was just as important as the actual physio treatment.
  • At 30kms 'to go' thinking that it was way too early to be counting the km markers one by one.  At 21km, trying to convince myself that I had 'just' a half marathon to go.
  • Patrick of Nedbank telling me that I was too far back of 1st and 2nd to catch them, but that 4th was too far back to catch me.  Well, I always say a race is not done until the finish line ...
  • Going through Pinetown at about 12km to, two female marshals cheered me with an insane amount of enthusiasm and it definitely powered me up that hill. 
  • Seeing the timing car and the Nurgalieva twins ahead of me for the first time at less than 5km 'to go'.  Even then I wasn't really thinking about winning, I was just thinking about running as fast as I could.
  • Ian Sharman passing me when I was a walking mess with about 20km to go, and then passing Ian back with about 800m to go - I knew he wouldn't be expecting that :)   It was great to have such a friend among a field of 16, 000 runners be next over the finish line behind me (note, Ian was 'jogging' a sub 6h30 time for a training race).
  • Seeing two Union Jacks along the course and a huge Maple Leaf at the sidelines in the finishing stadium.
  • Spending time in the VIP area at the finish and meeting so many Comrades legends.  I was in awe, especially when I then spoke to Bruce Fordyce on Nick's phone.  Bruce told me in 2013 that I could win Comrades, I decided he knew what he was talking about and I decided to believe him :)
  • Hearing Amy Sproston's story of how her injury flared up at 23km to go so she walked the remaining distance to the finish line and had two beers en route.  I am sure Amy is disappointed but she showed true Comrades class and earned her finishers medal.
  • Having to walk down stairs backwards to get to the press conference.  It' been a long time since I've been in that much pain, and it never felt so good!
  • At the press conference reminding Norrie Williamson (Scottish/ South African Coach/ Comrades expert) that he had asked me when I first met him in 2011 how I was going to win Comrades with such a slow marathon PB ;)

The Photos
Start line in Pietermaritzburg

Finish line :)

With Nick Bester, Caroline Wostmann and Bongmussa Mthembu (mens winner)

With Camille, Frida, Sophia and Amy

With Bruce Fordyce, 9 times winner

With Nick Bester, former winner and Nedbank team manager

With Jonas Buud, consistent gold medalist and top master (7th overall)