Race recap: Cowichan Autumn Classic ‘Run now, wine later’

I ran this race last year and quite enjoyed the autumnal, small and cozy atmosphere of it- the fall colours, the winery, everything! So I signed up as an early bird this year and promptly forgot that I had signed up…Literally falling two weeks after my marathon debut. NOT great timing I guess?

But it took only about a week for my legs to stop feeling like total mush, and for my blisters to heal over and I felt fairly confident that it was going to be ok.

And then I got really sick…and dealt with a strong emotional blow with Tucker, and struggling with the after effects of the COVID+flu shot. Do not recommend, at all. Basically knocked me on my ass Thur/Fri/Sat. And race on Sunday? Yikes.

I slowly started feeling a bit better, but now it’s even Friday after having a cold and things for over a week and I am STILL snotty and nose blowing/coughing up stuff. WTF? My sinuses hurt man.

So last Sunday was not really an auspicious day at all but I’d signed up, felt reasonably ok but not great, and we did it! Ian signed up for the 5k just for something to do. When we drove up island, it was absolutely freezing, with frost on the ground. I was in shock. Two weeks ago we had a heat warning for the marathon, over 20 deg, and now frost? Damn! Luckily I planned ahead a little bit and brought my run gloves, but otherwise was in for a real slap to the face. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr… Plus we were running kind of late, we forgot how long it really took to get up there (an hour, apparently) and I was like arghhhh!

But, all worked out for the best! We hustled and got our bibs, raced to the bathrooms (not long lineups, thank GOD), didn’t have time to put our bibs in the draw 😦 and jogged to the start of the 5k. I was racing both 5k and 10k in a combined race ‘the combo’ where your times are added up and the fastest time wins.

We started and Ian and I were easily right in the leaders pack. I was pacing myself to a reasonable not great time- I didn’t really have the lung capacity to race super fast and my legs were frozen. Plus I wanted to be careful about not killing my lungs for the 10k. Burnout isn’t fun and when I start coughing, I really can’t stop!

It’s a super hilly course- up and down, with the downhill sections being very steep! There is also 1km section through a bit of trail, which is flat but very pitted with potholes, haha. So you went up-down-up-down on that part. I was reminded, with relief, how short a 5k is.

I cruised to a 22:?? and felt good about that. Hard effort but not killing myself. It still felt extremely cold. I then hung out for a bit waiting for the 10k to start. Ian finished ahead of me with a 20:?? which is a great effort- this isn’t a fast track by any stretch of the imagination!

Then the 10k- I learned my lesson from last year and started at the front. Last year I basically ran as hard as I could for the 5k and jogged the 10k…which was a mistake, b/c the combine the times and my 10k was just so.slow! Hit the middle for both, that’s the way to go.

We had more trail sections in the 10k course which was pretty good, but I am always surprised by how slow gravel feels compared with pavement. It is an excellently- marked course, very clear course markers and safe. Still damn hilly, haha. I didn’t really pass anyone, and nobody really passed me much.

It finally started to warm up (well, my body heat was going nuts haha) so I could take off my gloves the last 2-3 kms. A guy running ahead of me shouted that he wished he had my gloves earlier in the race 😉 I was SO thankful I had them. Lifesavers.

I tried to pull myself together for a stronger finish but kind of…blaaahhhhed my way. I felt strong, but nowhere near the lung capacity I could potentially have. That’s ok! I was done within my goal range (45 mintues) just squeaked under 46 hahah.

And it was good for 2nd place women in the combo race, Ian tied me with a 2nd in his 5k for the men’s, and we even got to do a complimentary wine tasting at Zenatta winery! Win-win eh??

This is a fun local race, quite small but well run with excellent and safe courses marked, good volunteers (thank you!!) and nice post-race snacks.

Gidget goes for a kayak ride!

The weather was SO NICE this weekend- just phenomenal. Very warm for February (which isn’t unheard of here, but last year was really nasty) I loved it! We went for a long walk after Oats’ farrier appointment/our riding on Saturday, and then on Sunday we had the trifecta: Our first VIRA race of the season (the first race was cancelled due to snow/ice, the second one we were in Mexico for, so voila!) and then I went riding while Ian went to buy life jackets with Gidget, and then we got the inflatable kayak Ian got for Christmas and went for a paddle after the barn!

What a great day!

The kayak requires a few kinks to be work out: Seats, leaking, etc. But we are going to figure it out and enjoy ourselves 🙂

Gidget seemed to be having an ok time too!

I just wasn’t made for these times

So, in these strange new days, my husband and I don’t have a lot going on during the weekends (well now I have jumping and he has climbing) but we got into a routine of doing a mega run or trail run/hike day on Sunday.

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About halfway up?

A big one, where we pack food, drinks, camelbak, and hoof it out for hours to a new place! Lately we were exploring sections of the Galloping Goose (just running), after a few mountain excursions, but this weekend we returned to the mountains… Heather mountain, in Youbou.

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See the trees at the very top? That is where the trail begins! 

I have never even been to Youbou (it is just past Lake Cowichan, from Duncan), so it was all new and strange to me, ha. And quite a long drive from where we live, with large sections of gravel road.

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We made it after shooting past the (fairly unmarked) turnoff, and jogged up the trail for a ways. We made 1 false move by following a trail we thought was the one, and we were confronted by an angry grouse pretty much immediately! Ha! Ian screamed and was pretty surprised. After that the trail turned into bushwacking and I hated it. I got scratched to pieces, ugh and was like NO WAY are we doing this for hours.

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Nearer to the top

We struggled through and then returned to the main road, and followed that to a trail- that- thank god- was wide and well maintained. The only thing we didn’t realize is that it takes forever– like 2.5 hours- to get to the actual top of the mountain trail above the treeline. So by the time we ran there, we were freaking spent and tired.

We also noticed the trail had tons of bear poop on it. TONS. Yikes! At that point I would be surprised if we didn’t see a bear…

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So we finally made it to the top of the trail and I backed down. It was steep, closed in and really high up= triggering all of my vertigo. Yikes!!!! We called it there (ok, well I called it..) and then jogged back down. We stopped for a snack and a drink and I spotted the bear- finally!

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Mr. Bear! 

He was ambling around the path, sniffing and stuff. We watched for a bit and then decided to shout, to scare the bear off the path that we had to go down. He immediately lumbered off and we got down to the path where he had been- and wow you guys, bears go FAST. He was already halfway back up the mountain in like 3 minutes?!

Lucky for us it was the only bear we saw, and it was a safe bear situation. Phew!

We got down with no other interactions and back to the car. A long day but a good one 🙂