What a great weekend! I went to the Big Time Out on Saturday night and danced until my calves couldn't take it anymore. Lot's of fun...up late...then up early for a 6am departure to Port Alberni for the Log Train Trail Race.
ELM was well represented with 14 runners in the 1/2 and 10k events. 'This is not a race!' reminded the event director while we waited anxiously at the start line. 'There are no prizes for coming first...and no official time...and the course is not exactly 21k...more like 22km". Approximately 80 of us took off to the timing of our own watches after the official green light (GO) was given. Approximately 8 were in the full marathon, a handful in the 10k and the rest took part in the 1/2.
This is the flattest and shadiest (not sure if that is a word) 1/2 marathon that I know of. Following an old railway line the terrain doesn't stray above a 2% grade and a mature forest bumps up against the trail to provide shade throughout the course. The perfect combo for a fast trail 21 (22)km or your first half marathon.
I hadn't actually intended on racing the course but...when I heard the word GO...I went. I just had to follow my own pace and decided to work on my endurance pacing- following my rule of 1/3rds. First third-at an exertion level that feels easier than you think you can race the distance. Factoring in adrenaline and fresh legs, this section should be moderately easy. I went by feel and ended up nailing a 5min/km pace for the first 8kms. No water stops- I went with one handheld bottle and it worked just perfectly- running out just before the last 2kms.
Second third- at a comfortably hard pace that I thought I could hold onto for 14kms. Heard the breathing rate increase slightly and kept at about 4:45- 5min km pace. It was awesome to have so many km markers- now that they have added a 10km course we get to check out progress for the first 10kms. This course was ALL about cadence. No chance to coast downhill and no need to dig in and climb. But for me, a flat course is much harder as I love and train for mountain running. So, I kept thinking cadence cadence cadence and kept moving my feet over imaginary hot coals.
Final third- hard. I can run 7kms at this pace...I can run 6kms at this pace...can I run 5kms at this pace?? The mental dialogue and cadence practice kept my mind occupied during the final leg of the course. 1/2 a pack of Cliffe Shot Blocks later and my stride was still going strong. I was still at a 4:45 min/km pace at the 20km mark...with no other women ahead of me and SO happy to see that 20km marker. A hard turn to the right and a sign indicating only 100m to go...but I knew they were kidding. After all, I had run this section at the start of the race. The 100m faded away and turned into 1km to the finish...so my finish time was 1:49:ish , first female overall and I set a new personal time for the course- on my own watch of course:). GOOD TIMES!
I grabbed my camera and turned around back onto the course to capture the other ELM participants in action. A big congratulations to all the ELM crew who completed the half and 10k courses:
Jen, Laurel, Hollie, Korky, Sandy A, Sarah B, Cathy T, Gayle, Karen T, Connie W, Nairee, Jean & Becky...whooohooo!
After the race we had a great stretch session and post race debrief (race tales:) then we went for a wonderful swim in Cameron lake and finished it all off with a double waffle cone at the Coombs market:) Mmmmmm can't wait till next year!
A big thank you to the race directors and volunteers for putting on another fantastic, fun and inclusive event:) Cheers!