Thursday, 17 November 2016

Raiding the Hammer

My previous experience with orienteering/adventure running prior to this year was in elementary school in the late 80's/early 90's when we went on short hikes to the nearby conservation area and culminated with a field trip to a meet.  I remember that it was snowy, everyone took off running (I don't know about other people in my class, but I always walked during the hikes) and I started crying at the meet because I couldn't run more than about 10 steps before getting winded, much less in bad weather....

So let's just say those were not exactly positive memories.

Then we signed Bryden up for ARK last spring, culminating with ARKfest, which was a 1 hour choose your own adventure race to get to as many checkpoints as possible and a very low key way to get re-acquainted with orienteering.  Poking around the Don't Get Lost site, I thought the adult events looked kind of fun.

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on the Burly Trail Runners FB group, a team for the half raid was looking for a 3rd member, was anyone interested? I replied, thinking they would choose someone else, but it ended up being me and I was committed.

Team Missing the (check)point!

I met up with Blair and Matt 2 weeks ago for a short run at Dundas Valley, confirmed a million times that my plodding slow running pace wouldn't piss them off and that was it until race morning.

The race start was at Saltfleet High School and they did not give out the maps until 8:30 on the dot.  Then we had until 9:45 to study the maps and plot a course.  Since I didn't have a compass (except on my Garmin), I could only offer tips on what terrain was like in specific areas.

We got bussed to the start (King's Forest near Albion Falls) and we were off.  The section in King's Forest was a little bit technical, my legs got a little scratched up (as I was expecting) and people would NOT stop commenting on how I shouldn't have been wearing a skirt.

For most of the race, I was running behind Matt and Blair and basically not having to do any navigation.  We got to checkpoint 6 (out of 13) in just under an hour, that was very quick considering we were thinking the whole race would take 3 hours.  

The second half of the race started with a choice of 2 checkpoints in an area that I am very familiar with - I ran nearly all my hill repeats on that section of BT this past summer and ran there the Thursday before the race.  I thought the south CP was easier to access, even though it was at the top of the big paved hill, but I was outvoted and we went into a forest via a little singletrack directly across from the BT underpass and found the CP...HOWEVER..then we had to get up the escarpment. Off trail, on small loose rocks, bendy little tree branches.  I went up on all fours and was so glad I had 2 guys as teammates to pull me over the top.

Matt going down the escarpment, off trail.
The next section had us running on the BT through Stoney Creek and had 2 checkpoints that were not marked on the map.  The BT follows a paved path and then veers off into the woods, which would have been a great place to hide a checkpoint, as many people ignored the blazes and stayed on the paved path.  Turns out, the 2 "hidden" checkpoints were right on the side of the trail.

We finished 19th of 50 teams, and well under 3 hours.  I don't think I'll give up ultras for adventure running, but it was certainly a fun change of pace and thank you Matt and Blair for giving me the opportunity to try something new!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Mendon Trail Run 30K

My friend and coach, Heather, and I planned to do an off-season trail run together.  We were planning on running at Letchworth State Park until we found the Mendon Trail Run, which was incredibly cheap ($20 USD) and the same price for 20 or 30K, so may as well get our money's worth, right?

The 30K started at a very reasonable 9:30 am, which meant that I only had to get up at 4 am to make the 2 hour+ drive down.  Forecast called for mainly sunny skies and a high of 14, so I went with a short sleeve top and arm warmers.  Upon arrival, it was overcast and it was really damn cold just walking to the race HQ building.  Even though there was a roaring fire in the stove, I was still freezing, and fortunately I had brought a long sleeve top and changed.

map? I thought this was a trail race, not adventure running!

Everyone was given a course map, and since the race was organized by the Rochester Orienteering Club, I had a sudden panic that we'd have to navigate the course using the map as opposed to course markers.  Thankfully, the course was one of the most well marked I've ever run - plates marked with arrows at turns and forks blocked off with flags.  The Ultrasignup stats predicted a 4:28 finish - considering most of my 30K runs were usually 5+ hours, I would be ecstatic with any time under 5 hours.  At the start, I saw my DM friend, Wilt, such a nice surprise, after he missed the post ATB party this year. 

I always find it amusing when trail race directors describe a course as "completely runnable". There were rolling hills throughout the 10k loop, I walked the bigger hills, especially the calf burner called Kitty Litter Hill.  Each loop I ran a bit slower than the last, but Heather kept me moving and I took Shannon's advice to not linger too much at aid stations.  I fueled with Endurance Tap, oranges and pop from the aid station, and homemade kimbap.  I was quite tired in the last 5K and the cups of Coke I slammed were absolutely life giving.  We finished strong, well under 5 hours, not DFL and hours before the cutoff!

Kimbap with carrots, spinach and tofu.

It was fantastic to meet Heather in person for the first time, and we chatted so much that other runners commented on it.  Hopefully on my next (and 3rd) visit to Corning next spring, I will finally have an opportunity to visit the glass museum!

Post run beers in Corning.
On Sunday, I will be trying out adventure running at Raid the Hammer.  If we have to run through brambles like this, I will probably curse a lot more colourfully than the guy in the video.