The Golden Ears Bridge is a relatively new cable-stayed bridge in the Lower Mainland. It was opened a couple of years ago and connects Langley with communities across the Fraser River such as Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission. Being a bit of a geeky engineer I thought it was pretty cool to run right alongside the huge support cables and probably spent more time running staring up into the sky to the top of the piers than not.
Once we got to the other side we ran down the corkscrew pedestrian ramp, under the bridge, through a quick water stop and then back up the other corkscrew ramp and up to the opposite side of the bridge.
Uh oh, my squinty eye decided to make an appearance in that last shot. I can't control that unfortunately and don't even notice when it happens! Creepy. Anyhow, here's a shot of the whole bridge on my return back across...
By the time we crossed the bridge we were somewhere near 9 or 10km. I was still feeling great. As long as I stayed nice and relaxed and natural in gait then my knee didn't bother me at all. As soon as I'd think about it, I'd subconsciously compensate and then it would feel wonky. I had to remind myself lots during this race to relax and run naturally. I ended up listening to a lot more of the mellow tracks on my iPod and got lost in a lot of cool songs.
After the bridge we headed towards the river and passed this awesome sign put out by one the residents on the street we were running on...
I actually had to stop and walk for a minute because I was laughing so hard. This race was already going well and seeing such a funny sign kept me feeling happy. We soon turned onto a packed gravel trail that followed the river and it was just beautiful. By this point, still feeling good, I just had to admire the beautiful scenery on this run. It was right up my alley.
The gravel trails eventually led us onto some country roads through farmers fields and around the airport. This part was fairly long but I kind of enjoy the consistency of running along country roads. Its easy to get lost in your thoughts and just enjoy the music and carry on. And since I had to be extra careful about staying on level ground I appreciated the straight, flat roads.
It was somewhere during this part that I realized if I was still feeling good at the end of the run I could probably tack on an extra 8km and make up the full distance on my training schedule. Because I wasn't sure of how my knee would be, I hadn't planned to try and make up that extra distance but all was well so I figured I should honour my marathon training plan and get 'er done.
The final stretch was 4km of crushed gravel along the river. I hated this part. Flat, crushed gravel shouldn't be difficult or unpleasant but it was just uneven enough that it was putting a bit of extra strain on my knee. It wasn't a big deal but I felt kind of sore by the time I neared the finish line. I was so thankful to get off the gravel and onto the paved pathway. Since I'd pretty much made up my mind to add the extra distance after the finish line, I didn't bother sprinting to the finish. I came in at 2:16:16 which isn't that speedy for me anymore but considering I've been dealing with my pesky knee I couldn't have been happier about how the race went. I was super pleased to have kept my pace below 6:30/km.
I got my medal and jogged to the parking lot to drop off my race bib and medal in the car and refill my water bottles. We lucked out and it was totally dry and just perfect temperature-wise for the entire race. But wouldn't you know, as soon as I ran away from my car the rains started again. Great.
I decided to just head out along the first part of the course again and turn around at 4km to make up the extra 8km I needed. I did okay but this last part of the run wasn't nearly as awesome as the race. I was tired and my knee was feeling kind of tender from that stupid gravel trail. I was getting cold and my average pace was quite a bit slower than for the race. Oh well. I plodded along, got 'er done and was so thankful to get back to the car with 28.3 km under my belt. Oops, I miscalculate my turn around because I ended up about 700m short.
All in all, I really enjoyed this race. After a couple weeks of feeling bummed and uncertain because of my knee, it was a total confidence booster. Here are the details