Greg and I ran the Pick your Poison 25k trail race around the ski hills at Horseshoe Valley in Orillia this morning. PYP has the reputation for being a challenging course, and it was very hilly, with very few flat sections. The course was 2 loops of 12.5k. I was nervous going into the race. I wasn't sure what kind of time I could run, and I was afraid that when I pushed hard, I was going to give up and stop.
I have been working with a coach - Derrick Spafford http://healthandadventure.com/ and he wanted me to ease into the race, and push during the 2nd lap. This sounded good, and it is the opposite of the way I used to run my 25k races. I used to run hard from the gun and hold on for dear life to the end. I don't think I'm tough enough mentally for that kind of running the moment, so I liked Derrick's race plan.
Greg and I lined up mid-pack and we were off. I started the race at what I thought was a reasonable pace, and stayed in a mid-pack position for the first part of the first lap. The hills started coming. At first they were little rollers in the heavily wooded area, then they got bigger and wound their way up big inclines. I was already going slower than I would regularly go, and I started to become anxious about how much I was struggling to climb these huge hills.
Looking back, everyone struggles to climb giant hills, so I needed to just calm down and keep moving forward, but I wasn't handling the hills very well at first. Greg could tell that I wasn't doing well, so he would wait at the top of the hills for me, and encourage me as I climbed. He would joke with me and distract me and soon I was reminded of one thing that I LOVE about trail running - the downhills. Oh wow, there were some great downhill sections on this course! I haven't run that fast on downhills for a few years. It was so much fun. There was a big downhill leading to the start/finish area, so starting my 2nd lap, I was feeling a lot better.
We ran through at around 1:09. I told Greg to go ahead. I knew he wanted to run 2:15 on that course, and he would have to pick it up to do it. Greg pulled ahead, and I followed. I kept him in sight the entire 2nd lap, and managed the climbs a lot better. Greg finished 8th overall in 2:16 - I felt guilty about him not achieving his goal, but he is amazing and said that he wasn't really running today for a specific time, he was doing it for me. I am sure that if he didn't wait around for me in the first half, he would have run well under his goal time. I am very lucky to have a husband like Greg. The race today would have been a lot different without him.
I came through the finish in 2:17, 10th overall. I was happy that I had run the second lap faster than the first (negative split). The official results have me at 1:08:48 for the first lap and 1:08:21 for the second. I never negative split. I was really happy about that - that was thanks to the advice of my coach Derrick. I had no idea where I finished among the women, and I was surprised to learn that I finished 2nd. I got a merchandise prize - which I immediately gave to Greg (who needed a new backpack - love how that worked out), and we drove home together feeling good about our races.
For the results check out this link: http://www.zone4.ca/results.asp?ID=7518&cat=all
Also - George Sarson (Co -Race Director for the Run for the Toad Race http://www.runforthetoad.com/) was running his first race in 5 years today. He has been struggling with problems with his heart (requiring surgery a few years ago). His condition has improved and he was really excited to be running the 25k today. That was so inspiring to see. I am happy to see you back on the trail George! Best wishes to many more trail races in the future. George and his wife Peggy were my introduction to long distance trail running in 2002 in the early planning stages of the first Run for the Toad course. They are wonderful people.