This race is the only one on my schedule this year that is a trail race. I don’t remember why I picked it as one to do; likely because of where it falls in the training schedule. That, and trail races are hilly, and hills are speed work in disguise, as the saying goes. Also variety in training makes things a little less mundane.
I like trail running, and I especially love the 5 Peaks series. It’s a great set of races that prove to be an introduction to train running. A couple of years ago I signed up for the whole series, and ran all of them (except one). The races in Ontario range from easy to difficult, with several distances to choose from. Usually a shorter “Sport” distance, and a longer “Enduro” which is just another loop of the course. The race is very family oriented, with a 3km kids timed race and a free 1km little kids run. Another part of the 5 Peaks series that I like is the swag. They always have interesting things to give away at their races. In the past I’ve received pint glasses, hats, bib belts, jackets, and of course a Buff (one of the main sponsors). They also give away a lot of swag through door prizes and impromptu contests, like the “Whoever’s shoe lands on the podium wins” contest. For this race, the swag was a pair of socks, with the 5 Peaks logo and their motto on them. The colours were… a bit ugly… but I like them anyway.
I got to the race pretty early, because I had to do a 5km warm up. I chose to do it on the roads in the conservation park that the race was taking place in. I didn’t really know where I was going, I just went out to the road, picked a direction, and started. The road eventually ended, where I followed a trail to another road that took me out of the park, down the street, and down a rail trail. On my way back, it started to lightly rain. Overall my legs felt pretty good; I tried to go nice and slow and easy, but the worry about getting lost, and the fact that I was cutting it so close to the race start, made me nervous. I ended up being a bit faster than I should have for a warm up. Ah well.
I grabbed my belt with water from my car, and headed down to the start. The 5 Peaks series strives to be environmentally conscious, and this year went “cup-less”. The water stations on course had no disposable cups. If you wanted to drink, you filled a water bottle, or brought a cup. I usually don’t run with my water bottle, but with it being cup-less, and humid, I figured I’d need water on the course.
None of my friends were running this race, and I was curious if I’d meet anyone I knew. It didn’t take long; I bumped into my friend Ed in the parking lot, and in line at the start I saw and said hi to some more folks I knew from the RunWaterloo races, and ENDURrun. Nice to see familiar faces!
Ed and I started the race together. He was coming off an injury and wasn’t sure how he’d fare today. My plan was to just run strong and consistently, and walk as little as possible. The last time I ran this course, I ended up walking much of the second loop, as I hadn’t trained well for it, or any of the other races I’d ran that year. This time would be different!
The first part of the course was single track, and with all the people running it quickly bogged down to a walk. No big deal; I knew it would spread out later on. Once we hit a larger road like section I sped up and tried to stay between 5:30 and 6:00 min/km. The course was very twisty, but not as muddy as I’d thought, given all the rain we’d had that week. In the woods the air was still, and very humid. Pretty soon it started to rain a bit, which was actually welcome, as it was nice to help cool off. I didn’t notice the bugs being much of an issue while I was running, but when stoping to walk while taking a drink they would attack.
I ran up pretty much every hill on the first loop. Some hills were more like a shuffle, but I didn’t want to walk at all, so I kept moving. On the second loop, fatigue and humidity started to sap my strength, and I began power walking all the big hills, and running up the small ones. I also ran down all the downhills, and on the flats. I continued this through the second loop, and right to the finish.
Overall, I was very happy with this race. It was tough, but I felt that I wasn’t too conservative nor did I go out too fast and burn out. It was relaxed, and I felt good throughout and at the end. I also beat my time from last time by almost 4 minutes, so that’s a bonus.