Sunday, September 20, 2009

5 Peaks at Buntzen~Diez Vistas

I woke up about 4:00 am to the sound of rain drops dripping off the trees outside my apartment, and my cat hacking up a hair ball on the window ledge, but that's not the point. The sound of rain drops is never a sound you want to hear on race day, unless of course you look forward to puddles, slippery roots, and slick rock, which I did. I quietly cheered and rolled over for a few more hours of shut eye.
This morning would be the final race in the 5 Peaks series at Buntzen Lake. This is a course I have run in the past, but with poor experience. In fact, this location was my first ever trail race and I managed to fall on some nasty roots and bash my right knee in. The scar is still there to remind me. Anyway, I was totally uncertain how this race was going to go. Since Whistler I've put in some decent training runs, but nothing that would tell the tale of race day. All I knew was that this course had the potential to chew me up and spit me out especially under the days conditions.
Coffee down the hatch with a bottle of water, a gel, and some oatmeal, there we stood at the south end of Buntzen Lake, under looming clouds and the Salomon start line. Shoulder to shoulder with Flight Crew teammate Duncan Coo and the count down began. On "go!" I was certain I saw Coo, author of the Lazy Trail Runner , do his impression of Usain Bolt off the line. He was gone and I knew I had to let him go. There was no way I was going to keep that pace, not for 15.5 km.
I started slowly, knowing of the climb to come. I had to let several folks run by, but reminded myself to run my own race. Red lining it too early never works out in running. You never get it back. As racers around me found their places on the 3 km climb to the top of Diez Vistas, I started to feel my legs settling into a very comfortable pace. The top of the climb came quickly and I seemed to have that light, bouncy feeling we all covet while running. It's not often a runner gets that feeling on race day and it helped me to drop the heavy breathing of the racers behind me, just as the sun came out from behind the clouds. I was all by myself the entire distance across the bluffs above Indian Arm. At about kilometer 10 the trail descends steeply and is extremely technical. It was at that point that I rolled over on my left ankle, which I've been nursing for the past few weeks, and my pace slowed significantly. It's interesting what the human body will do in those situations. I managed to continue running by staying on my toe and making certain not to fully load the ankle. What was interesting to me was how I had slowed my pace yet my heart rate and breathing went through the roof. Within a few minutes my body had delivered the appropriate repairs to my ankle and I was ticking over like it had never happened at all. I knew it would hurt later, but the race was on.
As I had planned, I had saved enough energy to really start turning over for the last 5k of the course. This section has fewer long, steep hills than the rest of the course and is primarily pea gravel and non-technical. This was my chance to reel in the Lazy Trail Runner. Hoping he was slowing down because of his fast start this race was on. Over the last couple kilometers the announcer's voice was loud and clear and I was listening for Coo's name at the finish, but nothing. At 1:29 I crossed the finish line and Coo was nowhere. Maybe he went straight to the food, which would be very Coo, or to the bathroom? Just then his name was called and he was ripping across the finish line. Somehow I was disillusioned at the race start and the Lazy Trail Runner told me he had followed me. I was the one who led from the start. He said I lost him on the climb while his legs felt like they were full of sand.
Standing in the sun, while nursing our muscles in Buntzen Lake, we cheered as others finished the enduro, sport and half marathon courses, including good friends Kevin Letchford and Linda (Trinh) Tran, who both had excellent races. It was a great day and both the Lazy Trail Runner and I left with some hardware. We managed third place in the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups respectively, while Coo walked away with second place for the season in his age group. Way to go, man.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Katherine and Mark and all the volunteers at 5 Peaks for an amazing race season. You all put together a brilliant show. Thank you.


  1. Great running season boys! Funny tales...

    Might be coming out your way in the next week(s) some fall running adventures, would be cool to hook up.


  2. Thanks, PV. Hooking up for a run would be great. T'is that time of year when the runnin' is best. Let me know when you're available if you can swing it.