Monday, 30 May 2016

Out of the freezer, into the fire

Race day started out less than spectacularly, as I made my coffee all wrong and had to make an emergency Tim's run at 4 am in PJ's, I nearly put the weak-ass SPF 15 sunscreen on my face, and worst of all, I tripped on my shoelaces and did a full face plant walking through the parking lot from the car to the drop bag tent.

Things could only get better from there, right?

The forecast for race day could only be described as "hotter than hell" - even hotter than Chicago Marathon in 2011.  I can't believe that I've run 2 races with an 80 degree differential in temperature in the same calendar year! I wanted to use the lighter Salomon hydration pack, but figured I really needed 2L of water on me in such hot weather.

Made my spam musubi and mashed potato cakes, and added an extra pinch of Himalayan sea salt to the potatoes, figured I could use it.

Drop bag: shoes, socks, anti chafe, peppermint oil spray, sunscreen, bug spray, extra food, a change of clothes, iced magical Mexican shit, frozen Skratch, a tupperware of ice cubes in the cooler.

Loop 1

The race started when I was still a little shaken up from my parking lot tumble and still spitting out dirt. I ran behind two ladies, Rhonda and Karen, who were doing the 100 and running at a perfect pace, they promptly nicknamed me Pinky. We ran together for most of the loop, and caught up again later, they were running with Robin and came up behind me.  I still haven't recovered from the shock of Robin running behind me in a race!  The sun was just coming up so it wasn't too hot yet.  Saw a whole bunch of people in the span of about 5 minutes going up Headwaters for the first time - Steph, Agnes, Anna, Emma, Sam, and Nicole.

Loop 2

Headed out on loop two at 2:55 clock time, I thought that every loop would take a minimum of 3:15.  Starting to get hot, but it was only really awful in the open sections, on Monarch Trail and the open fields after climbing the Three Bitches.  I caught my toe on a root on that single tiny technical section connecting Monarch to Sulphur Creek and I would rather not think about what would have happened if I had fallen - I would have likely fallen into the deep valley. Refilled my bladder and changed shoes before loop 3 - the plastic "bead" on the lace was digging painfully into the top of my foot, and I was starting to get some hot spots on my toes.

Loop 3

Started loop 3 at 6:20 clock time, still well within my secret goal of sub 15 hours.  I knew that the 3rd quarter of every race, regardless of distance, is the one that sucks the most for me, and I wished I had company for this loop, with the sun being overhead.  I walked a lot of this loop, but ran steadily on the downhill part of Headwaters.  I knew there were 2 people behind me, and some of the ultra speedsters had lapped me.

Loop 4

Pulled into the start area to change my socks, Lori was nowhere to be found.  I changed my socks (feet were already a blistered mess) and had unlocked my phone and was about to call Lori and yell, "WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?!" when she came running into the tent, she was there waiting but due to a bunch of things happening all at once wasn't at the start when I came in.  There were a LOT fewer people on the course during loop 3, I figured there were a ton of DNF's.  My feet hurt so I told Lori that we were going for an easy 20K stroll, I'd run if I felt like it, but no pressure at all.  There was about 8 hours until the cutoff, I knew I'd finish if I was smart about it.  Refilled bladder again and replenished the food - the extra pinch of salt in the potato cakes rendered them inedibly salty.  I had taken a salt pill every hour and my hands were swollen, but nothing worse than a normal long run.  

Top of Headwaters.  Photo by Lori.
I wasn't going to let Greg miss me finishing this year, so Lori called him, and he met us with about 3K left.  The last of the sun was disappearing behind the trees but could still see pretty well without a headlamp.  By some miracle, I only got 1 small mosquito bite.

Of course I ran the chute to the finish!

THANK YOU Lori for pacing me and THANK YOU Agnes for sticking around to see me finish!
Celebratory chugging of Spumante Bambino straight from the bottle, like the classy lady I am.

So I think everyone wants to know...will there be a 100 miler in my future? I won't say never (because you know what tends to happen when I say never) but I will say that staying up all night to run doesn't sound terribly appealing.  Will there be another 50 miler? Absolutely, yes.  I would love to run another in more ideal conditions and see what I can do!

For now, I'm just going to relax, Eat All The Things, and get ready for my 5th NFWHM next Sunday...gotta keep the streak alive!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Seaton Soaker 50K

 50K was all that stood between me and 2 weeks of taper before Sulphur 50 mile.  A mini dilemma the night before trying to decide what to wear on top.  In similar weather at Mississauga, I wore a long sleeve and vest was fine except when I stopped to eat after the race.  But the consensus was to wear something short sleeved so I went with that and arm warmers.

The rain really wasn't a factor and I quickly got warm and ditched the arm warmers.  The first kilometer was paved trail/road but then we got in the forest and it was stunning.  Even though Seaton is only about an hour away, the terrain was different and looked "exotic" to me, accustomed to running in the escarpment rocks.

The first half was otherwise fairly uneventful.  Of course there were muddy spots, but most of it was runnable.  Spent less than a minute at the aid stations, supplementing my spam musubi and mashed potato cakes with orange slices, ginger ale and Coke from the aid stations.  

The second half is where things got interesting.  The 25K was an out and back with a little 3K split at the end to cross the river and loop back to the start/finish area.  I remember at Sulphur 50K last year I walked a LOT but kept things comfortable.  At times, the sun would peek through and it felt like it was about to get hot, but then suddenly the sky went very dark and a hard, cold wind started up. There was a girl who was following me, not very closely, but she was walking when I was walking, and running when I was running, and that made me very uncomfortable.  So I stopped (and she stopped) and I asked her to please pass me.  It was nothing against you, girlfriend, I just would rather be last than have a shadow following me.

1st water crossing and my trail stalker.

As I approached the 12.5K turnaround for the final time, a old man in a neon rainbow hat (whom I have seen at many trail races) said to me, "nice...but you better hurry if you're going to make the cutoff." I looked at my watch and it was around 2 or 2:15 pm..almost 2 hours to make it 12.5K.  On a really slow day I do 10K in approximately 1:30.  Still, his passive-aggressive compliment/motivational talk (?) planted the seeds of doubt in my mind and I texted Agnes (who was with Lori at the 7K aid station) that I would drop if there was no way to make the cutoff when I passed through the aid station for the final time.

I started feeling really pressured to keep running and not walk whenever I wanted, which I really hated but I guess in hindsight was a good thing.  Came through Lori & Agnes' aid station with about an hour left, chugged some "magical Mexican shit" (lime agua fresca) and kept running.  

Approaching the 7K aid station for the 2nd time.  Photo by Lori.
The final aid station was packed up when I passed it, and the rope going across the river was gone.  The first time across the river I held onto the rope just because it was there, but I was thinking, "oh no big deal, I've done tons of water crossings without ropes and been fine, so I'm sure I don't need it anyways."  The river bed was covered with medium to large rocks, I slipped on one of the larger rocks and fell.  Not a huge deal to be soaked with 3K left to go, but it was coooooooold!

With 2K left and 15 minutes left on the clock, I ran as fast as I could. "It hurts up to a point, and it doesn't get any worse."  Thank you Ann Trason, for that piece of wisdom.  I thought about Rainbow Hat Man making that comment and I was reminded of the time in university when every week, for an entire semester, the piano professor told me I would surely fail my jury..which I ended up getting a fairly decent mark on.  Why was I letting the negative voices get to me? So what if I am last? So what if I miss the cutoff? does that mean the fact that I ran 50K get negated? Hell no!

The finish mat was packed up when I crossed the finish.  Even by Garmin time (which I stop at aid stations) I had missed the cutoff.  But I had a cheering section at the finish line: Robin, Amelia and Agnes! 

finishing with a smile, even.  Photo by Amelia.

I'll continue to call it DFL, thanks.

I think there are some people I know who would be completely mortified being DFL.  I am totally OK with it.  I covered the distance, I got my run in and I beat everyone who was sitting on their arses on the couch.  The very back of the pack is where I feel the most comfortable at races, I had fun...and as they say, I saved the best for last.