Monday, June 30, 2014

Dynamics of Old New France

Here's a little side note entry. I didn't realize to the full capacity if the Canadian dynamics of the people here. All of Quebec speaks french, a scattering of English here and there, but lightly sprinkled. The eastern most provinces of Canada seem to have a distaste for Quebec aka, the French... Ok, starting to catch the vibe up here a little. 
I befriended a few folks from Nova Scotia, very cool people, and they seem to be happy that I'm here bc I represent a possibility to beat the French. The French on the other hand are deeply passionate about beating the American, me (so it seems). The eastern provinces, or as they call themselves, Real Canada (which excludes Quebec) are English speaking and don't care who really wins as long as it's not the French. It's fairly basic, English language vs French language, I dig it as long as it's a competition! Ha. 
At the race brief meeting they covered all the logistics and other "must knows," for the race on Sunday. Only problem: solely in French. The race director, and awesome dude, Matt Nelson gave me the scoop (and I quote directly and accurately, minus the real F word): "Ferenc (in a southern drawl), all you need to know is, don't F with the moose, don't F with the caribou and don't F with bear. And just run fast! Of any of those things present themselves, just stand your ground..."
The French meeting was 45 min, Matt's talk was 45 seconds. How hard can it be really? Run fast, avoid things to stop running fast... Easy. 
I've set up a home base 5k outside of the race site where I'm allowed to have the girls out and have a culvert locked down. I do my best, "None shall pass!!!" When cars come and I also mix in a little Monty Python: Black Knight, needless to say , this bridge is secure. I've also been trolling underneath it during the heat of 91 degrees and have a decent little camp. 
I got the camping may down and the sleeping bag. The water has to be a tick above freezing and in the culvert must be a cool 60-65 degrees. 

Oui Oui

Woof! So here's the dirty, I drove 800 miles to the remote GaspĆ© Peninsula for the Canadian Sky Running Races (Vertical K, 100k, 22k, and 42k). I saw the pics in the Facebook and it look awesome. It was also the first week off from school and thought what a great vacation and training week. 
Holy crow is 800 miles a long way... I left in Wednesday and was supposed to pick up Dave James in Quebec City but his flights got screwy on his way back from Austria, so alone I ventured. Wait, I have my girls with me, both Ellie and Lena are making the adventure to Canada. (Side note: the girls have been awesomely behaved the whole trip.). 
My plan is to race a Vertical K on Friday, rest Saturday then race the marathon on Sunday. The VK goes up Mont Albert while the marathon will run up Mont Jaques-Cartier then back down. I really had my mind set on winning both (no one told me I shouldn't). 
Upon my arrival to the Haute GaspesiĆ© I found there not to be any mountains, let alone even some hills. I saw pics of them but wasn't seeing them as I was about to be on top of them. Without disappointing, they came out of no where, and very impressive. They looked closely like the Franconia side of the Whites except a little steeper (the ones I can see). Cool. 
Also upon arriving I found that dogs are not permitted into the park whatsoever. They are not even allowed to be in the car if you stop within the park!??!!! What the cuss is that about? Like everything, I'll wing it... 
Did a little course preview before heading down and getting ready for the "night before the race" type cuss. 
Super technical section but other than this, it's going to be fast. Loads of places to open it up and run fast. 
Thursday Night: I got settled as where things are and as I'm about to leave and hit the town, I hear a hissing... Flat tire, cuss you! 
I got it driving on one of the highly traveled highways...

So, flat changed, I hit the local town for Subway and grab a few provisions and see about getting my tire fixed. I took the girls to the beach quick and enjoyed seeing them out running in the sand. 
(Lena is way out in the middle of the pic)

There are more Pelletier names in the phone book up here than China has rice, and I was fortunate to have one of them fix my tire fast! Good man! 
Friday: after camping out the night before in my truck with the girls I awoke with the sun, 4:11! I tried incredibly hard to sleep a bit more as the race started at 2. Around 6 I stirred and shagged a slow and easy 3 mile run with the girls (off the park limits). This felt awful on the way out and much better once I turned around. He car ride made my hamstrings a bit tighter than normal but could feel them loosening up. Bc the girls can be in the park, I statues about 3 miles off a dirt road just over the parks borders by a river with a culvert. I hung here under ye culvert like a troll and enjoyed the morning. There was a concern: what was I going to do with the girls during the race? I solved this very easily, I found a vacant fishing site along the river with heavy cover. I parked with the windows down and pretended I owned the place. It worked! My girls were cool and calm when I returned after the race (I ran like hell back down the mtn to get them out ASAP). 
Once the girls were settled/hidden in the woods I ran to the start of the VK. I was unsure who was any good, so I just hung around and looked/sized everyone over. I was to start 12th in a staggered start, (in one min intervals). 
As it turned out, there was a 1:05 half, 29:00 10k road runner here (so he says, but he wouldn't be the first fast road runner I've taken down, hell, I've taken down faster PR guys this year! As it turns out, he has recently run these times and also finished second at the World Snow Show Champs held in VT this winter)... I didn't know his stats before the race but he told me he was elite. Once he told me I had a very natural reaction: I hated him. I had to, it was a race, I'll talk to him after but for now, hate was the flavor of choice. 
The good news about that guy was he wasn't a liar, he was very fast and ended up winning the race easily (that sentence was harder to write than the VK itself). 
With the staggered start it def would be all against the clock. With 11 people ahead of me, I liked the idea of caching people and it forced me to fight, claw and gnash the whole way. 
The race itself was very odd. The mtn looms and looks huge, but the 5.6k race was very very... easy. What made it hard was the incrediblely fast pace. I was expecting a lot of speed hiking and power walking, but there were very little places to do it. It was a running race all the way. "True racers course..." Haha
I was super aggressive the whole race and looking back at the final outcome I can't find anywhere I could have done anything different. I charged the climbs and raced the runnable sections in a sprint type way. Overall, after an effort like that, I would never guess anyone would run faster. 
Just over 3/4 of the way I was told that the leader was only 7 min ahead of me. With not a lot of race left it gave me a mental break. Physically I wanted to bury as much time into everyone as possible. With 100 meters to go you crack the tree line, run across a snow glacier and finish. I gave all I had and was happy with my time, 40:45 (?) and happy with the effort I put forth. I was not happy with the lead dude pumping his fist and celebrating right in my face... As it turned out, the dude who told me I was 7 min back was not accurate. Pepe Le Pui beat me by just under 2 min... 
It was hard to be pissed as I knew I couldn't have run the race any other way AND, once on top of the ridge it was a huge field which is a grazing ground for the caribou. There was a causeway across the field and, I ran this to the other side, and was super stoked to be where I was. Yes, I'm annoyed I didn't win, but the dude is legit. Cuss him, haha. The top of the mountain was awesome. I wish I could have stayed longer but the thought if my girls dying in the car due to heat exhaustion was enough to have me rifle down the mtn. When I got to them they were super excited and totally fine. The breeze of the river was super cold and we ended up taking a swim in that ice bath river. 
Ps. The mosquitoes and flies are ruthless and relentless. I swear a mosquito left my car after the first nights sleep the size of a sparrow, hopefully the lack of blood will not come back to haunt me. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lloyd and Harry

Oh hello... I'm the rubber that often runs extremely smart but this blog post will be reflective of why I don't gamble...

Vermont City Marathon
There was a lot of hype leading into VCM this year. The local news team out of Burlington shadowed me a day in my classroom and while I coached at track practice. The dude was an awesome guy but he definitely instilled to my community that I was going to win. 
At no point in time was this a realistic view for me as my goals were top 5 and top VT. The training didn't not show that I was able to run low 2:20's, which is always in the mix for the W. 
Leading up to the race I had some great runs, not a lot of specific work and 2 very good race showings. Not a lot to work wth as far as feedback for how a marathon would go. Ideally I wanted to lock into high 5:30's (5:37-5:39) with a group and feel relaxed to at least 22. Possible wishful thinking but why think any other way? 

The only problem was once the race started there was a group of 15+ guys at low 5:20's, me and Scott McGrath at 5:30-5:35 and everyone else way the cuss back. Awesome... Not really. As we were clipping off the miles hovering around 5:30 the group ahead continued to pull away, the group behind was nowhere to be seen and I was faster than I wanted to be. Also, there was a VT dude mixing it up in the lead chase pack... All race plans went out the window at 5 miles. I panicked. I thought about that cussing TV interview and couldn't fathom going back to school and explain to all the kids why I wasn't first VT. Fortunately, Scott was just as anxious to ruin his race as I was and we continued 7-10 seconds per mile too say. 
Now, VCM's course def eludes to false times as the first part as all the fans and substantial down hill. Just as long as you survive the belt way. Scott had some entertaining quotes along the way. As the dog was still heavy on the belt way he remarked, "this looks like a place where souls go to die..." And he was right, it looked not enjoyable. Ha. 
As we wrapped back into the city he had another good one, "if your going to latch one to someone and make them your alias, who better than the Last Hero Only Hope?" Hahaha, well played. And lastly, "don't let me ruin your race too...."
Haha, don't worry dude , I'm doing just fine on my own. Ruining it that is...
By 10 miles the first VT guy was out of sight and I was way too fast. I had to take a break from Scott and run my own race as I was falling off his strong lead. From 10-13 I dropped 5:45 x 3 and bit the bullet as to this was what I was going to have to do to get to the end. 
But... Just after 13.1, the first VT guy pops right in front of my face. Game is back on! If he's hurting here, he's not going to make it to the finish line strong (or so I told myself). 
I re-settled back into 5:30's and just commited to the stupidity. I convinced myself that I was strong enough and stubborn enough to do it. 
The early fast pace also was taking its roll on a lot of dudes up in the front. I slowly continued to catch them, all while, holding my pace around 5:35. 
When reality set in I was at 22, and thankful for only having 4 miles left. I bit, clawed, prayed, begged for help to get me to the finish line. I kept telling myself that if I could hold it together I'm about to run 2:26-2:27! This thought was awesome!!! After one mile, of the four, 2:26 was out. Two miles to go I still thought 2:27-2:28 was possible, nope. I once again asked my for bearers for help but kept looking at the watch and seeing time being added, legs were junk and I was struggling. If surge here and there for a few strides but my race was done and I killed myself to run it in. 
Coming around the final turn I knew I could get 2:29 something if I could kick, and bye rhyming holy mustered enough of a kick for a 2:29:59... So, I can drop the seconds and say I'm a 2:29 guy. HahHa. 
8th overall, 1st VT!