Monday, May 12, 2008

Long Trail Run

Yesterday I went to the Dundas Valley Conservation area to run part of the course of the Sulphur Springs 25k trail run. My wife needed the car and it was mother day, so I rented a compact at the local Thrifty outlet and left around 10am. The park is in Ancaster, an hour drive from my house. The directions on the web site were pretty good and I got there without incident. I parked close to the race start area and changed into my running gear. The weather was cool (14C) and overcast. From top to bottom, I was wearing:
  • Technical cap
  • Clear sunglasses
  • Technical long sleeves shirt
  • Fuel belt with 4 x 8 oz water bottles. In the belt pouch I had my phone, 3 Cliff gels, a salt pill and my car key.
  • Shorts
  • Extremely thin socks
  • My beloved Karhu M2 running shoes
I took a gel, gulped some water and crossed the road toward the trail.

I had printed the map from the race web site. I found the trail entrance and started running. I got lost after 500m. I admit I'm no David Crocket, but let's just say the trails are confusing. They criss-cross each other and often, only one post has a name on it and you don't know which one is which. People were very helpful though and most of the many times I got lost, someone was around to help me. The trails are well maintained and there was very little mud. We'll see how it is on race day.

The race course doesn't start at the park entrance but after about 6 km, you get to a gate and although I didn't know it, you have to pay to get in. Of course I had no money. I explained my situation to the guard and he let me in gratos. That was nice. A bit later I saw a group of 5 deers and took this picture using my phone. I couldn't figure out the zoom so they're a bit small, but I tried. I think you can see 2 or 3.

About an hour in, I took my caffeinated mocha gel. As I mentioned, I got lost quite a few times so my 20km run stretched to 22.3. At some point I went around a small loop three times looking for what was described as a "spur" on the map. Finally I saw what looked like a friggin' rabbit trail, followed it down, jumped over 5 or 6 fallen trees and finally found the course. They will need good signage, let me tell you.

The course is not too hilly, but it is mostly rolling terrain. Toward the end, there are two horrible hills. I will probably walk those. The biggest one is only a km or two from the finish and by that time I was a bit tired. Almost at the finish, a girl walking down the path asked me if I'd seen her husband running, saw my map and told me she had been running that race for a few years. She was from Montreal, we switched to French and talked a few minutes walking toward the exit. She told me that the last hill, the worst of the course, is also part of the initial 5km loop so we'll have to do it twice. Great.

The whole thing took me longer than I thought. I ran for 2:50. Getting lost so many times did slow me down quite a bit and I wasn't really running hard. Mind you, with the hilly terrain, I'm not sure how much faster I'll be running. I would hope for a 2:30. I think my nutrition was ok. One can probably run the course on water alone, but I think the caffeine gave me a little needed boost and I did feel a bit spent toward the end. That last gel may or may not have helped, but it was good psychologically. Question is, should I rely on Aid Stations or should I carry my own water? I'll have to think about that.

My Garmin Forerunner 305 did extremely well. The leave cover should be a bit thicker in a couple of weeks but it was nice to know anyway. Tall buildings are definitely a problem but the forest doesn't seem too bad.

No comments: