Sunday, November 10, 2019

Flyin' Nutz Trail Run 2019

Well the season ending race for me the last two years has been Flyin Nutz. This is a 10 (ish) km trail run near Halifax. The course is constant up and down with about 290 (ish) meters of elevation gain, almost all on single track with switch backs. It is hard to get an exact distance as GPS in the woods can be a bit of a guessing game some days.

Last year it was warm and rainy. This year we had sun. But in November sun often means cold and it certainly was. -2C with a decent wind when we arrived at sign in. Oh and it had snowed the night before.  Now the snow was minor, but it has it's own issues. It hides some tough footing on the trail and it makes roots and rocks really slippery.

Craig and I did a brief course recon / warm up for the first kilometer of the route and it didn't seem too bad. We headed back to the start, debated clothing choices, and then made our way to the start line.

Soon we were off. The start is a tough one with the route immediately funneling down to a narrow path. You need to get their quick if you want to take advantage of clear trail. I made it there first last year, second this year. Mike made it there first and we both tore up the tough 100m climb to get going. Once up, he was kind and let me by and I took off. This section is pretty flat, so it is a good time to get some speed in. Then another short but tough climb and the main single track begins. 

I pushed hard in this section and could feel the other runners breathing down my back. 

The first tricky section is really marked well and volunteers guide you through it all. The hard part is actually figuring out how close others are to you, due to all the switch backs that are short and tight. 

I had actually pulled out a small lead at this point and push hard to climb a hill and gain more advantage. Then it was sort of a head down tough section following this. Last year it was shortly after this point where I tan straight and missed a turn. Well I got through that section, then missed a turn and went straight in a new area. Lead was blown again. I actually laughed out loud but turned back and headed on again. This year I think I went about an extra 500m, but it was fast running and I wasted little time in pushing back. Still, I lost the lead and had no clue by how much.

I started to work my way back through the field (I think I fell to about 10th). This hurt as I was now running a little faster than I had hoped to. Soon I was coming up on the toughest section in the middle, tough due to the harsh decent and climb at the start and finish of it. I just passed what was third place and the two of us entered this section together. 

I could feel him right on my back for most of it, but I guess I pushed a bit and gaped him soon enough. I reached back to the crazy climb out of the lake side section and pushed to go up. Jodi said that the next runner had just crested this climb so I gave it a good go. 

Now I was running into the middle and back of the field as I worked my way back to the start.  I was gunning hard and finally found out I was actually in third (I was confused as to whether I was third or in third). Part of me said, whew, back on the podium and a clear trail behind you, so don't worry. Part of me said, giv'r. Part two was winning. 

I passed Dave and he said, the next runner was about 1.5 minutes ahead. That's a good chunk of time, but I figured, at least I would have a decent overall time if I kept pushing hard. No more power walks up the steep inclines, I need to keep going. I took some risks and then started to see flashes of blue up in the woods ahead. So now the reality of regaining second was there.

We started through the tight switch backs with around 2 kilometers to go and I was now seeing the ground between myself and second closing. The legs were not happy, the lungs hurt, but the heart was strong and telling me, let's do this.

I caught second finally and he was really decent again about letting me by. He tagged on and pushed along with me but I managed a small gap. Then with about 1 kilometer to go I caught 1st and passed to regain the lead. 

This section started with a super crazy down hill of about 200 meters which I went down in a  fairly uncontrollable, risky, but in my mind justified manner. The bottom I knew was fast (with a few tough rocky bits), so if I hit it quickly, I could take advantage of the burst of speed before second place could. Then soon I was out on the pipe line section and was able to really open up the stride. I finally looked back and saw a bit of empty space. Really at this point I just had to remain safe. But I wanted to get a fast time, so i pushed it a little more. 

I popped back into the woods one more time, then out into the open and to the finish line. Needless to say, I worked hard this year, way harder than last year and finished in 1:03, 1 minute faster than last year.


Thanks to NS Trail Runners for organizing this, thanks to the sun for coming out, thanks to the other runners who were really decent when a faster runner came upon them, and thanks to the BLT Runners who came out to compete and enjoy the run as well. It is best with a group.