Sunday, April 6, 2008

A great week in Canada, eh.

Two trips to Canada in one week? I may ordinarily go two times in a year, but with Eddie Vedder playing his first ever solo show, the week was far from ordinary. For each of the past three years, the Diez Vista 50k has been the reason for one of my bi-annual jaunts to the Great White North, and this year was no exception. It just so happened that both EV's show and Diez Vista fell into the same week. With work in between, there was no choice but to make two trips across the border. Good times, eh?

Eddie Vedder played at the Centre in downtown Vancouver. It's a magnificent venue that seats about 1800 people. Being a PJ fanclub member, I was able to pre-purchase tickets to the show. However, the tickets had to be picked up at will call the day of the show. Because the fanclub tickets were randomly assigned, Andrea and I didn't know, until arriving at the venue, where we would be sitting. We were pleasantly surprised to find our seats dead center in the 10th row. Incredible!

Liam Finn, the son of Split Enz and Crowded House member Neil Finn, opened the show. He played a very inspired half hour set. The crowd seemed really into Liam, especially considering he was all that stood between them and Eddie. I must say, Liam Finn was probably the finest opening act I've ever seen. As his set closed, I felt ready to burst with anticipation for what was to come.

Hours seemed to pass as the stage crew carefully pieced together EV's simple, living room-like stage setup. Finally the lights dimmed and Eddie Vedder took the stage, armed only with an acoustic guitar. He must have played 4 or 5 songs before eventually acknowledging the crowd. He seemed, at least initially, to be a bit nervous. With each passing song, he became more and more at ease, and by the end of the night, he was even telling dirty jokes. Who'd have thunk, eh? Well the show was fantastic, and I feel so lucky to have been able to see my favorite musician in such a stripped down, intimate environment. For those of you who haven't yet, do yourself a favor and go buy Into the Wild. It's a brilliant album.

Speaking of brilliant, the Alabama Hammer and I neglected to take notice of the start time of the Diez Vista 50k. Having left Seattle at 3:45 am and experiencing a few navigational glitches, we arrived at the Diez Vista start just after 7 am. We were taking our time sorting through our race goodies when we suddenly wondered where everyone was. At 7:25, we asked the woman next to us what time the race started. I nearly panicked when she said that it started in five minutes. Cripes! How could we have missed that little detail?

Having hastily gathered our race necessities, we arrived at the starting line with only moments to spare. Race director Paul Slaymaker reminded us of the course change from years prior and we were off just like that. Whew! We had just barely made it.

Since I don't really care to go into blow by blow details of the race, I'll just give you my own abridged account. I set off at a steady clip. Having trained up to the race, my legs weren't optimally rested, but they felt pretty good. As the course transitioned from double track to incredibly technical single track, I became hyper-focused on every precise foot placement. To allow your mind to wander, even for a split second, could cost you your running career or worse on this terrain. I wiped out once, but I bounced right back up without missing a beat.

As much as I enjoy the steep, technical descents, I was relieved to pop out onto the more runnable road sections that make up the middle of the course. I was able to comfortably push the pace through the third aid station and beyond. Somewhere about half way between aid stations 3 and 4, my motivation began to slightly wane. I arrived at the 4th aid station in 2nd place, but 2 other runners shadowed me, only seconds behind.

Seeing the two other runners provided a much needed kick in the ass, and I felt a little more energized running back uphill toward the fifth and final aid station. Unfortunately I was overtaken by Gary Robbins, and as hard as I tried, I didn't have the kick to stick with him through the final few miles. I ended up 3rd overall in a time of 4:27. Even having won the race 2 of the last 3 years, this was my fastest time by over 5 minutes.

Not a bad week in Canada, eh?


Scotty said...

Hi Brian--

Well done in the North Country! I came across your blog and thought I'd leave a note. I'm a big PJ fan too, and 10C member. I also run ultras, albeit at a different pace. Unfortunately, I missed the EV show, but someone from our office said it was the best show they've ever been too, and she saw PJ at Baker in B'ham. Sounds like you had a great week! I enjoyed reading about it!


Brian Morrison said...

Hi Scotty,
Thanks for checking out the blog. It's good to know that there are some other ultra running PJ fans out there. Eddie was terrific, but it was so different from a PJ show that it's hard to compare. It was pretty special to see him all alone up on stage. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the read. I see you're from MV. I actually grew up in Anacortes.

Gary Robbins said...

Hey Brian, nice meeting ya this past weekend and ya who doesn't like PJ! I saw them in Seattle in 97 I believe and it still stands up there as one of the best shows of my life!
Good luck with the rest of your races this season, I'll be rooting for ya at Western this year!!

Brian Morrison said...

Hey Gary,
Nice work at Diez Vista. You ran an incredibly smart race. I can't believe how fast you were running downhill after the powerline. What's next for you?
Good meeting you.

garobbins said...

Thanks dude, I definitely felt better than I did in 06!
After Miwok the focus turns to mtn biking with Test Of Metal and then the 7 day B.C. Bike Race, both in June.
Looking at Stormy in Aug as it's now the Cdn National 50 Mile Championships, then late season stuff is all Adventure Racing with a few big races on the schedule, maybe even Brazil for the World Championships in November!!

Michael H said...

Just stumbled across your blog today, next thing you know you'll have a Myspace and Facebook too! Just kidding, anyways great job at Diez Vista. Btw, nice taste in music...if you like the Ramones, ever tried Operation Ivy? Good music to run to.