South Promfret (near Woodstock VT)
Training and Tapering
Having done this run last year, I knew that this would be a great first race of the season. It would force me to put in long training hours in the dark and cold of winter. Spoiler Alert: running 20km after a long day’s work, in the dark, with a -20 windchill is no fun. Nights like that can be awful, finishing up after 7pm and then having to think about dinner. Pushing yourself on nights like that gives you the fitness and confidence to run longer, and stronger.
I once again went with Dave at DEKK Coaching to put a training plan together. And while I did many long Sunday runs with The Ottawa Running Club , I was frequently up in Gatineau Park to hit the hills.
My training went great. I achieved my distance goals for probably the first time ever, and ran more hills than in previous years. Additionally, I found that I was much stronger from the outset. I was able to run up hills that I used to have to walk up.
I got through my 14 week training plan in great shape. I had a few sore spots, but nothing that would be a problem come race day.
While I didn’t worry over health or fitness, I did think about my goal time. I thought that last year’s time of 5:31 was a fluke or not achievable because everything went exactly according to plan.
Alas, taper time is the perfect mix of self-doubt and imagined injuries. So that’s why it’s great that I have friends like Steph S. to remind me that I was just psyching myself out.
As soon as I got off the highway, I was welcomed to a winter wonderland.
Snow aside, it was a lot colder than I thought it would be. It was -3 (25F) with gusty winds, but sunny skies. After going back and forth several times, I decided to stick with my plan of wearing shorts, compression socks, along with my Nike long sleeve.
Jonathan, the organizer of this great event, gave a pre race pep talk that was the perfect blend of information and humour. But all kidding aside, the snow in the parking lot was a big hint as to what was to come.
And we are off!
The conditions for the first 5km were exactly the same as last year: dry pavement with a slight uphill and head wind. However, we soon found ourselves on a snow covered road. Basically, every un-maintained road had snow, with icy ruts. The exception were some of the south facing roads that were muddy, but those were few and far between.
Everybody I talked to seemed to be enjoying themselves. One person asked me something like “What’s your goal time?” and I remember saying “Who cares, this is just a lot of fun”
And now for some real fun!
I remembered from last year that there was a big long downhill stretch from 12 – 17km. So just like last year, I let gravity do its thing. However the problem was the road conditions. Did I mention the 20cm of fresh powder? The snow wasn’t the problem, rather it was the icy ruts created by cars driving on the “road”. The plan was to avoid the ice, and failing that, to keep your balance.
It being more or less a circular route, there was an equal amount of down, and ups. When it got to inclines like this, it made sense to walk.
I didn’t really run with a lot of people this time. There was one lady (Liz with the yellow jacket) who was always fairly near me. She ended up finishing a few minutes before me, but for the most part it was a solo run.
Putting the “muck” in Runamuck
There was a section that was sunny, and sheltered from the wind, and all the snow had melted, leaving big puddles, and mud everywhere. Thankfully, it was a flat stretch so there was no real danger of falling.
The Final 8k
This section saw a 200 metre drop, with the last 5k being on road. The snowy section was pretty icy, and I was aware that my legs weren’t exactly 100%, and didn’t want to risk falling. I was able to pick up the pace as soon as I hit the dry pavement. I know a lot of people mentioned being very sore here, feet pounding on hard pavement, but I was fine. I still walked it out at my 30 minute interval, as I didn’t want to risk cramping up.
And across the line, in a time of 5 hours, and 24 minutes
7 minutes faster than last year!!! I finished in 45th place out of 101 finishers, up 21 spots over last year. I didn’t care about the time. It was the end result of trying my best the whole day, and not losing focus.
Notes on Nutrition and general well being
I was dressed pretty much perfectly. I took my hat off from time to time, and had stopped wearing my mitts about an hour into the race.
The nutrition plan seemed to work. I made a concoction of Gatorade and maltodextrin, and drank about 250ml every 30 minutes. I also ate some cookies, M&M’s, and gummy bears. The aid stations were reasonably spaced for me, but you needed to carry at least a litre of fluilds to get you to the next one.
I never got sore. My right hip flexor felt a bit out of sorts, and my legs were a little jelly-like, but very functional.
Random Mantras throughout the run
“Keeping pushing til you can’t push no more.”
“Run like tomorrow is a rest day.”
“I don’t get injured.” (with the voice of Lennie James)
Just that I’m proud of the results, and glad that my hard work this winter paid off. Our run coach would always say that race day was really like “Graduation Day”, and that it’s the reward for the training. I finally understand what he means.