Monday, November 13, 2017

Fat Ass Trail Run Race Report

The Fat Ass Trail Run (FATR) is new to the OUTRace series, but is certainly not a new race.  In fact, it has sold out for the last few years, so not a good race to show up on race day and ask to register.  FATR joined the other races that comprise OUTRace this year and race director Sandy Musson has gone out of her way to accommodate us in her very busy race schedule.  FATR offers more race distances than any other race I know of; a race for children (cheekily called the Big Bum), 4K, 7.5K, 10K, 17.5K, 25K, 50K and the Bad Ass 6 hour race.

I had not run FATR before, but friends had only great things to say about the race, courses and organization.  Since FATR is the last race in the OUTRace schedule, Sandy graciously allowed us to hold the awards.  My good friend Sharon is the OUTRace treasurer and as past series coordinator, helped me to set up for the awards.  But first, we would be running the 25K event!

Before getting into the race report, I should mention that Sharon was able to source a cottage from her friend Jen, near the Bata ski hills, where FATR transpires.  Yes, we would be running on ski hills!  To call Jen's cottage a cottage is about as misleading as calling my house a house.  My house is a cottage and Jen's cottage is a house.  Six of us stayed Saturday night in the cottage and we only needed 4 of the 6 bedrooms.  The living room had a 25 foot high cathedral ceiling.

I picked up race kits on Saturday (FATR is on Sunday) and met Sandy for the first time.  Although busy, she had enough time to tell me that they were making snow on the ski hills.  Pardon?  I had visions of running up a ski hill, directly into a snow gun.  Fortunately, the snow machines were silent on race day.

The 50K and 6 hour races started at 7:30, but the 17.5K and 25K had a more civilized start time of 9:00.  The 25K runners would join the 17.5K runners for a loop of the 7.5K course, then a loop of the 10K course.  We (25K) would continue back to the 7.5K course for a second loop.

With over 600 participants for all the race distances, there was a good crowd starting the 17.5K and 25K.  We congo-lined up the ski hill, slipping a bit in the new snow.  The hill is not overly high, although on the second loop it felt like a monster.  Then it was downhill and on to some single track replete with boggy sections, then rail trail and more single track.  Then up a gentle slope on single track to the top of the ski hill, which reminded me of Pick Your Poison.  By this time, the crowds had thinned and most were running at their race pace.

I had no concrete plan for the 25K.  About 5K in I decided I might as well run it with some effort, as there was no need to keep anything back.  Please note that I said "some effort", not "fast".  Most of the runners were ahead of me and would remain so!  But since this was my shortest race (in fact, my first race less than 50K or 6 hours) I would try to maintain a harder pace.  This would come back to haunt me in the final 6K, but might as well push in a shortish race.

After the first 7.5K loop it was on to the 10K loop, which was surprisingly flat.  I kept looking ahead for big hills, but the first 5K was fairly flat on some nice dual and single track.  The second half of the 10K loop reminded me of part of Dirty Girls; roller coaster single track through deciduous forest, but gentle enough to allow for faster speeds.

The second and final 7.5K loop was not as flat as the first loop.  Not sure how they quickly added small rollers, but they did.  I'm sure the fact that my legs were feeling trashed had nothing to do with it...  Going even marginally faster at the 25K, compared to my tragic pace in longer races this year, made the last 6K a bit unpleasant.  Yes, my knees complained bitterly, especially with the downhill sections, my phantom ankle problem reared its ugly head  - I might have to take 3 or 4 days off running.  But the big surprise is how much my back hurt during the final push to the finish line.  It hurt a lot!  It also felt rickety and was snapping a lot more than normal.  I'm going to guess that dehydration resulting from running a race and a few glasses of wine the previous night had something to do with it.  I also abstained from vitamin I (Ibuprofen) as I felt it was not needed for a short race.

The trail marking was quite good, although I felt that something was off, about 5K into the last 7.5K loop.  Not sure if you have had that feeling, but I was on a dual path in a forest that seemed to go on much longer than the first loop.  Had I missed a turn?  There was still orange tape, but it was in trees off the course.  I did not see any of the red arrows on black signs for a while.  I decided to turn back and look for a turn, rather than continuing in what was likely the wrong direction.  About 500 meters back, I came upon another runner.  I figured that I was wrong about being off course and turn around again.  Sure enough, about 200 meters past where I had turned back, we came upon a red arrow.  All was well.  I even had a great reason why my time was so slow - that extra kilometer must have taken me at least 40 minutes - right?

My finishing time was 3:28, which is slow for the course, but also indicates how bad my back was acting up.  I had dropped from the 50K to the 25K, and was very happy to have done so.  I doubt there was 50K in the tank, a short 2 weeks after Horror Trail!

After changing and a bite to eat, I went over to help Jim Orr (OUTRace statistician) tabulate the series winners.  Here is how I helped:  I watched Jim as he performed his magic with the incoming FATR results, about 20 spreadsheets and a calculator.  When I say magic, I am not waxing eloquently.  I have no idea how he does it!  The sad truth is that no one knows how he does it, so this needs to be rectified in the near future.  We need an alternate statistician.

Jim also helped me with presenting the awards.  I would be lying if I said I remember who won what.  Rather than making a mistake, I'll refer you to the website.  Series winners will be posted soon.  However, here is the breakdown in the awards:

Trail Series:

Series champions (M & F)
Under 40:  First, second and third (M & F)
40 - 49:      First, second and third (M & F)
Over 50:    First, second and third (M & F)

50K Series:

First, second and third (M & F)

Ultra series

Series champions (M & F)
Under 40:  First, second and third (M & F)
40 - 49:      First, second and third (M & F)
Over 50:    First, second and third (M & F)

Norm Patenaude award:

About 8 recipients (Strangely, no woman?)

Slam awards:  (At least 100K in Sulphur Springs and Ottawa, and 100 miles at Haliburton)

Stephen Bridson
David Varty

For fun, here is what Jim does, for each and every race:

Obtain results for the Trail races (typically about 25K distance), 50K and all the ultra distances.
Determine if there are any name variations (did David Smith sign up as Dave Smith, etc.)
See the outrace website for exact point calculations, but in essence, runners get 1 point per kilometer (50 points for a 50K, 161 for a 100 miles, 45 if you run 45K in a 6 hour race) plus position points.  First place gets 100 points, second place gets a percentage of 100 points based on how many are in the race.  Example:  Second in a race with 10 people gets 90 position points, but in a race with 100 people, second gets 99 position points.

Try completing the results 30 minutes after the race ends...

Congratulations to all who attained an OUTRace award.  Obviously the more races you complete, the better you do in the series, but none of the awards are a walk in the park.  I know.  I tried for the Norm Patenaude award and came up short.  The overall Ultra Series male champion came down to the last race.

Many thanks to our sponsors Trail Runner and Arc'teryx, for supporting OUTRace.  every little bit helps us to put on a quality series.  Arc'teryx donated running shoes to the Ultra champions.  I have chatted with people from New York during a race and have been told that they drive up to Ontario because of the quality and quantity of races in our series.

Finally, I would like to thank the OUTRace executive.  I highlighted Jim's contribution above, but that was only one day in his schedule, that includes tabulating results from 13 races.  Sharon Zelinski keeps track of the books and offers sage advice in a plethora of situations.  Stephan Miklos, as webmaster, updates results (sent by Jim) and information on the website, such as "next race" and the race results.  April and Melanie Boultbee bring expertise in the social media arena, including advertising and posting of events, results and news.  My partner Lee Anne Cohen helps in several capacities, not least of which is donating her pottery to the Spring Warm-up and Film Festival draws.  She also organises the OUTRace film festival.  Many thanks to the execs!

This is as good a time for a Film Festival plug as any!  Arc'teryx will be donating a pair of running shoes as a draw prize at the film festival.  The shoes, pottery and some good old Creemore Vertical Challenge T-shirts will be part of the prizes.  If you can make it on Saturday December 2 in Toronto, we would love to chat with you at the OUTRace Film Festival.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Horror Trail Race Report: The End of Norm

It's too bad we don't get to choose what happens, when things go wrong in a race.  I would choose a condition that compromises my running style, requires that I dig deep, and if I remain strong and honest, ends up with an epic result.  Like dislocating your shoulder and winning Hard Rock.  I would briefly consider getting hit by lightening and coming in third at Hard Rock, but would probably discard that option as it would most likely use up all of my lucky charms...

I'm not bragging, but I have a long list of injuries and running conditions that could be reasonable choices.  I know what to do, to mitigate their impact to my race.  Cramping is common amongst runners in general, and specifically ultra runners.  Recovery is formulaic and I can address that problem in my sleep.  Ironically, I have woken up to a calf cramping, so at times the cure was literally while I was asleep!  I also have methods to address problematic knee and back issues.

Horror Trail is a 2.5K loop through a small forest, replete with a sugar shack and blue tubing connecting the large maple trees.  I have run HT in cool, but dry weather and the course is a true gem.  Short enough to avoid nutritional errors, but long enough that it does not seem overly repetitive.  My goal for the 6 hour race was what I thought would be easy and simple.  Run 12 loops (30K) at a slow but steady run, then introduce walking breaks.  For the Norm Patenaude award purposes, I had to make it to 17 loops, or 42.5K - basically an ultra.  Even if one of my plethora of problems surfaced, I was confident I could stick it out to 42.5K.  I planned to walk an extra loop, to make the distance a respectable 45K.  But no longer.  I have a 50K hill race (Fat Ass Trail Race) in 2 weeks.

During the race, it rained for the entire time I was on the course.  This created some very interesting and challenging conditions.  Every loop, the greasy mud sections were larger and the sections with sure footing grew smaller.  This might have affected my ankle, but I'm not convinced.  I ran 50K at Sulphur earlier this year in the mud and without ankle issues.  Yes, the effort of running in slippery conditions was greater and took a toll on my legs, but I did not roll or twist my ankle at any time.  Starting at 15K, I felt a minor pain in my right ankle, similar to what is experienced long after you sprain an ankle, but before it is totally mended.  Just a minor annoyance.  As the mileage increased, so did the pain.  by 25K, it was a noticeable presence.  Since I had done nothing to hurt the ankle, I was a bit miffed that it was starting to cause me some serious pain.  I figured that the ankle was deliberately trying to sabotage my race, so I took some Advil and ignored the pain.

One problem with trying to ignore an injury, even one where you did nothing wrong and the injured appendage is doing it on purpose, is that over a few hours, it starts to yell.  At lap 13 (32.5K) I could no longer ignore the pain.  I sat down and tried slowly rolling the ankle in circles.  During my rugby years, I sprained both ankles on several occasions and found that this helped.  Mind you, I never tried running for more than 4 hours on a sprained ankle...  I introduced long walking breaks, in the hopes that the pain would miraculously disappear.   It was quite frustrating lurching around the course like a drunken Frankenstein, in considerable pain.  Running was becoming a problem.

At the start of lap 14, I was still convinced that since I had done nothing to injure the ankle, it should be able to support me for 4 more loops.  I had enough time to walk in an ultra, as long as I could continue at a fast walking pace.  My ankle would have none of it.  Halfway through loop 14, it was too painful to put any weight on my right foot, even while walking.  My race had come to an end.

Unfortunately, due to poorly timed travel plans and a formerly favourite nephew's marriage, I had to run an ultra at the Horror Trail 6 hour race, or I would not be able to complete the 8 ultras needed to obtain the Norm Patenaude award.  It's funny, but I thought that running an ultra at Horror Trail would be the easiest ultra.  Thanks ankle.

Earlier this year, I realized that I am not Norm Patenaude material.  I am more impressed now, with the few people who attain the award, than before I made my attempt.  Yes, I could have done a few things differently.  Run a more intelligent set of ultras.  Example:  Not 3 on consecutive weekends.  Determine the ultras to run before the year begins and make no changes to the list, for any reason.  I also realized that I would not be attempting the NP award again, even if I don't make it this year.  It is simply too much on this old, injured body.  The award is something to seek and a worthy endeavor, but better suited for those who are healthy or under 50 years of age.

So, I now look forward to the Fat Ass Trail Race (FATR) On Sunday November 12.  Hopefully I can drop from the 50K to the 25K.  It will feel great to finish a race tired, but not trashed.

Also, sale of the OUTRace film festival tickets is starting to gather momentum.  If you plan to attend this great event, consider signing up soon.  The films, Trails in Motion 5, are quite epic this year, but there will also be free coffee and cookies and a draw prize.  OUTRace new sponsor Arc'teryx will have a pair of shoes as part of the draw prizes, along with my wife Lee Anne's pottery.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Terry Fox Run in Creemore

Back when the earth was cooling I used to organize the Terry Fox run in Creemore.  I recall set-up being simply a table for registration and another at the 5K turn-around point.  Aid station fare included water and apples, nothing else!  The TFR was subsequently moved to Terra Nova, a small hamlet south of Creemore.  I believe the logic was that it would provide more beautiful scenery and avoid any traffic concerns due to the enormous congestion (up to 3 cars per minute) found in Creemore.

Ironically, the old Creemore route, which included County Road 9, has become rather congested (residents of Toronto:  You are welcome for this humorous interlude) over the years, now 5 cars per minute at peaks.  Unfortunately, the Terra Nova location did not attract many participants, as it is a bit out of the way.  In 2016, only 17 participants enjoyed the event.

Early this year, the Terra Nova TFR organizers Keddy and Eric, approached Lee Anne and I with a proposal to move the event back to Creemore.  Since Keddy and Eric live in Toronto and are in the country only on weekends, they felt that assistance from locals would be of benefit.

I couldn't help but compare the requirements of organizing the Terry Fox Run with that of the Creemore Vertical Challenge.  Not that it was solely a case of sending out a couple of emails and sitting back, but think of it this way:  No trail prep, bibs, prizes and timing.  Even registration is mostly assumed by the Terry Fox Foundation.  And the event day's itinerary looked like it was missing a few dozen key functions:  8:30 - registration, 9:00 - official start, 12:00 - end of event.  One big reason we agreed to help was because there was so little to do!

Sunday, September 17 turned out to be almost perfect weather.  Sunny and a high of about 25.  For the event, we had obtained permission from the county to close intersections along Library Street, which runs north/south in the middle of town.  We hoped that by doing so, Creemorites would become aware of the event, yet not disrupt Sunday morning traffic (again, Toronto, you are welcome).

The biggest stumbling block in hosting a Terry Fox Run in Creemore is getting the word out.  Yes, we placed posters in numerous stores in the area, signage around Creemore, an article in the newspaper and made sure to speak with all our friends and neighbours, but the reality is that without heavy radio and/or televised promotion, it takes time to get the word out, in a small town.  Several people who happened by the event mentioned that they had no idea Creemore was hosting a Terry Fox run.

We expected to draw 20 - 30 people, although I was hoping that more would show up.  I had placed 5 large signs around the Creemore Farmer's market, which is well attended on Saturday mornings.  The market is located at the Station on the Green, the same spot as the start/finish for the Terry Fox run.  Perhaps people would pay attention to the signage and return on Sunday morning for Canada's 150th year?  Not so much!  One cute aside about attendance is that I am very much of the mindset that if a race starts at 9:00, everyone shows up for the start.  I had forgotten that the Terry Fox Run is more of a social event and if you are not able to make it at 9:00, no problem, show up at 10:00 or 11:00!  So I was quite disappointed when only 7 people had started by 9:00.  I thought the event was going to be a bust.  However as the day progressed, people trickled in and by final count, we had about 25 participants, which is reasonable for the first year.

The Creemore chapter of the TFR raised over $1,000 for the foundation, so by that standard, the event was successful.  I would like to thank all who attended.  Organizing the event was also a blast.  Everything needed for the event fit into my car.  For the CVC, I needed 4 trucks!  Event day started at 6:30 for me, with a leisurely breakfast.  Setting up registration, the 2.5K (turn-around) aid station and all the barricades took about 90 minutes.  Tear down started at 11:45 and was complete before 1:00 PM.  By contrast, for the CVC I was up at 4:30 AM and still at it circa 9:00 PM.

Will the Terry Fox run continue in Creemore next year?  You bet!  Are there any reflection items?  Definitely.  Keddy mentioned that we should have placed posters on the barricades, so that people would know why the roads were blocked.  It might be possible to get a few minutes on the radio to promote the event.  I hope to entice a few of the Creemore businesses to help promote the event.  For those familiar with the Creemore Vertical Challenge, no, there won't be 3 kegs of Creemore ale at the finish, sorry!  We could also reach out to the surrounding towns and cities.  Running or walking in Creemore for such a great cause is worth the drive.

I would like to thanks Giffen's Country Market, who donated a bushel of their finest apples for the event.  By the way, Giffen's makes the world's best butter tarts.  Seriously, it is not possible for me to go in their store without acquiring a fix.  Giffens is the turn-around point on our 24K road route and I always carry a few coins.  FYI:  One butter tart = 2 gels.

I would also like to thank Keddy, Eric and their "voluntolds", for helping out with the event.  Our neighbours Jim, Susan and Rory also donated their Sunday morning to help with the aid station and marshalling duties.  It was nice to have a couple of experienced people at the aid station and marshalling.

So circle Sunday September 16, 2018 on your calendar and we hope to see you up in Creetown.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

England's Coast to Coast

We're back!

Most literature that I read about the Coast to Coast walk in England stated 2 salient points that I blithely disregarded...  1.  It is long.  At 309K (roughly 200 miles), the C2C in no way resembles a brisk walk to the store.  If a return trip to the store measures 3K, it is 103 brisk walks to the store.  2.  It is tough.  We undertook the walk in 12 days, which means slightly more than 25K per day.  At a brisk walk, that would translate into an average of 5 hours walking per day.  The main aspect of what I blithely ignored is that the terrain does not include much dead flat paved road.  In fact, during the first 4 days, picture many many mountains and a healthy does of ankle deep bogs.  Instead of a brisk 5 hour walk, some days were over 9 hours.

Let me state that the walk was definitely worth undertaking.  The views and walking-pace exposure to some of England's finest parks and town alone was worth the effort.  You cannot get the same experience by driving by moors in an automobile.  At times, we were out of sight of anything man-made, excluding the odd post or marker.  However, consider adding a few judicious rest days to your trip.  Give your legs, feet and blisters a chance to recover.

For those not fully cognisant of the definition of judicious, here is what it does NOT mean:  Do not climb Helvellyn mountain on your rest day.  The English probably pride themselves on both understatement and their ability to tough it out.  So, Helvellyn is considered a walk.  Here in Canada, we call such terrain by its correct definition, namely a cliff.  With rain threatening, Lee Anne and I cautiously navigated England's masochistic concept of a walk called "Striding Edge".  This is a fully exposed narrow rock face that is part of the "path" to Helvellyn's summit.  The day after we inched across Striding Edge, a person fell 600 feet to his death.  Another person (on the same day) also fell 600 feet WITH HIS DOG and had to be airlifted to the hospital.  Walk, my ass!  Seriously, who would take their dog on such an exposed cliff?

Okay, so you now know what not to do on your day off.  What was the walk like?  Lee Anne and I walked with our friends Russell and Jeanette, also from Creemore.  Russell and Jeanette might have been a tad apprehensive as 300+K is longer than they would normally hike, and they would be undertaking the adventure with 2 ultrarunners.  We assured them that we were slow hikers and by the second day they must have realized that this was so.  Mostly, it was Russell waiting for us during the walk.

To say there was some rain would be an understatement, by Ontario standards, but we were quite lucky and only experienced pouring rain on one day.  Most days we were treated to a sprinkling of rain, but we saw our fair share of sun.  Trekking through the bogs and moors was another story.  Bogs defy the laws of gravity.  Water seemed to run uphill in bogs.  If you are traversing a slope, the high side was always wet, whereas the low side was less wet.  The deepest bogs were at the top of the mountain passes (saddles) and while off course at one point, we walked through 10 inches of saturated peat for about a kilometer, in order to crest a ridge.  Keeping your feet dry was not an option!  I was the only member of our 4 person team to wear trail running shoes (as opposed to hiking boots) and coincidentally, I was the only person who did not develop blisters during the walk.  This was due to my running shoes drying out soon after leaving a wet section.

We took advantage of Macs Adventures, a self-guided walking tour company, to plan the trip.  Macs provides maps and literature on the walk.  They also book the hotels and B&B's; something that can be difficult if you are not familiar with where to stay in places such as Keld or St. Bees.  Most important is they arrange luggage transfer from hotel to hotel each day.  This is likely not easy, bordering on a logistic nightmare, but it allows us to walk with only a day pack, instead of 40 pounds of luggage!  Macs charges a bit for arranging the trip, but I don't feel it is overly pricey; great value for the cost.

It is hard to describe all that we saw and experienced during 12 days of walking.  At one point I laughed, because the guide book mentioned "turn right at the church".  The Church was massive and built circa 1500!  It would be a tourist attraction on its own in Canada, but in England, it barely deserves a mention.  We stayed in a hotel that was built in 1691.  I think the patroness was from the same era...  Some of the "old roads" showed evidence of having been built by the Romans.

Was it worth the cost and effort?  Definitely.  I recommend it highly.  Would I changes things?  Definitely.  We had to pass by the ruins of an incredible castle in Richmond, as we didn't have time to stay and investigate.  I think that being from Canada, I cannot grasp how much history there is in "rural" England.  We could have easily added 3-4 extra days to explore what England has to offer.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Preparation for Coast to Coast Walk

Lee Anne and I have been organizing a trip to England for almost 6 months now; trip details, flights, trains, gear, etc., so it is a bit surreal that we depart this Monday. I have to admit that the brunt of the trip logistics was undertaken by Macs Adventure, a company that specializes in organizing walks throughout the world.  We have taken advantage of Macs to walk the West Highland Way in Scotland and the Tour de Mont Blanc in France/Italy/Switzerland.  Yes, signing on with Macs is more expensive than organizing the trip yourself, but it is a surprisingly modest increase, especially factoring in that we have no idea what hotels are fine in Grasmere, or how to move our luggage from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.

You might note that I am bandying about the names of places I had not heard of, before signing on with Macs.  You might also have noted a key nuance in the service provided by Macs...  Luggage transfer.  I decided long ago that camping was simply not for me.  I enjoy the great outdoors (I probably spend more time outside than most), but sleeping with the bugs, climbing mountains while hauling a 30 kilo pack and spending much of the day starting a cooking fire and cleaning is no longer my model for a relaxing vacation.  Ditto for hostels.  Sleeping in hotels/B&B's and donning a light day pack for a 309K hike (walk, in GB parlance) is more ideal!

The Coast to Coast walk was designed by some sadist known as Wainwright, who considered walking from St. Bees (west coast of England) to Robin Hood's Bay (east coast) through rugged mountains and bogs, to be a wonderful way to spend a couple of weeks.  The trail passes through an area in England with the most rain (over 5 meters of rain, one year) and the guide book mentions that hip waiters come in handy, in spots.

We are looking forward to a break from training.  Yes, we plan to run on occasion during the trip, but the focus will be on walking 300+K over the 2 weeks, instead of getting in 30+K runs.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Ottawa 12 Hour Race Report

The current OUTRace Ultra series leader Stephen Bridson lives about 10 minutes up the road.  "Up", in Creemore parlance is north.  Towards Stayner.  Fortunately, Stephen does not live in Stayner because although Stayner is much larger than Creemore, for some intangible reason, Creemorites look down on Stayner.  Not quite the Dog River / Wullerton situation, but although Creemore is tiny, it has flair, panache and some other descriptor I have never understood...  Never jokingly suggest that Creemore is a suburb of Stayner.

It makes sense for Lee Anne, Stephen and I to car-pool to a race in Ottawa.  It is a long drive and the fuel savings alone make taking only one car worth it.  Stephen was second place in the 24 hour race with a distance of about 168K (I think) while Lee Anne was first female in the 12 hour with just over 80K.  Almost everyone had trouble with the heat.  It was supposed to be a high of 24C, but I'm sure it reached closer to 27, not factoring in the humidity.  Many people were suffering during the afternoon, with no cloud cover or shade.  I claimed to those far and near that the reason I was faring badly was because my knees were not happy running on the asphalt, which is quite true.  They are causing me much grief today, but the main reason for my less than exemplary distance is that I was under trained.  Since Conquer the Canuck, I have had severe difficulty running long.  My 28K DNF at Limberlost was the only run over 20K in the past 7 weeks.  Apparently, running 5 ultras in 7 weeks causes some longer term issues!

I managed a measly 50K in 12 hours.  Actually, I took a break after reaching the ultra distance (about 43K) in a tortoise-slow 9.5 hours, then walked 4 laps to peg the 50K.  Laps were 1.8793K, which was a long enough distance to avoid getting nauseous going around in circles, but a good distance for reaching the aid station at short intervals.

I am simply not recovered yet.  As mentioned above, walking is painful today, although if you run for 10+ hours, then drive the next day for 6+ hours, conceivably, you will be stiff and sore...  But I would like to have a word with the recovery gods.  I'm interested in their time table for my recovery.  I am not overly pleased with how long this is taking.  I want results, damnit.

The race actually went smoothly, which is probably to be expected given that I never opened it up.  I gelled every 3 laps (about every 5.6379K) and carried a bottle with Nuun on my waist belt.  I actually stayed with Lee Anne for the first 8 hours.  I think this was more because Lee Anne was struggling early in the day, than my running faster than normal.  At one point I caught up to Lee Anne and mentioned that she should not take so many walking breaks.  Her reply was that she was struggling.  I paused for a few seconds before replying because I think the last time Lee Anne declared she was struggling, was during her first marathon in 2000...  I immediately changed gears and told her to start taking more walking breaks.  It was noticeably hot.

My knees and general condition simply deteriorated over the first 6 hours.  I added walking breaks early (only 3 hours in) as I expected to be in trouble due to my lack of conditioning.  Although others were complaining of stomach issues, I fared relatively well, for such a hot day.  A significant exception to the lower mileage covered by most of the runners was Paul Chenery, who broke the 60-64 men's 24 hour Canadian record.  While most had at least one low point during the afternoon or early evening, Paul was more like a metronome - churning out the laps like clockwork.  Well done Paul!

I now have a large break, as we will be walking the Coast to Coast trail in England in August and September, returning a bit too late to make it to Haliburton.  The C2C walk starts in St. Bees on England's west coast and finishes in Robin Hood's Bay, about 309K later.

Have fun at Hali and I hope to see you at Horror Trail.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Limberlost DNF - Oops! Race Report

With 4 weeks off I figured 56K would be less of an ordeal than the pathetic 3 ultras I ran in late May and June.  If I ever make predictions about the stock market, make sure you invest heavily in the opposite direction...

Although wet, with a healthy sprinkling of mud, The Limberlost Challenge was a hoot, with perfect running weather and wonderful trails.  TLC requires considerable effort to maintain any semblance of a race pace.  Look at the results and you will note most runners seem to be taking their sweet time.  Knowing the course fairly well, I figured that 2 hours for the first 14K loop would be about right.  I was hoping to get 42K in at about the 6.5 hour mark, then slug it out with the mud for a circa 10 hour finish.

The first loop went well, with no apparent issues and completed in 2:01.  Loop 2 started well and I was confident I could keep somewhere near my schedule.  Yes, the course required a lot of effort, but I did not start too fast, was hydrating well and had no issues with nutrition.  A common theme during my training runs after Conquer the Canuck 50K, which I ran 4 week prior to TLC, was the gas tank would drop from half full to empty very quickly.  If the training runs were getting marginally better over the 4 weeks, it was never an obvious improvement.  At 20K, about halfway through loop 2, I changed from running well to barely being able to run.  Oh oh.  In most 50K's, my energy level drops progressively from about 30K to 45K, at which point I am struggling.  But struggling for 5K is normal and acceptable.  Struggling for 36K on a rugged trail is another matter.

The good news is that I experienced no cramping or knee problems.  My back fired a few shots across the prow, but all in all I was running without appreciable pain.  Or energy.  By the end of the second loop I had nothing left.  It took me 4.5 hours to run the first 28K.  Walking for another 28K and chasing the cut-off's seemed a bit too masochistic, even for me.  Although the trail was a treat, I was not prepared to endure another 6 hours and possibly face a DNF.

I plan to run in 3 more OUTRace ultras this year and if all goes well, I can still achieve the Norm Patenaude award.  But there is no more room for error.  I guess the concept of the NP award is that it is tough.  Most people cannot make it to all the races and many things can go wrong in an ultra.  Although it looks easy on paper, I am finding out it is not easy in any respect.

Lee Anne and I have the Ottawa 12 hour is in 3 weeks.  At the risk of sounding complacent, I expect this race to be one of the least difficult.  The original plan, back in April, was that I would be well rested for Ottawa, with a few 50K's and a 56K under my belt.  I would try for 80K during the 12 hours.  On paper (of course I never learn, haven't you read any of my posts?) it should be possible, even simple, as I ran 80K at Haliburton, a much tougher course, in 12:35.  80K is still my A goal, but with the way my running is going, I will be happy with 43K.