Friday, July 31, 2015

Update on Creemore Vertical Challenge and Dirty Girls Race Report

Creemore Vertical Challenge

Fortunately, there is little to report, mainly because progress continues apace with the plan.  And yes, there actually is a plan, or more exactly, a Specific Action Plan.  All the big projects at Honda (where I used to work before retirement) had to develop an SAP.  When I first started the CVC race, I developed an action plan as a means of keeping track of tasks and their progress.  My initial thought was that staging a race would be comparable to a minor project.  Wrong!  It is no where near as complicated as a large project, but more in line with a mid-sized project.  Staging a race takes about 10 months.  Yes, I will start working on the 2016 CVC race in October.  There is little to do until March, but just getting ready for launching the online registration (which I strive to do by January) requires completion of about a dozen tasks.  Those of you who are astute will have noticed that the Creemore race info page still shows the 2014 IAU Bronze Label certification.  Yes, I did obtain Bronze for 2015, but I did so after submitting the updated race page to the OUSER (now OUTRace) website.

I have started preparing the trails, signage is complete, hard stock has arrived (magazines, pins, bibs, cups, Gatorade, Hammer Gels, tables, tents... it's a long list) and there is only one surprise.  The surprise won't affect runners, but volunteers trying to get to aid station #2 are in for a detour!  The bridge over the Mad river on Collingwood Street is being replaced.  Collingwood Street includes the cute little Hill #1.  There is a detour to get from the town of Creemore to AS #2.

The long range weather forecast for race day looks good (I told you I might lie); partly cloudy and a high of 22.  Registration is down this year.  As I write this, there are still 89 spots left.  Hopefully there are a few procrastinators amongst the running crowd!  I like signing up late when dealing with an injury.  It allows for near-race day decisions.  From a race director's perspective, late sign-up causes potential issues.  I prefer to order T-shirts when I have a good indication of the numbers in terms of gender and size.  This year is a wild guess.  Those in the 25K might want to pick up your race gear early, or you might not get your shirt size.

Dirty Girls Race Report

I sort of envision 2015 as my comeback year.  I am running more (being retired, there is little excuse not to...), I am injury free and I have some long runs under my belt, having run 4 ultras before Dirty Girls (DG).  I am way more active now, then I was 2 years ago.  I have lost weight, so running should be effortless.  Yes, I am still an incurable optimist!

Heading into DG, I knew my A goal was unreachable.  I would have to bag 50K in 6 hours, to have a chance at reaching 80K (my A goal) in 12 hours.  My B goal; realistic, or so I thought, was to run 72K.  Since I had already run 52.8K in 6 hours at Kingston, I saw no reason why I would ever have to stop before 60K, in 12 hours.  Yes, it was a tough course, but please speak to the hand.

The first loop was slow, as traffic took a few kilometers to thin out.  This is fine in a 12 hour race, as I would be walking before the end.  The second loop is when I noticed how much I was sweating.  It was very humid, although I did not feel the heat.  I can normally run well in "mild heat", although there have been some spectacular exceptions.  Although I was careful not to over-amp, I was hoping to put in 4 - 5 loops before resorting to walking breaks.  Loop 3 was still fine, although my clothes changed from being drenched with sweat to... dry.  Not a good sign.

At the end of loop 3 (24K) I was tired.  This was very frustrating, as I had tapered well, with the exception of running 7.5K on Thursday.  Here is my logic.  Many runners run a slow, short run 2 days before a race, to stretch out the legs.  Since my training was going well, I figured a 7.5K run would not affect my race.  Perhaps I am wrong, but I should not have been tired after only 24K.  On loop 4 I definitely felt the heat.  My stomach was giving me a lot of grief, I was having trouble drinking enough, and dry clothes indicated that my hydration was off.  I diligently stuck to my salt intake plan, although perhaps I should have reduced earlier, as I was not able to take in a corresponding amount of water.

Loops 5 was when I knew this was not going to be my breakout race...  Okay, there is a modicum of sarcasm there, but I had prepared hard to run well beyond 50K.  On loop 7, although the math indicated I could still reach 64K (8 loops), I had to pull the plug.  I was nauseous and unsteady on my feet, even while walking.  After only 56K, I packed it in.

After my race was over, Kinga and Stephan Miklos helped me to recover.  I was very dizzy and close to passing out.  They helped me to take in fluids (ginger ale) and eat some food.  After a 5 minute struggle, I took off my shoes, hydration belt and socks.  I went over to the hose and poured water on my head.  Within 60 seconds, I felt much better!  Although I was in no condition to start another loop (I think Kinga would have hog-tied me if I had suggested as much) it meant that I was experiencing heat issues.  Had I used the hose sooner (after loops 4, 5 and 6), I might have made it to 64K.

Oh well, pigs cannot fly as yet...  Come on CRISPR's...

So, once again I am disappointed with my race.  Yes, it can be argued that factoring in the heat and humidity, 56K is not too bad.  Others at DG had problems.  I passed one fellow in the 24 hour race who was walking until it cooled down, a smart strategy for such a long race.  The silver lining in all this is that although my distance was deplorable, it took me 9.5 hours to get to 56K.  Much of ultra literature stresses that it is time on your feet that will eventually produce results.

I am hoping and waiting patiently...  for results.

My next race will likely be Haliburton, hopefully the 50 mile distance.  Before then, I have to prepare for the Creemore Vertical Challenge, then we are in Italy for 2 weeks, then I crew Lee Anne at the Race For The Ages, in Tennessee.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Limberlost Challenge Race Report

Okay, these RR's are coming fast and furious.  I will attempt to make this one brief, although it was supposed to be a simple race strategy and turned dark and ugly on the second loop...

Rare for me is foresight to plan a break in what is turning out to be a hectic race year.  I had hoped to run 50K at Laura Secord, but after 3 - 50+K races every other weekend, I needed a break, so I ran 28K at TLC (Limberlost).  Neil Jefferson is turning out to be one of the more competent race directors and his race is a pleasure to attend.  It helps to have a course that is incredible to run.  Beautiful scenery, challenging terrain and one of the warmest race venues in Canada.

The plan was simple.  Start fast and run tired on the second loop.  This was in preparation for my destination race, 12 hours at Dirty Girls.  The "destination" part is a bit of humour, as the DG race site is a 10 minute drive from home.  Ah humour!  They say I've lost it, but I still got it!

I fully embraced the first part of my race strategy, running at such a frenetic pace that even though I slowed considerably for the second half of the first loop, I still clocked a 1:41, for 14K.  Aside from the Duntroon Stayner 8K race (which turned south during the stagger back to Duntroon) I have not run far after speed work in a decade or two.  6K into my second loop (20K at TLC) I was having doubts that I could continue running.  My legs were trashed, my mind was whitewash and the gas tank had been on empty for about an hour...

I grasped the opportunity to focus on repair (to my legs) and try to salvage my race.  Now running at a pace that was marginally superior to a crawl, I strove to recover.  And I think recovery was happening!  I was not markedly faster, but I was no longer craving the desire to DNF.  Then I slipped on one of the numerous muddy sections and went down.  Hamstrings on both legs started cramping and I tore a quad.  Standing up took 40 seconds.  I could no longer run uphill or downhill.  I was facing a 7K lurch to the finish.

In the back of my mind was this totally unreasonable voice that was (smirking) calmly suggesting that I had very successfully accomplished my goal of running on tired legs.  I was not running on tired legs; I was running on trashed unstable legs.  Triage continued.

For 4K, I applied everything I knew about recovering.  I am not sure if the application was successful, or that I simpler grew tired of walking, but at 25K, I set out on what would have to be considered an actual run, and continued to the finish line.  First loop was 1:41 and the second loop took 2:11, for a time of 3:52:29.  Ouch!

Strangely, I was both disappointed with my time and pleased with upholding my goal.  I am hoping that it is 6-7 hours into DG before I feel as bad as I did at the 20K mark in TLC.  Perhaps I am being optimistic, and I have never run a 12 hour race before, so this feeling of hope might be supreme naivety, but one can only hope.

Hope to see you at DG!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Canada Day Duntroon to Stayner 8K Race Report

I have not been happy with my leg speed recently.  Training is going well, I am hitting 65K - 80K except on recovery weeks, so I should be able to maintain a higher speed during the races...  But not yet.  The solution is all too obvious - I need to incorporate some speed work into my training regime.  Wednesday seems to be a logical choice as I run with Lee Anne and we normally take Thursday off.  Friday is a long run.  So, the Duntroon to Stayner 8K Canada Day race happened to fall on a Wednesday this year.  The race is free and close to Creemore.  Perfect!

Lee Anne is training for the Massey Marathon and wants to run it fast.  A marathon is basically a warm-up for Lee Anne.  She normally runs more than a marathon on Friday and a marathon on Saturday.  Yes, every week of the year, unless she has a big race on the Saturday.  I live with a person who thinks 25K is a short run.  People say I deserve her.  People who are not very nice.

On the way to Duntroon, we discussed race strategy.  I like to keep things simple (please exclude living with someone who runs 7,500K per year) so I suggest that we run our normal (painfully) slow pace until 4K, then gradually increase speed until we are bleeding out the ears.  What could go wrong?  I forgot to factor in Lee Anne's approach to "extremely short" races.  8K will fail miserably to make her legs tired.  Never mind that Lee Anne will be running back to Creemore after running to Stayner.  My normal starting pace is slower than 6 minute kilometers.  Let's say 6:30 for arguments sake.  So why is Lee Anne's form dwindling into the horizon at one kilometre?  I up the tempo, in a futile attempt to stay with her.  Please understand that neither of us are moving very quickly, but I like to warm up slowly for the first 15K, before ramping up.  2K into the race and I am breathing hard; Lee Anne is no longer pulling away from me, but I am certainly not reeling her in.  At 4K there is no point in speeding up because I am already approaching a 5 minute K.  I had hoped to be at a 6 minute K at this point, in which case I could "speed up" to a 5:30 pace!

Something strange is happening.  I used to run fast.  In fact, when I played rugby, I was somewhere near a 4.6 second 40 yards.  At 6K, my cardiovascular had finally caught up to the pace.  I am still behind Lee Anne, but either she is slowing, or I am gaining.  I don't think she is slowing much.  With 100 meters to the finish line, I draw even with Lee Anne.  There is no need to surge past her, but I am very happy that I could sustain a good pace over the last 2K.  Our finishing time was 41:xx for 8K.  I no longer wear a Garmin, but in order to compensate for the 6:xx kilometers at the start, we must have run at a 4:xx pace for the last 2K!  We were both quite happy.

Then reality set in.  Lee Anne would run back to Creemore for a total of about 23K (adequate mileage considering the speed work, according to Lee Anne) while I ran back to Duntroon to pick up the car.  Just a note to those of you in your late 50's / early 60's who are attempting speed work for the first time since the 1970's...  Running 8K on trashed legs is uncomfortable.  Seriously?

Another "first in a long while" was my back-to-back run last weekend.  In order to train properly for the Haliburton 50 miler, I need to run some B2B's.  Two days after the Canada Day race, I ran 31K with Lee Anne on the Friday (she continued after I stopped) then 25K on the Bruce Trail with friends Nancy Chong and Dawn Hamel on the Saturday.  Nancy and Dawn are about halfway along running the entire Bruce Trail.  The 25K took us 5 hours.

The Limberlost Challenge

TLC is in 2 days.  I am running the 28K as I have a date with the Dirty Girls 12 hour race the following week.  I am looking forward to the shortest race so far this year.  I am hoping to open it up a little and see what the legs will do.  Yes, I only have 2 speed work sessions this year (this decade...) but I am hoping to push hard for the entire race.  Although realistically, at Limberlost, maintaining a leisurely pace requires quite the push!

I have no recent pictures, but the totem pole is almost complete and has been moved to the laneway, where it will be erected.  It is difficult for those of us who have put so much effort into making the pole, to realize just how incredible the totem appears.  It is nowhere near as majestic as the western poles, some of which are 5 feet in diameter.  Our pole averages merely 1 foot in diameter, but at 35+ feet tall, it has a presence.

Down to the short strokes leading up to the Creemore Vertical Challenge.  The prizes look amazing (Lee Anne is becoming quite the potter again) and even the finishing medals have appeal.  60 prizes for a race capped at 250 is probably ludicrous, but we have had fun making the pottery and maple syrup this year.  Perhaps in future years, some form of pragmatism will evolve, as we are spending about 6 weeks each making the prizes...

There seems to be some interest in the CVC from afar.  There are people signed up from Scotland, England, Dubai and even Nepal.  The 50K men's record holder Calem Neff has signed up, which is fantastic.  Last year, Mike Tickner came within a minute of breaking Calem's record.  Mike was 42 minutes ahead of second place.  If Mike had someone to run with, I feel he could have fared better.  The young women from Nepal was in the 2004 Olympics, so this year could be interesting!

Hope to see you at  Limberlost!