Monday, September 27, 2010

Buntzen Lake Trail Race – 5 Peaks Series

Saturday was the last trail race of the 5 Peaks at Buntzen Lake.

I was a little anxious because since the Mount Seymour Race in late July I have been on the trails exactly once

August was just a hectic month and I was completely focused on the training for Gran Fondo and New York so the Saturday trail runs were shelved. We did not even go preview the trail so we were going in blind. …. Special K and Pam were feeling the same way – they each got 1 more run on the trails than I and Special K needed to take this race to win the series for her division – Athena.

So all told we headed out early to make sure we got a parking spot – yep we were like the first ones there – now to wait for 2.5 hours…. At least there was free coffee. Oddly the time went by quick and then it was go time.

They start the races in waves of 2 minutes just so we are not all tripping over each other. Special K went to the front and Pam and I took our customary spots near the back in one of the last waves. I mean we have timing chips so time starts when we cross and I don’t like 200 runners having to try and pass me while I am inching my way down some goat trail trying not to break my neck! Best they start off in front and then I can have a peaceful enjoyable race  - Pam agrees with me.

The race started off uneventful at about 10 minutes in I felt humble as I was passed by the first half marathoner – they started an hour prior to us. That means that he was 15 km in to his race in the trails in an hour – wow that is one fast peep.

Next came the climbs and as usual I zipped up along passing everyone – I love climbing – but as always what goes up must come down and I was like get up as fast as you can so you have a time cushion for your cautious climb back down. The climb went on for quite a while to the point where I was even starting to think yeesh and then it flattened out nicely for a bit. The flat was great it was pretty wide not a lot of rocks or divots more like a big field so I was happy and could keep a good clip going.

Always at the back of mind that the next corner would be the downhill well it was and to my surprise it was a nice wide trail no big rocks, roots, divots. It was like the trails we run in Stanley Park all the time – YEEHAH - I actually laughed out loud and started booking it. Look out Special K here I come.

It was like they made this course for me – Finally a course I could run hard on in all sections! I passed so many people coming down the hills; I flew along the flats and climbed like a little mountain goat. I have to say it was nirvana for me. I mean every other race in this series I had been solidly whipped by the downhills; I finished near the back of my age group and the overall race. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the races and new it was a learning experience for me so I was not upset by it but being as competitive as I am it was humbling to say the least. So this was a nice treat after a whole season of eating humble pie.

Final time – 51:46 – YEAH. No I did not catch Special K her time 50:55 – she used to be a downhill ski racer so I am not sure I will ever be able to catch her on a trail race just because of that but I am getting closer……..

Oh and yes she won the race on Saturday and took the title for the series for her Division. She rocked it out. Pam finished a few minutes after me so she had a great race to.

Overall the race was great and the after BBQ was awesome. The series is very well run – Kathleen and her crew do a great job from the great course, lots of volunteers, great marking of the course to the awesome swag and door prizes at each race. I am definitely doing this series again next year and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new challenge/adventure.

Peace out
Shaun

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gran Fondo - AWESOME

This past weekend the Zimich Girls raced in the inaugural RBC Gran Fondo - Vancouver - Whistler bike race.  It was amazing!!!!!

They had been calling for rain day of thankfully the weather gods took mercy on us and we had the most amazing weather!   Clear skies and not too hot.  It was perfect.

Our team origianlly had 8 - we made it to the start line with 5 - sort of.  Barb Zimich - our coach had recovered enough from her accident last hear - broken femur that she decided to race and happy to report she won 2nd in her division!  A couple of other ladies decided that they had not prepared well enough and we had one lady down with an injury so now we were 4. 

I was pretty anxious in the few days prior and especially on Friday and mentioned it to Coach B - she said in her own way I would be fine.  My anxiety was not from the ride - I knew I could do the ride in spades it was from riding with a team in a large group and knowing that we each had our jobs and I did not want to let the team down.  It is one thing to ride for yourself - I mean if it all goes to hell in a hand basket then it is your problem but on a team if that happens 3 other people's days are messed up to.  I wanted to make sure I did my work and contributed to a successful day and also tamped down my competitive spirit so that we stayed together. 

We found each other and crossed the start together which was harder than you can imagine with 4000 riders all hopping down the road to the start line.  But we got there and set off in our pace line - riding over the Lions Gate down the driving lanes was awesome - much prefer it to the tiny sidewalk!  We hit the first climb, Taylor Way,  and it was time for me to start my work - I just settled in and the climb went very nicely - Heather who I have only ridden with once before - is also a great climber so it was nice to work with her on the uphills.  We had agreed that when we got to the top we would regroup so we would head out on to the highway as a group of  4 and have a better chance of working together. 

I was quite amazed at the number of flat tires that we had seen on the road in the early stages.  Thankfully Judith had flatted twice for us in the previous 24 hours so we were covered for the day.  The ride out to Horseshoe Bay was great and then when we hit the first downhill we  sadly saw a rider down and injured badly - he is still in the hospital with a head injury - it rattled all of us. Especially me because when we came up on it we all had to slow down and a rider came flying up the inside before he realized he had to stop and was basically between me and the centre concrete median - he was yelling whoa and I had nowhere to go without taking out a bunch of riders - fortunately I was able to hold my line and not take out anyone but he grinded his bike along that centre meridian pretty badly - I felt awful - still do - but I really had nowhere to go.  Everyone around me assured me that there was nothing I could do. I hope his bike is okay...

After that we all settled in quite nicely - we had all ridden to Lions Bay before and well I used to live out there so I knew that portion very well and then we got to the other side - and there were a couple of big climbs - time to go to work - our team did well - as I mentioned Heather is a great climber so it was nice to have someone to work with on the front.  Cindy is an amazing downhiller and Judith is great a closing the gap and jumping on the wheel so we could stay as a group - it worked well.  Heather and I would work to get us up and if the girls fell off we did not worry too much because Cindy would get them back to us and on the flats Judith would help us jump up to the next group as well as work with Heather so that she stayed with us on the downhill since she was pretty nervous on the downhills. 

We stopped in Squamish for potty break and well I had a little glass of wine they were giving out and then off we were again.  The next 60 km was pretty much false flats and uphills so I figured I desereved a glass of wine.  Heather and I agreed that if we got too far ahead on the climbs we would wait at the top and it worked well as we never waited more than a minute or so and only stopped a few times.  It was mentioned at one time that if Heather and I wanted to we could go but we said no - we came up as a team and we would finish as a team - this was to be fun - besides the fact my legs were tired! 

We did we crossed the finish line 4 abreast and it was great - Coach B would have been proud - total time on the road was 5:40  - with our 2 breaks that were about 30 minutes in total we figure we did 5:10.  I am satisfied with that.  The race was well organized and we really enjoyed the course and after BBQ and such - we have all agreed to do it again next year and well I have already registered - it opened about 2 hours ago! 
The plan is to shoot for sub 5 hours - no breaks - I know we can do it.

Just an awesome day all round with my awesome riding pals.  Next up the last trail race of the season in 2 weeks. 

Peace out
Shaun

Thursday, September 2, 2010

IRONMAN 2010

This past weekend was Ironman Canada in Penticton - it was amazing! I was not competing I went up to volunteer, cheer, support, and just overall soak up the atmosphere.   I love this weekend.

There were many times I had to stop and take a breath because all of the sudden I would  stop and remember a certain memory about  like last year when I was competing and be amazed that I had actually done this, that I was alumni - wow. 

The energy from the moment I arrived in town on Saturday morning was electric.  I knew so many people who were competing.  There was Cindy, Darin and Rochelle - Zimich Team mates.  My massage therapist - Kenji and running buddies - Tina, Henry, and Melinda just to name a few.

First thing I did on Saturday morning was "treat" myself to a bike ride - I rode out along the course to OK falls turned around and on the way back rode UP  a VERY steep hill to the Blasted Church Winery.  I have been deteremined to go there for the last 3 years - everytime I ride the course I see the sign and think I need to go there so as a reward to myself for doing my ride I got to ride to the winery and buy some wine.  I got a lovely merlot and white which I will open on a special occasion - I then packed them in my backpack and rode back to town in BRUTAL headwinds.  They were awful and all I could think was I sure hope it dies down tomorrow for everyone - this is nasty! 

When I got back to town and I went and picked up my volunteer shirt - I figured it was time to give back to the race - so I volunteered as a wet-suit stripper. Plus I really wanted to "strip" all my friends.   It was super fun!  I got to strip Tina and Cindy and yell at Darin and Henry - I was so proud of them all.  Not to mention all the other swimmers - it was really awesome to strip them, congratulate them on a great swim and wish them luck on thier bike ride. 

I think next time I will do another job just to experience another part of the race but I did love it and will definately volunteer again.  The adrenaline rush is awesome as you want to get the suit off the athlete as fast as possible and get them on their way for the "wee" bike ride.  I got kicked in the throat, stepped on and almost cold-cocked by one guy.  When I was pulling off his suit another swimmer running by kicked him in the head so he came up ready to swing.  Fortunately I was quick and grabbed his arm before he let loose and talked him down.  Honestly he was over 6 ft and a big boy if had hit me I would have been out - that is a sure thing.  There was the excitement of the pro's coming out of the water - most did not want to be stripped but the lead lady came out and there was trouble with her suit - the zipper jammed - after people were fussing with it for about 2 mintues she ran off to the tent with it still on - not sure how they got it off her.   I tell you though I stayed way the heck away on that one - I did not want feel I had affected her day.  In the end I heard she got caught on the bike at the out & Back so I guess the wet suit did not affect her day overall thankfully.  Then there was the heartbreak of watching a lady come out  4 min past cut-off and know that her day was done.  But I am sure she will be back because Sister Magdalena (sp?) was waiting for her and walked with her to the change tent.  The sister had problems with her wetsuit and had to pullout- the first Ironman she has ever pulled out in after being in over 40 races.   Yep I would say volunteer - the experience was amazing. 

After my shift I had to get out for my 19km run so I ran along Kettle Valley trail - it is stunning - I had never run it before up on the bluff and would recommend it to anyone.  On the way back I could see the clouds moving in and thought to myself -uh oh.   I made it back before it started raining but apparently around the same time I got back 12:30 or so the folks at the top of Yellow Lake were not having a great go of it.  The skies opened up and at one point there was hail!!  Makes last years 37 degrees and smoke seem like a picnic....  Apparently there were a lot of crashes as the wind was brutal and the roads were slick. 

When I got back I changed hooked up with some other friends and we settled into our cheering mode - chairs out on the strip and enthusiasm in hand.  I stayed out there until 8:30pm or so cheering and then had to leave as Joe was flying in to Kelowna so he could sign-up the next day and I had to pick him up at the airport.  But I did get to see Darin and Kenji finish and knew that all the others were safely on the run course and on their way home. 

The next morning got up and headed down for registration - NO not me - Joe.  yes after 4 hours of waiting I am super excited and very proud to say that my hubby JOE is registered and this time next year will be an Ironman.  I have already lined up our hotel on the strip and am planning my ensemble for next year.  I am hoping to volunteer at the finish line so I can hand him his medal like he did mine.  I can hardly wait.

Peace out Shaun