I raced this weekend, if you can call it that. I went to Sutton, my favourite weekend hangout, and ran in the X-Trail Asics race, 11.8k version. The reason I did it was mostly market research for the 5 Peaks race I’m going to be putting on there myself in September.

So I figured, as I said in my last blog post, that Kenny Beaudette and Dany Croteau would be the two guys to watch out for. I was right, as Dany and Kenny finished 1-2. I was kind of hoping to be at least 3rd, but it really didn’t workout that way.

For the first 3-4k, all was good. The race started with a quick descent, then a little climb on pavement. By that point, Dany and Kenny had separated from me by about 20m, and everyone else was at least that far behind me. I figured I would wait and see how the trails were before I tried to close the gap.

As soon as we hit the trail, man it was steep! I was breathing really hard and questioning my commitment to the sport. But then I saw that Kenny was walking up ahead and I thought, “Ok, it’s really early and he’s walking already. Just be steady!” I caught him and passed him pretty quick. He offered me some water, like the gentleman that he is, but I declined. He said: “Go catch him!” referring to Dany. So I tried. But I never saw the guy.

Little side note: Kenny offered me water because I was not carrying any of my own, despite a “ruling” from the race that we had to carry something. I find it very annoying to carry anything when I’m running. I figured the race would only be an hour, an hour 15 at most, and I can run for that long without water. Anyway, there was an aid station at 9k. So I didn’t have any water. It was fine.

So, back to the race. After about 4k, the course stopped going up and started leveling out. At first, I was pleased to be able to actually run a bit, and see what my fitness was like. But then the course started angling down, and then it all fell apart. Apparently I am just no good at running downhill. I mean, I’m probably better than lots of people, but I don’t really have a particular skill for it. But you know who does? Kenny Beaudette.

Usually, if you put someone away in a race, around the 1/3 mark, they stay put away. If it had been a road race, I doubt I would have seen Kenny again. But this was not a road race. It was really two different races: the race to the top and the race to the bottom. As the race to the bottom began, Kenny showed up again on my shoulder. I kept him there for a while, as there wasn’t really anywhere good to let him go by, but I knew that was inevitable. Finally I pulled over a bit and waved him through. He thanked me and was off, never to be seen again!

So I figured ok, at least I’ve got 3rd place nailed down, no big deal. Then another guy comes rolling past me. Damn it! I let him go by and just do my best to deal with all the roots and rocks and stuff. They are not hard to deal with on a flat trail, but when gravity is pushing you down, it’s treacherous.

Then at about halfway, or maybe a bit beyond halfway, the trail starts climbing again, and before long, I had reeled in 3rd place! I went past him and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll pass me again when it starts to go down.” That’s not really very good mental focus on my part, but by then it was clear what was going on.

I got passed twice more and then, after a nice little climb, a marshal yells to me that the race was 2/3 done and it was down hill the rest of the way. Great, I think, that’s good news!

At 9k, I came out of the trails onto an access road at the bottom of the ski hill. I got some eLoad from the girls there, and did the whole mouthwash thing. I got a bit more energy from that, I suppose (stupid brain, so easily fooled!), but probably more so from being able to run full out down the dirt road. This was downhill running I could handle. As I was ripping down this road, I started to think, hey, maybe I can catch up to a couple guys again.

I kept going down the road, but didn’t see anyone in front of me. I looked back and there was no one there either. I also didn’t see any more pink course flags…but I kept going (who’s stupid now, my brain asks…well, hey, you’re the one driving…pipe down back there!…anyway…).

Eventually I figured out that I’d missed a turn. I could see the course below me, and I clearly wasn’t on it. At that point, I was too far gone so I followed the road back to the end and crossed the line, at which point I told the officials that I had definitely gone off course and that they should probably just take my name out of the results. They were very nice about it. They felt bad and they asked me to figure out who I was near, as people came in. A young guy in a yellow Sherbrooke cycling jersey came through and I recognized him as the last guy to pass me. So they said they’d throw me in the results after him. Nice of them to do that.

The part of the course I missed was treacherous. There was a nice rock wall to run down, a river to cross (that would have been cool!) and the end was a gradual uphill, so I had missed out on a chance to catch up again. Anyway, lesson learned: pay attention to the course. In my defense, after they found out I went off course, they sent a guy up there, and as I went back over the course to see what I’d missed, I eventually got to where he was. He said even though he was standing there, people were still blowing by him to run down the road. So maybe I’m not a total moran

Next up: traveling with the team to Ottawa, Boston and London for races. I think I am going to step up in the 1500 in London. I think I can run around 4:30. We’ll see. And I think I have decided to train for real again. I’ll leave it at that for now, and elaborate in another post when I’ve got some more training done.