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5 Peaks – Alice Lake – My First Trail Run

2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-83
I ran the 5 Peaks – Alice Lake 11 km Enduro Race last Saturday. It was my first trail run and one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. The hills chewed me up and spat me out. But it was also one of the most scenic and gratifying races to finish.

5 Peaks
2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-7I have nothing but good things to say about the race organizers. The 5 Peaks race was easily the best organized and most fun running event I’ve been to. Kudos to the organizers. The pre-race emails were informative and funny; the race package included snazzy arm warmers (much better than yet another shirt); the course was well marked; and the post race festivities involved sunbathing, a dip in Alice Lake, and copious amounts of fresh fruit.

The Race
5 Peaks - Alice Lake
I started the race in the first wave, which may have been foolish but a few friends convinced me that’s where I belonged. I kept up with a lot of the runners, but it was my first real trail run, never mind my first trail race, and I was unprepared for the toll the hills would take. I was fine for the first 6 km, covering the rolling hills and steady uphill climb at a good pace. The 2 km descent down Credit Line was fun, but I felt like I was going stupidly fast, on the verge of wiping out, and I was still being passed by quite a few runners. I got good advice from a guy on my tail who told me to mimic the technique of one of the ladies who had just passed me – long strides with careful foot placement. I tried. I guess this is why people practice running trails before races.

After the long descent was a brutal uphill climb that felt like it would never end. I was glad I wasn’t the only one struggling to even walk up the hill. It took all my energy just to keep my legs moving. I was dehydrated and spent. Occasionally the trail would flatten out for a few meters, but it was difficult to get running again. Once the trail peaked, it immediately plunged back down. Near the bottom of the descent I rolled my ankle. Luckily the last 500 meters was on mostly level ground and I was able to keep running without much pain. My heart rate peaked at 194 bpm as I sprinted for the finish line.

I was worried about passing on the narrow, single track sections of the race, but it was surprisingly easy. When I heard someone running behind me I would slow down a bit and leave some space for them to pass. Most runners would yell “on your left” as they approached and “thank you” once they were by.

Photos
5 Peaks posted 434 photos on Flickr. Sadly, I’m not in any of them (need to work on my smile while running) but Scott and Simon are.
2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-200 2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-247 2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-107 2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-377 2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-136 2014 MB 5 Peaks BC Alice Lake-389

The Result
Time: 1:04:18
Overall: 33/223
Men 30-39: 14/41
Strava Activity
Full Results

Final Thoughts
I found trail running to be more fun than road racing, but a lot harder on my body. I’ll need to practice more and strengthen my ankles before I run another race. I guess it’s time to suck it up and ride the bus to the north shore mountains on the weekends. It’s just hard to justify hours on the bus when Vancouver’s nicest flat trail, the seawall, is seconds from my front door.

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon – 1:27:39

BMO Half MarathonLast year I ran my first full marathon. This year I didn’t want to commit as much time to training and instead focused on running a fast half marathon. I’ve run two halves before (Victoria and Scotiabank Vancouver), the fastest in 1 hour and 33 minutes. I knew I could go faster.

The weather this morning wasn’t ideal – persistently raining with gusts of wind, but I powered through. I had no idea how fast I was going – probably the only person without a watch. I took the first 3 km pretty fast, thinking the downhill section would allow me to bank some free time. After that I settled into a steady pace. Luckily I had friends along the course to encourage me to run fast. Thanks Emily, Rhea, Michael, Cynthia, Greg, and Taryn.

Every few kilometres something ached – my right hip flexor was bothering me before the race, my left hamstring cramped up midway, my feet were sore for the second half, and I had a stitch in my side for the last 5 kilometres. But I was able to run through all the problems and finished strong. I had lots of energy left at the end and sprinted the last kilometre. I thought my pace must have been too slow. I was shocked when I saw the time was under 1:28.

Warmup GearIt was tricky figuring out what to wear this morning. I wanted to run the race in shorts and a singlet, but needed something to warm up in. I found an old long-sleeve shirt, a dry-cleaning bag, and cut the toes off mismatched socks to create leggings. I looked like a hobo, but it kept me warm until the race started.

Chip Time: 1:27:39 (Sportstats)
Overall Place: 89 / 9954
Category Place: 18 / 605 (Male 30-34)

Chai Keeps My Running Gear Warm

BMO Vancouver Marathon Completed in 3:27:06

30.5 km and Looking Good
Achievement Unlocked – Ran a Full Marathon

Everything went well today. My fuelling strategy with homemade gels worked well, I kept hydrated, and I ran a good, consistent pace, and I finished faster than 3:30 (my goal).

Finishers Pose No Meat Athlete Runs on Plants
Special thanks to Emily, Joy, Erica, and Marsha for cheering me on at multiple spots along the course. Having friends in the crowd gave me energy boosts when I needed it most. The crowd in general was awesome. Lots of encouraging words, funny signs, and good music. Some guys on Cornwall even started a “No Meat Athlete” chant for me.

3:45 Pace Bunny BMO Marathon Crosses the Burrard Bridge
It was a hard race. I felt really good for the first 19 km, but after the UBC downhill my feet started to ache. The uphill around km 24 up to 4th Avenue was surprisingly hard (harder than the big Camosun hill at km 10). But the absolute hardest section was the last 10 km around Stanley Park at the end of the race, even though it was completely flat. It was lonely and my legs were mush. I saw a lot of people stop to walk. I ran my slowest km splits in there, but I managed to get through it. I felt better when I passed the 9 o’clock gun and there were big crowds to cheer me on and push me through the last 2 km.

The heat really did a lot of people in, but it didn’t bother me too much. There was more shade along the course than I expected.

I was impressed by the number of people running in Vibram FiveFingers, but the most spectacular sight was the guy running completely barefoot. I was close to him for a long stretch in UBC. I think he was trying to run along the white lines in the middle of the road to avoid the hot pavement. Crazy.

My shirt said “Powered by Plants” but it really should have said “Powered by Dates”. My breakfast and energy gels were mostly dates, with some banana, coconut oil and other goodies mixed in. It did the trick and got me through the race. I thought I was drinking enough on course, but I was dehydrated enough at the finish line to drink over a litre of water and coconut water without thinking about it.
Energy Pudding Post Race Facebook Update
Continue reading BMO Vancouver Marathon Completed in 3:27:06