Friday, October 29, 2010

Vulture Bait 50k race report .... OUSER final standings

The Vulture Bait 50K on October 16th in London Ontario is the last of the OUSER races this year. It also spelled my last Ultra for the season. Usually I give a long drawn out blow by blow race report but this time I decided to keep it brief.

Why? Because I am one tired out Ultra runner right now. Even a week or more later I am still too tired to write for pages and pages. Did you buy that? Yeah didnt think so. Okay I am tired but thought I would keep this short because of how the race unfolded for me. I killed my feet, my ankle and my legs at Haliburton and Ottawa. They had not recovered for Vulture Bait (they still havent recovered). My thinking going into the race was just to put in the Kms and enjoy the trail. That plan made total sense until I got to the race and started to hear about how fast a course it was. I began to think that maybe I would run it hard. I could run it hard, that would be okay.

We got to the race early Saturday morning a nd picked up our race kits. Kim was running as well but was “only” doing 25k. Thats amazing seeing how she had run the Chicago Marathon only 6 days earlier. See that craziness is contagious, Kim seems to have caught some of mine. We also ran into Kinga and Stephan who had been kind enough to pick up my Run for the Toad race kit (I DSNed that one), once again thanks guys.

Before you knew it we were at the starting line and off we went. It was a nearly perfect day for running and right away I started to toy with the idea of running this thing hard. That lasted for exactly 11km. My mind was willing but my body was not and as I chugged along the trails I began to question who had poured cement into my shoes. Man my feet and legs were so heavy, unbelievable really. I decided I would except this and just enjoy the run.

This course is very fast (not for me on this day though) and the 50k is made up by running the 25k loop twice. The rest of the first 25k went much as expected from this point on with the exception of my feet really starting to hurt due to the damaged and lack of skin caused by previous races and a RIVER CROSSING. Thats right a river crossing because wet feet are just what I needed at that point in time. By the time I made it to the end of the first loop my feet were &*$#ed. I was forced to sit and deal with them at this point. Time to make the donuts. I lost about 8 minutes or so as I popped a couple blisters, applied some second skin and change into dry socks. Then it was off again.

Second loop went much like the first as I ran alone for the first 5k until finally catching up to Maryka. I had run about 20k with her at Haliburton so I figured I could make her really sick of me by running with her for the rest of the loop. I hopefully didn't drive her too crazy as we made our way around the course. I know that I was making her nervous though as she ran in front and during the last 10k or so I must have stumbled on roots at least 5 times. Somehow I managed not to fall once on the loop, don't have any idea how that happened. We managed to pass a number of people in the last hour of the race and before long we were headed into the finish line. I ended up coming in a little under 6 hrs, Kim on the other hand killed her race doing 25k in 4hrs which is a trail PR for her. If not for wonky marathon legs she would have been much faster.


With the official end of the ultra season the Ontario ultra series gave out there end of year awards. I managed to hang on to 2nd place in my age category (40-49) which is based on the points from you top 6 races. I also ended up 3rd male overall for total points. I got a cool plaque for the age group and nothing for 3rd overall cause lets be honest people third overall is really just the second overall loser HA. Man that sounded kind of harsh when it was not meant to be at all. See the final standings here.

I also was one of around 15 runners to get the Norm Patenaude Award which is given to runners that complete 7 or more ultras in the series. I ended up running 11 out of 12.

Also want to give a big congratulations to Ken Moon who won the Ultra Cup for most overall points by a male and Laurie McGrath who won the female division for like the millionth year in a row. Okay maybe its only 7 times in a row but still.

I am planning on spending the next month recovering and building my base back again. Time to catch up on some sleep.

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.

The 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.

Post race
Total distance 128km
Place 22/41
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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I designate this week the official week of Crappy

This has been a trying week when it comes to running. For those of you waiting for my race report for 24hrs on the track in Ottawa its coming soon. I am almost finished it but as part of Official Week Of Crappy my computer that it is on will not start and has been sent off to be fixed.... GRRR

I have not been able to train since Ottawa due to blister issues (that have healed) and a reoccurrence of my Haliburton ankle injury, which is getting better but still tender. This is particularly annoying as I am teaching a marathon clinic at the Running Room and cant run with the kiddies. Going to give it another try tonight and see how it goes. Because I haven’t been training it means that my racing season is just about over. I plan to run 50k at Vulture Bait in a week and a half and may still run the Hamilton marathon but these will really be treated as training runs as I start to rebuild my mileage. At this point I just don’t have a fast marathon in my legs so its time to regroup and get to some serious training. Stupid injury ... GRRRRRRR

I was forced due to the ankle issues to DNS (did not start) at the Run for the Toad last Saturday. I really wanted to run this race this year. I could not get in last year because it sold out so early so I registered in April .......GRRRRRRRR

Both Kim and I got our rejection letters from the London Marathon Lottery on Monday. No spring holiday in England for us........ GRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Kim is off on Friday for a road trip with other Longboaters to the Chicago Marathon. I am unable to go for a number of reasons even though I am registered. She will have an awesome time running Chicago. I will grow some scruff, drink Jack Daniels straight from the bottle and mumble incisively under my breath..... GRRRRRRRR

Happy Official Week of Crappy everyone and don’t worry the Official week of Awesomeo is just around the corner.
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