Friday, September 17, 2010
Dirty Girls 24 HR Race Report -My 1 year Ultra Anniversary
This was my second year running the dirty girls trail race and marked one year since my first official Ultra race. Last year I ran the 6 hour event where I somehow managed to get in 50km. This year the plan called for running the 24 hour event in preparation for the Haliburton 100 miler in September. My hope was to get in about 140k but more importantly to fix the issues that plagued me during my first 100 miler at Sulphur. The plan was to make sure I figured out my nutrition and to stick to my early charted paces instead of running to hard early.
We headed up to the race site in Mansfield on Saturday morning with are friend Gregoire who was running the 30k as his first official trail race. Welcome to the darkside Gregoire. Kim was also running the 6hr race with plans to do around 30k. Weather was great but called for the possibility of rain early Sunday morning.
I was already familiar with the course from last year. It consists of a 10k loop made up of single and double track trail with some challenging technical areas. I actually really like this course as it suits my running style. This year the course had a few minor changes from last year and one really big one. The course was going to be run backwards. No we didnt run backwards we ran the course in the opposite direction from previous years although at some points I began to feel like I was running backwards.
Things started out well as the 6, 12, and 24hr runners headed out across open field. I felt like I was going so slow as others started to stretch out the pack. I just keep thinking about Sulphur and tried to keep it in check. For some reason my garmin didnt seem to be working as I could see pace and time but distance seemed to be not working. I was a good km into the race and it still said 46 in that damn box. What the heck. I had hoped to run some early with JD but had lost him in the crowd at the start so that wasn't going to happen (strangely I didnt see him the entire race). Soon we where into the hills, I had forgotten about them.. .how strange.
As I made my way up a short gravel road at the 3k mark I could see another part of the course which looped around and then goes back into the woods. There were a number of runners that are usually around my pace running together on this part of the course and they were actually already far ahead of me. I decided to time myself from the spot I was at to the spot where I had seen them. After taking all the twists and turns through the woods and then back around a discovered that I was a full 6 minutes behind them. Was I going that slow? Should I speed up? The little voice said stay with the plan cause changing it last time didnt work out at all. I would make it my mission to listen to the little voice this time no matter what.
I checked my Garmin again, still it didnt seem to be giving me the right distance data. What the heck. I looked closer. Oh crap, somehow I had switched menu set and was looking at the wrong info. I couple of clicks and I soon had the proper distance showing. Man talk about stupid. This is what happens when I drink less then 3 coffees in the morning.
Soon I was running by the 5k aid station that was being manned by Stephan and Kinga Miklos. I stopped for a Heed bottle refill and then was back on the trail. Soon I had hooked up with Rick who I had been talking with at Creemore (he had suffered as much or more then me there). He was running one of the shorter races. We ran the rest of the loop together and soon I was back at the start / finish line. First lap was 1:15 which was 5 minutes slower then planned but that was fine with me. I really wanted to not be too fast early on.
The next few laps when really well. I ran most of the next 50km alone with the exception of running a half loop with Paul Chenery who I was just behind in the OUSER standing and who I hadn't gotten a chance to run with before (mainly because the guy is usually way ahead of me in races). I keep my refueling on course and keep my aid station stops quick. I was also right on pace and felt very strong as I headed out for loop 7.
Well as they say nothing lasts forever especially when your running for an entire day. Sometime during the early part of loop 7 as I cruised along a nice flat section of trail I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. It disappeared for a few seconds only to return in as a throbbing ache that was soon to become my constant trail companion. For those of you not familiar with my right knee its my bad knee (the one with no ACL). It hasnt been an issue for a long time but does occasionally show up to cause me problems, usually when I am least expecting it.
The knee continued to become more and more of a problem over the course of the loop and I knew this was not good. By the time I got to end of the loop it was very sore but with 80km already run I really wanted to get my belt buckle (you needed to run 120k). I let Kim know about my knee as she fed me homemade sweet potato soup. I had been smart enough to bring my knee brace with me so I threw that on and headed back out.
The plan now had to be changed. I would no longer worry about pace and conscientiously slowed down a far amount. Now the rest of the night would be about getting in my final 40 k run while doing as little damage to my already sore knee as possible. I tried to keep in mind that I had the Haliburton 100 miler coming up in 3 weeks and if I was not recovered I would not be running it.
To be honest it soon became easy to go slow and after another 20k I may not have been able to go any faster on my run / limp even if I had wanted to. The uphills and flats were okay but the downhills were completely trashing me. On the positive side I did have plenty of time to get my Ks in even while I was doing the inch worm which is officially slower then the zombie shuffle.
The night running went slowly by and I made prolonged stops at the start/finish and 5k aid stations. Sometime just before dawn I saw what looked like reflective tape on someones camel back. It was so strange because as I grew closer I realized the runner didnt appear to be moving at all. Final when I got within 10 meters I realized that it wasnt a runner at all but the eyes of on of the biggest deer I have ever seen in my life. The deer shot me a look, of disgust as far as I could tell, and then bounded off the trail and into the woods.
By the time the sun came up I was tired as hell and on my last loop. I was so glad to see the light after spending almost 10 hrs running alone in the dark. I ended up hitting 120k at the 22:30 mark and grabbed something to eat from Kim. I sat in a chair at our little finish area pit stop and tried to decide if I wanted to go back out. I didnt think I could get a full loop in but they counted part loops and I figured many people may have stopped as soon as they reached belt buckle status. I really didnt want to go back into the damn woods so I sat for 10 minutes thinking about it.
Just when I had almost decided to say screw it the skies opened up and it began to pour rain. I pulled my rain poncho on but the water kept flowing down the back of the chair, pooling on the seat and soaking my ass. I figured that does it and headed back out onto the course to put in another 2.5k. Not much running here just a slow walk in the torrential downpour. Come on who doesn't like a long walk in the rain. I will tell you who, that would be me. Then the race was done.
I got my belt buckle and ended up finishing 10/39. Total distance run was 122.5km. Also got a random door prize of a subscription to trail running magazine (thanks Diane).. Good thing too as my subscription had almost run out. Now if I just learn how to read I can do more with it then just look at the pretty pictures.
Lots of good and bad in this one but overall positive. I seemed to have figured out my calorie intake and eating issues. That meant gels early then a combination of ensure, sweet potato soup, potatoes and strawberries. Also lots of salt tabs and heed / eload for as long as I can take it. Oh ya and dont forget the many cups of coke. I also seemed to get my pacing in check until I got hurt. On a down note the knee issue was a surprise and I was somewhat disappointed that I didnt get in my minimum of 140k done. I think I would have if not for slowing to preserve the leg but that makes it no less aggravating.
Lastly I am officially a Spazz. In the first 8 loops I stubbed my toe on the same small tree trunk 7 times. Seriously I kid you not, 7 times, and the one time I avoided it I was so distracted thinking about how I avoided it that I tripped over another rock 10 seconds later. Once again its never smart to have a party / celebration in your head while your running trail.
Once again this year Diane put on a great race. Dirty Girls was one of my favorite races last year and will rank right up near the top again this time. Great trail, great organization and a buckle to boot what more can you ask for. Finally just for the recorded the reversal of the direction that the course was run from previous years definitely made this race much harder then the year before. Its funny how just running a trail the other way can change it so much but there ya go.