Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mohican Trail Marathon report – Limberlost not really a race report

Mohican Trail Marathon
While I was running around in the woods in Ohio for what is a ridiculous amount of time and distance by sane peoples standards my wife was running with 5 other Ontario runners in the Marathon. Apparently she is still smart enough to run reasonable races no matter how hard I try to make her to get whacky.

Read her Mohican Marathon race report over on my coaching website.
You can check it out here.       C+C runners at the Mohican Marathon.

Limberlost- not really a race report

Well things didn't exactly go as planned in the 56k race at Limberlost. I made it a whole 13k before severely turning my ankle. I decide I should not be stupid and stopped running on it right away. I want to say that is because of the lessons I learned from running on a sprained ankle at Haliburton 2 years ago but that is most likely not true. The decision to drop was easy with 43k still to go, not sure how easy it would have been if I had been deeper into the race.

This is the second time I have taken a DNF in a 50k race. The first time was at ..... you guessed it, Limberlost. Have no idea why that is but it sucks.

It was kind of weird at the race this year as many of the usual ultra people were up in Collingwood running the NorthFace Challenge. I had actually though about doing Limberlost on Saturday and then hitting the half marathon distance in Collingwood on Sunday. Glad I did't sign up as there was no way I would have been able to run on my gimp leg.

I also noticed that there were a lot of very fast road runners that I know that were doing the HM, many of them as their first trail race which was kind of cool. I felt bad for the front of the packers as I read that they were misdirected by a race marshall and ended up DNFing. They didn't run the full course through no fault of their own. Not exactly the first time trail race experience you would want. Hopefully some of them will end up hitting the trails again.

I went up to Limberlost with Kim and a few other runners that I coach / run with. They all did the 28k and had decent races. See my previous comments about Kim being smart.

Hopefully Dirty Girls is up next but that will depend on how quickly this ankle heals.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mohican 100 race report - part 2

Here is part 2 of the Mohican 100 race report. Go here for part 1

Now for the easy part
For the most part my second loop of Mohican course is very much just a blur. I ran decently, stayed on top of my gel and salt intake but was running alone. By this point in the race the field was well spread out so I got lots of personal trail time which was nice.

I hit the crazy root climb section for the second time of the day sometime in the mid afternoon. It was hot (maybe 30) but not crazy or stupid hot like it was supposed to be and I was real happy about that. Although I liked the waterfall / crazy root climbing section of the course I was glad when I finally popped out of the woods by the dam. It is definitely the hardest part of the course but you only do it in the first 2 loops so at least that was out of the way.

This time the climb out of covered bridge seemed longer and further than on loop 1. It's got to be a good 1000 feet of climb in the first 2 miles past the aid station and was only going to get harder later in the race. So far so good and everything body wise felt okay. I passed over the ridge line where it had all really fallen apart in 2011 (the site of JD's “its all gone to shit video”) and was feeling great. I took this as a great sign.

By the time I hit the last aid station I had begun to wonder how Kim's marathon was going and how the 5 that had come down with us had made out. Three miles later I came out of the woods and into the camping areas. I was kind of lost in my own head when I heard someone shout my name.

A couple of Ontario guys that had run reasonable race distances were sitting at the campsite watching the foolish longer distance runners go by. James who I know from OUSER races shouted out to me that Kim had finished and ran well. Man did I ever want to stop for a beer at that point.

Soon enough I was back at the start area. Kim was there and as I had requested she had gotten me fries and a mcchicken from McDonalds. Unfortunately my stomach was begining to sour a bit and the lunch pickup was a bit mistimed (kind of hard to time it as Kim was unsure where I was on the course). Fries were not edible and they accidentally gave Kim spicy chicken which was not going to go down well at all. I ended up chugging an ensure and heading back out.

Wish I could tell you what the loop time was but my watch died during the loop. Usually I run with a cheap normal watch as a back up but hadn't been able to find it when we packed. Kim said she would find me a watch before the next crew access point. I seem to remember the race clock telling me I was in at around 13:45 into the race giving me a loop of 6:45 but things are kind of foggy.

The 5 miles to the next aid station went okay but the stomach was definitely turning. I ate and walked a bit out of the station along a brief road section. It was starting to get dark and almost headlamp time. I was not looking forward to running alone in the dark with no watch to pace by and a wonky gut.

Just then a guy and girl passed me as we turned to go back onto the trail head. They seemed to be moving pretty well. Slowly but smooth and steady clearly taking a smart conservative approach. I decided that I would just settle in behind them for a while and see what kind of pace they were setting. I spent sometime behind them and liked the way things were going so decided to stop lurking in the background and talk to them. I asked them if they minded if I latched on and they said no problem.

Steve and Casey kept us moving along well with me bringing up the rear and in no time we had hit the Fire Tower aid station. I had been thinking about this aid station since the start of loop 3 as this is where I dropped last time. I was feeling decent which was a far cry from how I had been in 2011. Kim was there and gave me a new watch. She was kind of sheepish when she handed it to me. I think she thought I would hate it. I felt quite the opposite though, it was ungodly and hideous which seemed perfect. I immediately dubbed it the Herb Tarlek of watches due to its oh so stylish white vinyl strap. I plan to wear it at every 100 miler from now on. Kim was also glad to see that I was running with others.

We headed out and were quickly on to Covered Bridge and then up the steep climbs and switchbacks. Steve lead almost the whole way and really pushed us along nicely but the hills took there toll on all of us. We ended up losing Steve somewhere along the ridge line as he slowed with bad stomach issues. Both Casey and I hated to drop him but unfortunately you have to run your own race. That didn't make it any easier though.

We ended up sticking together until we were out onto the last km of road back to the start line. Caesy sped up here and ended up disappearing ahead of me. I figured that would be the last I would see of her but with only a few hours of darkness left and 23 miles to go I was really glad to have had someone to run at night with.

I rolled into the start line aid station but did not see Kim. My stomach was starting to give me some grief again so I took 5 minutes to sit on top of my cooler and drink half a beer. This was the only time I had sat down since the race started. I had lots of time to finish but figured I should get going when I finally saw Kim. She had gone back to the car to get more food. I had her find me some pizza at the aid station and then got her to walk me back out to the trail head.

Just as we passed the washrooms Casey came out which was awful good timing. She was having some stomach issues as well so we started out on our struggle to the finish line together. The going was slow but steady. Casey lead when she felt good, I lead when she didn't and it seemed to work out well. The sun was up by the time we got to the Fire Tower. It was stomach issues galore at this point but Kim met us and made us at least drink some pop. I was doing a really bad job of hydrating and eating at this point which probably didn't help much. Still things were going well and we had lots of time to finish.

I had actually started to feel good again until we hit the big climbs after the bridge. They just seemed to suck every last bit of energy that I had left right out me. From that point on the last 10 miles became a mammoth struggle. I hit the last aid station and plowed right through it not even pausing. I would have liked to stop but I felt like I might end up puking or passing out. I was toast and the morning was starting to really get hot.

Casey and I hung together until about 96 miles when her walking shuffle became way too fast for my zombie lurching and I fell behind. It didn't matter as I entertained myself with the hallucinations that I was now having. I stopped to pee and the stump in front of me was literally breathing, it kept getting bigger and smaller. So many people passed me in the last 3 miles I thought that there might be some kind of parade going on but I didn't care, I just needed to make the finish still standing. For the first time ever in a 100 mile run I was in actually danger of falling asleep on my feet. What an amazingly odd feeling that is.

Finally I was into the campground and headed down the last mile. Way down the road I could see people waving at me. It was Kim and all the other runners that had come to Ohio with us. Seeing them gave me a little boost as I realized I was going to make it. They met me about a half mile from the finish and walked me most of the rest of the way in. Somehow I was able to muster enough energy to at least jog the last 300 meters to the finish.

After the finish line
I grabbed a chair and a beer and watched the rest of the back of the pack come in. Ended up being done in 31:17. That is the longest I have ever been out on a course by far and probably the most tired I have ever felt overall. My legs held up a lot better than I expected and were not nearly as demoed as they were at Haliburton.

On the one hand I think I could have run this a few hours faster if I had not been so conservative but on the other hand going out faster or pushing during the night could have just as easily ended in a total meltdown or blow up and a DNF. No need for that as I got what I wanted, a Western States qualifier and my UTMB points. I also finally got a US 100 finish in the bank which was beginning to mentally mess with me.

Big thanks to Kim and the marathon group for all the help and support. Also a huge thanks to Casey, Steve and the other runners I had the pleasure to run with. In the end thats really what its all about.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mohican 100 Miler Race Report

Have to say that I was pretty nervous going into this race. The last time I attempted to run the Mohican 100 back in 2011 it ended up being a train wreck for me and my first, but not last, DNF in a race. I learned a few things that day none of which were particularly helpful. I learned that it was freaking hot and humid in Ohio, that it was super hilly in Ohio, and that this race was kind of hard. You would would think these things might have dissuaded me from picking this as my spring goal race but I can be a sucker for punishment and besides I needed a Western States qualifier and a big fat plate of redemption. Okay its true they also give out a pretty snazzy belt buckle.

Kim and I headed down to Loudonville, Ohio on Friday with 5 other runners tagging along. Somehow I had managed to convince (read trick) 5 marathon runners I have been coaching into running their first trail marathon. Kim was running the marathon as well and would crew me after that.

Things start bad and get worse
I figured things should go okay as long as it doesn't get too hot. My weather watch starts in earnest 10 days before the race. Each day I check as the race approaches and each day I find myself cursing under my breath. Forecasts bounce between hot, 32 C to stinking hot, 35 C  to stupid hot, 40 C. A little know fact, once you have been forced to run with your balls in your hand at a given race you tend to become really sensitive about the weather.

With the anticipation of stinking to stupid hot I decided to change my race plan from running my normal paces to going extra slow early on as heat exhaustion is not my friend.

The Thursday night before the race I go to bed earlier so I can get lots of rest and then proceed to not sleep at all. Somewhere around 3 AM I think about sticking my head in our oven, you know just to practice for the weekend, but worry Kim might wake up.

 pre race dinner

On Friday we drive to Ohio. We are late leaving as I had to work and get to our hotel in Mansfield later than expected. After having dinner I head to bed hoping to get a solid 4 hours in but instead its mostly a repeat of Thursday.

And worse
We leave the hotel a good hour before the race to have lots of time to drive the 30 minutes to the race start. Its humid and foggy and unbeknown to us the drive is almost all on back roads. We can't see a thing and are forced to drive very slowly. We end up making it to the race 5 minutes before the start only to discover bib pick up is back up the road a mile.

Ever have that dream where everything goes horribly wrong and you can't seem to get to where your going. Welcome to my world. We head back and pick up my bid as fast as possible. Strangely enough there is another guy there picking up his as well so I only feel like half a moron. We race back to the start line, again.

The RD is still at the start with a camera guy. I say hi, ask which way to go, click on my headlamp and head off down the road. Its dark and very quiet, I have never started a race by myself before and its totally freaking me out. No running along with the pack this time. I end up starting 15 minutes late.

          I didn't see this in person

Heres the thing about racing, you kind of want to get to the start line before the start. Lets just call that like a rule or something. Otherwise you end up having to talk about it in public while feeling kind of stupid.

I am into the woods and climbing by myself but worse yet mentally I am messed up. I know I have to focus, run my pace and just get going but I keep thinking how I will end up missing the cutoff by 10 minutes at the end of the race. The temptation to go fast is hard to resist but I fight it the best that I can. It doesn't help that I am coffee deficient on top of everything else. I think I now know how Darth Vader felt after being sucker punched by the Millennium Falcon. I am spinning out of control.

Light at the end of the switch back
I have been angry running for about 30 minutes alone in the dark up and down hills, damn its hilly in Ohio. As I come to the top of a switchback I turn and see the headlamp of another runner on the switchback behind me. I slow a little and let the light gradually catch up. I am kind of expecting to see the same guy that was at the kit pick up but its a totally different guy. We start chatting and since we are both running along at around the same pace we stick together. He lives just down the road in Columbus and he missed the start because he though the race started later. We will end up running the next 20 miles together.

A few minutes of running along with another runner and I find I am no longer running angry. There is lots of time to make up the mileage and we actually start to catch the back of the pack before the first aid station just as the sun comes up.

Things go really well for the next few hours. It is starting to get hot but not really hot. I am feeling great and moving well but still remembering to stay very conservative. Finishing is the only goal I have for the day. I am also quickly reminded that Mohican is a great course, tough but really beautiful. I am surprised by how much of the trail I still remember. Still I make sure to stay slow, last time I was here we were having a great time until the wheels fell off and when that happened it happened fast.

Soon we are about half way through the loop and pass by Lyon Falls. Last time I was here you had to climb down a stair case of huge stones to the bottom of the falls. Since then the stones have been replaced with actual stairs. Honestly I preferred the you could fall down and die stone stairs but thats just me.

At some point along this area we ended up falling in with another group of runners. Most of them were running their first 100. I ended up talking and running with these guys for the next 10 miles or so. One of the guys in the group was know as Tattoo Tom. He had set up a charity to help kids with cancer after his daughter had passed away and his run was raising money (per mile). Talking with this guy really inspired me, you can check out his charity here at Spoiler Alert - Tom finished the 100 and won the Last of the Mohicans award (last finisher).

Tough climbs out of the covered bridge aid station soon gave way to some really great running along the ridge lines and into the last aid station before you head back towards the start line. I was forced to make a sudden stop here to take care of some morning "business" which ended up taking way too long and costing me even more time.

The last few miles went well and I sauntered into the start line finishing the first loop in 7:01. That was much slower then what I would normally expect but still kept me on pace to finish. I also had to take into account losing 25 minutes to the late start and the call of the porta potty.

Part 2 to follow

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