Sunday, April 27, 2008

Miwok or umm. Me Walk?

Well, the team is ready to roll, 4 of us heading to Miwok 100 km next weekend. Gary Robbins will lead the pack out after coming off an amazing Diez Vista 50 km (2nd place). Cheryl Beatty is ready to roll and I think Ryne Melcher is feeling good. That leaves me (beer), errrr, ok, maybe Miwok or me-walk (beer). No excuses (beer), my longs runs have not been so loooong (beer) and I'm just not as fit (beer) as I need to be. But May will be bear down time for Western. I just need to get through Miwok in 1 piece (beer)!

So, let's see Gary take one for the team and Cheryl Beatty roll through her first 100km!

Ellie Run Boston-Miwok Next

Well Boston marathon is WAY off being a trail race but being THE marathon of all marathons I couldn't resist the temptation to run Bean Town when I herad a few friends were heading over this year. A few friends and a total of 21, 963 other runners, this was not going to be a laid back and low key event. The whole Boston experience is slick , professional and organised to perfection. I arrived a couple of days ahead of time to have a chance to get over the journey and explore a little of the city. This was a great idea as even though we over did it on the sightseeing on the first day (walking is way more exhausting than running!) it meant we had the day before the marathon to chill and enjoy the US womens Olympic Trials. What better way to get into racing spirit other than watching the top US women battle it out for 3 highly coveted places to Beijing - the atmosphere was electric and the crowds have me an idea of what to expect the next day.

Marathon Monday dawned (Boston marathon is always held on Patriot's day - a holiday in Massachuessetts) - though not quite soon enough for us getting up just before 5am - a full 5 hours before the race gun went off. First a shuttle bus to get the the T (as Boston's transit system is called), then a ride on the T to get to the marathon shuttle to transport us to the start. As we all piled on to the school buses we seemed to bear an eary resemblance of prisoners being taken off to be incarcerated! But instead we were deposited near the race start where a whole athlete's village was set up to hold all the runners before being called to the start. We'd lucked out this year and already the sun was begining to come through the clouds and the temperature was rising. One last trip to the portapotty (about half an hour just to get to one!) and we were hearded like cattle into corals of 1000 runners. The corals are based on qualifying time so the better your time, the better your start position.

Despite the crowds I was amazed that it took me less than 10 minuts to get to cross the start line and even my first mile was only about 20 seconds off pace. Soon I settled into a comfortable pace (as this was a training run for Vancouver marathon 2 weeks later) and I began to soak up the whole experience. Supporters lined both sides of the course, usually several rows deep. Kids handed out oranges and popsicles and looked so forlorn at the prospect that you might not high five them, that you just had to. At first I wished I had put my name on my shirt to get more chering as others were getting who had personalised their shirts but after a while i decided that too much sideline support was possible and I just wanted to run without having to feel obliged to smile at each and every stranger that cheered from the sidelines. Just when I thought it could get not get louder I heard a roar in the distance that grew louder and louder - it could only be Wellesley college! Thousands of girls lined the sidewalks quite literally sreaming their heads off! I think it was at about this point I began to wish I had brought my ear plugs!

Boston is a net down hill course and everyine talks of the need to take it easy at the start to avoid trashing your quads, but I think that any trail runnner can safely ignore this advice! Infamous Heartbreak Hill? That mountain that stands at the 21 mile mark? I was half way up it before I even realised it was Heartbreak and I was at the top about 1 minute later. I think 'Heartbreak Molehill' would be a more fitting name for anyone that has run trails!

That said, the last 4 miles were tough. The crowds were loud, the temperarture was peaking and the road was rolling. In addItion as there are mats to track your chip every 5km there is some sort of pressure to keep an even pace rather than just get a good finishing time! It was with welcome relief that I saw the finish banner over Boylston Avenue and made a final push to the end. 3:07:20 after that start I stumbled over the finish, happy to have run a solid race and set a PB.

I would highly recommend Boston as an experience to any runner. To be part of such a huge and prestigious race with the history of Boston is worth it alone. It's not trail running - you should not expect to escape the crowds and find peace and quiet. You should expect a highly organised road race on a course where you feel you have achieved something by just taking part. It's one BIG running celebration and Boston knows how to party!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ellie Off To Boston

Keep on eye on the Boston Marathon this coming Monday April 21st, as Team Montrail Canada member Ellie Greenwood takes on the 42.2km course. Go Ellie Go!

8125 Greenwood, Eleanor J. 29 F Vancouver BC CAN GBR

Friday, April 11, 2008

Team Represents at Diez

Through some hard battles and injuries, Team Montrail Canada represented well at Diez Vista.
Gary Robbins ran hard for a 2nd place finish, Aaron Pitt placed 6th and Ryne Melcher ran in hurt at 13. Ellie dominated the field again and cruised into 1st overall.
Individual accounts can be seen below...

Ellie's Ahhhh-bbreviated Diez

Anyways, few comments on DV. ... It was cold at the start - I was in 3 layers including a waterproof jacket as it had just started to rain and looked threatening weather to come. But the steep uphill at the start warms you up quick and soon runners were spreading out. Pretty slick on the roots on the technical downhills - lots of runners came across the finish line with scrapes from falls though I think all of Team Montrail were fine! Course was marked great - plenty of flagging and awesome volunteers cheering on and providing aid. Up the power line the grey skies, sleet falling and bracken reminded me more of Scotland than Vancouver :) I ran with Ryne for a bit, gaining and losing on each other as we stopped at aid stations etc. Gary must have gained on Aaron (winner) in the last half as after the turn arond where you cross paths with runners ahead Aaron was further ahead. I knew from this point that I was a comfortable distance ahead of the 2nd place woman so could relax and enjoy the run more! (esp seen as Suzanne Evans wasn't competing this year!). Trails in pretty good condition - no snow and not too muddy given the dryish week before. I was glad to knock 10mins of my course PB of 3 years ago. Brightened up to enjoy the BBQ and awards after. Sold oput though I think some people got day of race spots for no shows..

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Diez Vista 50k, Gary's Abbreviated Race Report

I had viewed the registered entrants in the days leading up to the race and noted such runner's as Darin Bentley, Aaron Pitt, and Americans Michael Sanders and defending champ Brian Morrison. My good buddy Aaron Heidt had told me that he intended to head down and attempt the last minute day of entry, and as I was to learn, he was not the only person with this plan in mind. Everyone who showed up for day of entry got in, and rightfully so as the drive to Port Moody and more specifically Sasamat Lake, is not exactly down the street for most people. As I was rushing around tending to last minute bathroom breaks, taking care of my drop bag, and then stressing over whether or not my shoes were tied to loosely I couldn't help but notice how many additional 'ringers' had decided to come out for the 50. Jason Loutitt was there along with Americans Matt Hart and Hal Koerner! This race had gone from being decently competitive to the most competitive ultra I was to have run on Canadian soil!

I had come into this race with a plan, and I was going to stick to it from start to finish, no matter how tough that might be to do! My plan was simple, I was going to start conservatively over the first climb, open up a bit on the first major downhill, concentrate on keeping a good tempo through the flatter mid section of the course, put in a solid but controlled effort on the last significant climb, and effectively safe myself for the final two huge descents into the finish. I knew that if I could just stay smart, and keep my legs fresh for this last stage of the race that I'd end up with a solid result out there.

After about 40k of running I was surprised, but knew I shouldn't have been, to see fellow Squmiash runner Aaron Heidt leading the way! I glanced at my watch to time myself back to that exact spot. I pretty much hit the turn around aid station together with Darin Bentley and Brian Morrison!! I was pumped...but also wondering where the hell some of the other competitors were? I would later learn that unfortunately Hal Koerner and Matt Hart had dropped due to injury, and Jason Loutitt dropped after taking a wrong turn.

Brian had stopped at the aid station just ahead of me and departed immediately before I tagged it and turned. He then lead it out over the climb back up towards the last big downhill and I timed off Aaron Heidt's lead at just over six minutes (I was later told it was as high as 9 min at one point, of course you can never be sure of exactly how precise this info actually is). I am guessing the distance from here to the finish to be about 8km maybe?? Could I make up six minutes in that time frame? Could I overtake and hold off Morrison? Were my legs gonna allow me to hammer the last section like I had been hoping for!?

As this was the out and back section we were also getting a feel for where the rest of the field was in comparison. I had put in a bit of a push to pass Morrison, managed a bit of a gap, and was now in 2nd place. As Aaron Pitt ran past he had a big smile on his face, as did I, and he simply said to me,
"Go get him dude!"

As I spotted the single track switch backs to my left I got excited, this was it, this was what I had been planning my race around, finishing up strong and letting loose over this portion. I popped back a few Thermolytes and leaned into the trail. As people climbed up the trail it only fueled me more to be getting the congrats from other runner's, as of course I shared right back with them.

At the bottom of this first big descent I glanced back to see that I had gained at least a minute over Morrison. I told myself that this was my race, this was my day, I was gonna make this happen, I was going to pull out this win. Right about that time Aaron's brother Kertis biked past. I had seen Kertis earlier in the race as well and he looked at me and said,
"I think you're gonna catch him! You're looking strong and he's hurting! He's only a couple of minutes ahead!"

Aaron's own brother was challenging me to take him down, it was priceless! To learn that I had taken back half of that six minutes in such a short period of time only helped to quicken my pace. I had saved my final two Thermolytes for the last climb of the entire race. My legs were feeling it and I was just hoping they would hold up for the last 5k or so to the finish. I power hiked up and over the last ascent and knew that all I had left was a big fast downhill strewn with decent sized rocks, which makes it somewhat technical, and about 1k of flat lakeside running...oh yeah, and about thirty stairs! What masochist puts the finish line on the upside of a set of freakin stairs!!

I hammered down the road and was constantly hoping to spot Aaron just up ahead. Towards the bottom there are two wide open sections where you can see a few hundred meters ahead, and I though for sure that I'd at least catch a glimpse of him here...but nothing. Aaron is an amazing runner and I knew he was digging deep to take the win on the day. For a fraction of a second I slowed, telling myself that he had me, there wasn't enough course left, then I internally yelled at myself to wake up and continued to leave it all out there. As I came into the final km of the race I was told that Aaron was 2m10s ahead. I knew he had me, but it didn't matter for this was one of the best races of my life. I had run the smartest race of my 'running career' and that in and of itself felt incredible. I continued as heavy a pace as I could sustain along the waterfront, cursed the race director as I climbed the final stairs, and sprinted across the finish line just 1m03s behind Aaron for second place!! I screamed out in elation as I crossed the line in 4h22m50s! Miwok here I come baby!

For my full race report you can hit up my personal blog here.

Congrats to Ellie who won yet again, and Aaron and Ryne for finishing 6th and 13th respectively. Full results here.