Holy $h!tballs! Are you serious?! Train with an Elite? Umm yea.
Solana who is RD for the BC chapter of 5 Peaks posts to the FB group that Mike Murphy is doing a free training/orientation run. The training session was happening on May 3rd, a week before the actual race! Perfect.
Here's what the post stated: "Defending champion of the 2013 Golden Ears Enduro Race, and my good friend Mike Murphy is hosting an advanced orientation run of the Enduro course for the upcoming May 10th race.
Murph will be leading a modified run focusing on the Incline Climb trail, and the technical Eric Dunning downhill. This section will be run more than once, and Murph will be revealing some tips and tricks on mastering the gnarly sections of this race.
This is not for beginners, but you do not need to be able to keep up with Murph to attend (who can really?) you just need to be ready to FEEL THE PAIN!
This is a great opportunity to get out and run with an elite athlete from our community, and pick his brain!
Runners should be prepared for a 90 minute run, with lots of elevation! Get ready to burn! Bring water and fuel! "
Okay, so signing up and getting my butt over to the meeting point on the practice morning was no problem. We met up and got to chat about the plan for the day. There were 7 of us plus Mike, which was perfect since it made for a great chance to get a lot of one on one input and feedback.
|Nicole, me, Mike, Andy J, Sarah, Tall Mike, Carson, Jan & my dog Flash's butt|
We cruised at a super easy warm up pace along the undulating trail to the Incline trail and then Mike gave us his first official training of the day, aside from all the other nuggets he was sharing as we ran together. For the first ascent, he suggested we break the climb into 3 parts. He said that our 10k race pace per kilometre was how long each 1/3 would take. Okay, so I run a 4:20 to 4:30 pace per km on a 10k, so it ought to take me13:30 to get up this hill. The Incline trail is 1km distance with just short of 1000' feet of elevation. It's a straight up dirt and rock climb. My first ascent takes me 13:24. Damn Mike knows his stuff!!
|And they're off!|
|Mike Coaching the Minions|
|Incline is no joke!|
Before we do the Eric Dunning downhill, Mike gives us advice on attacking the descent. Look 15' feet ahead, no brakes, and flow with the trail. Our goal is to get orientated with the lefts and rights and where to push and where to pace. Of course, I love downhill, so once we get going I have a blast crashing down the single track. About halfway down, Mike comes flying by my right shoulder like I'm standing still. I'm clipping along at a 4:10 pace per km at the fast bits, and he must be going at least a minute per km faster. I swear squirrels exploded, bushes caught fire, and forest creatures weeped at the pending apocalypse of the Murph's destruction.
Once we hit the bottom, we waited for the last of the group, and then set off up the service road to do it all again. This time, with a couple of different goals.
For the second ascent, we were going to work solely on technique: power hiking and uphill running. Mike was running up and down the hill from lead to back and every person in between, adjusting our body angle, cadence, foot strike, muscle use, and positioning. It was simply awesome, and it made me realize that I was literally doing all my uphills wrong. I was struggling with the running angle, and the power hiking was easier to grasp for me. Using rocks to save my calves was a huge help and the whole section was more information and direct hands on experience in 20 minutes than I had experienced in a year and a half of trail running.
After reaching the top, we shook out the legs with a bit of jogging and then the descent part two was up. Here's the instructions: Push HARD for 10 seconds on the downhill. Way past comfort zone and much faster than we were used to running on technical single track. The 20 seconds break, where we slow it down, dial back the pace and recover. The recovery was supposed to be very chill, almost like a trot. Then back to 10 seconds of pushing at sprint level pace. Watch the vid I linked at the end of this blog for some bits and pieces of the day!
Okay, let's do this thing! Wow! What a fun way to experience a downhill. I run fast downhill, but generally as you get further into it, you slow down because there's only so much you can do for a fast 15 to 20 minutes of aggressive pacing. Doing it with this 10/20 system was basically a fast interval type training that allowed us to experience the trail coming at us at a much quicker pace, which when we were running at our regular "fast" pace would seem slower and hence more manageable. Brilliant.
While the total descent time was slower than the first descent, the individual 10 second sections were much faster (sub 4min per km). After meeting up at the bottom , we ran back to the parking area and promised to see each other in a week for race day!
The quality of Mike's coaching was amazing. Anyone that's ever met him knows he's the most chill and kind dude out there (he gave away all the stuff he won from his last race to crowd members!). I learned a ton, as did everyone else that day, and made some new friends.
I returned two days later with my wife and we did a double repeat of the Incline and Eric Dunning using the tips he gave. On my second climb on Monday, it clicked! My angle and technique for running up the steep hill suddenly felt "right" and I ran up the hill. Literally. I've never run up a hill like that, and it felt great. My heart rate was under control and my legs were great. I was stoked for race day.
But first, we had a night run planned on Wednesday!!
The Night Run
Doris, Avery and I were set to do a night run where we could play with our headlamps, figure out some tricky trail sections along the Baden Powell from Grouse heading to Lynn Valley. This area is very technical and not too runnable, which on the surface seems like a bad idea, but in reality keeps the pace slow and careful. With Doris, Andy H. and Vera all doing the Van 100k in a few weeks, and me pacing Andy for that event, we figured getting to know the trails in the dark would be a great idea, since the final 25k from Cleveland Dam to Deep Cove would likely be run at night.
We met up at 8:30 pm on the Wed night, and started with no headlamps in the fading twilight. This allowed our eyes to naturally adjust to the light. Once it darkened, we went full beam. Avery and I took up the back and Doris led the pack. I was joking with Avery that it's always the last person in the scary movies who disappears first. We were having fun with our darkness.
By the time we passed Mosquito Creek, and headed along the Mt. Fromme section it was dark as it was gonna get for a clear night. Once we hit 60 minutes we stopped, turned off the headlamps and stood in the dark. Here's our selfie.
|We Look GREAT!|
It was PITCH black! Very cool being in the middle of the woods like that.
We turned back (shooting for an hour one direction and then an hour return). As we got to the creek again, suddenly a scream from the dark charged at us! Avery, who was in front screamed a little (so much for a bigger guy protecting us!) lol
It was Alicia Woodside, local Ultra runner and super fast girl with a guy friend of hers. She figured she'd have a laugh. After a little chat, and me noticing that they had zero gear and one headlamp, the two forest fairies disappeared into the darkness.
We made it back to the side of Grouse Mt. and we took one wrong turn that took us up a section of Old BCMC. I started raising questions of the steepness of the slope and the rock scramble, and Doris noticed the tree marker was incorrect. We turned back and were only 10 minutes off course.
The final downhill into the Grouse section was pretty quick. We had adapted to the dark, and were moving at a decent clip along the trail given the terrain and lighting.
Here's the Strava for the night run
Here's the Strava for the night run
We got back to the cars with a negative split and were excited for the race that was taking place on Saturday.
5Peaks Golden Ears: Enduro & Sport Course!
The Saturday morning was calling for rain. Typical, as the shoulder days were warm and dry. We went early to avoid the rush and the set up was awesome. This was Solana's first race as RD, and the whole thing from start to finish was top notch. From registration, to booths, and the overall vibe were excellent.
|Registration, Buff Booth, MEC Booth, Salomon Booth, it was CRAZY!!|
We signed in and then the waves of runners started coming. We saw all the usual suspects, too many to name, but there were lots of morning hugs, high fives, and fist pumps. We spoke about the BMO marathon that a bunch of people raced on the previous Sunday (we were cheering like crazy in multiple places for that event, which was a hoot.)
|Russel, post BMO recovery run?!|
|Gordon, also post BMO recovery run?!!|
Before the race, talking with Chloe, she mentioned she wasn't racing since she had over trained for the week in mileage. Of course, then we see her as the rabbit for the kids 3k! She gets a quick head start and the kids rip after her. The pace was frantic and Chloe ended up getting in a pretty serious speed session. Too funny.
|Chloe. And she thought she was there just for support.|
My goal time for the race was sub 1:30, but anywhere from 1:20 to 1:29 would be great, since it was my first time on the actual full course (aside from the Incline repeats on Saturday and Monday, I hadn't run the other sections).
We staged up in the back of the second wave. Last year at Buntzen I was in the 3rd wave, but I found too much weaving for my liking so I pushed for wave 2 instead. It was good positioning for me and most of the passing or being passed happened smoothly and naturally.
The course was very well marked. Colin and Andy took off after the first water crossing, and my legs felt heavy on the first 4k. It normally takes me a bit to get warmed up, but Sean and I did a warm up jog before the start. It wasn't enough. I figure my lack of sleep the whole week played a factor. Next time I'm gonna do a 4k warm up for a shorter race.
Once I got to the Incline trail, I felt good. And for the first time in a race ever, I passed people going uphill! Thanks Mike!! I only got passed by a handful of people, and most of those I passed again on the descent. I looked back and it was awesome seeing a whole string of runners for hundreds of meters going up the mountain. Joseph, who I ran with at Sun Run, was supposed to be running but the Sun Run push injured his hip. I promised him I'd scream his name at the top of the Incline trail before the descent, so I breathed deep, turned to the forrest and yelled out, "Jo!!!!!" The runners behind me must have been rather confused. No mind, there was a fast downhill to come!
I pass three dudes on the way down and then another couple of people on the road to the next climb to the waterfall. My dead legs are long forgotten, and I feel really good. Lots of little water crossings, an undulating net climb (that in hindsight would have been good to train on because there's no real up, just kind of up, then a turn, then kind of more up etc.. It would have been nice to know where to push, and I went a bit softer on this than I should have), and then a rocky descent finishes this section. There's a tall guy with a massive stride and smooth flowing style over the wet rocks and roots cruising along ahead of me, and I use him as my "pacer" and race to keep him in sight. We cross the road seconds apart, see Melanie marshalling, give her a quick high five and push into the flowing woods on the other side.
By the time we hit the last km, his base pace is better than mine and I lose him in the final twists.
We crash through the river again and the beach front is there with the finish line in the distance. My kids are on the side, as is my wife, and they cheer me in, along with our friends Sean and Elaine who did the slightly shorter Sport distance. Sean even got a podium and medal for 3rd place in his age category!! Woo hoo!!
I feel great at the finish and had a fun and enjoyable race. Final time is 1:26:02. 79th place out of 181 finishers. Once again, solid mid-pack. Happy with that.
We headed out shortly after our last friends finished the race, and then made for home to cook a post race brunch before they came over for bacon, eggs, granola, bacon, tea, and champagne (and bacon).
|Melissa, first official trail race!|
|Elaine's glorious finish line pose!!|
|Doris, cruising in like it ain't no thang.|
A super fun week of training with an awesome first time on the Golden Ears course.
Coming up: Iron Knee 25k, Squamish 50 training run 42k, and Van 100 crew and pacing!!