Sunday, October 17, 2010
Ottawa 24 hours on the track race report
September 24th / 25th was the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race around the track. It took place in Ottawa on a really great track at the Louis Riel Dome. The track was a standard 400 meter indoor track so no worries about heat, rain, mud, uphills, downhills, bears, sleet or snow for this race.
I really had no idea of what to expect when it came to this race. I have done a number of races this year where I was on the course for 24 hours or longer but they were all trail races. This was to be something completely different as I attempted to run around in circles (literally) for a full day. As a track Ultra virgin I when into this race feeling good about the physical effort that would be required but nervous about the mental challenge that running the same 400 meters again and again might present. I got to say in the end I was pretty clueless.
As those of you that follow this blog know I ran the 100 miler at Haliburton just 2 weeks before this race. In the process I completely demolished my feet as well as straining my left ankle. As I got ready to head to Ottawa both of those conditions had improved but not healed completely. My ankle was still a little tender and my feet while not blistered were still a little raw in places. To be honest 2 days before this race I was still not sure I would be healthy enough to go but by Friday morning I decided to give it a shot.
The plan was to try and run 160km so that is how I would pace the race however I would be happy with 140+. The real factor would be how my feet held up, if they were an issue then all bets would be off.
For most distance races like this Kim and I will take the day before off so that we can drive up, get accommodations and relax but for Ottawa we just couldn’t. That meant that we would not be able to start the 5 hour drive until Friday evening and even then it would be in Toronto evening traffic which is not exactly fun or fast. By the time we go home, packed up the car and got out on the road it was already 8pm.
The drive up went well but slow and we didn’t get into Ottawa until close to 2 AM. Both of us were struggling to stay awake and so when we pulled into the parking lot of the Dome we decided that with less then 6 hours before the start of the race there was little point in getting a room that we would use for 4 hours or so. We opted instead to just sleep in the car. We had a tent but it seemed like way to much effort to set it up.
After a very restful (HA .. as if) sleep we slithered out of the car around 7 AM. Hmmm that’s strange there were still no other cars here. Kim had been told that the Dome would be open at 6 AM. It was after some map consultation that we realized that we were at the wrong dome and that the actual place we were supposed to be was a bit further down the road. In our very sleepy state the night before we had just figured that there could only be one dome on the same road. Man talk about being a dummy. We headed farther down the road and found the actual race venue around the next corner.
We spent the next little while drinking coffee and setting up our tent and chair. The track looked great but I discovered it also looked bigger when its inside. Soon each runner meet their official counter, we had some final directions, a group photo and it was time to race.
Not much to report from early on in the race. I tried to make sure my pace was the proper speed for a 160km run. I found that I had to really work on staying slow. I also just kept a very close eye on my hydration, salt intake and food. It was easy to loss track of this as you circled around and around. The first 50k went really well and I was right on pace and feeling good at that point. The mental fatigue I had expected just was not there as I found myself chatting to different people as I went along. Some people were really flying out around the track as there were a lot of really good runners. Laurie McGrath lapped me so many times that we practically had an ongoing conversation.
Kim stayed up until this point and then left to go do a long run on the canals in downtown Ottawa as I continued to circle. I managed to hit the 80km / 50 mile mark at just over 10 hours which was again right on pace. I felt okay but was begin to have issues with my feet. The areas that had been in the process of healing from Haliburton were now beginning to blister. I took 10 minutes at just after 50 miles to lance and drain a number of growing blisters and apply some newskin.
It was also at this point that I made my first appearance on the leader board in 7th place (men) and by 85km had moved to 6th and I was still running well even with my blisters. Unfortunately somewhere just before I hit 90km I began to feel pain in my previously injured ankle. Not bad pain but it was there. Now as everyone that runs long distances knows the best thing to do when you have pain is to run through, it so I did.
The blisters continued their growth over the next 10km despite repeatedly stabbing them with sharp pins while at the same time the small pain in my ankle continued to grow. I hit 100 km in 13 hrs, still right on pace for 160 but now I was aware that I was slowly heading into deep trouble. Soon after this point my ankle became incredibly painful and by hour 14 I was no longer able to run. Any type of pressure greater then a ginger walk became impossible. Continuing to run no longer became a mental challenge. It became a physical impossibility.
At that point I did what every good runner does. No I didn’t quit. No I didn’t cry, okay at least not where others could see me. I started walking and I keep walking. I walked slowly, very very slowly as that was all my ankle would allow but I walked. I figured I am here on the track and it’s the middle of the night so what the heck else was there to do. It was frustrating but round and round I walked that damn track and my blisters continued to grow. They grew so big that I should have given each of them their own name before they demanded it. How big does a blister have to get before it becomes self aware? The more I stabbed and drained them the bigger they got. It was like they were mocking me. No matter though, I keep on going at somewhere around the pace of a dung beetle. Somehow I kept this up until 6:30 am and then my feet would go no farther so I called it a day. Maybe I could have continued for the last hour and a half but I was so slow that I may have only gotten around the track 3 or 4 laps in the time left. There will be no pictures of my feet in this blog posting. I didn’t take any as I found my feet actually too scary to look at.
Total distance 128km
2nd mens 40 – 45
After the race they served us up a pretty good breakfast although it was vegetarian (I knew that going in). Then they gave out the awards. Everyone got a photo of themselves running (sorry I cant post it as I haven’t scanned it into the computer), a certificate with their mileage on it and a finishing metal. I also managed to pick 2nd place in my age category.
I actually really liked this race / type of race. It would have been a lot better if I had not been injured but hey that’s the breaks when it comes to running. I didn’t find it a bigger mental challenge then other long races like 100 milers but somewhat different. On the track there is no place to hide.
I will definitely be doing another one of these races in the very near future.
Next up for me is the Vulture Bait 50km on Saturday October 16th.