Sunday, 8 December 2013

The 30th Annual Gunner Shaw XC: The last race of 2013 on a beautiful day!

The 30th Annual Gunner Shaw XC Start! Photo: Leo Lam

The 30th annual Gunner Shaw XC presented by Lions Gate Road Runners went down under beautiful skies on Saturday December 8th. After a week off of all physical activity, I was not feeling too confident about this race. For one, I have been recovering from a cold that took me out two weeks ago, just in time for nationals, leaving me less than stellar for the race last week. To recover from said cold and the race, I laid low and did absolutely nothing. 7 days off of no workouts. The last time I pulled something like that was in August, while on vacation. Before that, it was during spring break in March when the family was in L.A. 

It has been a while since I took some time off.

What a difference a week makes: Bluebird in Vancouver

We have been experiencing a bit of a cold snap as of late, mixed with some sunny skies. It has been what I would say is normal winter weather, yet for our part of the country, it is downright chilly. Not the typical 3-5 degrees that we are used to, but more of a -6 type of weather that people freak out in.

I got to the sailing centre for 10:15, grabbed my number and warmed up on course. No big puddle/infamous pond this year due to the freeze, so the course was crusty and hard. My body felt good on the warm-up considering my last two weeks. What I worried about was my mind. I made my way to the start line and lined up beside Nicholas Browne, a pseudo Killian Jornet look-a-like. Once he sided up with me, I knew I was looking at the guy who was going to win this one. 

Paul, Stan, Mark Bennett, et al. I am blurred out in the distance in the bright blue shoes. Photo: Jan Heuninck
The start was fast, the sand was slow--(I lost some positions there), and I felt like all around crap. Or maybe I just told myself that. At the gun, I surged ahead to the lead group of 8. Little did I know that the 5k participants and the 10k started together. The 5k runners were all kids from Douglas. I realised this on the start of the second lap as I noticed Paul Yuot pull out of the race as he finished. I seemed to be bleeding spots as guys passed me on each lap after settling in at the beginning. 

It goes to show that taking a full week off and hitting out with a race may not be the best choice to make. Even active recovery is better than nothing. Yet, I had to get over my cold and fatigue from the last few weeks of M.Ed, work, and racing.

I struggled with staying consistently fast in this race, something that I have been developing this fall. Negative split Ks and ramping up harder to the finish has been a positive outcome of the shorter races. This race was mentally tough. Anne-Marie Madden, whom I beat at Remembrance Day by a few seconds, schooled me today by over a minute. It was not even close for the 10k. When she passed me in the sand on the first lap, I had nothing to give. I watched her run away wearing an orange tank in the freezing cold (girl, you crazy--fast). She is a solid runner, one whose race times I would love to match.

With less than 2k to go, I was caught by Denis Ryan of North Van. We began our finishing battle well out from the finish line. We traded jabs at each other until I gave a couple of pushes to see how he would respond in the single track. Coming out of the trails, I pushed hard and steady on the grass to avoid the sprint, and ramped up with a strong finish.

With the Awards in the conference room of the Jericho Sailing Center, we were treated to this view.  
37:58. Good enough for 15th overall, and 2nd place in my age category.

I was having a tough day, mentally, on this run. The body was OK, I just could not will myself to go faster as I have in other XC races this fall. Fortunately, I know that I can go faster. The mind-body connection needs to be more synchronised so that I feel light, fluid, and am thinking less, and in the moment more.

Ribbons Rock!: This makes up for all those track meets in elementary school when I did not earn a ribbon. 
With this finish, I have captured the overall title for the 30-39 Lower Mainland XC Points Series. I'll post up the review of the series when I see the official results on line, along with a self assessed grade for each of my races.

Results are here.

More pics to come. Jan Heuninck has an awesome set here.

A bit disappointed with the placing and the time, but all told, a good finish to the racing year.

I have my doubts that this course is measured accurately to 10k. If it is, that is awesome, and I am happy to have run my 2nd fastest 10k time yet.

I warmed down with Stan Jang, a lovely soul and super fast runner. He was 8th at the Victoria Marathon this year with a 2:35. That is one of the best parts of these runs: the community developing between familiar faces as we share a race time and time again.

This race was amazing: the setting, the organization, the post race food and prizes. The Lower Mainland XC Series is awesome value for the money: inexpensive entry fees, and some great competition. LGRR knows how to put on a great event, as well. Much like the Hershey Harriers on Remembrance Day, the races were comparable. For $15 I had a great run with an unexpected pizza meal at the end, warm showers, and some good company. All told, I was very happy to have made my way out to this run.

As I said, the future looks good fast.

Keith Dunn has produced a short video summary of the leaders

Race gear:

New Balance MT110WR
Icebreaker 200 Longsleeve
Sugoi Midzero tights
Ibex Merino boxer-brief
NB Knit gloves
Sugoi Merino socks

Shoe Notes: 

New Balance MT110WR

This run was only my 2nd in my New Balance MT110WR winter minimal trail shoe, yet they ran as I expected them to: exactly the same as their fraternal twin. My first run in these was in Kamloops over the Remembrance Day long weekend. I felt they were too warm then, as the temperature was higher then (2 degrees) that it was this weekend. Even for this race with the temp at -2 or -3, the shoe collected some moisture in it over the morning from sweat. They do not breath.

The shoe has an over-boot covering that keeps my feet really warm, and is (supposedly) water proof. It is kind of an ugly looking thing with the over-cover on it, but man, I did not have any cold feet on the run. I was feeling great--the show was awesome for grip and ground feel, and I love the low drop and stack height to prevent me from rolling an ankle. It will be my winter racing and training shoe for the short while. I would definitely pull it out for the January 1st Resolution Run in Crescent Park, provided it is cold or wet enough outside. These shoes have my total confidence when the weather turns sour, or really cold. They work just like their warmer weather (over 5 degrees) brother, the MT110, an all time favorite of mine.

New Balance MT110 WR and MT110: Fraternal twins or the right tool for the job.