Coyote Lake. 1st on Brown, 4.4km, 110m climb, 12c. Start at 11:58. Surprisingly warm (mid-60's). Ground is chewed up but soft, so quite runnable.
Wore Speedcross trail shoes, but they weren't so good because it was a bit slick in the woods. Spikes would have been better.
Just as I got to the start, Evan was leaving with the last Brown map. We called him back; Graham (the Starter) copied the Brown course onto a Green map for me. Fortunately, this required the addition of only one control, #3(53), though once I was able to look at the map while running the first two controls, I had to sort out whether Green 3 was on my course (it wasn't), which slowed me down and contributed to my going to a ghost control near #2. Also had to deal with the fact that the numbering of controls on my map, starting with what was #4 for me, was off by four (e.g., my map showed "8" for #4).
My right knee was not good at all this morning. I wondered whether I would even be able to run today. Jogged all the way to the start (despite considerable climb) to try to get it warmed up. Once on the course, I felt a few twinges now and then, but it was basically fine.
Plan was to stay relaxed for the first 3 or 4, and then if I felt good, to try to really push it. In fact, it worked out exactly like that, though mostly by accident (details below). I ran really hard from #4 to #9, wore out quite a bit but kept close to the pace for the last few.
1. We were told that the first control would be common to all courses, 120m down a road. But I was a little slow because I was trying to make sense of how my Green map had been modified to become a Brown.
2. Continued along the road to the bend, looked downhill and saw a bag, so scrambled down the steep and somewhat slippery hillside. Still focused on determining whether Green 3 was on my course and, if not, where my (hand drawn) #3 was, so didn't pay much attention to #2 once I saw the bag. But as I left heading towards #3, I saw another bag nearby, realized I hadn't checked the code on the bag I'd punched, went back to look and it was the wrong code - yikes - went to the other bag and that was the correct one. Lost about a minute.
3. The long trail route to the left may have been optimal, but I came out here to practice not to run trails, so dismissed that as a possibility immediately. Mindful of the fact that with my shoes it was going to be slippery in the woods, was attracted to the indistinct trail through the woods NNW of #5 (#9 on my map). That would also mean running on less steep hillsides, so even though it meant a bit more climb, I chose that route. Ran pretty fast through the open areas to just W of #5/9, then took that trail, then followed the edge of the forest up. Walked that part, but it wasn't too bad. As I got near to just E of the N tip of the woods, could pick out all the vegetation ahead and navigated easily directly to the control, identifying the correct tree from a distance by virtue of the rootstock behind it. Note: my time on this leg was more than a minute faster than anyone else, so in some ways this is the leg that won the race for me.
4. On the walk up towards 3, planned the leg down to 4, and on the final approach to 3, picked out the exact trees I wanted to run by on the way to 4. So when I punched 4, didn't even need to look at my map, just headed back more or less the way I came, but then a little to the left using the trees I'd picked out on the way in. Down the hill alongside the trees on the spine of the spur. Intended to go around the rocky ground and then down through the finger of clearing pointing towards the control. Never saw the rocks (which should have bothered me more than it did), but persevered: it took a lot of concentration to get down the trashy and steep hillside. Finally came out into a big clearing with a jeep trail crossing ahead of me, and I was perplexed. Shouldn't have been, but it took me 10 to 15 seconds to realize the ditch couldn't be to my left (because where I was standing didn't look like anything to the right of the ditch plus I clearly did not go down the wooded hillside to the right of the ditch), so it must be to my right, so started heading that way and soon saw the ditch and knew I needed to climb up alongside it. Just then, saw Marie-Josee coming off the jeep trail heading for the ditch. Since I had a Green map, I was pretty sure she was heading for the same control I was. Got there just a head of her, and just after a 20-something guy I didn't know punched in. (Turned out to be Andrew Petersen, running Blue). Lost a bit over a minute. The mistake was that I intentionally went around the left side of the broad knoll before heading down but didn't curve enough to the right. In any case, should have gone right of the knoll and headed down near the ditch.
I did not want to be following Marie-Josee and/or Andrew, so took off in the direction of #5. Managed to stay ahead of both of them through the next four controls and almost all the way to #9. Those next 13 minutes or so were easily the best part of my run. That's how I need to run a middle course all the time (but don't often do).
5. Bolted for the finger of clearing pointing S. Through to the far end of that, angling up, then between the lone trees and the patch of woods, contouring around and nailed it. Turned out to be my best leg of the day (comparing with people on all the other courses, too). Didn't realize until seeing Winsplits that I'd opened up :28 on MJ and :13 on Andrew.
6. Heading into #5, spotted the lone tree down by the road that I wanted to go by on the way to #6. So left #5 without hesitation, heading for that tree. But the hillside was steep and slippery, and it was all I could do to run down and not fall - and in the process I wound up 25m left of where I wanted to be. Headed on a bearing towards the rocks on the knoll across the ditch, but the ditch was too steep so veered right for 15m before I could get across - and the rocks were now visible up ahead. From there ran hard on a rough compass and used the NW tip of the wooded area as an attack point. Once in the woods, I could see the ditch ahead.
7. A little hesitant coming out of #6, trying to match what I was seeing to the map. Andrew (who'd punched in 7 secs behind me) got a few steps ahead, but he headed left of where I wanted to go. Went up the hill through the narrow gap between the wooded patches (with Andrew now behind me) and followed the edge of the clearing to the thicket, curled around, and there was the control, and Steph M punching in.
8. Had managed to plan this in advance, so bolted for the saddle. Cut through the edge of the woods, then read the vegetation and rocks very well while on the run and nailed it. Andrew was 9 secs behind at this point, MJ 23.
9. Before I punched at 8, could see the plan for 9 was to contour to the second spur and then go down the spine to the rocks. But as I started that, a (insufficiently careful) glance at the map made me feel I would need to descend quite a bit (in fact, it was only one and a half contours), so instead of contouring, I angled down. As I started up the final spur, could see Andrew maybe 30m to my right, also ascending the spur, making me think that perhaps I'd descended too far. As I got close enough to the spine to see over it, I spotted the rocks right where Andrew was heading, not where I was heading. My legs were pretty tired now, so the climb back up was a struggle. Andrew punched 23 seconds ahead of me. As I was struggling up, MJ came in from a much better angle and punched 5 secs ahead of me.
More to come...
Based on the stats and on a previous run in the park a few years ago, thought it would be a good day if I could get under 50, and a great day if I could get under 45, so was quite pleased with this result. Still, lost a minute or so at #2 and also #4, and a half a minute each at #9 and #10.