Sunday, April 29, 2012

Personal Worst: And Loving It!

Another exciting weekend, the first race of the year, seeing old running buddies and using a chainsaw to prepare for a wedding...

Yes, ultra runners were involved, why do you ask?

First, the important stuff.  not sure if Dawn Hamel, hubby (remember, I have no memory...), and Adam Hill will read this blog, but once again they put on a stellar race, the 2012 offering of Pick Your Poison.  Sign up for their race and you get a T-shirt, honey and (if you finish) racing socks.  I have many T-shirts, but a dire lack of honey and racing socks.  Double bonus!

I should mention the course and weather:  Perfect.

I often rate a trail course on how it would be viewed (in my opinion) by a road racer.  To me, road racers should do well on a trail, because they are experienced at monitoring their energy output and staying near, but not superseding, their max VO2.  This is a fine art that eludes me at this juncture in life, because I now enjoy running trails and care little for training or racing on the edge.  I put in my 20 years of chasing PB's, now I am chasing PW's!  So the hypothetical road warrior lined up at PYP, more condescension than trepidation, for the trail ahead.  And he or she would be well rewarded for ignoring the subtleties of trail running - for the first 5K.  Blazing speed would get you to aid station #1 in good time and fine form!

The next 7.5K would be a subtle series of road racing miscarriages.  For the most part, each new hindrance (I would use the word hill, but it is not just elevation gain or loss that causes a re-alignment of the racer's psyche during badass single track) results in the necessity to establish a new baseline.  If the road runner is flexible enough to compensate for the arsenal of mischief being thrown his or her way (as I fervently hope was my case in 1978, when I started running trails), the obstacles are no big deal and the pace adjustment seemingly negligible.  Until the end of loop #1, when the road runner sees the time on the clock.

Race Report

I was very concerned that PYP 2012 would be the first short race that I DNF.  I have DNF'd 2 marathons, which is cause for some embarrassment, as it is a distance that is too short to pull out purely because I am having a painful run.  50K is okay to DNF, as I am not always healthy at 30K and will not run in extreme pain for 20K.  12K of pain is fine, but not much longer.

So, my game plan was to run the first 12.5K loop SLOWLY.  Are you listening legs?  NO SPEED IN LOOP 1.  For the most part, this worked well, mainly because I have never run a race with a torn cartilage, so I was very diligent in keeping the revs down.  Waiting for knee surgery is a very good motivator in keeping to a slower pace.

The first loop was completed in about 1:30 and off we went on the next loop.  Strangely, I was feeling fine.  For loop 2, I focused on keeping my cadence high (foot turnover) and relaxing.  I passed 3 - 4 people at the onset of loop 2, which I can only describe as a surrealistic feeling.  I was fully expecting to crash and burn circa 20K!

Near the end of loop 2, I was feeling strong and although tired, would easily complete the 25K race.  Then I tripped over some phantom root, went down hard, and my right leg (the one requiring surgery) cramped up severely.  Not just the calf or hamstrings, but the entire leg!  I quickly stood up and worked out the cramps.  Enough smugness, I might be convincing myself that it was smooth sailing, but my legs saw the 22K mark in a different light...

At circa 23K, I must have entered the twilight zone.  While power walking the last big hill, I heard Allistair Munro, second place in the 50K, coming up behind me on his third loop.  I stepped off the single trail to give Allistair room to speed on by.  Instead, he stopped and shook my hand.  It was all I could do not to yell at him to get going!  Second place in a tough trail race and he stops?  Unbelievable, except for Allistair, who is a calibre player on the circuit.

My finishing time was 3:02, which is very close to an even split.  Although I am sore today, it is a post-race tired muscle soreness, not a wheelchair cripple condition.  I would have loved to stick around and cheer in the 50K runners (including wife Lee Anne) but I had another engagement, with some newlyweds...

Gerry Arbour (Sulphur 100 Miles) and Cheryl D'Sousa (runs races and paced Gerry for 60K) tied the knot last year in an unusual wedding that witnessed the minister, bridesmaids and grooms running 10K to the ceremony site.  This year, Cheryl and Gerry will tie the know again, with those who consider a 10K trail run something intended for the lunatic fringe.   I.e. normal people!

After the race, we headed up to the sugar bush and cut 14 - 10" rounds for the centre pieces and 3 - 16" rounds for the wedding cake.  Gerry looked impressive, carrying most of the rounds with a yolk.  Saturday night we enjoyed a modest bonfire (less than 15 foot flames).

I am currently trying to post pictures from PYP on Flickr.  Wish me luck!


  1. Nice to hear that the knee held together. Excellent first race! Now bring on the pics

  2. Congratulations on a fantastic run Pierre. You ran with great wisdom and it paid off. Now get that Knee taken care!

  3. Hi Pierre,

    I think we ran with each other for a bit of the race. I don't recognize your face, but I clearly remember you talking about running with your knee injury! Did you have a red jacket on for the first lap? I had checkered arm warmers.

    I was boo hoo-ing over a poor race (hiliarious that your PW is my PB!). It was my first trail race in 3 years and first ever in Ontario and I had no idea that Ontario had so many AWESOME ultra runners. I'm still really new at this and I loved how friendly and humble all of the runners were on the trails. It looks as though Creemore will be my next OUSER race. I'm excited - and a little nervous.

    Hope to connect with you in Creemore!