Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leadville 100 mile race report


It appears that I am the last one of the group that I went to the Leadville 100 mile trail race with to get around to posting a race report. Does that mean I am slower and lazier than my friends? Of course it does, like duh you should have caught on to that by now. You new here or what? Actually I have been slow as this is a report I didn't want to write and wanted to write all at the same time.

SPOILER ALERT - As many of you know I didn't finish. So now that we have gotten that tidbit out of the way what the heck happened out there? Here are the gory details.

Prerace
Not a lot to say here. Kim and I flew into Denver, hooked up with Carlos and drove up to Leadville. This race starts in Leadville at 10,000 ft and you spend the entire race running between 9,000 and 12,600 ft so altitude is a big factor in this one. I knew that my Toronto training at a lofty 200ft above sea level and zero altitude training was going to factor into this race big time and I wasn't disappointed.

Holy crap reinforcement incident number 1. We arrive at the hotel. I climb the 2 flights of stairs to the room. At the top I am sucking wind like I just ran a 5k, unbelievable. Not a good sign at all.

Holy crap reinforcement incident number 2. JD is already in the room and is going for a short 20 minute run so I join him and Carlos as we run the last mile of the Leadville course. It is bad, real bad, obviously somebody forgot to add oxygen to the town. I am going slow and hurting just the same. I feel like I have been running all day when JD says we have just hit the 3 minute mark, what the heck? I could have sworn I was in shape before I got here.

The next 2 days fly by as the rest of our group shows up. I feel okay but have a low grade headache most of the time. Kim and I drive the aid stations on Friday so she knows where to meet me. Its beautiful along the course but one look from Twin Lakes towards Hopes Pass and I begin to get a good idea of what I am in for. Seriously folks what the heck was I thinking?

Race Start to Mayqueen 13.5 miles
The start of this race is amazing even if it does start at an ungodly 4am. There is so much energy in the corral and I have trouble remembering the last time I have been so hyped up and nervous before a race. I stay towards the back with most of our group waiting for the shotgun blast and then we are off.

Out of the gates I feel pretty good once I get going. I run along with Morgan while Steve, JD and Kendra are just behind us. Carlos who is much faster is already long gone by the time we hit mile 1.

The first 6 miles are mostly road, some paved and some dirt. Its downhill and should be fast but we keep it slow. EVERYTHING that I have read about this race (which is a lot) says the same thing. Don't get sucked in and run to fast, that you can lose your race right here if you trash yourself before getting to Hopes Pass. I stay extremely slow. It ends up being my first big mistake of the day. I am already putting my race in jeopardy and don't have a clue. At some point along here Morgan tells me he is going to speed up some. I decide to let him go and hang back (still part of mistake #1) and soon stop for my second pee break in the first 3 miles. I see JD going past and jump back in with him. We end up running a good chunk of the next 40 miles together.

Soon we are off the road and into single track trail. Its slow going as there is no where to pass along this  section so we end up in a conga line for about  7 miles. I kept having to stop and pee which puts me behind even slower people each time. As we circle the lake the sun begins to come up and we are soon into Mayqueen.



Mayqueen to Fish Hatchery 23.5 miles
Kim meets me at Mayqueen where I swap my bottles for a hydration pack, grab my sunglasses and chug down an ensure. Having smart crew is so great. I am out of the aid station in under a minute and still running with JD. The plan was to make Mayqueen between 2:20 and 2:30 but we end up being slow and come in at 2:36. I am unhappy with this but no need to panic. I  had to stop and pee 5 times which was a good 6 or 7 minutes lost. I just could not figure this out at all. If I went twice during the first 3 hours I would call that way to many times. Just one of those mysteries of life.

Soon we were into the woods and onto some really nice single track trail. We ran this at a good pace but eventually it gave way to some big climbs that dumped us out onto the dirt road that takes you 1200ft up Sugarloaf pass.  Both JD and I felt like we were making decent time as we were regularly passing people and not being passed to often ourselves.

Things continued to appear to be going well as we hit the top of the pass and started down the power lines. We were running along downhill, making decent time when suddenly JD was flying through the air sideways. He fell just about as hard as I have ever seen anyone fall and thank goodness there were some big rocks right there to help him skid to a stop. He was up quickly and seemed to be okay except for the complete lack of skin on his elbow. There was some swearing but nothing life threatening so we were back running in no time.

We went fast but not too fast down the Powerline. Maybe we should have hammered them but it was tough to know how hard was to hard. Go to hard your quads get destroyed descending the 1400 ft to Fish Hatchery but go to slow and you lose a chance to make good time.

We reached the bottom of hill and were back out onto the road which was crowded with spectators and crew. It was so crowded that we thought the aid station must be right there but we soon discovered that we had another mile of road before getting to the Fish Hatchery.



Fish Hatchery to Treeline 27 miles
I meet Kim at Fish Hatchery, down an ensure and switch to a bottle for the short leg to Treeline. It is a zoo here with huge crowds of people but Kim once again does an excellent job crewing. I am in and out in 2, 3 minutes max. JD stops to get his elbow looked at so I head out alone figuring he will catch up. Carlos and Morgan are somewhere ahead on the course, Steve and Kendra are somewhere behind.

The run to Treeline is mostly paved road so I make good time for awhile. Most people don't like this section but I didn't mind it. Around a mile before Treeline we turn onto a jeep trail which leads us to the crewing area. Treeline is not an aid station but crews meet runners here as there is no crew access at the next aid station.

Once again it is a freaking zoo of craziness with people everywhere. I wonder if I might not even see Kim but once again she is right on the ball finding me and crewing me. I switch back to my hydration pack and stop for about a minute to chug and ensure and to wait for JD who is coming up the road just behind me.

Treeline to Half Pipe 30 miles
I can't tell you a lot about the next 3 miles to Half Pipe. I think I may have blotted this out of my mind. Mostly jeep road as far as I can remember but unshaded leaving you exposed. Nothing to see here, move along.

Half Pipe to Twin Lakes 40 miles
We arrive at Half Pipe in decent time, 11 minutes off schedule overall so not a problem. We are in and out quickly and are more than an hour and a half ahead of the cutoffs. I feel good and strong. I have no worry about finishing and believe its all under control.

This is a weird section and takes both JD and me by surprise. Its mostly uphill but with lots of slight inclines. There was a lot of do you walk this hill or run it. Everyone else is walking almost all the uphills. We run the flats and conserve for the Pass. This ends up being a mistake but seemed like a solid decision at the time.

We hit the water only aid station 3 miles from Twin Lakes. It seemed to take forever to get there and I am beginning to get nervous feet. Its mostly downhill but somewhat technical through here so we really pick it up. We are flying until I fail to see a giant rock and slam my big toe into it. Thats going to leave a mark and cost me the toenail. I tell JD I need to walk for a second to recover as it hurt real bad. Here is a piece of trail running advice. Don't drop kick 50 pound rocks, it just doesn't turn out well in the end. It goes numb quickly though and we speed into Twin Lakes.



Twin Lakes to Winfield 50 miles
We meet Kim at Twin Lakes and quickly refuel. She says Morgan is about 15 minutes ahead of us and is fighting the altitude. JD and I leave the aid station in good spirits almost 2 hours ahead of the cutoff with not a care in the world.

Its a mile to the base of the climb up Hopes Pass. We traverse the river crossings and before long we are headed up the mountain. I had hoped that my experience at altitude during Pikes Peak last year would have prepared me but boy was I wrong. This was a whole different thing done on legs that had been running all day. Is there a speed slower than slow because if there is then thats what I was doing.

We climbed and climbed never seeming to make any progress. It seems to me that no matter how good your legs felt the apparent lack of air was just crushing. Eating and drinking were impossible to do unless you stopped moving as just a few seconds of not breathing as you drank left you gasping for breath.

As we made are slow death march up the trail race leader Krupicka flies past us on the way back down followed a few minutes later by 2 or 3 other runners. They go past in a blur reinforcing the fact that I am barely moving.  That said we are not getting passed by anyone going up and so we figure we are still doing okay. As you climbed up the hill just about every big rock or fallen tree had someone sitting on it trying to catch their breath.

Around half way up JD decided to stop to catch is breath while I decide to keep on pushing. At some point the long straight up trail gave way to very nasty switchbacks and then to open field as we crossed the tree line. Finally I saw the hopeless aid station up ahead.

Aid station or MASH unit I am not really sure what was happening here. It was crazy with runners sprawled out all over the place. I grabbed 2 cokes and kept right on going as it is another half mile of switchbacks until you reach the top of the pass.

Nothing I can type here can describe just how incredible the view and landscape is on top of the pass. I would call it breathtaking but since you haven't been able to breath for the last couple of hours that doesn't mean anything. Huge mountains, fields with frolicking lamas, some guy on the switchback above me pulling down his pants and mooning some other runners below me. How awe inspiring, ever see mountain man ass, let me tell yeah its no treat.

Finally I top the pass at 12,600 ft and head down the other side. I think I will make good time here but not so much. Its rocky above the tree line and once we make it down a series of switchbacks to the woods its literally straight down. The trail is so steep that you are breaking hard the entire way. Hey remember my smashed toe, well neither did I until I started down the back side of Hopes Pass.

I know we will have to climb up this on the way back but try not to think about it. Finally we reach the turn onto the new part of course. Until this year you ran to the bottom of Hopes Pass and out onto the dirt road for three miles to Winfield. This year at the last minute they replaced it with trail. I though good I like trail but I failed to realize 3 things. First the trail added 1.6 miles extra each way making Leadville a 103 mile race. Secondly you are slowed down because of all the runners coming back along the mostly single track trail. Third unlike the road the trail was not relatively flat adding about 600 ft of climb.

I see Carlos coming back the other way and he is looking like he is doing okay. He tells me its about an hour to Winfield. I curse and swear under my breath, this "new" section is adding a lot of time to my race and was not calculated into my pace chart. I plug along still feeling okay but mentally in a not so great spot. At one point I can see the Winfield parking lot way down below as we keep going past it to eventually loop around. I take a big swig from my hydration pack but nothing happens. At first I think something must be wrong with the hose but soon I realize that I am out of water. F@#K me, it takes me another 30 minutes to get to Winfield from here.




Winfield to Twin Lakes inbound 60 miles (actually 63 miles but whos counting)
It is a madhouse here, absolute bedlam. This has got to be the Arkham Asylum of aid stations. I do the mandatory weigh in. No issues I am only 1.8 pounds down. I meet Kim and try to get some food and fluids into me. Morgan is there and is struggling. This is the only aid station I spend any time at all day and its only 5 or 6 minutes. I needed to make sure I got extra fluids into me after running out of water.

JD rolls in  just as I am getting ready to leave. He tells me Steve is just behind him and Kendra is somewhere in the aid station. We discuss the time problem and whether the cut off is makable at Twin Lakes. JD has already done the same math as I have and making the cut off is going to be a stretch. The added distance and change of terrain has kind of screwed us. I tell him I am running until they make me stop and head out.

I run as quick as I can but its no stroll in the park. Morgan passes me somewhere along the new section, I want to latch on but just cant do it but I keep up a decent effort. I reach the back side of the pass and start to climb. It is so hard, so steep, so crazy. I just bury my head and keep on moving. Every time I look up all I see is trail going straight up into the woods.

Finally I hit the tree line and start up the switchbacks. Its brutally tough going and when I look up I can see ant sized runners slowly working themselves towards the top. By the time I get to the top its getting dark and I put on my headlamp. I look back from the direction I came and see a line of about 100 headlamps making there way up the pass. None of them have a chance of making the cutoff. As I run the switchbacks down into Hopeless I look at my watch and try and do the math. Its an impossible task. My brain will not function enough to figure out how long I have until the cut off or how fast I need to go.

I have a simple solution to this. I decide to run as fast as I can back to Twin Lakes. Simple, except its 3,600 ft of downhill running on rocky trail in the dark. I go as fast as I can and pass 40 to 60 people along this stretch. I manage not to take any big falls but smash my toes repeatedly on many, many rocks.

I hit the bottom of the pass and soon am at the river crossing. I race across the shallow first river and then make the mistake of following another runner across the second. Halfway across my foot catches a submerged log and I face plant in the river. Nice. Just after I make it across two runners pass me and say that there is 8 minutes left until the cut off. I look at my watch for the first time since I started my kamikaze mission down Hopes Pass. It says 3 minutes and I am a mile from Twin Lakes. I know I am done but I still run as fast as I can. I end up missing the cut off by 8 minutes.

They cut my wristband off here. I have never had a race where I took a DNF and yet felt like I could still run no problem. It sucks. I warmed up at the aid station after my late night swim and I over heard them saying that 150 people missed the cutoff here.

Carlos is the only one out of our group that manages to finish and he is super trashed by the end. There are already plans by just about all of us to return next year and I plan to be there.

Some things I learned and some positives
A huge positive for me. Notice that this race report fails to mention puking? Looks like the changes I made worked. I switched to scaps for salt/electrolytes. I ran with water only no sports drinks. Geled every 20 minutes switching flavours after every 5 gels. Worked great and I ate about 60 gels while getting a few extra calories every 2 hours by drinking ensure.

Also aid stations / crewing went great. Almost no time spent in the aid stations at all which was helped by excellent crewing by Kim.

I DNFed but this was an amazing experience and what I learned on the course this year should get me there next time.

I also learned that altitude sucks. Next year I will need to get out there at least a week early and will have to rent an altitude tent for a month before hand. What I felt was my normal pace was 20-30 seconds a km slower at the same effort level. I am just not fast enough to give away that kind of time.

See the other runners in my groups blogs post below

JD's blog
Kendra's blog
Morgans blog
Carlos's blog

Also I had planned on running back over Hopes Pass with a camera but didnt because I was racing the cutoff. I dont have any good pics of the trails but if you go to this guys blog you will see some really great trail shots for those that might be curious.

Running and Rambling 

Next up the Haliburton 100 miler in two days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leadville training recap and a decent July

Well the training is all but done for Leadville. It's all over but the crying and another week and half of tapering. My training ended up going fairly well, not perfect but not bad. I will give it a grade of A- or maybe B+. I managed to finish off my training with a pretty decent July. My days running streak ended at 38 days with the start of my taper.

July Statistics

# of runs = 39
Days run = 31 out of 31 days
Time spent running = 59:39:27
Races = 2: Creemore 50k and Limberlost 56k
Total mileage = 351 miles or 565 km

I am happy with my overall mileage for the month but still it was a little less than planned. Had expected to do over 600km but cut one of my long runs short.  I found that towards the end of the month I was right on the edge of over training. I figured it was smarter to pull back a little. I call this trying to learn from the past. Honestly though it still sometimes seems like slacking off. I have a little trouble excepting that I am not in my twenties anymore.

July was a really tough month this year. It was almost non stop heat wave conditions making some of my 2 a day runs seem like a bad bad idea. Running in the heat for a few days is tough but for weeks on end can be soul sucking.

A big thanks to Steve Parke for spearheading the run everyday in July challenge and all those other trail runners that played along. It really helped getting me out the door a number of times during the month.

Leadville training recap

I had a decent training plan which went not exactly like planned but still went well. November was all about getting back into shape and rehabing my injured shin. That meant lots of cross training / strength training and a lot of time on the bike in spin classes to get the cardio  back up while I rebuilt my mileage.

# runs = 48
# weight training workouts = 39
# spin classes / bike =  31
Total running miles = 469 miles or 722km

In January I tried to get down to doing long runs, B2B runs and lots of tempo. I dropped the biking but kept the strength training up until the end of June.


# runs = 170
# weight training workouts = 84
# spin classes / bike =  6
Total running miles = 1848 miles or 2974km
Runs 50km+ = 6

The Good
Got a lot of back to back long runs in. After doing lots of tempo I raced a HM in March and was only 25 seconds off my PB even though I didn't taper at all. Spent a lot of time on the trail running long due to the mild winter and practiced / worked on nutrition trying to solve my stomach issues. Ran PBs in the marathon (no taper again) and the 100 miler. Currently I am great shape with less than 10% body fat.

The Bad
Pulled up lame with a hamstring injury at the end of March. Ran through it for a while but was forced to take some down days in April. It was okay to run on at marathon pace or slower but would become a big issue after any fast tempo or track work. I was forced to change my training program replacing fast running with more hills, long treadmill climbs at ridiculous grades and some stair workouts. Hamstring finally seemed to be fully healed in early July.

The Ugly

Got sick in my 100 miler at Sulphur Springs so nutrition was still not worked out. I though I might have to drop at 50 miles. Wasted a ton of time at the aid station trying to recover. Got to learn to push on when that happens. If I waste time like this at Leadville I will be toast.

Taper
First week went well but got a scare when I turned my ankle on the trails. It ended up being okay though. Now I just got to make it to the end of the week healthy and I will be good to go.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Looking for Leadville pacers, training almost done, some thoughts on Limberlost


Decided to open with a picture of Kim running at Limberlost. She has been training her ass off to get ready to run her first 50k at Oil Creek in October. Also lets be honest pictures of Kim are much more  pleasing than my ugly mug.

I am looking for pacers for Leadville so if you are going to be in Colorado the weekend of August 18th  and have nothing more interesting to do you can watch me suffer in person. What I get will be someone that can push me a bit, mule for me and will have a brain that is still functioning enough to do basic math. What you get is a suffering, mostly likely bitchy, grumpy, tired runner that may or may not be mumbling incoherently. Doesn't that sound like a bargain? I promise not to puke on your shoes if I can at all help it. Disclaimer: this in no way is an actual guarantee but is only a vague promise which I can not really be held to.


If you are interested leave a message.

I am into my last week of heavy training for Leadville and will start to taper next week. Thank goodness as I am starting to get a little burnt out at this point. I brought the mileage back up in July and shut down the weights until after the race. I am in shape (I think) and healthy but still worried about the big wild card also know as altitude but since just like the weather I have no control over it I cant worry about it. Hey Pierre if you really can control the weather can you give me sunny but cool at Leadville on the 18th?

I decided not to do a race report on Limberlost as I was just using it as a run. If you have run this you are already aware that this is a beautiful but tough trail. I had hoped to put up a time about the same as 2 years ago. Well that didn't happen.

Things went okay for the first 2 loops around the 14km course. That said I already was slowing in the second half of loop 2. I think that might have had a lot to do with my heavy training mileage the last few weeks and the temperature climbing to 36. Man it was so hot and the 35 percent drop rate reflected that. Once it was clear that a good time was not happening I slowed it down and went into survival mode. Managed to finish and actually was a good test mentally as the temptation to pack it in each time you came through the start / finish at the end of the loop was huge.

Once again the RD did a great job given the difficult conditions. This race is well organized at every level from course markings to finishing area and food. Well done guys.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Creemore Vertical Challenge 50k Race Report



Last Saturday Kim and I headed north of city for the Creemore Vertical Challenge. I last ran this race 2 years ago and without a doubt still consider it the biggest blow up I have ever experienced in a race shorter than a 50 miler.  Don't believe me you can see the race report from 2010 here.  I was hoping to have a much better experience this time out.

So there are things I know about Creemore and things I wonder about. I know from past history that it will be stupidly hot. Most likely fry an egg on the brim of your hat hot. The kind of hot that makes you question why you decided to run the 50k with a perfectly good 25k race happening at the same time. Luckily there are lots of sections on country road that are unshaded and totally exposed just in case you figure that you might not be getting enough sun.

I also know that it will be hilly, really, really hilly. It isn't called the vertical challenge for nothing. My garmin tells me about 6700 ft. of ascent in the 50k and since its a 25k loop that means 6700 ft. of downhill as well. Not to worry tho as the RD insists that there are only 4 actual hills on the course. Take a look at the elevation profile below and feel free to decide for yourself.


Finally I know that there will be beer at the end which you can enjoy while sitting in the Mad River soaking your tired legs. The river is conveniently located just steps away from the finish line.

I also had questions. I wondered is Race Director Pierre M an evil genius? Does he have the power to control the weather? Are there any hills in the area that we don't run up? If I suck as bad as 2 years ago should I just quit after one loop so that I can drink extra beer?

Race Day
Sharon came to pick us up bright and early Saturday morning. I checked the weather forecast on the way out the door and was amazed to find that it was suppose to be a high of 32 which by Creemore standards is almost Arctic like conditions. There was also a chance of thunderstorms, maybe Pierre doesn't control the weather after all (I was still skeptical about this).

We made it to the race site an hour early just as ominous dark clouds rolled in. By the time we had our race kits the rain was starting. Kim and I sat in the car for the next hour as huge thunder and lighting storms rolled through. There was a lot of rain coming down and by race time it had not really let up at all. This thing was going to get ugly.


Loop One 0-25k
The first 2k of race start off with some nice single track trail. I started slow and stayed back some to give my legs time to warm up a bit. This section was already muddy from the rain so it would be slow going anyway. I planned to run the race at a decent but moderate pace so as to not mess up my training for Leadville. So not racing it full out but not taking it to easy either.

After the first 2k you run on paved road briefly and then its onto country road until you get to the 5k aid station. I started to settle in here and got into a comfortable pace as we hit the woods for some steep downhill then across the beaver dam and back up. If I had any question as to how the rain was going to effect the course they were answered here. The climb was a mudfest and it was raining even harder. Clearly Pierre really does control the weather.

I didnt carry a camera so I don't have pictures of the conditions but you can see some good shots at Stacey P's blog. Seriously go take a look here.


Even with the rain and mud things were going okay. I felt good and was moving well but you had to be careful. It was slippery and some of the trail hills had become drainage ditches for the rain. At 8k I discovered a new course feature, a knee deep river crossing where there was never a river before, how quaint.

After crossing the river I caught up with a pack of runners just before the 12k aid station so I decided to stick with them for a while. Just up ahead I saw Laurie McGrath and eventually caught up to her.  We ended up having a nice chat over the next 12km. Usually I see Laurie at the start and at the end of races as she is way, WAY faster than me. We talked about upcoming races, the season so far and of course puking (a shared problem). She also tried to convince me that I should get into the lottery for HURT although I question whether I am strong enough yet to go after that one.

We made quick work of the big trail climb back up to the top of the escarpment and the long country road back to the 12 / 17k aid station. I was still feeling really good along this stretch and at some point we caught up to Wendy P. who I had run with a few times in High Park. We had collected a nice little pack by this point which more or less ended up staying together for the rest of the loop.

After the 17k aid station it was more hills. Yes Pierre I know you claim that there are only 4 "real" hills. We made the long climb up the gravel road to the top of Top Hill and down the road which some were calling pig shit road due to the smell from the nearby farms. Soon it was across a field and down a super steep long downhill on trail. Usually I would hammer this but it was muddy and slippery so I was braking all the way down until you get to the marsh. So needlessly hard on the quads.


There is a small homemade bridge in the marsh made out of logs. If I had to guess this bridge was made by leprechauns or the underpants gnomes. As I went to step up onto it with my left leg my right foot slipped in the mud causing me to veer sideways. My left foot made the bridge but my right foot had nowhere to go but down. Just like that I was in the thigh deep water. Crap. I waded across the small pond. I think Laurie got a good laugh as the muddy bottom tried hard to suck my running shoes off my feet. My shoes stayed on and I didn't face plant into the water so I count myself lucky.

At this point you head back up another "not real hill" and into the last aid station. The last 3k take you down a very long gravel road across a field and into the woods. The final km is single track that takes you down into 2 deep ravines. The banks are so steep that ropes have been strung so you can actually get up and down. This area was a mess of mud and you could see the skid marks of many who had struggled to get up the embankments. Its funny but this is just the kind of crap that I love most about trail running.

At the very end of the loop you cross a crazy bouncy bridge before the start/finish line. I took my first big fall here. The wood was wet and it was like walking on ice. I was careful but it didn't matter as I hit the ramp going down off the bridge my feet flew out and I was on my ass. I was lucky, my ass was not broken at all, my ego was bruised badly though. It was a pratfall that would have made Chevy Chase proud.  Total time for the loop 2:45.

Loop 2
There is not much to say about this loop as it was much more of the same. I could have sworn that I already ran this part. I had a quick refuel at the start finish downing an ensure and headed back out. I ended up running most of this loop alone eventually dropping the group of 5 or 6 runners that I had been with.

The course was really muddy now having been chewed up by so many runners. On a rocky downhill with a lot of loose shale I took my second spill as the rocks under my foot slide out from under me. I came down hard on my hand and it really hurt. The good was that my thumb still worked so no break but the lower part of my palm started to swell right away.

It was also starting to get hot. Hey what do you expect its Creemore after all. I just kept a nice steady pace for the rest of the loop. I was soon back in the ravines and headed for the finish feeling tired but good. No big blowups, no meltdowns, no going postal and no puking. Sweet.

Finishing time 5:50:37


Post Race
I had a great deal of fun, maybe the most fun I have had at a race this year. I got a beer, some pizza, another beer and eventually made it down to the river to soak my feet and legs. I also won a door prize, a great pottery bowl made by Leah Anne (Pierre's other half).


I can't say enough about what a great race this is and it is no wonder that it is a staple for most of the regulars in the Ontario ultra scene.

Next up Limberlost 56k this weekend.

Oh and the verdict is in. Pierre M is an Evil Genius.




Friday, June 1, 2012

Sulphur Springs 100 miler race report


Here is my take / race report on the Sulphur Springs 100 miler that took place on May 26, 2012. This race ended up being a really messy one, at least for me but this is how it all unfolded as far as I can remember.

Disclaimer : All subsequent claims may or may not be factual in nature. The author can not stipulate to the validity of anything written here based on foggy memories and perceptions that may have been influenced by extreme exhaustion, heat, sleep depravation, nausea, vomiting, dehydration and nutritional deficits.


Prerace
Going into this 100 miler I had one big goal and a bunch of smaller things that I wanted to work on. After a lousy second half last year all I really wanted to do was make sure I finished this one. With my goal race being Leadville in August mentally I needed a successful finish to get myself in the right frame of mind for later in the year. I figured I might be able to run around 24hrs if all went well but if not something in the 26hr range would be just fine. Just as importantly I wanted to try and stay on top of my refuelling and minimize aid station down time.

Kim planned on running the 25k and then crewing me and I had JD and Chris coming out to pace me during the night. My taper went well and everything seemed good to go by race day. There was a brief scare on Tuesday when they were predicting 33 degree weather but by Friday that had changed with an expected high of 24 and sunny.

Saturday morning we picked up fellow Longboater Rob Hanks and drove out to Ancaster arriving a good five minutes before the race. Talk about some good planning (sarcasm don't you know). There was just a little bit of scrambling around to make it to the start line on time but I was there at least 30 seconds ahead of time so all was well. Then we were off.

Loop 1 (0 - 20k)
The race starts off on dirt road with a steep long downhill before quickly turning into the woods and onto the trail. Things start to spread out right away and after running alone for a few kms eventually I find myself running along with Stephan M. I think this is about the 4th or 5th time we have run together at the beginning of a 100 miler. Eventually he will end up dropping me but its great to run with someone for awhile.

Things go well, its warm but not really hot and we keep an even pace running the flats and downhills and power walking the uphills. Course conditions are good, no water, no mud, no problems. One of the great things about Sulphur is there is no chance of getting lost for me. I have run the course many times in training and this is my third time running 100 miles here so I know every twist and turn.

The loop goes by quickly and smoothly. I feel strong and stay on my schedule of gels and salt tabs with the gusto of a religious fanatic. I have great hope that if I stay on it I can avoid the stomach issues that have plagued me in recent races.

As we head out on the "lollipop" loop the leaders of the 50 miler pass us going the other way and are quickly followed by Glen Redpath who is leading the 100. I am 13k into the race and this guy is already 6k ahead of me. Wow, pretty impressive.

Soon its back on the road and headed towards the big hill climb to the start finish. I see Kim go by the other way in her 25k race. She looks good so far. Its up the hill and then the first loop is done. I end up right on pace doing the first 20k in 2:16.

Loop 2 (20 - 40k)
Okay so I just need to swap bottles and then .... Ah crap. I have no idea where my cooler is. Since we arrived 30 seconds before the start I have no idea where we have set up our stuff. First glitch of the day but not a big one. I look around for a minute or so but with a thousand people running its coolers and chairs as far as the eye can see. I decide not to waste time looking for ours and just get refilled at the aid station and get out of there.

Most of the rest of loop 2 appears to be lost in the sands of time which is actually a good thing. It means all went well and nothing stands out. I was still having fun. I stayed on pace occasionally running some with others but mostly alone. I downed those gels every 30 minutes, regular timely gifts to the alter of the god Vomitous in hopes that he would spare me and not feel a need to make his presence known.

At some point during the later part of the loop I passed Kim and get directions to the cooler. Hey a guys got to always be aware of just where his beer is. She was still running really well and would be done her race soon. Before I knew it I was back up the giant hill and into the start finish. Second loop came in at 2:31 for 20k, thats a couple minutes slower then planned but still almost right on pace so no problem.

Loop 3 (40 - 60k)
I find the cooler via Kims excellent directions, swap bottles and head back out. I catch up to Ron Irwin who is running the 50 miler so I hang with him for a few kms and chat. Everything is going great so far but I know that there is a long way to go. There is no counting your chickens in the 100 miler but I am optimistic. Why are these races so hard? I am still at the don't remember the pain stage of the race. You know the "this isn't going to be that bad" stage. I may not be counting my chickens but I am definitely herding them all together into a big group.

Coming back into the 9km aid station at the gate house I notice that it has gotten a great deal hotter. It must be around 28 degrees already and humid. Its only noon so its going to get worse. I decide to play it safe and slow down just slightly. I feel good now but I don't do well in the heat so caution is in order.

I try to run smart for the rest of the loop. Just keep a steady pace. I can hear another runner just behind me but its a girl that don't know so I just keep grinding along. At 13k someone grabs me by behind. Its my friend and fellow Longboater Gregoire Bonhomme. He is doing the 100 mile relay with a bunch of other club members. He runs with me for a few minutes but soon speeds up on those nice fresh legs that he has under him. Damn those relay guys.

I finish the loop in 2:45 slightly slower than planned but still in great shape for a 24hr day.

Loop 4 (60 - 80k)
At the start / finish area its hot, real hot. I see Johnny M. who has just finished his 50 miler (4th place I think). He asks me how its going. I tell him not bad but its getting hot. He tells me to make sure to take it easy in the heat and wait for the cooler night running. It is good advice and was already my plan but the reinforcement is helpful.

I start out at a decent pace but by the time I hit the gatehouse aid station 3k later I begin to pull back even more. The heat is really beginning to get to me. It is not really hot by mid summer standards but for late May its scorching and very humid.

The next section of the course is a really runnable 6k loop bringing you back to the gatehouse again. It begins well but once I hit the open orchard section things really start to heat up for me. Somewhere along here I begin to feel the first signs of stomach issues. My breathing becomes much heavier for the effort level.

I dont know how it is for others when they get sick in races but for me the symptoms are always the same. Its a slight queasy feeling with elevated HR and increased rapid breathing. I know where this is going, the destination is always the same.

I arrive at the gatehouse at 9k where Kim is waiting for me. I let her know that I am starting to have stomach problems. I stay long enough to get a popsicle into me (even sick it was awesome) as Kim refills my bottle. When I hand it to her I notice that it is way to full still, it should be near empty. I have not been drinking enough. Which came first the not drinking or the nausea? I am not sure, I suspect it was a tag team effort. Sick from not drinking / not drinking because I am sick. Damn things can get complicated out here.

I work my way around the rest of the loop in the 4 - 5pm heat. I keep it really, really slow but it doesn't matter I am screwed. Early on the lollipop loop I catch up to another runner, Garth. He is also struggling with stomach issues. We run most of the rest of the loop together because as we all know misery loves company. I roll into the start / finish finishing the loop in 3:32 which is way off pace.

Loop 5 ???
I am done the first 50 miles in 11 hrs which is 40 minutes slower then planned. Its also slower  than the last 2 times I have run this race. That said time is not the problem I have plenty and my slowdown has nothing to do with my legs. I am in real big trouble.

If you have read this blog before you know that last year for the first time I had puke issues, big time. I also had major heat issues which caused me to DNF. Well in this race I now had both. I sat at the start / finish soaking my head and trying to get both my breathing and nausea back under control. I told Kim that this was the sickest I have ever been in a race. Maybe thats true, maybe not but I think its true.

The plan was that if I got sick I would just keep walking and see what happens and that seemed very doable before the race. It was not a possibility at all. Sounds good but not going to happen. I sat as 5 minutes became 10 which became 15. To be honest I really didnt think I would be able to go out again at all.

My breathing was still heavy, my stomach lurching and my calfs were both doing a crazy involuntary spasm dance. Kim was a great help taking care of me and Charlotte Vasarhelyi showed up on the scene to give me some magnesium tabs and helpful advice.  I sat for a long time, I know there was lots going on around me but I was mostly unaware. I have entered zombieland.

Finally I thought I really needed to go or quit so I stood up. Well that did the trick immediately causing me to puke. I sat back down and hung on for the follow up evacuations. This racing thing was not as fun as I had remembered. I waited for a while longer just to make sure it was over and stood again. Nothing bad happened so I headed back out. I have lost major time here but I am moving forward again.

Loop 5 (80 - 100k)
I lose it a couple more times just going down the first hill. Now everyone says that once you clear out your stomach you will feel a lot better. Well thats true but only kind of. For me I will feel slightly better but the key is the rebuild. If I can get fluids and later food into me and keep it down I will feel better and bounce back but thats the trick. If you cant keep it down it will not help.

The next 9k are horrible. Everything that goes in comes right back out. I try to run some but its still hot and dehydration is becoming a real possibility. I reach the gatehouse and meet Kim. JD is also there and will come out to pace me on the next loop if there is a next loop. I sit at a picnic table well away from the aid station as I don't want to blow chunks right in the station. I do some more puking and Kim brings me some soup. I get some into me and head out with the cup in my hand. I am not optimistic at all.

It is funny how these things go. I manage to get the rest of the soup into me as I walk the short road portion to the woods and by the time I hit the Reforestation trail 1k later I am running again. Not kind of running but actually running at a very good pace. I take more soup at the next aid station and hammer through the lollipop loop as it gets dark and begins to cool off.

I end up back at the start finish which is lit up like a christmas tree. There are reflective cones going this way and that. I see JD waiting to pace me and ask him if they are landing airplanes here or what. I get some more soup and some fruit. We take a brief rest and then head back out.

I have somehow come completely back from the dead. I have no idea how this has happened as I am sure I should be DNF at this point.

Loop 6 (100 - 120k)
I feel great for the next 8k. I am back to my old self. We run everything but the bigger uphills and JD keeps us pushing along nicely. Not fast but still solid for someone with 100k on my legs already. I am drinking and eating well. Things are going great until suddenly the signs of nausea crop up again.

This happened at Oil Creek last year as well and luckily I learned something from that experience. Instead of pushing along at the "faster" pace I made myself drop down to a walk and kept refuelling as we went. Since I wasn't going to go sub 24hr and was in no danger of missing the cutoff I opted for the super over cautious approach.  The big thing was to make sure I finished. We ended up walking a fair bit but eventually got running again.

I grabbed more soup at each aid station and on this loop when we got to the field on the lollipop there was an unofficial aid station where I grabbed some kind of fruity soda which was like heaven in my stomach. Big thanks to whoever it was that set this up.

JD did a great job pushing me to run out the last 4k to the end of the loop and we were done just like that.

Loop 7 (120 - 140k)
Chris Henderson jumped in to pace me for the next loop. He also did a great job. This loop was almost a exact copy of the last one. I ran great for 8k, started to get sick, slowed it to a walk for awhile, recovered and finished it up running.

We spent a good deal of the loop distracting ourselves by thinking up fiendish and devious ways and routes that we could torture the people signed up in the marathon clinic that we were going to be co instructing in June (don't tell them tho). You would be shocked at what seems reasonable at a 130k.

This loop seemed to go by fast and soon I was in to the start / finish getting ready for the last go around.

Loop 8 (140 - 160k)
It was still dark as I headed out and down the big hill for the final time. I would do the last loop alone and the plan was to run as much as possible. Okay make a running motion at least because my legs felt really tired and technically I don't think you can call the speed I was going running. I didn't care, I could smell the sweet aroma of a belt buckle just a little further down the trail. I also realized that I would PB if I just keep moving.

Right after I turned into the woods I started hearing really weird sounds just ahead. I slowed down as I got closer to the sounds and eventually stopped. What the heck? Right beside the trail in the bushes something was thrashing around and making really scary noises. Not Jason or Freddy noises but animal noises. Really loud, really big, really attack you, type noises.

It was dark and I couldn't see anything but it was kind of scary. Now I don't scare in the woods at all. I may live in Toronto now but I grew up in New Brunswick (home of the tree) and have come across just about every animal that lives in the woods at one time or another. I have to say that I never had heard anything like that before. I took a wide berth and slowly walked past the area making sure not to start running again until I was well away from it. I heard later that someone had seen a cougar there just a little earlier, some of the other runners were skeptical but that sounds about right to me.

Soon I was back to "running" and the sun began to come up. I passed a couple of other runners along this section. Kim quickly helped get me some coffee as I came into the gatehouse for the last time and I  headed back out again.

The last 10k seemed to go by fast mostly because I think I was in shock that I was going to finish. I spent the last hour on the course mulling over how it was possible to be so out of it and dead at the half way point and yet end up finishing. It just did not compute. Not only that I was going to PB.

I hit the final big hill climb to the finish and decided I would run it mostly because I just wanted to get finished. Of course nobody witnessed this amazing feet of strength so you will just have to take my word for it. Then just like that it was over.

Post Race
I got my belt buckle and medal from the race director. There were still a good number of other 100 mile runners hanging around and recovering so we stuck around, had a beer and relaxed for a while.

I ended up running 26:45:17 which was a PB. Kim also ran a PB in her 25k so it ended up being a good day when all was said and done. Oh yeah, I now remember why the 100 is so hard.


Friday, May 11, 2012

PYP - Pick Your Poison Race Report



Its that time of year again, Ultra Season. Thank God, time to break up that training with some really, really long runs. I like to think of it like a second Christmas. What will I get this year? Good times and fast finishes or bad times and DNFs. Will I end up with a X-Mas sock full of black toenails or just a few blisters?  Well I guess I am just going to have to run and see.

First up this year was Pick Your Poison. Usually PYP is the second race of the season but this year it came first with Seaton being moved to the middle of May. Apparently the organizers of Seaton must have decided that the water boarding that they gave us last year constituted torture after all.

Prerace
Being that I was in full training mode with a pile of races set for May I decided to do the big one day taper for the race. Who needs more than a day off anyway. I would run the 50k while Kim was going to run the 25k.

Race plan was simple, just like the last 2 years at PYP I would run semi hard but not race full out with my spring goal race being Sulphur. The course is a 12.5km loop over, under and around ski hills with lots of fast sections but also with a good deal of climbing. I am told its about 1100ft of climb per loop but I cant say for sure.

We got up early on Saturday April 29th, picked up April B. and drove up to Barrie. Weather looked near perfect for the race just above freezing at the start climbing to 7 degrees and sunny. We got to the race site with lots of time to spare and got ready.

The field was a lot bigger this year and I spent most of the time before the race chatting with lots of other runners that I hadn't seen all winter. Before long we were lining up at the start getting last minute instructions. I met up with Morgan (one of the Leadville group) and we decided to run together at least to start as both of us were using the race as training.

Loop 1
The race starts and we are off. I know there are some changes to the course but I have no idea what they are because that would require me to look at the map on the website. The early part of the course is fast and flat, first on dirt road then into single track. We end up getting caught up in the early run to hard out of the gate syndrome running around a 4:30k but both of us catch it and slow it right down. There are some running the 12.5k race and I think we might have been caught up with them. No worries after some joking about our own stupidity we slow down.


My plan for loop 1 is simple, run it at 50k pace, run all the hills and most importantly stay on my nutrition. For this race that means a gel every 30 minutes all day long. It will suck but outrunning the puke monster in my next 100 miler means getting used eating gels non stop, forever.

Soon the course is getting hilly with the first big climb up the ski hill coming around 4k in. I can see a group of around 12 runners up ahead as we work our way up the hill. They are running in a group which includes Ron G and Charlotte V. We think about pushing to catch up with them but we are not suppose to be racing so we decide to wait as we can always push in the last loop.

When we reach the top of the hill Morgan grabs some stuff from the aid station here which is being manned by Ken Moon and Scott Garrett. Weird not to see them actually racing or as I like to call it leaving me far behind but with Scott running a 100 miler a month this year I figure he is probably resting up.

Soon we are back into the woods for some double track then up the huge hill next to the golf course. This is the third time I have run PYP so I have a close relationship with this hill which I dubbed Mount Evil back in 2010. Even after all this time this hill still sucks big time.


The last part of the course is more single and double track with lots of climbing. The course is the same as previous years and familiar but very different. We end up running most of the same course as before but it is laid out in a new (and better) way with much of the race course being run in the opposite direction from previous years and with some sections being run in a different order then before.

Last year there was some confusion on the course with some runners getting off track, misdirected etc. Have to say the RD Adam Hill did I really great job with the changes this year. It was pretty hard not to stay on track even for a directionally challenged runner like me.

Before long Morgan and I were cresting the top of the ski hill and heading back down the steep downhill to the start finish line.
Loop 1 time 1:18

Loop 2
Once again it was a simple plan for loop 2, run comfortably hard and slow it down just a bit. This loop seemed to fly by as Morgan and I chatted about training for Leadville (or lack of training) and plans for going to the race. I am scared poopless about Leadville while Morgan seems more relaxed about it. He as the advantage of having run HURT and also the advantage of never running at altitude. I have been above the treeline and know just how hard it is to breath up there, scary stuff.

 Often we could still see Charlottes group a minute or so ahead of us but we once again felt no need to speed it up. The pace we were running seemed to be working well for both of us. Morgan is much faster then me normally but I am in peak condition so it works well for both of us.

Before you know it we are stumbling back down the giant hill and into the start finish again.
We do the loop in 1:20, a little faster then planned but not stupid fast.

Loop 3
With the last lap being a bit faster then expected we decide to make sure we stay slow on this one.
Morgan is running 50 miles at Bear Mountain next weekend. I am running the Toronto Marathon and 50k at Seaton the week after that. We are both idiots but smart enough to not totally trash our legs.

Once again we can see Charlottes group about a minute ahead. Its beginning to break up some and over the next hour we end up passing most of them while keeping a steady pace / effort. The loop goes really well. I eat gels like there is no tomorrow and my legs are slightly tired but feel good. We pass a handful of people and only get passed twice once by another runner and once by a blur of churning legs and arms as the race leader laps us just before the end of the loop. If your keeping score that means we were only passed once because the other guy was already ahead of us to begin with.

Then it was into the start finish to get ready for one more lap. Loop 3 completed in 1:25

Loop 4
As we head out for the last loop the plan is to just take it easy. We will keep around the same effort level as the last loop but that will make it slower as by 38k your legs are beginning to feel it. We stick to this plan for the first few K. On the big ski hill climb we can see Ron and Charlotte ahead of us. There is no more group just a couple of runners but they have picked it up some and are a few minutes ahead. I toy with the idea of pushing it but try to remember the purpose of the run so I keep things to a dull roar.

Some where around 5k into the loop we hear and then see a couple runners behind us. One of them passes us and disappears up ahead. This does not sit well with me at all. Its not that we have been passed (hey I am slow and I know it). Its that we have been passed while we are running conservatively. This makes me feel like a total slacker. I know that must seem strange as we had just run around 45k but I felt like a lazy, lazy runner so I picked it up some.

Now Morgan and I didnt open it right up but I wanted to just speed up enough to drop the other guy that was still behind us. Well that was easy said then done. That guy just kept hanging on about 50 meters back. Son of a .... This guy was going to make me work.

Before long we started running faster and actually working the uphills pretty hard but to the guys credit he hung in there. At some point Morgan reminded me that we said we were going to run this easy but I told him I wanted to drop the guy behind us. According to Morgan running faster to drop some random runner that you dont know in order to finish ahead of them is called "racing".  Who knew?

Finally we seemed to have left our pursuer behind and even ended up passing a few more runners in the process. Then it was up the final climb and down the hill to the finish for a last loop done in 1:26.





Post Race
This ended up being a really great run. The course was great, the weather was great and I cant think of anything to complain about.
I ended up finishing in 5:30:54  29th/82 which was off of my PB by 4 minutes.
Kim PBed for a 25k trail race in 4:10:19

Read Morgans take on the race in his race report here

Next up my Toronto Marathon Race report


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Training update, last months totals, PYP

Just a quick training update. April ended up going only okay, not great. My quad/ hamstring issue caused me to shut things down for 5 days at the start of the month. Not a fun time at all. After a few days rest it was back to running. It all went well at first but I am beginning to have a "reoccurrence". This week is a recovery week of lower mileage so I am hoping that will help. If not I may end up with a 3 week taper to Sulphur instead of my normal 2 weeks of laying around. With the Toronto Marathon this coming weekend I am going to play it by ear.

April Totals
Runs - 23
Quality runs - 6
Long runs - 7
B2B long runs - 3 times
Distance - 282 miles or 454 km
Weight workouts - 15

Yearly Mileage
1094.2 miles or 1760.9 km

Pick Your Poison went great with both Kim and I running well. Should have a race report in a day or 2.

Friday, April 27, 2012

No NYC Marathon again, PYP 50k this Saturday



New York City Marathon
Well what can I tell you. Once again I put my name in the lottery for the NYC marathon and sadly my losing at the lottery streak continues. By my count this is the 12th straight time my name has not been picked in various race lotteries. Clearly the Lotto Gods just do not like me at all. I have yet to meet a lottery that I can't get picked in.

The Good
 I am now a 3 time loser at NYC so I am in next year if I decide to go. If you were to ask me today if I still want to go I would be telling you Hell No. I know that is just the bitterness I am currently feeling about the whole process so I expect I will not think the same way about it later.

The Bad
Kim is in and after deferring last year she is running it this year. I am happy for her but dread the thought of going to the NYC Marathon and watching it from the sidelines. It has got to be the runners version of being water boarded, a slow torture that will seem to last forever. GRRRR

First I couldn't do Chicago with her a couple of summers ago now NYC. Maybe I am being punished for making her crew me in all those 100 milers. If she manages to crew me to a successful finish at Leadville this year I promise not to scowl the entire weekend in NYC.


PYP 50K
Tomorrow we will be heading up to Barrie to run Pick Your Poison which is the first OUSER race of the season. This is the third time I have done this race and it has been a great fun every year. I had thought about not running but I just like this race way to much to skip it.  I will be doing 50k as a training run to get ready for Sulphur  Springs while Kim is running 25k. I also figure 50k of trail on a very hilly course is perfect to run during my taper for the Toronto Marathon the following weekend. Okay that was a joke, kind of. Hey at least its a better taper then last year when I ran PYP and then 50 miles at Bear Mountain the next weekend as my "taper" for Toronto.

Originally when I signed up for Toronto I had planned to race it but a change in the OUSER race schedule caused me to change my mind. Now I will run it as a training with some race pace. My big focus for the spring is Sulphur so I am trying to remember that every time I think about doing something stupid. I have to be honest, it's only kind of working.

Oh, my hamstring / quad issue is still ongoing. That is all I am going to say about that.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Around The Bay, March Totals, A Glitch In My Training


I can't really call this a race report for Around The Bay. I was not racing at all so in the spirit of the training run I will keep this short but figure I should say something.

Once again this year we travelled in the Longboat bus down to the race. The weather was really great this year, perfect for running. Kim was racing, I was running it as a slightly quicker long run. I spent 3.5 hours on the trails running the day before so no way I was racing it.

I started way back in the field and ended having a great time. The plan was to run 5 minute kms and just enjoy the run. The first few kms were super slow as I was waayyyyyy back in the pack but by the 4km mark I got a little running room and settled into pace for the rest of the race.

I spent the next 20km constantly passing large groups of people. One of the cool things about starting way back in the field is that I must have seen and talked to more then 20 runners that I knew out on the course not including Longboat runners. I saw runners from my RR clinics, ultra runners that I knew, runners that I had met at other races or around High Park even a couple of former students. I ran along with this person and that person chatting a bit before moving along.

After my last blog entry and some of the over the top reaction (more about this in my next post) I wondered if some angry runner might find me and freak out but all went smoothly. In fact I saw and talked to many people that really liked the post.

I was able to get a solid run in but the last 10km were tough as the fatigue from my long run the day before started to catch up with my legs. Still a great experience and I crossed the finish line in 2:34 and change. Not close to my PB but that was kind of the point.

Kim ran great setting a new PB by more then 7 minutes.


March Training Totals
Runs - 30
Quality runs - 8
Long runs -6
B2B long runs - 3 times
Distance - 299.53 miles or 481.7km
Weight workouts - 16

A glitch in my Leadville training
So in the last couple of weeks I have hit a glitch in my training. I want to call it a small hiccup but really its become more of a giant beer burp. After running the Chilli Half Marathon I came away from the race with a sore left hamstring.

No problem, I did what I always do and just kept right on training. I follow the if it doesn't get worse then its fine to run on rule of training. This was fine for the first two weeks as I upped my mileage into the 90 mile range. It was actually slowly but surely getting better. Then two weeks ago I did my first long 3 hour plus run on the trails at Sulphur. I followed this with a medium hard 30k effort the next day at Around the Bay. This awesome combo of running resulted in a very sore hamstring and by the following Thursday I was forced to rest it for 2 days.
Another set of back to back long runs on trail the next weekend and again by mid week more trouble. I could run but not hard. No quality running for me which meant scrapping my first track workout of the season. Instead I took the group that I coach to the track and kept it slow. It is very hard to keep it slow on the track especially when you really want to let lose.

I am trying to pretend that I learned something last year. With that in mind I shut my running down totally since then. Its 5 days and counting but I should be good to go in another day or two. I could have run again after 2 days rest I am going to do my best break the re-aggravating the injury cycle if I can.

Now is the time to deal with it. I am in decent shape already so a week of down time will not hurt too bad. I want to be ready to go as May sees me running a few 50k races as training before the 100 miler at Sulphur. I figure its better to keep this to a loud beer burp then let it become a huge fart with the potential to leave a big mess in my pants.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marathon runners are arrogant, narcissistic, self centred babies


Hello Marathoners, hows it going? Right now many of you are preparing for Boston a race you have wasted countless hours on and or years in training to finally get that qualifying time for. Congratulations, it takes a certain type of sucker to swallow the Boston pitch hook line and sinker. I know you think you have achieved something, working so hard to get some made up arbitrary time that gives you a false sense of accomplishment. Its amazing that you can run a marathon in a time that is actually by any real standard incredible slow and still beam with pride just because some race director tells you that your awesome. Its really pathetic that you need such a thing in order to have those feelings of being better then others. But hey now you can strut like a peacock waving your Boston bib around and propping up your arrogantly swollen head. For those of you that failed to make your BQ or were so slow you didn't even try don't worry you still have many years of wasting your time jumping for the brass ring like a trained seal. Maybe someday you will make it too and be able to prance around in your Boston Jacket letting everyone know just how incredible you think you are.

So did that make you mad? No, then maybe you should go back and read it again, I will wait. How about now? Did this make your blood boil? Are you ready to track me down and lynch me, leave a nasty comment or stop following my blog. Good welcome to my world as an ultra runner.

To be clear everything you just read is a lie. I don't believe any of it but I wanted to see your reaction. I wanted you to understand that words are a powerful thing. Even though I am telling you its a lie some will still be pissed off at me but I wanted you to step into my world for a few minutes. You see according to some out there in the running community I am not a real runner. Apparently because I run trail and love ultra racing I somehow am of less value than a marathoner. I mean we all know that those guys are the real runners. Oh sorry only the marathoners that are fast. I am not talking to all you slow marathoners, in fact if some had their way you wouldn't be allowed to race at all. Oh sorry did I say race, my mistake in the view of some you are not racing. Hell you are way to slow to race.

Apparently I missed the board meeting of the Running A-Hole club which oversees the running world and decides who is a legitimate runner and who is not. I wish someone had told me earlier before I wasted my time running on average 6 days a week and more then 13,000 km in the past 3 years. If I had known I would not have punished myself with all those hill repeats, tempo intervals and track sessions. What a waste of time when I could have been warming my ass on the couch.

In the last few months I have dipped slightly back into the road world and although there is a great deal that is good about road running there is also a holier then thou ugly side that you rarely see in the trail running world. It seems that the endless pursuit of shaving seconds or minutes off of a race time causes some people to go a bit mental.

First there was a blog by Tim Tollefson crossfit vs ultrarunning. which is more nauseating, then a blog/article in Canadian Running Magazine called 5 prescriptions for saving the sport. Then most recently a blog by a runner in my club called Slow Down

For the life of me I cant understand why runners feel the need to attack other runners. Maybe they want attention or it makes them feel superior. It's even worse when the claims fall to stand up to any kind of real scrutiny. So lets try that.

Tollefson Article
This one didn't bother me much at all but it sure upset a lot of Ultra Runners. He tries to play the whole thing off as a joke and I took it as such. The only problem is that its not funny, not at all. Maybe if you found Full House or Saved by The Bell funny you laughed at this one too. I see this as funny the same way a jock bully at school finds it "funny" when he gives the smaller less athletic kid a wedgie. Its not funny its just pathetic but it sure makes him feel good.

Houston we have a problem. Oh and Tim you know all that crap you wrote running down the ultra elites? You are a great runner but I saw the results from the Marathon Olympic trials in Houston and you finished behind a number of crappy ultra guys. Some running times from some "crappy ultra runners" at the Houston trials:

Josh Cox (US 50k record holder) 2:13:50, Max King (2011 US Mountain Running World Champion) 2:14:36, Michael Wardian (2011 IAU 100k World Championships silver medalist) 2:21:50, Ryan Bak (Second place team at 2011 GORE-TEX TransRockies Run (with Max King)) 2:15:12, Chris Lundstrom (3rd 2009 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships) 2:22:03.

Kind of Ironic don't you think? Oh well you will get them next time.

I am not going to comment on the Canadian Running Blog right now as I have devoted an entire blog to it. I was going to be posting that one today until Dan Ways recent blog. I will put it up in the very near future but will add that I didn't realize that the sport was in trouble and needed a cure. I was out on a run yesterday and everything seemed fine.

So then we had Dan's blog. Now I don't care to much about the barefoot running part or most of the other content. The part I care about is what was said about Ultra Running and Ultra Runners. I have included this in Italics below.

The doc also highlighted another fad in running; that being the ultra-‘running’ craze. Calling this running being a stretch. There are a number of 'real' ultras like Comrades and Two Oceans, in which people actually race and run fast for long, consecutive periods of time. Some people have come to be very good at them and I have a great deal of respect for these athletes. Then there are 'other' Ultras which involve climbing up mountains, through forests, across deserts, the Arctic, or the Amazon. These events don't really emphasize running at all and are really just a combination of walking, hiking, jogging, mountaineering, and orienteering at a slightly faster pace than most normal people would do them and an excuse to eat and drink as much as one desires. They are unnecessary and unnatural acts of attrition that feature elevated egos, delusional self-discovery, masochism and melodramatics. And they too are growing in popularity.

So clearly a lot here to get even the most stoic Ultra runner fuming. Relax there ain't nothing in this opinion that a little bit of factual deconstruction cant expose. Maybe you think this opinion is brilliant or maybe you think its moronic but I leave that up to you.

Ultra Running is a Fad - Sure it is just like marathoning. The Western States 100 was first run in 1977. The NYC marathon was first run in 1970. Boston was first run in 1897 but was not open to be run by the general public. Boston allowed women to run in 1972. Are we to argue that womens marathoning is also a fad? I would not call anything with a 35 year history a fad but hey to each his own. Comrades was first run in 1921 but for some reason thats a "real ultra".

Two Oceans and Comrades are "real ultras". So I guess that's because they are run on road? Or is it the distance? If someone walks in Comrades are they disqualified? What about if they walk in Boston? What exactly defines these as real? As far as I can tell these are only real because road runners tend to run them. I guess for some that makes them more legitimate then Leadville or UTMB. IF you think that some don't run fast and long at Western States well that is just a product of ignorance. Also fast is relative someone running a marathon in 2:10 would not see a 3 hour marathoner as fast at all. Oh and just for the record one of the best Canadian road runners out there M. Leduc ran Comrades and was reduced to walking at 45km although he still finished in 8 hours. He walked some, my god what is wrong with that guy. I don't know how he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning.

Other "ultras" - These don't emphasis running. According to who? Just because you say it and you don't get it doesn't make it true. Almost everyone in these races runs as fast as they can in order to complete the distance. If you think they do it slightly faster pace then most normal people would then well I got no reply for that one (except that all runners are normal people). If you want to ignore what happens to ones body in these events thats fine but it leaves me with a simple question.

If I can run a 15 minute 5k then I can run a 1:03 HM right? I mean I just have to run the same pace. If I can run a 1:03 HM then obviously I can run a 2:06 marathon right? No? Why not? Why is it that the marathon crowd can understand that physiologically a runner is not able to run their 5k pace for 42.2k. Its widely excepted and we all understand that this is because physically the way our bodies work make this impossible. Yet the same people seem to not understand the same biological rules when it comes to ultras. They are run at a slower pace because they have to be. You could run them faster at the start, tearing up and down every hill but you will crash and burn. Just like you could race out of the gate at 5k pace in your next marathon, I say give it a try and see how that works out for you. Why is pacing in a marathon (read going slower then you can run) totally alright but having to do the same thing in an ultra something different?

They are unnecessary and unnatural acts of attrition that feature elevated egos, delusional self-discovery, masochism and melodramatics
Kettle meet pot, pot meet kettle.

And they too are growing in popularity. - Yes they are and its making it really hard to get into Western States. The reason they are growing is many Marathoners eventually come to a place in their running lives where the importance and or obsession of clocking a slightly faster time holds no value for them. They are actually more interested in running to run instead of clock watching and there is no where more natural to do that then on a trail.

So if you are one of those out there that seem to think that you are somehow superior to those that choose to run other races, other distances, different terrain or happen to be slower due to age, injury or genetics I would suggest that you reread the title of this blog. Its actually meant for you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Free Gu, Leadville training week 3, Slainte 5k?


Free GU
You read it right. Free GU. All you have to do go to www.strava.com and join the GU challenge.



Its free and easy. For the next month you log your miles (it downloads from your garmin or Iphone) and depending on mileage you get free GU. Just go there and check it out. God do I have to hold your hand all the time!

Leadville Training Week 3
Another good week of training but with tired legs from the Chilli HM it was a challenge. Managed to get in 130k including a good hill workout and took my long run up to +40k for the first time this spring. I also ran the Slainte 5k on Saturday. I managed to put in 5 days of strength training at the gym and 40 min on the bike.

In what I call kind of training on Saturday Kim and I went out for dinner with a number of fellow Ultra Runners. Food, beer and a pretty good time, it's always nice to see people after the winter hibernation. I got some really great advice from Stephen, Kinga M.and Charlotte V. on their training and some things that I could add to mine. Thanks Guys and Girls. I know girls should be implied under guys but I am trying to become a more sensitive, metrosexual man. I am guessing you didn't buy that crap at all did you? Well don't feel bad, I threw up in my mouth just typing it.

Slainte 5k
So no real race report from the Slainte as I was not racing it. It became clear after only 1k that my legs were totally shot which was not unexpected after a HM 6 days earlier and a 90k week up to that point. If I had it in me I was going to run it hard and if not then just take it as a quick run. Well not having it in me was an understatement. My legs were so fried that the 3rd km was actually as slow as my slowest km during the HM .... Yikes.

Then there was the extra 500 meters that we had to run. Supposedly the lead motorcycle officer took a wrong route making this 5k into a 5.53k race. I am sorry but extra mileage in a race is not giving me " more bang for my buck". However I did enjoy the beer, chilli and great company of other Longboaters at the end of the race so it was all worth it. Thanks for including me George, thought I would put that in to see if you are reading this thing or not.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chilli Half Marathon Report ... Leadville training week 2


Chilli Half Marathon Race Report

So last week I mentioned that I would be running the Chilli Half Marathon on Sunday and that I planned to most likely not race it. This claim was met with some amount of scepticism from most of my running friends. In fact JD left a comment that he didnt believe I would not race the HM. Turns out the guy was right. No he does not have the power of Kreskin he just knows me too well.



That means this is an actual race report but lets just try and stick to the facts and not ramble on. Quite JD I know what you are thinking.

Fellow Longboater Tony picked Kim and I up early Sunday morning and in no time we were at the race site in Burlington. Weather was sunny but cold, not stupid cold, just cold with 20km winds. Had a coffee, did the thing you need to do before racing (I like to call it my own fibre challenge) and then Tony and I did a decent warm up.

We managed to get into the coral without much trouble and were in the right pace area for the race. It was about this time that I realized that I actually haven't run a Half Marathon in 2 years. Seriously how did that happen? I also realized that the race course had been radically changed from the last time I ran this race. Facing the opposite direction at the start line was a dead giveaway. I should have really looked at the course map before hand but what can you do.

Then we were off with 3000 other people. The plan was simple enough I would run the first few Kms at what I figured was my HM pace and see how I felt. If I felt good I would keep racing but if not I would drop down to a hard but slightly slower pace and keep it as a good training run.

Things went well right from the start. Once I got out on the course I didnt have to do too much weaving around people to find a bit of an open space to run in so I fell right into pace. I wanted to keep my HR just a little below my threshold and my pace between 4:30 and 4:41.

The first 3 km are out west along the lake and then a 180 and you head back the same way that you came from. I stayed right on pace and by 5km we where headed east with the wind behind us and not much of a factor. I felt good so decided that I would try and hold this pace and see how it went. I could see another Longboater about 100 meters ahead of me but wasnt sure who it was. I just tried to stay disciplined at this point and keep the pace.

I managed to catch up to fellow club member Christine eventually, it only took about 4km to close the gap on her. I took this as a good omen for me as it meant I was running a consistent pace so far and because Christine is around the same speed as I am although she is probably a little quicker to be honest.

Soon I am at the halfway point. We are still headed East along the Lakeshore and my Garmin tells me I am just slightly ahead of my PB. The course is an out and back and soon I begin to see runners on the way back in. I see a lot of Longboaters in the front area of the pack (6 guys go sub 1:20 on the day).

So far so good but its been a long time since I have run this hard for this long and by the time I hit 13km I am beginning to feel it. Nothing major, still on pace, but I know its going to get tougher from here on in.

Around 14km we make another 180 degree turn and head back west right into the wind. Oh goody the hardest part of the race is into the wind how thoughtful. It's not horrible but it is strong enough to play a little bit of a factor. My pace starts to drop slightly so I begin to push a little harder.

Its 16k into the race and I am now suffering the inevitable as I am wearing down. I have slowed some as the HR has begun to creep up with each new KM. I remember this now its what we like to call the painful part of the race where I attempt to hang onto pace. I do an okay job of pushing as hard as I can but am still slowing down slightly. At 18k I am just where I expected to be hanging on for dear life.

As I approach the 19km sign I see a bunch of the faster Longboaters. They are running their cool downs having already finished. Rob Campbell sees me and jumps in to help pace me (push me) to the finish. He keeps me working hard the whole way in when I am struggling the most. Thanks Rob! Although I didnt know it at the time Rob had won his age category and set a new club record all before he came by help scrap me up off the pavement when I was doing my best impression of road kill.

Finally after what feels like an eternity I make the final turn towards the finish. I can see the big arch of the finish so I start my finishing sprint quickly passing 4 people. I am almost there, oh crap. I realize that my oxygen deprived brain had me looking at the wrong archway and after sprinting like a madman I still have another couple hundred meters to go. Wow way to go dummy. I try to keep up the pace as best I can but the next 30 or 40 seconds are the most painful of the race. Only one of the people I passed catches me so that ends up being okay.

I am finished and I am done as well. I resist the growing urge to puke which if you have read any of my road race reports before you know that this is how I measure a successful hard effort. If I feel like I might puke at the end then I feel pretty sure that I have given it everything and left nothing on the course. I lean over the coral fencing just in case which attracts the attention of an EMS guy. He asks me if I am all right and I tell yeah I just dont want to puke on anyone which gets a good laugh. I think once he got close to me he saw that I was just a guy trying to figure out why there is no oxygen in downtown Burlington and not someone in actual trouble. Christine is right there as well having finished 14 seconds ahead of me.

After catching my breath I waited for Tony who finished his first HM in just over 1:45 and then grabbed my jacket to keep warm as I waited for Kim to come in. She ran really well and ended up PBing by more then 7 minutes. Way to go Kim!!! Then it was off to get some food and beer.

I am really happy with my race. It ends up being my second fastest HM and less then 30 seconds off my PB. It looks like my speed is almost back to where it was a few years ago. I was also happy with how I ran staying disciplined early and working really hard at the end. I dont think I could have run it much faster or better at this point in my training and with no taper.
Final finishing time 1:39:17.


Leadville Training Week 2
Training went well again for week 2. It was a recovery week so it was time to drop the mileage some. I got in my scheduled 80k (50 miles) and that included a day of hill sprint repeats and a tempo day. No long run but made up for it by running the Half Marathon hard.



This week its back to higher mileage with a 5k race on saturday thrown in just for fun. It ends at a pub ..... sweet. Sorry JD but it looks like I will be drinking even more beer without you.
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