Sunday, 11 September 2016

Haliburton Forest 50K

Last year, I went to a fun run organized by one of the AS regulars.  Everyone seemed to know everyone else and it sounded like Haliburton was the fall ultra to run.

I opened up my training log and RFP after Sulphur and realized I did not want to spend time modifying a training plan.  Fortunately, my friend Heather is a running coach, and I got a block of coaching with her as a birthday present.  

Of course, I had no goals other than to finish and have fun, so Heather had me doing a few fartleks for speed and lots of hill repeats for quality.

I headed up north on Friday to pick up my race kit and partake in the pasta dinner.  Even though I knew quite a few people, I was still pretty anxious.  I sat between Agnes and Jon, who commented "atta girl!" on my choice of red wine with dinner instead just water. After dinner, a mic was passed around and everyone had to introduce themselves and say a little something.  Strangely, this did not set off my anxiety as I had a lot of time to think about what I was going to say.."Hi, I'm Patty from Burlington and I'll probably be last at the 50K tomorrow, but my nail polish will match my skirt."

Then the 40 min drive back to my motel in Minden, where I set my alarm for 3:30/stupid o'clock and proceeded to have a relatively decent sleep.

I had brought my Bodum to make coffee, but since there was a Tim's across the street, I decided not to bother.  I stumbled into my car at 4 and got there only to find that small town Tim's didn't open until 5, the race started at 6.  I went back to my room and got my coffee at 5 to have in the car, too late to let it do its magic. 

mug from Sarah Marie Design Studio.

The drive to Haliburton Forest was nerve wracking, due to thick fog, brain fog from the coffee not kicking in yet, and windy country roads.  I parked, did my thing in a dark bush during the 100 mile roll call and prayer and hurried off to the start. 

The first few kilometres was on a gently rolling dirt road and I actually enjoyed this.  When people told me there would be road at Hali, I was picturing asphalt.  The hills were runnable and made me feel strong when I crested the top and just enough downhill to pick up speed.  The first loop around Macdonald Lake was beautiful, just as the sun was rising.  It was a little bit hilly and technical but nothing unmanageable.

Robin had told me a long time ago that the further you go in the forest at Hali, the easier it gets.  I definitely found this to be true, it was quite hilly and technical to start but was a bit flatter near the turnaround for the 50K.

The weather was not too hot, but very humid and I was able to eat regularly.  Saw Agnes at AS4 at 16K, the AS volunteers were the best!  

The skies finally opened up and the rain was refreshing.  I was wearing my new Altra Superiors, but the grip on wet rocks and mud was not as good as the Saucony Peregrines.  I considered changing my shoes on my way back through AS4, but thought that stuffing my feet into a more conventional toe box after wearing the Altras would be a BAD idea.  So I stuck with the Altras, even though I ended up going down a smooth, steep rock on my butt.  

At some point, my left glute/hip, which has been bothering me all summer, really flared up, along with a pain in my knee.  I pulled into AS4 for the 2nd time, and Jon, the dude from dinner was there.  He said that my hip was out and offered to fix it just as I was about to down a handful of ibuprofen.  He said I wouldn't need it after the adjustment but I took the pills anyway.  Jon did these isometric SI joint exercises that I've had done to me after a massage, but my chiropractor cracks my SI at every visit and that has done nothing for me lately.

"Are you a chiropractor?" Nope, he's an RMT.
He could be an amateur rub&tug for all I care, he fixed my hip!

Isometric SI joint unsticking.  Photos by Agnes.
The combination of the SI adjustment plus the drugs kicking in was amazing - I felt 100% better!  However, the lake loop seemed far hillier going the other way, and the road sections were pretty scary..although they had warned people to drive s-l-o-w-l-y at the dinner, there were cars zooming past, and I had to jump aside a couple times plus inhale all the exhaust fumes in their wake.  Yuck.

The course was a strict out and back and as long as you kept the flags on the right going out and on the left coming back, it was impossible to get lost.  I thought my Garmin was very accurate, the turnaround was right at 25K, and when I got to AS3 at 45K, they confirmed it was 5K to the finish.  So I'm happily counting down the kilometres, and came to AS2 with my Garmin showing 49.3 and they told me it's 2K to the finish and that Garmins lie.  Now I understand that to be true, but every distance had matched up right until the end!  It was very demoralizing and I walked for a bit coming out of AS2 before I could make myself run again.

Finished! and far from being DFL! (photo: Agnes)

Aside from a ton of mosquito and deer fly bites (I was too tired to care about reapplying repellent when the rain stopped), I feel pretty good!  The volunteers and general positive atmosphere made it clear why people love Haliburton and come back year after year.

Kawartha Dairy was about 500 m from the motel.  Sweet Heat ice cream -
vanilla with spicy caramel.  Normally I hate caramel but this was incredible!