Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pick Your Fish Race Report

It is very key in French restaurants to spell fish correctly,so that your don't order poison instead of the intended poisson...  If you are familiar with French waiters, this is a serious concern...

This RR is late because I forgot to write it.  There.  Some honesty!  I forgot to write it because I have been trying to complete a few items, including clean-up of the maple syrup equipment and lines, help build a shed in Toronto, help with landscaping at another house in Toronto, fill in my pond, cut firewood, prepare for the Creemore Vertical Challenge, Spring Clean-up, prepare the gardens and get in adequate training.  It's a wonder I was able to run the race!

Pick Your Poison is a trail race with significant vertical gain, the first race on the OTS and OUS schedule, but also the first chance to see if all that training is helping.  Lee Anne and I ran the 50K.  Please pay attention.  50K of ski hills.  Yes, there is a wonderfully gentle first 4K, then the course turns nasty.  Downright ugly!  The 12.5K course sucks an alarming amount of energy out of your legs.  Dialing in your salt, fuel, electrolytes and fluids is critical, unless you majored in bonking.  Let's get the real ugly out of the way.

Lee Anne did not enjoy PYP.  I had mentioned to her on 3,452 occasions that you need to run trails in training to do well at PYP.  I was speaking to the hand.  Lee Anne fell 4 times.  Impressively, she finished the 50K race on a sprained ankle.  The ankle turned an alarming shade of purple.  She also performed a category II face plant on a rock, resulting in a fat lip and a bruised nose.  Yes, her nose swelled and also turned purple.  Did I mention the torn quad?  She fell 4 days after PYP and tore the quad again, forcing her to DNS the Toronto marathon she was going to run 8 days after PYP.  I experienced a week of prolonged suffering.

During the last few years, I have not provided a comprehensive race report.  This is mainly due to having severe handicaps as a result of some injuries.  It makes no sense to describe how a lack of training resulted in a slow time.  It seemed too apparent!  For the first time in several year, I was adequately trained to run a 50K, even a monster such as PYP.  This race deserves a bona fida RR.

I accumulated 842.5K in training during the 4 months leading up to PYP.  This is actually less than the ideal amount, roughly 1,000K, needed to train for a 50K trail race.  But it was an immense improvement over previous years.  Instead of dwelling on the all too realistic possibility that I might have to pull the plug, I was looking at possibly pushing for a loop or two.  I did push a bit in the first loop, but nothing crazy.

One item that I normally don't consider significant is running the course ahead of race day.  I ran the course 5 days before the race.  The beauty of running a race course, even one you know fairly well, is that it allows you to peg goals and milestones along the way.  These stay fresh during the race.  I had forgotten (since last year) how much effort is required during the last 8K of the PYP 12.5K loop.  The course lulls you into a false sense of lassitude during the "flat" first 4K, then kills your legs over the remaining 8.5K, replete with monster hills, technical single track and the odd snow covered traverse.  Forget monitoring your heart rate, focus on staying alive along some steep and technical sections!

The plan was simple.  Start off slowly for 5K, then expend the nervous energy during the remainder of loop 1.  Settle into a fair pace during loop 2, keep it up for loop 3, then get loop 4 done.  It sounds so simple.  I had hoped to complete the race in 6:15, but that was before I ran a loop on Monday and realized I had little chance of pushing this course hard for 50K.  Loop 1 went according the plan, in a time of 1:25.  My "A" goal was to complete the next 2 loops in about 1:30, but it was not to be.  Loop 2 did not go according to plan.  I think the "reason" was because I have not really raced in a few years.  Although I completed loop 2 in 1:33, close to target, the cost of running loop 1 in 1:25 forced me to slow down and relax.  A good thing too, as I had even more difficulty with pace during loop 3.  I was tired, as most people were, after 25K of single track and ski hills.  I also needed to save something for loop 4.

That's the big problem with 50K races.  After 37.5K, there is another loop.  This doesn't seem fair during the race, but the alternative is to run the 25K.  So I conserved energy during loop 3, tried to recover and enjoy the race.  Loop 3 clocked in at 1:38, which was still quite decent.  I would not meet my A goal, but I would not be too far off.  Those of you who have run a 50K trail race will know that from 37.5K to 50K, all bets are off.  The "reward" for doing the final loop is that I would allow myself to walk whenever needed.  This is a wise plan as I was not going to make it to the podium, and wanted to enjoy what in recent years has been a death march.

Something very strange happened during loop 4 and I can only describe it as a benefit of proper training.  Yes, I had reached the point where energy levels were down.  I could no longer run the uphills (not even the little ones), but I had no trouble running the flats and downhills.  Power was down (Scotty, I need a report), endurance was failing, speed was a joke, but I could run.  I took 4 or 5 walking breaks, mainly to hydrate and fuel, but I was not playing that awful mental game of trying to convince myself that I could run to the next tree.  (Coach voice in head:  Come on Pierre, you could easily run to the start of the next hill, up ahead.  Go for it!)  (Evil Pierre voice in head:  Shove that ^#%^ Hill Up your #&&@ @ss and get me a &#^%$ ambulance).

I tripped once.  Due to back problems, I perform a flip instead of trying to stop myself with me hands.  The trick in flipping is to twist slightly, so you don't break your water bottle, if you are wearing a hydration belt.  I have not figured out an ideal process for camel packs...

The end result:  6:24.  Actually not bad for PYP.  Loop 4 was 1:46 (I truncate the seconds, in case you are wondering why the 4 times don't add up to 6:24).  I was tired, stiff and sore, but not injured or in need of medical attention.  An excellent result!

Above I mentioned that I am filling in the pond.  I enjoyed having a pond, but the reality is that it takes an enormous amount of maintenance, including building a dam in the river each year, cleaning out the sediment about every 5 years and re-buildig the spillway on occasion.  I can't swim in the pond as it is too shallow.  It grows weeds and attracts beavers, who (let's forget the carrots for now) chew down all the trees I plant around the pond, about every 5 years.

I have a cute little 36 HP Kubota tractor, which I am using to fill in the pond.  I used it when I worked for Dave Pease, back in 1975 when it was new.  Dave sold it to me for a stupidly low price a few years back.  I had no choice but to buy it.  In 40 years, I have NEVER been able to get it stuck.  See the picture?  I call it a cute little tractor but the back wheels are about 4 feet high.  Look carefully at the picture.  I had to stop and dig it out because the engine components (starter, clutch, rad, oil filter etc.) where under the level of the mud.

My neighbour, who truly has one of everything, dropped by with his excavator and pulled me out of the pond.  Of course he has an excavator.  He needs it for his gravel pit...


1 comment:

  1. Congrats on a great result. Sorry to hear about Lea Anne's issues. I saw her take the first fall and I thought it looked bad. She didn't want any help and told us to go lol. Glad to see that she was able to finish, that's incredible! It's a tough course for sure it ate me up as well. Nice work to you both.