Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 McNab Island Trail Run

Okay so the running has been going great. And I have the Bluenose Half marathon coming up. And I decided to run a half marathon trail run for fun 3 weeks in advance of said Bluenose race. Wise? Well who knows about wise, but fun? Yeah. And it was a fund raiser for the McNab Island Society, so that was nice.

Well for starters it wasn't quite a full half marathon (well that sounds weird), due to some course changes it was supposed to be 20 kms. Still a good run. It ended up being less, well for most, well anyway I will explain that later.

Early on Saturday morning we boarded the ferry for a ride out to McNabs Island in Halifax harbour. My wife and I were looking forward to this event especially because we had never been out here before. It is an interesting island with an interesting history. But I won't get into that.

One neat feature was that instead of race numbers, we had race names. Islands to be exact and somehow I ended up with java. Perfect for my coffee loving self.

I don't normally do trail runs. Sure I hike and I like to train on crusher dust trails, but a real trail run? Nope. I don't even have trail shoes, so I wore my old New Balance 890's. Maybe a bad choice but I survived. The course also had no water stops, so I had to bring my own drink with me, which I carry in a waste belt. Nothing like an extra pound of weight to lug around.

The course was described to us and was marked with small orange flags. A few volunteers were scattered around the Island to help guide us. I figured I would follow someone.

So off we started and I took it fairly easy at the beginning. The run started on large rounded gravel, then quickly switched to a nice smooth path. This lead to a dirt/grass path out and back and then back to the "road." Up and down the course went and finally we made it to the beach where we had to run through thick wet sand. Still it wasn't too crazy, yet. The beach turned into large beach stones and debris as we tried to avoid getting hit by the in coming tide. Eventually the ocean got my foot and it was soaked. Oh well. Up and over some fallen trees and an old piece of a wharf  then we turned back to the main road finally, but not before scrambling over thin board that was the sole bridge over a giant puddle.

Now here is the confusing bit. We were supposed to take a turn and go in land, but the volunteer I think was confused and waved us through and we continued down the main road, past the start and up a hill where we would do an out and back though thick grass and finally return to the start. That was one lap of two.

So here I was thinking, well that wasn't too bad, but then I noticed we hadn't done a full 10 km. So did I miss something. I was following all the leaders and people were behind me, so if I missed i I was glad we all did.

On the second pass through, we were finally given the go to turn towards the in land portion of the run. And what we missed the first time through made me glad I didn't have to run it twice. To start we climbed. Up, up, up then up some more. By the top I had slowed to an almost walk before we started to weave through a tight path and through marsh. I almost lost my sneaker twice. Over rocks, around boggy bits, then downhill and up and all of this was only about 3 km long, but what a 3 km it was. Sadly I came by a runner that had fallen and likely broken her ankle. Luckily for her she had a good crowd attending. My wife was running with her when she fell, so good on Elizabeth for tending to her immediately.

Eventually we came out on the main road. I had been running with the same group of guys for most of the time. We had one other guy with us for most of the first lap, but eventually he faded. I had nothing to speed and catch up with my two fellow runners so was quite happy when I ran across the finish line in 7th overall. With the "detour" the main race was only about 18 km long or so (my Garmin conked out - I think due to my needed to practically walk at points). I finished with a time of 1:18 and was glad with that. It bodes very well for my Bluenose time, as the Bluenose won't have all the crazy obstacles to deal with.

 So trail running? yeah, it is a blast and hard as heck. But I will probably lay off those until I A: get actually trail shoes and B: practice running on those. Ouch. I spent the next few days with really sore legs and a strained calf. Rest and a trip to my chiropractor helped get that sorted out.

Next up my first Duathlon of the season. Oh and new shoes, I always leave that too long.

Oh and Elizabeth was having a great race until she had to stop to help out. I think she is a trail runner at heart.
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