Heading into this year's race I knew I'd be faster than last year base on my improved run fitness, but by how much? This spring the only running races I've done were the 8 mile leg of the Inferno, the 10k leg of the King Pine Triathlon, a 10k the previous weekend, and a 5k fun run on Tuesday. With that limited race exposure here's how the 2016 MWRR shook out.
First, I had a lottery bypass thanks to winning the Clydesdale division (>190lbs) last year. My training this year was nothing out of the ordinary, focusing on consistency. Log miles, get speed work in, and have fun. Having fun means other sports - biking, hiking, swimming, surfing which all serve as good cross-training in moderation but aren't specific enough to maximize running fitness. That said, my paces were significantly improved year over year.
My evolving goal for this race is to hang with tail end of the 'elite' pack. That's the 1:10 to 1:12 range. In the back of my head I had my doubts but I figured if I paced for 1:12 and it didn't feel right I could back off and still walk away with a great result. With that in mind, I went over my splits and tried to cram some last minute training in for the race.
Thursday and Friday were slow / easy efforts and Friday night I tried my best to get a good night's sleep which didn't happen. Nerves kept me up and there was nothing I could do. I probably logged 5 hours or restless sleep and made the 50 minute drive up to the Auto Road. It was a little stressful as traffic was backed up a mile and we were rushing too meet my dad to hand off Squall, clothing, and bib stubs since he was driving up. Once registered and sorted out I went for a short warm up since it was already warm (60s) and headed up to the race start at 8:55. I positioned myself one row back and after a few announcements, the national anthem, and a cannon blast, we were off.
I was behind Dave Dunham, one of the most experienced MWRR runners in the history of the event. I figured he'd be running around 1:12 and paces incredibly well. If I could hang with him then I'd be in good shape. I was with him for the first 2.5 miles but then he steadily pulled away and I had no choice but to settle into my own race pace. I put my head down and focused on my effort trying to find something sustainable for the remaining 5 miles.
I was with Kim Nedeau and a couple other racers at the halfway point (35:07) and was now staring down a goal time somewhere in the 1:14s. I had Kevin Tilton and Eric Narcisi in my view not too far ahead so I focused on trying to not get complacent and try to keep up with them. Kevin started to drop back but I was also catching up with Eric. At 5.25 miles Kim started making her move and steadily dropped us. Kevin and I battled from 5.5 to 6 miles at which point we hit the hairpin turn. Eric didn't look too far ahead but he was really 25s+. I passed Kevin but took a hit in the process - After the hairpin I was gassed and had trouble recovering. This left me flat for the last mile and I just held on as best I could. I salvaged what I could for a kick and motored up the wall, an effort that nearly left me puking as I crossed the finish in a time of 1:14:36.
I hung out at the summit for a little bit with my dad and waited for Hilary to finish. We were both happy, making significant improvements over last year. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces at the summit but I wanted to get out of there and take care of my run back down. I changed shoes and was on my way. It was much more punishing than I expected - I was dehydrated and bonking and couldn't get going faster than 7:30 pace. I had to stop at the halfway point and drink from the radiator water reservoir. After that I felt much better and cruised down that last few miles.
Awards went much faster this year and it was great to see some Jim Johnson up on the podium taking 5th place and Crossan Cup honors. I locked up the Clydesdale award again and Hilary took 2nd for the Fillies meaning we'll both be back next year.
Overall I'm happy with the race. Of course I'd like to be faster and more competitive but I have to remind myself that shaving 2.5 minutes off my time is a significant improvement. Running takes patience. A lot of it. To avoid injury, you need to hold back a little and keep the gains steady and let the body adapt. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do next year.
Here are some photos from Joe Viger's Gallery: