Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The 2012 BC Cross Country Championships Race Report

Saturday October 24th was the BC Cross Country Championships at Clearbrook park, Abbotsford. Being a Master catagory racer in XC running meant that our championship was the first one of the day, before the course was all chewed up and before the rains had a chance to unleash hell, as they did later in the morning.

Since I last checked in, I have done zero workouts on the bike or in my running shoes. That is a first for me, as this week showed a goose egg for any physical activity, and much sleeping and as my kids at school say, "chilling". I think that "chilling" actually translates to being lazy, drinking beer, and losing fitness. At least that is what it is from my experience. I really don't like chilling. I would rather have been "killing" it out there, but life took prescedence this week, and the weather and lack of sunlight has kept me indoors.

Racing back to back Championship weekends, this time fully rested, was something I committed to a few weeks back as part of a grand plan to sadly, not do Pumpkin Cross due to the fact that I will be away from my family for three days this November as Daryl Evans Racing helps organize the National CX Championships. I have to get some credit somewhere, and these autumn days I could do an event on both the Saturday and Sunday. If not in the Canada, then in the States. I wonder what the hell I did when I did not have children, and how come I was not doing races like this when I had all the time in the world.

Clearbrook Park hosted our course today, and Valley Royals Track and Field club, along with BC Athletics hosted the race. The course was a relatively flat 2.08 km loop, with a few key features: The long opening straight into a paved-cracked path slope that was composed of many foot soaking puddles. That lead us along the powerline cut east over the first cut-grass knoll, around a 180 to head west, back to a 15m hill under the poweline stands, into a quick downhill, right turn. The last third of the course was a false flat grass downhill loop that lead us back to the start finish area. Fast, save for the climbs, but also a somewhat tough course to maintain such high pace.

I met up with Dharbara Ghuman and Mike Murphy at the start. Mike informed me that he had been sick all week with a stomach flu, and he was coming off a number of days that he could not eat nor hold down food. He said he was working at an 8th of a tank, and I told him his 8th is me at full gas. I was absolutely correct with that comparison.

Picking up my race bib late, and taking a short 15 minute warmup in my jogging pants and jacket, I returned to my car to drop off my clothes and run back to toe the line. The gun went off, I went off. Right into running in second position, then first in the first 200meters. Waayyy too fast for this race. I decided to back off to mortal/Josh speed, and calm things down. In doing so, the front of the race went by me, 5 people, then 6, then a group of 4. I ran the first two laps at a quick pace then backed off on the third.

I was around 10th place by lap three, trying to catch the group of four which contained the first female, who I assume was the very quick Rachel Ruus. On the back side of the course after the hill climb, I managed to take advantage of the quick grass and increase my speed after a short recovery from the climb each lap. At one point I looked at my HRM and it read 186 bpm. That was a good thing, as it has been tough for me to get the heart rate up really high as of late. The two weeks of rest have helped.

Getting back to normal. I have not hit 195 bpm since 2009. 

My race came down to a late sprint to the line against Gary Duncan, a man in hte 55-59 age cat. whom I only knew from the sound of his feet. In the finishing stretch, I could hear him charging behind me, so I kicked. I thought that was good enough, but no. He kicked again. Then again. This was one long 100m finishing stretch, so it seemed. Crossing the finish line, we were tied, passing over it at exactly the same time as far as I could tell. He is a very, very quick older gentleman.

We could not talk except to shake hands due to the effort, both of us spent from our surge to the line. I told him good job and he did the same. To see the results after I had changed, it turns out I had a finish time of 32:11.39. Not bad for taking two weeks off and running as hard as I can go. My sprint competitor's time was 32:11.40. I pipped him by 1/10th of a second. As far as I was concerned, he got me. The scoring and timing of BC Athletics knows best, I guess....Former Olympian Arthur Boileau took the 55-59 age cat. with a time of 31:32.

Reviewing my move, that finishing sprint had me running at 25 kph, and it jacked my heart rate up to 197 bpm! I have not seen a number that high since 2008, when I first started cyclocross racing. Things are returning to normal with my body, but I am still dealing with the ankle/achilles pains.

2nd in my age cat... only four of us running.

I think my official finish in the race was 14th place. I managed to fend off Darbara, who beat me at Bear Creek by 4 seconds. He was very fast a month ago, but perhaps my rest along with his racing the Whistler Relay last week combines for a bit of fatigue. We chatted and I found out he is going to Boston this coming year, again, as he has done it in the past. He qualified this year with a time just a shade under 3 hours. That is very cool! I want to be in his shoes! That is the goal for the BMO Vancouver. It was great meeting him, as we are evenly matched competitors. I still have more to give, and the two weeks off may not have helped in having the fastest race I could have.

One of the best parts of the race is that the results were ready within a half hour of the finish, something that Cycling BC needs to take a look at. CBC needs to follow the lead of the athletics governing body in BC and computerize everything, and bring timing equipment, software, and cameras to CX events, and have the results posted with a half hour of the race, and posted to the web within a few hours. This would make racers very, very happy.