Cap Crusher 13K March 19, 2017
After Run Ridge Run 25K the runners were playing trivia to win free swag. Thanks to my speedy maths skills I won an entry to the next race in the Coast Mountain Trail Series: Cap Crusher. And so it was that I found myself at the start line of yet another race.
This event was simply going to be a training race as I prep for Diez Vista 100K—which I will be running in three weeks. The goal for Cap Crusher was to run at a steady pace and to stay out of the “red.” I was putting very little emphasis on the result. Instead, I was putting my focus on the process. Since the result was superfluous I was able to relax with my preparation. I had no taper, I did a long run the day before, and I ate my normal fare leading up to the race. The race was just another run.
In the morning I made my standard smoothie loaded with fruit and everyday superfoods for athletic performance such as bananas, beet leaves and cocoa nibs. I made a cup of black tea to compensate for a short sleep—six hours compared to the usual nine or ten.
It was chilly when we arrived to the Cleveland Damn, but the presence of the mountains made up for the cold. I cheerfully signed in and grabbed my number.
After abrief warm-up I made my way to the starting chute. After the announcements I tossed my jacket to my mom and joined the throng of runners. The gun went and the race began.
As I started running I felt very relaxed, and very happy. The race was relatively short. Normally this would mean a very hard—albeit short—effort. But I needed to put the horse before the cart. I had to think “big picture”; this was a training run for an even bigger event. Knowing that I did not need to bury myself in pain was freeing.
I settled into a comfortably hard effort. I started to encourage all the runners I saw while thanking all the volunteers at every corner. I did my best to keep my heart rate down and the lactic acid from building up in my legs on the climbs. On the downhills I free-wheeled. This is where I made up time. Since I was not gasping for breath at the crest of the climbs I was able to run with ease on the downhills. I ignored my watch and just ran. It was liberating!
At the forty minute mark I sucked back a homemade gel which was mixed with water. I had placed the concoction in a small flask which I had then stuffed into my shorts. It was a short race and thus fuel requirements were minimal.
The course felt like a spiderweb. It constantly changed direction—making smaller loops inside larger ones. If I had to re-run the course I would get lost. However, all I had to do was chase the next pink flag until the next junction where someone would happily point me in the right direction.
As far as technicality goes, this course was relatively easy. It was a runners course—apart from some tree roots and stairs. The race was largely ran in the forest with views of the damn; the water thundered downstream as runners zipped by. Up above, and through the trees, the sky was blue, and the sun shone.
After passing the halfway point I was feeling good. I was slowly catching runners ahead of me—who perhaps had started out too quickly. My conservative start meant I was finishing strong. At nine kilometres I ran passed the start and waved to my family.
At four kilometres to go I still had a grin on my face. I saw a few runners ahead of me, and I resisted the urge to run faster. Besides I was having so much fun gliding along the course at my current speed. It seemed a shame to be “hurting” during this race when a comfortable—yet still quick pace—existed just a few heartbeats lower. I continued to run with a childlike sense of fun.
On the final set of stairs I lifted my effortjust a tad. As I reached the top I could feel the lactic acid building up in my legs as my breathing grew heavy. “It’s all downhill to the finish!” The course marshal told me. I thanked her and went on my way.
I sprinted downhill and ran across the Cleveland Damn. The sun was shining in my eyes and sweat dripped off my face. Up ahead I saw the black Solomon finishing arch.
As I approached the finishing line I slowed down. I placed my hands on the ground and lifted my legs high into the air, executing a respectable cartwheel. I took a bow and gave the race organizer a high-five earning a chuckle from the spectators. I saw my family and their smiles reflected mine.
I returned to my van and ate some food. Then I filled up my water flask and stuffed some fruit into my shorts; I was ready for the second half of my run. The race was over but my training for the day was not. Still abuzz from how fun the race was—or perhaps the caffeine—I ran with glee. I finished my training, thanked the organizer for the event and left.
Before going home I stopped off at a running store to buy a pair of shoes. Daniel—who had flagged the course—was now working at the running store. He pulled up the results and showed me that I finished in 9th place with a time of 1:11.02. Ninth! I was surprised. I likely could have ran quicker if I had pushed it, but perhaps not. Perhaps steady and comfortable is better than starting too hard and running (pun intended) out of steam. I immediately knew there was a lesson to be had.
I had had fun. I did not beat myself into submission. And I had received a good result. I thought back to other races where I had pushed it to the max. I wondered if I had approached those races with the same mentality as I had today, if things would be different. I will never know. But what I do know is that fun and love is the way to go. When you have fun and love what you are doing then the results will come. And if they don’t, well you are still having fun, aren’t you?