Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Aldergrove Mud Run 2014: My best effort this year!

Mike Murphy emailed me race day morning after I sent him a message asking if he would attend the Aldergrove Mud Run. The correspondence went like this:

Josh: Hi Mike. Are you running in Aldergrove tomorrow? I will be. Hope to see you there.

Mike: Morning Josh,

I am going to skip the race this morning. Instead, i'm doing a long run on the DiezVista 50 course.
I know you have another strong run in you, so lay it all out there. Try my little trick of 'promissing' yourself to throw in 6 or 8 surges...no matter how crappy it feels.
Tweet a recap afterwards, so i know how it went once i wrap up.

I listen to Mike. I respect Mike. He knows what he speaks of. So, my race plan was born just before the race: surges, and lots of them. Sort of like intervals within a tempo run. Only intervals while running at race pace.

It took no time get all the way out to Aldergrove Lake this morning. Without Mike or Chris there, I knew that I had a good shot at a high placing based on who had been showing up to this series. But as Mike told me at the last one, you never know who is going to show up at the race. So true for this race.



I took 5k to warm up, and made my way to the start line with Corinne Issel, Darren Walton, and Tyler who used to work at the New Balance store in North Delta. After the last two races, confidence is on my side, and turning out good, fast runs have become de rigueur  for me at this series. The XC fall, track intervals, offsetting slow recovery runs, and just plain fast running has transformed my body to deal with the stresses of the run.

Aldergrove Mud Run Elevation Profile and map for the 8k course. Note the hills.
The race started fast with Graham Laurie, Darren, and myself running 3 abreast in the first km. We got to the meadow and I pushed ahead into the lead, distancing myself from the other two guys by the hill. At this point a tall, lean dude passed me and got a bit of a gap. I kept him close, but the distance was just enough to keep me out of striking distance. Then, Mike's advice rang in my head like Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke to use the force on his Death Star trench run.

"8 to 10 surges in the race..."

I began my assault on talk lanky dude, trying to reel him back in, and then lay the boots to him.

The course is tough--one of my favourite runs due to the undulating and rolling hills, into steep downhills and over pitchy uphills. I chased him through 5k, when I managed to claw back up to him. I had used about 4 or 5 surges to push even with him. With the last 3k to go, I knew I had to test him. We ran side by side on the backside of the course. On the plateau flat, I punched it. He was hot on my heels. I rested, then punched it right away. He started to make small talk with me, encouraging me along, telling me it was his first race in 6 years. I said nothing back, save for thanks as I was ready to heave a lung. I'm sure he knew what I was doing, and responded by passing me.

Some high heart rate on this one. Near death--flatline.
Shit.

Into the downhill, he punched it as I was trying to recover. A gap had formed with 2k to go. I believed the whole time that I could beat him. I was not worried about the time or pace at all on this one-- just winning the race. I pushed the pace to claw my way back to him...and just could not do it. My last km was hard as I watched him run away from me. I pushed because, you know, you never know what might happen.

At the finish with Ryan....a 9 second thumping.
Graham on my right, Randy on my left. Pen Runners took this random group shot.

I ended up finishing 2nd. Again. This time turning out a 29:12 8K on a mutha of a course, my best result at the Aldergrove Mud Run yet. I thought last year was good coming in just over 30 minutes. This year was great, if not bitter-sweet.

2nd place in 171 runners. Best result yet!

189 Max HR. That thing is about to pop!
Course results over the years:

2011---35:15
2012---33:14
2013---30.42

2014---29:12.  Yet another PB at this race, and at all the races for the series for that matter.

I talk to the winner at the end, and introduced myself, thanking him for the race. He told me his name was Ryan Hayden. I did not know who he was at all. I asked him about his 10k time, and half time. He told me 28 minutes, and 1:04 for the half. WHAT!!! This guy had won the First Half Half Marathon with a course record in 2008, and was a consistently fast runner in the lower mainland, and North America! I was running with a guy out of my league.

I did not know that at the time, nor did I care. That played into my result, for sure. Had I known who I was running against, I would have backed way off, I am sure. The mind is a powerful thing, and ignorance is bliss!

The internet doesn't lie. Sub 4 min mile!?! This guy is the real deal.

My main goal was to run a sub 30 minute race. Done. The other goal was to complete my 8-10 surges. Done. I also wanted to place highly in the race. Done. I just could not close the door on Ryan. I suppose I should consider this a great learning experience.

So, in tweeting up a conversation with Mike after the race, he posed a question to me, as my surrogate/ informal coach:

"Write down 3 things that you did well after the race, and 3 things you wish to improve on for the next race."

So in my quest to get better and faster, here they are:

Three things I did well, nearly all mental:
  • Pushed myself a number of times (surges) to claw back to Ryan Hayden--a mental battle that I won through 6.5 kms. If I can do it on this race, I can do it in others.
  • Believed that I could catch him (did that), I believed that I could win the whole time (not my day). No matter how gassed I was, I was able to employ race tactics all the way up to Ryan, working at max effort, but cognitively staying focused and grounded, rather than being negative and talking myself out of the effort
  • I ran my own race. I had a plan, and adjusted it to the moment.

Three Four things I need to work on nearly all physical:

  • Late race speed endurance--I had nothing for the last km to match Ryan on the flats. That is building with time, and my back to back training efforts
  • Hills and recovery--being able to push over the top and recover on the downhills. Ryan gaped me up the hill, and I had to chase to get him--4kms to make the catch. Shorter recovery would have helped
  • Downhill speed--balls out fast as I scream with reckless abandon down the steeps.
  • I went out a bit too quick to break things up--right to the front or the race. I managed to hold on to the speed I needed to beat everyone but the one guy I needed to beat, which probably meant that I had put too much energy out in that first km.

In the end, you just don't know who will show up at the race. Without the usual crew there today, I hoped I would have a good result, and I did. I ran outside of myself today to be competitive. Not too hard, but hard enough. I had it in me to push him harder, but mentally, I think I let myself off the hook when we came through the last km. That was tough for me. I really wanted to get there first. But he was a worthy winner, a great runner, and a sporting dude.

It was pretty cool to meet him.

Hans came in third, about a minute and a bit off of Ryan and me. Graham was fourth, and Darren was 6th--he had a tough run on some tired legs. Corinne kept her winning ways with her 3rd straight win. Well done Corinne! You are coming back into form for sure! I did all that I could today, and have no regrets.



My fastest 8k XC ever, and for that, I am more than happy with my effort. The next race for me is the First Half Half Marathon in less that two weeks time. Then back to the FVTS and Derby Reach  8k/Half Marathon.

I will be too cooked from the First Half to run a back to back half marathon weekend, so I will run the 8k. The goal is not to do well at these small races, but to race well at the BMO Marathon.... Keeping everything in check.

Thanks again to Peninsula Runners for yet another affordable race--well done on the food, prizes, volunteers and the hospitality--One of the best run shops around, bar none for their efforts!! Check them out if you are in White Rock!

Pics to follow!