Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sulphur Springs 100, a change of shoes, knee update

Sulphur Springs
The Sulphur Spring 100 miler is this weekend. I would like to say I am nervous but honestly I think I have become too dumb to be nervous. I originally signed up for this 2 weeks ago during a short bout of insanity. I ran it last year and thought okay its a loop, its a semi fast course, not to technical and has been dry for the last few years. I am going to do this.

Well forget about dry, currently the course is muddy and looks like it will get worse before Saturday. Wet feet for 26ish hours, been there before and its not fun. Oh well what can you do. I will tape the feet on Friday and spend the next 4 days applying baby diaper rash cream to them twice a day ( yeah I know most of you are thinking what?). I am also thinking of ditching gels all together during the race and just using ensure instead and toying with the idea of running with one of my water bottles filled with coke instead of heed in the second half of the race.

I have the Mohican 100 in three weeks so not a great deal of recovery time but I was thinking that with my base I should be okay. Going to have to really be careful with the feet tho.

My knee seems to be okay. I had a good run of 22k in Milton on bruce trail monday and all seemed good. Really great place to run. The wading through near waist deep water and bog was great prep for this weekend. There was a small group of us so it was a lot of fun. Big thanks to Kinga and Stephan for giving me an invite to go out with them.

New Shoes
At the start of the season I also changed trail shoes. I moved away from Solomon and am now running in La Sportiva. Training in wildcats and racing in Crosslites. I cant believe how light the racing shoes feel. So far so good and am super happy with them.
A huge thanks to Derrick Spafford at Health and Adventure for taking the time to give me a great deal of insight into the different shoes. Thanks man.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toronto Marathon Race Report

Toronto Marathon Race Report
Okay so this race report is going to be shorter then my long drawn out usual reports. I am calling it a shorter report for a shorter race.... HA. Sunday May 15th was the Toronto Marathon. This race used to held in the fall until former mayor David Miller and his socialist cronies on the Toronto City Council decided to make the organizers bend over and grab there ankles in a disgusting display of attempted social engineering and the political favouritism. The Toronto Marathon had to move or more then likely it was going to be eliminated.

Crap, starting to rant and I don't want to get too into this issue at this time. I promise to do a much bigger post just on how these guys got screwed over in the next few weeks. That said they were put into a near impossible situation and handled it very well.

Okay so originally I was planning on running this marathon as hard as possible (racing it) to put up a good time. Those plans changed however when I decided to run Bear Mountain. Just a word of advice, don't run a 50k race and a 50 miler during your taper time, you will be tired during the marathon.

So my new plan was to run hardish for 21km and then assess but with the plan to most likely slow it down some in the second half. I had been having an issue with my knee all week. Now this is a chronic structural injury so I know exactly what the deal is. In my early 30's I suffered a complete tear of my ACL. That means I no longer have the ligament that goes from the top of the shin area to under the knee cap (think the middle of your knee). There is no fixing it outside of major reconstructive surgery. Usually this is not a problem and running doesn't aggravate it but every now and then it rears its ugly head unexpectedly. The last time was at Dirty Girls in 2010. I would wear a protective sleeve and hoped for the best.

I woke up Sunday morning to crappy weather with more crappy weather forecasted for the rest of the morning. It was rain with 25 - 30 km winds and it was going to stay that way. I thought about staying in bed but I was going to have to run on Sunday anyway so might as well do it in the race.

I had planned to meet JD at the start line well before the race. Unfortunately I was traveling to the start line using the TTC (city transit) so the 45 minutes it should have took ended up taking more then an hour and a half. No I am not bitter about that at all. Seriously.

Got to the race with a whole 5 minutes to spare, lined up and we were off.

The Race
I really like the course for the most part. Its a fast course with little uphill and a good amount of downhill in the first half of the race. I got off to a good start, fell into a sub 5 minute pace early and cruised along. It rained, it drizzled, it rained but we were mostly sheltered from the wind and it was not to cold so all was good.

I crossed the 21km mat in 1:43 and was in really good shape, not tired, not bonking and I was surprised that my legs didn't feel heavy given my 50 miler a week before. My quads felt good, my glutes were a little sore and my HR was good and controlled. I though maybe I would keep up this pace for another 10km and then slow it down a little. That way I don't torch my legs completely and might still end up with a PB.

This idea was very short lived and by 22k I started to feel some knee pain. Within the next km or 2 my knee was hurting really badly. It was so bad in fact that I actually began to think I was going to have to drop out of the race. I just could not run on it. GRRRR.

I continued to hobble along. I was suddenly really slow.We were now on the Lakeshore a place where I have run many times. It was miserable with cold rain and wind. Somewhere around 28km JD caught up to me. He was running with the 3:40 bunny. I chatted with him a bit and told him to tell Kim that I would be later to the finish then projected. I honestly thought that I would have to start walking soon because of my knee.

Soon I was at the turn and headed back along the Lakeshore in the opposite direction. The wind and rain was in my face again. How is that possible, how can the wind be in your face going east and then going west. Stupid Lakeshore.

At 33km my knee started to feel less painful (maybe it went numb) and I was able to pick it back up. It was very frustrating, I felt good but could not run due to the knee. As the knee pain lessened I picked it up to a 5:30 pace and then just held it there. I could very easily go faster but I was really worried that if I did the knee would start to get really bad again. More important then any time I might put up in this race was getting healthy for my upcoming 100 milers so I kept it slow and steady.

Soon we were off the Lakeshore and tackling the slight uphill all the way to the finish. I started to pass a lot of people along here and soon saw Kim near the finish line.

Then I was done.

Post Race
Saw a lot of people that I knew just after the finish line who had come in just before me or just after. Lots of Longboaters and a number of runners that were taking my Running Room clinic. It is so cool to see people finish that you helped to train.

I wanted to wait around for the other clinic finishers but was starting to get cold and that can be trouble after a long race so Kim and I headed home. I got changed and then we headed over to Coach Rogers place for a little Longboat post race get together. Thanks for the burgers Roger! They went great with my giant beer.

Final time 3:47:23

Next up Sulphur Springs

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50 mile Race Report

A few months ago after returning from our running vacation in Florida I began to look around for a few US races that looked interesting and more importantly challenging. I already had a couple of 100 milers planned for the summer so I wanted something shorter then that but falling into the pushing your limits category. In the end I settled on the Pikes Peak Marathon (coming in August) and the 50 mile trail run at Bear Mountain, NY which is part of the North Face Endurance Challenge series.

What attracted me to this race was that it was suppose to be very technical trail with a lot of elevation change. It was also close enough to drive to and fit in nicely with my build up towards my first 100 miler this year so I signed up. I had no illusions about this being a tough race but didn't anticipate what a monumental struggle this run would eventually become.

Some surfing around the net gave me some good insight into the race and put me in touch with Eric via his blog. He ran it last year and was going to run it again this time so we made plans to meet up before hand. I also found out another Canadian runner, Kendra, who i hadn't met but travels in the same Ontario trail running circles as I do was going so we got in contact as well. I was definitely anticipating fun.

Prerace -Omens of Doom?
Things start out badly long before the official start of the race. I had problems sleeping on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Kim is driving so I figure I can get a nap on route to the Catskills. As we pack up the car on Friday morning. I sit my phone and the GPS on the top of the car to open the door. I grab the GPS and promptly forget about my phone until we hear it bounce across the ceiling of the car while we are doing 120km on the QEW. Bye Bye Iphone it was fun while it lasted. It becomes the first road kill sighting of the day. The worst part about this (even more then what a new phone will cost) is that I actually paused before I put my phone down and considered the fact that I could forget it there. Then I did. Ridiculous!

The 8 hour drive goes okay but takes 10 with delays at the border. We see a great deal of road kill after we cross the border including a coyote and at least 3 deer. Large black crows are dinning on many of these. Poe would tell me otherwise but I try not to read to much into this. I feel like I am stepping into a Stephen King novel. You are on a road trip, no phone, dead things abound, soon an old lady will start screaming craziness at you, nothing good is coming if you keep going.

Also Eric is not going to run the 50 miler as he was dealing with an injury but invites us to dinner at his place once we get into town. We get to the motel which is okay but overpriced and somewhat seedy. After checking in we head over to Eric's place.
The drive takes about 20 minutes and we go up and over the mountain. I don't know if the mountain we go up and over is Bear Mountain but I don't like the look of it at all. What have I gotten myself into here?

At Erics Place

Eric and his wife Tani are great. We have a fantastic dinner and talk Ultras for awhile. Once again thanks guys!! I get some good insight into the course. It really sucks that Eric isn't running but he is going run the 5k on Sunday with Tani and the kids. Before we know it we are headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before the big race.

All I need is 5 to 6 hours sleep, that all. I still run and function fine on 5 hours, no problem. Tick tock, tick tock. I can not sleep. The time slowly ticks by as I lay in bed wide awake. I am so tired but sleep doesn't come. I try not to look at the clock but its impossible not to as I watch potential sleeping time disappear and there is nothing I can do about it. The last time I remember seeing the clock it said 1:30 AM which gives me only 2 hours until I have to get up. This is going to be bad.

At 3:30 the alarm goes off and we are dressed and are out the door in a flash. I am exhausted and have not even run a step yet. We head over to the hotel that Kendra is staying at and pick her up to give her a ride to the start line. Somehow we find the start area without issue although it was more luck then good planning. There is no parking at the start line, you have to park at another area and then take the race provided shuttle to the start. Kim drops us off and will meet me at aid station 4 (no crew access at 2 or 3) in a few hours. That way Kim can sleep a bit longer incase we drive back to Toronto Saturday night. I should be fine until that point which is 20 miles into the race. I have my breakfast ensure , salt tabs and will just use race provided gels until then. That way I can just run with a hand held bottle and no fuel belt early on.

At the start

Kendra and I get to the starting area and pick up our race kits. It is time for the comedy of errors to begin. I realize that I have left my breakfast ensure on the floor of the car with Kim. Thats 360 calories that I am really going to need to avoid bonking. This is really, really not good. Running 50 miles with no breakfast is a Kamikaze mission. No choice tho I am just going to have to deal with it.

The Race - Up, Up and Away
The race starts and I head out with the other 200+ runners into the darkness. The sun will soon be up but headlamps are needed early on. You have to keep your headlamp for the first hour or risk being DQed, that means I will have to carry it for the first 20 miles or dump it at an aid station and never see it again. I run at what I feel is a decent pace. For the first few miles it is mostly double track some areas are tough with lots of large lose rocks but not really too bad. It is however almost all uphill, nothing too steep but continuously uphill. Then we are into much harder single track. It is light by the time I hit the first aid station at 4 miles. I feel okay about my race so far.

Anthony Wayne to Silvermine
This feeling doesn't end up lasting long. The next section is generally all uphill on single track and very technical trail. I am noticing a problem with my breathing and HR. My HR is much to high for easy pace and easy breathing I am currently doing. I know this is due to the lack of sleep and messed up nutrition. I have to trust my breathing / effort level or my HR. I go with effort level even though I know deep down that this is a mistake. Soon I will come to regret this choice. I am still running well by all outward appearances but am starting to worry. The trail is really technical but stunning with part of it circling a lake. I am still in good shape at the 9 mile mark. I see my first bloodied runner at this aid station while I get a gel. The reality that there is good potential for a face plant on this course is driven home even harder.

Silvermine to Arden Valley
I make my first navigation error here going off course but only about 100 meters or so. I had been watching a runner in front of me and missed a turn in the trail. Easy to do as the turn was not so much another trail as it was scaling straight up a 50 ft. rock face. Some parts required both hands to climb. Damn so its going to be one of those course is it. The running up to and on the top of this ridge is really tough. Its still mostly climbing, steep climbs, smaller steep downhills and more climbs. Somewhere right around 12 miles I turn my ankle on a downhill. Damn it, same ankle injury that has plagued me all year. It hurts but is manageable for now. I make the Arden Valley aid station and down a couple of gels and some coke.

Arden Valley to Lake Skannatai
Some more gels and its back on the course. More technical, yeah really you probably see a theme by now, with single track along swamps and streams. For awhile there is mostly normal climbing nothing too tough, but only for awhile. Navigation error #2 happens here and I end up a good km off course with about 10 other runners. We have missed a turn into another huge accent. More climbing where hands are needed. We are soon on the top of a mountain, its just rock face with occasional trees. The view is spectacular and near the edges a little scary.

The "trail" I use the word lightly here, goes across the top for some time. There is more scaling up rock faces and down the other side. I am liking this but am slowing down. I am having a real issue with the trail markings. The trail is marked by orange tape and in the bright sunlight it is hard to see from a distance as it blends in with the background. I find myself stopping numerous times in an effort to find the next marking. This is pissing me off. Sometimes the markings cant actually be seen from the previous marking. Not a big deal on a well defined trail but some of this trail is not well defined at all. This is my only real complaint about this race. Please use a better marker color. On other parts of the course where there were other markings for the marathon etc. those colors were easy to see. The 50 miler is hard enough already!

I am slowly approaching Bonkland which is not a place that I really want to go but it just keeps getting closer. Finally I am off the top of the mountain and into the downhills. I am rolling into full Bonk mode now. All I need to do is hang on until the next aid station, meet up with Kim and get my nutrition sorted back out properly. Then all will be well again. I hear people cheering in the valley below and I am soon into the aid station. Salvation.

Lake Skannatati to Camp Lanowa
I have spoken too soon. There is no salvation here. I stand at the aid station looking around. There is no Kim. Kim is MIA. Every curse word I know is bouncing around head like a indian rubber ball. I refill my bottle, down a few gels and put a couple in my pocket for later. I look around the parking lot again. Where the hell is she. I am not sure what to do now and my bonking is making clear thinking hard. I do the only thing I can do. I head back out onto the trail.

This leg is 7 miles and I know that I am going to soon be in big trouble. I have one water bottle and one salt tab. Instead of coming back from my bonk its only going to get worse. I was suppose to now be carrying 2 water bottles, gels and salt. One bottle is not going to properly hydrate me for this long section which is followed by another long section.

I try my best to be mad at Kim but really I am not. I am just mad. Kim has lots of crewing experience and for her not to be at the aid station means that something went very wrong. It doesn't help that I have no idea what that is. The whole run is going to shit.

I can remember very little about this section except that I just worked hard to keep myself moving forward. I know it was hard but in my state a walk to the convenience store down the street would have been an epic track. I am forced to ration my liquids by Kms as to not leave myself with nothing to drink later in the section. Good lets add dehydration to the bonking just to make it more interesting.

The trail is still beautiful but in a mocking and menacing way. It is relentless and punishing. For the first time in the race I realize that I am so slow and destroyed that not only will I not put up a decent time but I may not be able to make the cutoffs. Wow, this really boggles my mind. It forces me over into the darkside. I still have half the race, 25 miles to go and am totalled.

Somehow I eventually come out of the woods and into the next aid station. I am not really sure how this happened.

Camp Lanowa to Tiorati
Kim is at the aid station. She tells me that she (and many others) could not find the last aid station. She drove around for 2 hours looking for it. Later I would find out from someone who knows the course that the road to the station is semi hidden and there are not signs. If you didnt know it was there you could drive past it 20 times and not see it.

I refuel, get my other fuel belt and head out again. Camp Lanowa is a cutoff point and I am in with 50 minutes to spare. The next aid station is the last hard cutoff before the finish line. I have 2:30 to run the 6.5 miles. I see a faint glimmer of hope. Seeing Kim has also lifted my spirits.

Back out on the trail I am working a new plan. Run when I can, walk if I have to but take it easy and let the calories I have and am consuming bring me back from the edge. This section has a lot of runnable areas with not too many crazy climbs. A km after the aid station I see a woman coming back down the trail in the opposite direction. Her face is blood and her nose looks messed up, it is stark reminder of what can happen out here.

I run, I walk, I run. I am forced to walk a very runnable section which I should be able to crush adding to my frustration. That said something good is happening. I am starting to come back just a little. I begin running more and a bit stronger. A small pack of runners catch up with me and I fall in with them. The company is good and soon I am at the next aid station feeling almost human again.

Tiorati to Anthony Wayne
We are into the aid station 45 minutes before the cutoff. I feel a huge wait lifted. I am feeling better and now only have to make the 14 hour cutoff at the finish line. I feel that barring injury this should not be a big problem.

This section is good running and I run the early part with the same group of runners as the last section. After a while the pack begins to break up and I am on my own again. It was nice while it lasted but I don't mind being on my own. Negative land has now been left a long way back on the trail.

My garmin is now giving me a low battery warning. I don't care about pace but like to know my distance and overall time so I hope it holds out for awhile. I didn't bring a stop watch as I expect to not be at all worried about the final cutoff at the finish.

There is now a new menace on the course, Black Flies. When I am running its not an issue but on climbs the begin to swarm. I have bug spray on but it is only semi helpful. They were annoy but not too bad at this point.

Anthony Wayne to Queensboro Road
Kim is waiting here for me and helps me refuel. I have 10 miles left, lots of time and am feeling much better. Soon I am out of aid station and back into the woods. I catch up to one of the guys from the pack I was in earlier who is now running with a pacer. We trade positions a couple times and then I decide to settle in behind them for awhile.

This section starts out very runnable and I am feeling tired but okay. After a couple of miles I begin to think that the hard part might be over. How dumb am I? We hit the bottom of a hill and begin to climb. The climb goes on for at least 1km and is peppered with false summits, eventually it becomes so steep that hands are needed but finally we are on top of Pines Mt. .

Both me and the other runner are numb to this sort of thing by now but his pacer cant believe how hard it is. A short run along the top and then it is back down. By back down I mean almost straight down. The trail is so steep that one false step will send you hurling down the next half mile to the bottom. Thank goodness this comes at 44 miles with my quads completely shot otherwise I might have some trouble with this.

All three of us make to the bottom safely and soon we are into the next aid station.

Oh ya and those Black Flies are now huge swarms. They are in my ears, up my nose, in my eyes. I get some extra protein just by breathing as I swallow fly after fly. Some I can spit out, others I cant. I must have eaten at least 25 flies on the accent of Pine Mt. alone. This is not fun.

Queensboro Road to 1777
I refuel and head out. The guys I was running with seem to have disappeared. I figure they are somewhere up ahead and I will catch up. I am beginning to fade again but only have 5.3 miles left and the worst is behind me or so I think.

This section ends up being the hardest for me of the entire race. It is only 2.5 miles but seems to go on forever. First is a climb up a very rocky old empty river bed ( I think). At the top the trail winds sideways along a hillside causing you to do some bowlegged running. It starts along the top of the hill and slowly winds down to the bottom. Bet you can guess what comes next cant you.

You got it another long, steep, rocky climb up Timp Pass past a nice waterfall. It is exhausting and now I am beginning to get peripheral vision hallucinations. Out of the corner of my eye I keep seeing things that are not there. Stumps, trees and bushes begin to look like animals, people and houses. So I just stop turning to look. I hope that there is no actual bear or I may not see it before it eats me.

I crest the pass, its nice and runnable up here. I will make some time up now. That idea lasts for about a 100 meters until I come to the downhill section. I know what your thinking. Downhill thats great. Well yeah not so much.

The trail is wide and semi steep but it is a bed of rocks. Think of a gravel driveway, now imagine that the stones are all the size of baseballs. Some are stable others are loose and you cant tell until you step on them. You cant step between them as its all rock. The downhill goes on for at least a half mile.

I take this area very slow, maybe even slower then the previous uphills. My injured ankle is wonky and the bloody faced woman is in the forefront of my mind. I will finish this race but not if I end up a breaking something. Eric had warned me about this section the night before but it is worse then I had imagined. Some things just defy description.

Finally after a lifetime in purgatory I am into the last aid station.

1777 to Finish
I refuel at the aid station. They are asking me how I am doing so I lie and say great. I often wonder if you should be honest at aid stations or not. They can after all pull you from the race. I lie to error on the side of caution.

There are 2.8 miles left and the running is the easiest that I have seen since early in the morning. Its mostly double track, fire road and downhill. My garmin has died long ago so I have no idea how long the last section or this section is taking me but I run the entire way just in case the cutoff is close. Before I know it I am out of the woods and making my way across the finish line.

Post Race
Official time 13:18:51

Picked up my race swag and grabbed something to eat. Great swag for this race, tech shirt, arm warmers, hand held water bottle, second water bottle. Awesome.

Kendra ended up finishing making it to the finish with a good 4 minutes to spare before the cut off. Way to go Kendra!

We decided to grab a hotel room and not drive back that night. We thought we might go out for a nice dinner but by the time I had a shower we were both so beat that it ended up being a stay in pizza and beer night.

I loved this course and yes it was really hard. I will be running this race again that is for sure.

Monday, May 2, 2011

PYP - Pick Your Poison 50km Race Report

PYP - Pick Your Poison 50k
After DNFing at Seaton I was itching to get back out on the trails and get that stench of shame well behind me. I am well versed at running away from a stink I have just created so this should be easy. Lucky for me I have a pile of races (maybe too many races) lined up over the next little while so I didn't have to wait long. After 2 more good weeks of training Pick Your Poison was quickly upon me. Time to kick some ass.

Okay actually more like time to run a 50k as a decent training run. At least that was the plan. Have a normal training week, do a one day taper and then run PYP. I wonder is one day off of running really a taper? I am going to say absolutely, definitely, maybe.

The plan was simple going into this one. Since the course is conveniently a 12.5 km loop that is run 4 times it makes it perfect to get some pacing and controlled running in. Also going through the start area each time makes it easy to get the nutritional stuff down in preparation for longer races later in the season. I planned to run loop 1 hard, loop 2 and 3 easyish, loop 4 semi hard to hard. With the 50 miler at Bear Mountain coming up the following weekend I would try not run stupid hard and kill myself. I figure that with mountain in the race name I should have at least partially rested legs. I ran PYP last year and really liked it so had some idea about the course although there were some changes, lots of changes as it turned out.

We got up early on Saturday morning and grabbed a ride with JD up to the Horseshoe Valley. A quick check of the weather on Friday night called for sunny skies with a high of 18 and more importantly ZERO chance of precipitation. Is it possible? Could I actually get to race on dry trail for the first time this year. The weather earlier in the week had made me sceptical about any chance of dry trail. Rain, cold, thunderstorms, rain and then 80km winds on Thursday had lead to me taking an extra off day so I was taking the weather predictions with a grain of salt. Hey wait an extra day off means a 2 day taper, is 2 days off a taper?

We made the race site with lots of time to spare, picked up our swag and got changed. It was sunny, warm and we heard that the course was in great shape with very little mud. I did not however like the look of the snow that was still on the side of the ski hill that we would be running up, over, around and across. Usually snow + sun = mud but I was never really very good at math.
Pierre tries to tell us that hills are our friends

The Race
Loop 1 - lost in La Mancha
As soon as the race started I realized that the course was going to be a lot different then last year. Last year we had started to climb the ski hill right off the start which made for slow going and some bottle necking early in the race. This year instead we turned in the opposite direction and ran a nice long flat section on dirt roads. I came out as hard as I dared to try and get myself some running room early on.

There was no time to get used to the flat running however as soon we were headed up our first climb and into a short bit of technical single track in the woods. My cardio was feeling good as I got into pace and pushed it just a bit but I was having some discomfort in my ankles and shins. Nothing big but kind of annoying. I have had this before when I have run hard early without a good warm up. It goes away as I get loose but makes for an uncomfortable first few KMs.

Soon it was past the first aid station and back out onto another ski hill for more climbing, a small plateau, and then more climbing. I remembered this course as being hilly last year but the changes had definitely added more hills.

Back into the woods for some double and single track as we passed the halfway point of the loop. I felt really good now so I started to push harder and was passing other runners regularly. I had hoped to run somewhere around a 1 hour 15 minute loop and was right on schedule.

More double track and then up the giant hill next to the golf course. I remembered this hill from last year. I hated it last year. It kicked me around like an old tin can. This year I decided I only despised it. The hill was just as bad but now it seemed kind of familiar like an old friend you cant stand to look at.

Then it was some decent flat running in the woods along the edge of the golf course to the last aid station on the course. As planned I ran right through not stopping at all and a quick U turn had us headed back the other way on a trail that ran parallel to the one we were just on. For a good half km you could see the runners through the trees on the other trail headed towards the aid station. I had built a small but growing gap between myself and a big pack of runners behind me. As I hit a long downhill the trail opened up to a dirt road and I could see Morgan (who I didn't know by name yet) in front of me and Paul C. further up ahead. I concentrated on keeping them in sight and trying to slowly close the gap without running a totally stupid fast pace.

More uphill, downhill and single track it was all going so well and then as is sometimes, okay often, the case, Karblamo!! I had climbed up a wide almost road like hill, took the corner and headed down another hill. I could still see the other guys just ahead of me but they had stopped running. Oh Oh, worse then this two other runners were coming up the hill in the other direction. Crap thats not good. I looked and yes I could see markings going down the hill. Suddenly we were a group of runners having an impromptu meeting in the middle of the trail. It was like a meeting of the entire infield on the pitching mound. We all knew something was wrong but just were not sure what.

Did someone pull up trail markers? Did we just miss something? The general consciences was that we had already run this part of the course earlier so let the back tracking begin. Back up the hill and around the corner we saw where we had missed a turn going back into the woods. Crappppp, what the hell all the people I had worked so hard to get ahead of were now either ahead of me or right behind me. I had run about an extra KM and lost about 6 minutes. What a dummy or maybe thats dumbme in this case.

Side bar your Honour. In my defence the trail was as wide as a road and I was on the opposite side from the turn back into the woods. I was also watching runners ahead of me but may have missed the turn regardless. A sign (like in other places on the course) with an arrow might have been helpful. That said the trail was marked so kind of hard to put it on the RD. I know some other runners got discombobulated on parts of the course but I think it was decently marked for the most part.

Back on track I began to repass the same runners I had left in the rear view mirror earlier. I was pissed. I could not believe that I had missed that turn and gave away so much time. Let the mental games begin. I have done enough of these kind of races to know that crap happens and you got to just let it go and refocus or else thinking about mistakes will lead to more mistakes. Sure enough I ran right past another turn. ARRHHHGG!! Way to go Charlie Brown.

Okay this time no excuses the turn could not have been better marked, this one is totally on me. Great now I am passing 3 or 4 of the same people again for the 3rd time. Good Grief.

Out of the woods it was another climb up the back of a ski hill and then down the hill to the start finish. Stephan was on the crest of hill taking race photos and told me to smile. Sorry but that was not very likely, I am going to be interested in seeing my facial expressions in that photo cause I was pissed at myself big time.

Loop 2 - getting it in check
A quick stop to chug an ensure and grab a new water bottle and I was back onto the course. First loop and aid stop took 1:23 so when you factored in my lost time being lost I was right around 1:15. It was time to slow it down a little, stick with the plan and refocus.

This loop went really well. I mostly ran alone although I played a bit of leap frog with Morgan, Paul and another runner that I did not know. I just concentrated on staying relaxed and running an even effort for the lap. I didn't get lost, I didn't get hurt and I didn't fall down so mission accomplished. My ill temper at my lack on navigation skills soon was long in the past and I was really enjoying the run. The weather was great and it was some really nice trail. Not as much technical running as last year, more hills but still a decent course.

Before I knew it I was out of the woods on the last ski hill climb and then back into the start area for a quick refuelling stop and out I went again.

Loop 3 - This and that
Nothing to see here just keep it moving along. I ran about a 1:23 loop again for loop 2 so had executed the plan well. I wanted to keep this loop close to that if I could but was more interested in keeping my effort level the same.

The 25k runners were no longer on the course so anyone out there was in the 50k. Once again I was playing leapfrog with the same runners as the loop before. I was passed by 2 runners during this loop but also passed 2 others myself so I was happy with that. One thing I was not pleased with though were my legs which had begun to fatigue at around 30km, much to early as far as I was concerned. Not a big problem but still what the heck. I thought that heavy volume training is suppose to up your endurance. I mean I did give my legs a 2 day taper to get ready for this race.

Loop 4 - Get the lead out
Another quick refuel and back on the course. I asked Pierre and Stephan while I am chugging an ensure at the start line if I am in the middle of the pack. They tell me I am in the top quarter of the field. Back on the course I hit the first long flat section and can see 2 runners ahead of me. I had planned to run this loop semi hard to hard. I decide that don't want to lose ground to runners behind me so I will go hard.

I manage to pass the first of the two runners about 1km into the loop and have soon left him behind. It takes me another 2km of really hard running to catch the next guy. We have been trading places back and forth for the last 25km. I would like to pass him but he is moving well and my legs are slowing. We run together for the next couple of km. I am pushing hard but he gets away from me just before the big hill that I despise. Once on the hill I can see a second runner ahead of us. Looks like we still got some racing to do.

At the top of the hill I hit the flat trail section to the aid station. I want to push to catch the guys that are about 200 meters ahead of me but my legs don't want to turn over any faster. Looks like 2 days off really isn't a taper after all. Past the aid station and along the parallel trail I can see that there is nobody within a km behind me. With less then 4km left I am not likely to be caught by anyone.

I focus on the 2 runners in front of me but soon one of them has gotten away. I push as hard as possible but cant close on the other. I am sure he knows I am back here so I expect he is working really hard as well.

Into the last small wooded section. I have lost sight of everyone ahead of me. I am gassed but still working hard then 30 meters from coming out of the woods I am down. TIMBER!! I face plant really hard, one of the hardest falls I have ever had on a trail. I am not even sure what happened. My hat goes flying, my handheld water bottle bounces out of my grip from the impact of the ground. Damn what the heck. I hit the trail so hard I bounce and almost roll down the hillside. I pick myself back up and do a body check. Nothing seems to be broken, little knee scrap, no real damage except to my ego.

I stagger out of the woods and up the last hill still picking dirt out of my mouth and nose. Then a quick downhill and the race is done.

Post Race
I am pleased with how the race went overall. Great course, well organized, awesome swag with a cool shirt and socks. I found the course was slower this year then last due to the changes but still an awesome run. I vow to someday do a real taper. All and all a really fun day. Kim also had a good race. Race results are not posted yet but these should be right I think.

Unofficial results
time : 6:03:44
Place 13th out of +50 runners

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