Now the dust has settled after my most recent and key race of the year, I thought I would try and put my thoughts into words. After a spring of disappointments with DNF’ing my 100 miler and 100k race and then DNS’ing a 10k, it really felt like 2017 was going to suck. But I did what I have always done before and I dusted myself off and kept going.
So if you do not keep on top of the events that I participate in or you are new to our blogs and website, you might be wondering what race I am referring to. The race I just completed is called the Squamish 50/50 and it’s named so because it happens in Squamish, BC and because you do back to back days of ultras or in other words 50 miles Saturday and 50 km Sunday. So why would anyone want to run 81 miles/130km over two days? That’s a good question and I guess each individual who signs up for the 50/50 may have a different answer or perhaps a similar answer to mine. It’s not really a one word answer and my reasons are as follows: Why not? Pushing myself beyond what I think is possible; getting to hang out with my trail and ultra-family; making new friends; experiencing the best trails Squamish has to offer and after the race is done eating all the food and drink all the beer lol.
Last year’s 50 miler at Squamish was my first 50 miler and was my longest race at that point. We left on the Friday to head up and got stuck in traffic which added to the pre-race anxiety. So this year I wanted to skip that so we headed up on Thursday and as we had the whole day we had a chance to take our time. We grabbed some awesome food at Fuel And Forrest café in Squamish which you should check out if you are ever in Squamish. Myself and Randi may have slipped and fell into Capra next door (awesome local run store in Squamish) which led to some purchasing of more run gear. We eventually ended up at our hotel: the Executive Suites (Squamish) and got to our room and then planned to meet with other running friends Mike & Laura.
We met up with them at Howe Sound Brewing for beer and food (good food and beer to be found there for sure) and we got on really well juts chatting away like we had known them for years. On our way out we bumped into more runners and chatted and discussed the pending weekends fun and suffering.
After a pretty chilled Thursday I was feeling quite optimistic about the weekends races, but edging on the side of caution regards whether I had trained enough and if the congestion I had from running in the smoke caused by the BC Wildfires would create any issues.
Friday came around and we followed through on making this a racecation, so we headed over to the Sea to Sky Gondola as Randi had never been and it was great just taking in the views and having more chill time before I had to race. Before we knew it, it was Friday afternoon and friends from the US had made it into town. My family had turned up as well and it was race package pick up time. I picked up my pack and grabbed a beer and mingled, hugged etc as we met various friends from the trail and ultra-community. Then a bunch of us went and grabbed food at Norman Rudys, the hotel restaurant and chit chatted before heading off to respective rooms to get packed for the morning.
I got back to our room and started to prepare my drop bags, gear to run in and run through what I needed from Randi as she would be crewing me at two of the aid stations. Then set an alarm for 4am. It’s a good job I like racing.
Next morning I lubed up with Bodyglide to prevent any chaffing, grabbed breakfast and went and got the car ready. I was picking up friends Derek and Tim. We got to the start line and I dropped off my drop bags and hung out and chatted to Tim, Derek, Alan, Eileen and Chris in between about 6 pee breaks. Did I mention I get nervous at races? To add to the tension Gary the RD had moved the start from 5:30am to 5:45am to give time for everyone to park (I found out later there was some issues with access to the parking lot). Anyway Gary gave his customary race brief including a dig at the Czechs for the hockey medal, they stole of Canada in 89 I think. He does some great race briefs and mentioned this year there were 1200 racers over the various race distances, 19 countries represented etc.
Randi had told me earlier not to go off too fast, but I’m a guy so seldom listen haha. I lined up near the front as I knew this year would be cooler and I wanted to knock time of my 50 miler, get in early to rest for the 50k etc. The first 10k is super flat and fast. The race started and I was away and 5k in had my first fall; yup I supermaned and nearly face planted and yet picked myself up and managed to get back to the same pace without hesitation. I saw Randi at the first aid station and dropped my warm gear I had at the start and picked up my handhelds. I have to thank my buddy Dustin for the idea of handhelds at the first aid station. It meant a fast light first 10k. From the first aid station it was on to the trails and hitting the first inclines and first hill of the day. I was quite surprised when I summited the first hill (Debecks) as it seemed quicker than normal when I got through.
The second aid station is at Alice Lake and by then I still had chews, gels and I had two handhelds half full so I decided to run through it and keep going and make use of my energy at this point. Alice Lake is fairly quick as there is some up and down but its not too bad; well at least this early in the race.
I then hit the next climb heading up to the Corners aid station and I used the climb and the accompanying power hike to take on some calories in the form of chews and a gel. By the time I got to the Corners aid station, I felt good and I had seen a number of friends marshalling and helping at the aid station so it was great to be racing locally and was keeping my spirits buoyed. I saw my friend Tom and asked him to fill one handheld whilst I went straight through the aid station and out to the Corners loop. You only do this loop on the 50 mile course. It’s technical and it’s not my favourite section and some parts of it are exposed so I wanted it done before mid day heat kicked in. I got it done and then stopped at the Corners aid station on the way back through and stocked up on aid station goodies before tackling the mega climb of the day which is called Galactic. I still felt pretty good and I was at Galactic before I knew it. I started up and I tried a good power hike mixed with a jog on the runnable sections. I managed to pass a few people on the way up which kept my spirits up that I was doing well. Part way up I saw the race photographer and tried to pull some silly faces as I was determined to have a fun day and try to smile where possible. Trouble struck when I started coming down Galactic as my right ITB flared up (it hurt like hell I can tell you) and coming down with an iffy ITB is not great and especially half way through the race. But I sucked it up and tried to keep going as well as I could.
I slowed a little heading towards Quest but then I saw Randi and my friend Daisy and it picked up my spirits again. Randi applied some Deep Blue rub to my leg and I changed my handhelds out for a vest and soft flasks. Both Randi and Daisy were super helpful and got me what I needed. I managed to see my family there and said my good byes and headed off. It was a PR (personal record) for the Quest aid station. Last year it was so hot, I was roasted and brain frazzled and I spent about 30 minutes there last year! Not this year!
After Quest you hit the back half of the course and the climbing and descending does not stop, but I did as last year and broke the back half down to aid stations to make it more manageable for my head to take. Before I knew it, I was at the Garibaldi Road aid station and friendly faces again as Jacquie and Don where manning this aid station. I took on loads of coke, electrolyte tablets, salty potatoes and fruit as my stomach was good and I had hoped the salt would help my cramping legs (no help for the ITB though lol).
I set off knowing that I just needed to get to the Farthest aid station and then I would have just 10k after that to the finish line. My ITB had slowed me down quite a bit on the back half and I felt as slow as molasses but I was moving and kept digging myself out of the lows and smiling. I got to Farthest aid station and knew my over optimistic goal of sub 10hrs for the 50 mile was out of the window, but I still had hope I could get under 11hrs and beat last years time.
The Farthest aid station was like an oasis with friends telling me how well I was doing, nothing like having local support. I fueled up and tried to get in and out quickly. The next 5 and a bit k is up and down and down and up. It felt like forever to get to the top of mountain of Phlegm and know that the last 4.5k was down and flat (mostly). Grimacing through the ITB pain, I threw myself down Smoke Bluffs like a man possessed (well it felt like it, I may have looked like a deranged senior). I hit the last 2k on the road and I kept willing myself to pick up the pace. I could see the time ticking and it was getting close to 11hrs.
I hit the last part of the road and saw the finish shoot and from nowhere managed to sprint and in to the finish with 4 minutes to spare at 10hrs56. I’d beaten last year’s time by about an hour and a half. It was so great to have a hug from Gary, realize my achievement and catch up with Randi, friends, other racers I’d ran with, see my family and eat a really good veggie burger and have a very satisfying beer.
We hung around the finish area for a little while as our friend Kenzie was coming into town to volunteer on the Sunday. In the meantime I was trying to keep spreading the good cheer and congratulating new and old friends. I also found time to run a sack race to win some Salomon shorts that are way too big for me haha.
Some of my friends did not make it to the start line the next day, but I did with the help of Kenzie and Randi. Gary said 90 percent of the people that get to the start line finish the 50/50, so I thought if I show up I have a good chance of being in that 90 percent. Gary gave his pre-race and I saw my buddy Mike had made it back which was good as he missed out last year and was back for redemption at the 50/50.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to move far with my angry ITB but I got off to a relatively good hobble and was in the mid pack for a while until the fresher runners ran past me. It was a little disheartening at first but then I came to the realization that I was lucky to be moving at any pace other than walking. Again the downhill sections began as quite difficult.
I managed to get to the Corners aid station unscathed apart from stubbing my toes a few times but then what use are toe nails haha. Saw friendly faces again at the aid station and I dug into the aid station faire and refilled my bottles and then headed off to do Galactic again. I power hiked up for a good bit and caught the end of a line of runners going at a reasonable speed of power hiking and I could conserve energy so I stayed on the back for a while, ate some chews and sipped my fluids. Once some flat bits came up I gradually passed a number of the runners in the line. I felt I was doing well taking into account my ITB and stiffness. However, on the descent I slowed down as the ITB hurt on the tight turns and rocks (later I’d find smoother downhills I could go quick if I over strided).
I eventually made it into the Quest aid station and my buddy Stuart was there and what an awesome buddy he was. He helped me out with some armpit lubing as can you believe I had armpit chaffing lol. He helped get my drop bag and get me some food and fluid. I changed shoes to lighter cushion shoes which would mean my feet and legs might get more impact but I felt good bearing in mind what I had been through and I wanted to get out and get the back half done.
After I left Quest aid station I bumped into Kristine who I know through social media and was nice to meet her in real life. I was part way up the climb trail and was feeling pretty good and was actually getting some running in. I then briefly ran with Paul that I’d met on an O run in June (orientation run). He was back for his second 50/50 and was having nausea issues. I was feeling good, so wished him well and moved on. In the back of my head I was wondering if I would hit my A goal of sub 20 hours for the two races or my B goal sub 24hrs.
I ran further up the trail and met a nice woman from Banff, also doing the 50/50 and she was hoping and calculating if she pushed it, she could hopefully get sub 8hrs 30 for the 50k. We ran for a little while and then I got a second wind and caught up with Kristine again. She can climb so well, but then she’s always up a mountain on her Instagram feed lol. Before I knew it, I was heading down to the Garabaldi aid station and got to see Don and Jacquie again which was great. I tried to get some food in but wasn’t feeling 100 percent. I left and my stomach was a little queasy and thankfully no one was directly behind me as I did some crop dusting.
On the way to the Farthest aid station I was struggling and feeling nauseous but I kept pushing and checking my watch as I was hoping I could do sub 8.30 and a sub 20hr for the weekend. I got to Bonsai, an open section and I felt so hot and sick but was still powering through and passing other runners (I don’t think I was fast and I think some had gone off too fast earlier and were fading). I then got to my friend Kenzie and she gave me a hug and that lifted my spirits and helped me push on through to the next aid station.
Again at Farthest aid station there was a whole bunch of friends including Jamie who was super encouraging and gave me a big hug and I tell you that helped. I fueled up and left for the last 10 and a bit kilometers. I pushed on and it was last 5k to mountain of Phelgm that I had to dig deep and ride the lows. I had real moments of despair. I questioned why I was there; could I really make it; should I stop and then I got out of the funk; looked at the time and told myself to sort my shit out (this was my internal voice, I didn’t want to scare the other runners lol). I caught up with my buddy Dustin and his quads were done so we talked for a brief period and then I kept going. I literally have never been so pleased to see the top of mountain of Phlegm and I literally sprinted (well fast jogged haha) down the bluffs. I hit the road with 2k to go and then there was a head wind and like what the hell, but I could see the time on my watch. If I could pick up the pace, I could get under 8hrs 20, so I went for it and crossed the line 8hrs18 minutes.
Gary gave a great hug and then swapped out my trucker for the infamous 50/50 hat and I was so proud I had not given up and that I had kept going and I had crushed my goal. Gary being the great guy he is, then gave me the mic and the opportunity to advertise our race the Puddle Jumper. I was out of breath and lost for words so I’m not sure anyone heard what I said.
I hugged Randi and my family, hugged friends and started to try and get some food back into me. We hung around waiting from Kenzie to get back in and to hopefully see Mike come in. We saw the prize giving and managed to catch up with various friends. I really do love our community ☺
I went to look for Mike as Laura thought he would be in soon. I eventually saw him and managed to find some energy and ran with him to the line and encouraged him to sprint for the line. He then ugly cried when Gary hugged him and it was so touching. I gave him a hug and agreed to see them later that evening. We headed back and I ate a large vegan Panago pizza and a yummy beer; just rewards for a race well done. We then popped down to Mike and Laura and chatted about doing a 100 miler together next year.
131 started the 50/50; 72 finished it which shows you how tough it is. Then again even the 23k race is tough as well as the 50k and the 50 miler so huge congrats to all who competed and succeed. Also big pat on the back to those who tried any of the races and didn’t make it. You got out there and tried and that’s a huge accomplishment.
I’d like to take the time to thank my sponsors:- Swiftwick socks, Huma gel, Spidertech tape, Hillsound Equipment. Also lots of thanks to a big supporter of myself, Randi and our race: Pacesetter Athletics in Gibsons. If your on the coast please visit Larry and Teresa and support this great local run store.
So two weekends ago I lined up to do my first 100k race and second ultra race of 2017. The night before I had a sore throat and again was fighting a bug. Seems all winter and now into spring I have been fighting one thing after another.
So the start of my problem was getting carried away at the end of last year and registering for two ultra races so close together. Then not feeling 100 percent for the race and the fact it rained continually all day of the race resulted in the only result that could have happened which was my second DNF for 2017.
I started the race off fairly strong but about 30k into the race my left ITB flared up and I’m assuming not long enough recovery from my last race was to blame. I was soaked when I got into the third aid station but decided to try and change some clothes to warm up. That was a bad idea as I stopped moving and got cold. I tried to warm up after that aid station but I just couldn’t and my ITB kept making me slower and slower which meant, I wasn’t moving as quick and it was hard just to keep hold of any body warmth.
I was on my way to the 5th aid station when I started to shiver and my teeth began to chatter and I knew that was not a good sign. I stopped at the 5th aid station to grab some soup and as soon as I sat down, I just started to have some serious uncontrollable body shivers. The aid station volunteers were awesome and handed me hot chocolate and blankets and soup and kept an eye on me. One volunteer put me in her car with the heated seats on and the blowers going and I got to the point that I began to warm up. After 20 minutes she came back and said that it was good to see that I was no longer blue!
Eventually the volunteer who put me in her car asked if I wanted to continue the race or drop out. I left the car to go pee and started shivering again. I decided my health would be at stake and went back to the car and confirmed I wanted to drop. The same volunteer dropped me back at the start/finish area which was great and I cannot thank her enough or the other volunteers at the fifth aid station and out on the course braving the awful weather. I had friends in the race and maybe if the weather was better and I had dropped due to injury and this wasn’t my second DNF of the year, I would have hung around to cheer them on, but to be honest I was cold and in fact it took me the rest of the day to get back to my normal body temperature and I was just utterly depressed. So I decided to head home and another racer who wasn’t racing and crewing her husband gave me a ride to my friends place.
I got to my friends place and showered, got changed and packed up and managed to get a ride from her husband to the local skytrain station and I headed home. On the way home I was just really emotional and there were a few times I nearly cried/ I think I was close to one of my lowest points with my state of mind.
So this now leaves me with two DNF’s for the year and I still do not feel fully recovered from whatever has hit me this year. I thought maybe my immune system was compromised and even tried a fast to reset my immune system. I have tried various over the counter medicines, homeopathic remedies and no joy. I recently thought perhaps it was allergy’s and have been taking an anti histamine and trying various natural remedies such as honey, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and yet every day I wake up congested and sometimes with sore throat or headaches. I’m at a loss what to do. I want to start running again and I’m resting for a few weeks but I don’t know if I will be able to run again anytime soon with the whatever this illness is. Maybe it’s over training syndrome? I just don’t know.
I know that unless I become a seasoned ultra runner at the 100k and 100 mile distance that it’s not a good idea to only have 3 weeks between races so that’s a lesson learned. Maybe my body is trying to teach me a lesson with my current sickness; maybe I took on too much trying to train, move house, increase my commute; maybe I need more sleep, more rest, less stress. I just do not know at this stage, but I know I want to race the Squamish 50/50 in August and I’m going to try everything to get better and train for that race.
So just over three weeks after Lake Martin and my first DNF, I will be toeing the line again and not a short race either. Certainly last year doing a 100 miler and then three weeks after doing a 100 kilometre race seemed like a good idea.
The proof of whether this was a good idea will be on Saturday, as I will either get the race done within the cut off or I will crash and burn. The aches and pains from Lake Martin have mostly subsided at this point and I have done some short runs to get running again but allowing my body the chance to heal.
The weather doesn’t look ideal for the race as it looks as it may well rain all day, but I live in BC so I should be use to the rain. With the weather in mind I am going to pack my drop bags with plenty of spare clothes, so I am not spending too much time in wet clothes. I certainly don’t need to pack sunglasses and sun creme lol.
I don’t feel very fast after having such a short gap between races but this could be to my advantage and may prevent me from going out too fast and then running out of steam half way through. I did 107 kilometres at Lake Martin in 16.5 hours and my next race the Diez Vista has a 15.5 hour hard cut off, so that means I would need to drop at least an hour, but for about 18 miles I was shuffling/power walking and so if I can manage to run/jog most of the Diez Vista course I think I can make it.
I feeling positive and upbeat and I am going to use everything I have to complete this race within the cut off. Randi wont be with me this time and I don’t think there will be tracking. So I guess you will hear from me when I’m done ☺
As you may or may not be aware, I recently attempted my first 100 miler. Unfortunately I logged my first DNF, for those of you not aware of race lingo, DNF stands for did not finish. Bearing in mind I have had the odd gap but pretty much, I have always been a runner since first school and I have always completed every race I have entered, so to have not completed a goal race and a race I so wanted to complete just leaves me feeling quite down. I am trying to stay upbeat but at the moment it’s still so fresh that it feels like an open wound. If you do not race you may not be able to relate to how I feel, unless I try and explain it in other terms. I suppose it would be like working and studying hard for a promotion only for the promotion not to happen or studying for a final exam and failing on the last part of the exam.
Like anything in life I’m left wondering if I made the right choice to stop; did I start too fast; if I had done things differently would I have been ok to carry on? At the time I felt that going on could have affected my health negatively and also I was walking at that point as my legs were shot. I could have slipped and fell and injured myself. There are so many variables with a race of this distance, but then speaking to those who finished the race they had their own lows and their own struggles and pushed on. This leaves me thinking could I have pushed through and made it without any serious issues?
I guess I will never know and at some point, I am sure I will get over this hurdle, but for now I think it’s that fresh that it’s kind of playing a lot on my mind right now.
So how did I end up at this point, where I called it a day and walked away from a race I so wanted to complete. I guess really trying to train through winter is never easy and I really should have planned better to cover all eventualities. Injuries can be trained around by using cross training but then if the weather sucks, you need indoor options and I don’t have those options at the moment and I did not have them when I needed them this winter.
Injuries could have been avoided if I had been smarter. I missed training due to illness and moving home and being less than smart, I tried to ramp up my training and make up for lost time which doesn’t work.
So first issue was moving house with the stress and effort that type of thing involves and then increasing my commute and the stress that brings along. Starting a new project like the race, I am putting together with Randi is another stress and strain on time and resources. Add to that the fact this winter in BC has been brutal with the snow, ice, freezing temps and well it’s been a recipe for disaster rather than success. But the icing on the cake was getting a cold about three weeks before the race and not being able to shift it.
I think the lack of quality training didn’t help but it’s something I could have pushed through and made it through the race, even if I was crawling at the end but this cold that even now is still lingering just was the final nail in the coffin.
I have had some nasty colds and flu in the past, but the bug this year just really floored me and in fact inflamed my asthma which hasn’t bothered me in about 4 years. I have tried everything under the sun from pharmaceutical over the counter stuff to homeopathic stuff and to no avail. I had points where it felt I was shifting it and then I’d wake up the next morning drowning in snot again. Maybe it was a combination of a compromised immune system from training, the weather and the cesspit of germs BC transit has been this winter that has infected me and left me that way for so long.
Better research may have helped as well, as I soon found out after the first lap of Lake Martin that there really are no flat spots. It’s just continuous up and down.
Back to the race and I started off well. No real effects of the cold and I was maintaining a good pace if a little ambitious for the first lap, but I was running with other runners and I felt good and it was going well. At the start of the second lap I felt my ITB (which is band around the knee area) tighten up but I was still able to run and I took my foot of the gas so to speak in comparison to the first lap.
The second lap I had tried twice at aid stations to put Kinsieo tape on to help my muscles but I think I should have spent more time to clear the sweat and dirt on my legs as the tape didn’t stick and annoyed me rather than helping me. The ITB issue made the downhills tough as it hurt and normally downhills are my best area of running. The aid stations were manned by great volunteers who were very encouraging and helpful. I ran with an Ultimate direction running vest and filled the front pockets with two soft flasks (like hydration bladders but bottle shaped and collapsible). I had one bottle with Tailwind and the other filled with water. I also had Huma chia gels in my vest and would use one every hour or so. I realized after the race I need to shoot the gel in my mouth instead of sucking on the gel packet as I went through so many gels, the edges had caught the edges of my mouth and made them sore.
The course was split into two loops; a northern loop and a southern loop. The northern loop was one loop out to Heaven Hill aid station, then a loop out north from Heaven Hill aid station and back in to the aid station and then back out on a loop to the cabin aid station which was also the start/finish area. The southern loop was just one loop but was harder and more technical than the whole northern loop. On the back half of the second loop I started to urinate way more than usual and this concerned me and on completion of the second loop, I let Randi know and we tracked down the race medical staff. I was checked out and blood pressure etc appeared normal taking into account I was competing in an endurance race. I was advised that the race plus my cold was more than likely making my kidneys work double time but as my urine was clear, I should be ok to go on. I started the third lap walking and at points I got to a trot but my legs were trashed and I wouldn’t run again after the short trots I managed.
More than likely setting a PR for 50 miles of 10hrs33 minutes may well have trashed my legs. I started the third loop in the middle of the afternoon and the sun had kicked in and I was getting hot and I was power walking as I was doing 8-9 minute kilometres up to Heaven Hill aid station. When I got there the sun had just gone down and it was getting dark and I had to get my head torch out.
Had I been better prepared I could have taken with me on the first lap some dairy free cheese to the aid station, as it happens the first few times through Heaven Hill aid station and the cabin aid station, they had quesadillas and the warm solid food would have helped I think.
Randi had made quesadillas the night before and I did manage one and I’m grateful she made them but being cold, I just had a hard time getting them down into me.
One of the volunteers at Heaven Hill did make me a beans quesadillas but it was tough to get that much dryness down into my stomach, so I took handfuls of the usual aid station favourites of pb&J, candy and chips, drank a bunch of coke and went on my way to walk the next loop. I came back through and wasn’t feeling great. I tried to eat more including noodles in veggie broth and changed into a long sleeve shirt as it was starting to get chilly. I headed back out onto the loop back to the cabin aid station and I tried to lift my spirits and hummed and whistled for a little while. Then I felt like the darkness had enveloped me and it got lonely. I had been by myself since the 50 mile point and it was just me shuffling back to the cabin aid station and peeing a lot again.
A few kilometres out from the cabin aid station, I started weaving and could not walk straight and I just wanted to get to the cabin aid station. I was feeling really low and lonely. Maybe training more in the dark may have helped, perhaps a pacer and using my poles may well have helped but this is thinking back in hindsight.
I got back to the cabin aid station and Randi as ever was awesome and came rushing over asking me what I wanted. I told her I thought I may drop out as the peeing had increased and I was concerned. I have heard of people running with viral bugs and damaging their kidneys and I didn’t want to push through and damage myself as after all, I want to keep running for a good few years and didn’t want to sacrifice my health for one race. I was also concerned with the fact, I could only walk and was weaving; would I fall on the trail and injury myself? Would it be hours before anyone found me if I did fall?
I had several cups of veggie soup and then Randi suggested I see the medical team again. Blood pressure etc seemed ok and no flare of my asthma and so really, it was my choice whether to push on or not. It was a tough call and I am not sure at the moment whether it was the right one. But I was just so emotional, I broke down into tears.
As well as Randi, I was being supported that day by our friend Diann. She had been awesome too and to hang around for 16 and half hours, it took me to do 68 miles was amazing, and I am truly grateful to her. I am also grateful to Diann’s husband John as he helped before and after the race and both of our friends made us feel like family, and it’s a trip I will never forget.
If I’m honest pulling the plug on my race was the sensible thing to do, as there was a risk to my health from over working my kidneys, as well as the balance issues could have caused a fall. But another part of my brain is still what if? I had another 16 hours to do 32 miles. I could have shuffled through those miles taken some good breaks to get food in me and sort my weaving issues out. I guess as I was at a very low point, I’m still thinking maybe I was looking for an excuse to pull the plug and maybe I didn’t have the mental strength to finish.
Being my first DNF there are lessons to be learned and I cannot turn the clock back, but I can learn and improve for next time. The positives are that I set a 50 mile PR (personal record), I managed 68 miles/100k which is my furthest distance to date.
I do plan if possible to go back next year and get all 4 laps done and get my 100 mile buckle. The race organizers were great and they gave me a 50 mile finisher medal for achieving that goal; the volunteers were great too and I met some other great runners on the course. I got to hang out with great friends and discover more of Alabama than I had in the past.
When I hit the low during the race I questioned why I was running and whether I would run again. The mind is a powerful thing and especially to make doubt my passion. For now this race is still raw, but I intend to face my demons and get back to what I love.
It’s now 10 days until my first 100 miler race so just a little under two weeks and not really sure what I can do now to prepare myself for the race. I have not had the best training due to illness, injury, weather conditions etc, but I have just completed my two biggest mileage weeks of 112 kilometers and 105 kilometers respectively. I have tried to mix up the running with some powerhiking, some faster runs, moderate and slower runs and elevation and rolling hills to try and prepare myself.
I think I am as ready as I can be, but I think my mental game will be key, so I really need to banish any self doubt and try and get my head in the zone. That’s not an easy task as having long work days due to my commute, planning a race and a mirad of other things have played on my mind recently, so maybe in the next couple of weeks I need some chill/zen time to focus my mind as well as my body.
The other thing to consider is what to take regards my running gear as I have never done a 100 miler, so I want the right stuff and the right amount. I do not want to over pack but nor do I want to under pack. I am undecided at this point whether to go with handheld bottles or to use soft flasks in one of my running vests. Do I take my trekking poles for later in the race when I am tired or can I push through without?
Lake Martin is a loop course with 4 loops consisting of 25 miles with rolling hills and around 13,000ft of elevation. I'm hoping the fact that it's a loop course will help in that I know what is facing me on each loop. Maybe I can use my knowledge of the course from the first lap to adapt for the following three laps. I had originally thought of some time goals for the race, but now I think my goal should be just to finish the race within the cut off.
I was hoping that during my taper to the race that now we are in March, the weather might improve but currently it looks like more cold temps, possibly more snow and plenty of rain. I most definitely am over winter and I am really hoping that the weather down in Alabama is better than here in BC. If I do a spring/late winter race again I will need to prepare better, so hopefully during the summer I would like to get a shed set up with a treadmill and bike trainer so I can train whatever the weather.
Lake Martin is a lower key 100 miler and I do not think they have athlete tracking and so I will get Randi to update my social media during the race in case anyone has any interest in how I am doing. I'm still wondering if doing the Diez Vista 100k three weeks after Lake Martin was a smart idea, but the only way to find out is to toe the line and try my best.
The good thing about Lake Martin is we will have friends there as support so that’s good. I have no pacer so that could be a good or a bad thing. Then with Diez Vista 100k as it’s a local event I will know a lot of the runners and volunteers and that should help me get round the course.
A short title for today’s blog, but then sometimes it doesn’t need much explaining to point out what the blog is about. For anyone that have followed my blog you will know, I have been dealing with injury on and off from late December through into January.
Well today’s blog as usual is full of my thoughts, ramblings and retelling of events in my special style. So I have tried everything from rest, rest from just running, resting and stretching, resting and cross training, icing and foam rolling. These things in a way helped me to keep going with daily life but didn’t help me get back to proper training.
Then as luck would have it my buddy Josh finally moved to the Lower Mainland (BC) from back east. This was great news as Josh has worked on and adjusted and taped me up before and got me running. In fact we actually met as he was dealing with my dirty, sweaty, tired feet and legs post Squamish 50. Josh had volunteered to do free massage, as he is an RMT (registered massage therapist). Anyway after treating me, he gave me his card and suggested to follow up with him for some stretches to help with my feet and keep me running.
Short story short, we kept in touch and we became buddies and I made him jealous of our BC trails by constantly posting awesome trail pics to the extent, he decided to move over here. I’m sure it’s me rubbing it in to Josh that we have awesome mountains and trails that got him to move :) So just recently Josh moved over and is already getting repeat customers at his clinic because to be honest he rocks.
Josh arranged last Friday to meet me at work on my lunch break and worked his adjustment and tapeing magic and now I’m back logging miles or kilometers because I’m in Canada lol. Josh gave me some resistance band stretches and advised me to avoid any speedwork but confirmed I could log long slow runs and hills wouldn’t be an issue.
So last weekend was a long weekend and Saturday through to Monday, I logged in a total of 80 plus kilometers, and Monday alone I ran just over 40k with my buddy and Co-Race Director Rich. So together with managing to get mileage logged without issue, I have regained my confidence that I can go and race the Lake Martin 100. I won’t fail and it won’t be my first DNS or DNF (did not start, did not finish).
As Josh is new in town I really want to spread the word as I would like him to do well and build up a list of clients. He is a great guy and he works wonders. I am one of those runners who in the past has tried to run through injuries or used Dr. Google, but honestly if you are reading this post and you are injured, do yourself a favor and go see an expert.
Josh is so new to BC, he didn’t even have his business card to give me, but here are his details:
Massage Addict 1971
Port Coquitlam, BC
Main number is 778 285-0355.
So I am back from the brink of despair and facing a good couple of weeks training before tapering to Lake Martin.
PS I know in my last blog I promised more posts and then I sucked and got lazy and didn’t write a post. But I will try to be better.
I have been a bit lax on keeping my blog updated, and Randi is really holding up the fort by making sure there are regular blog posts. I think the problem is that since we have moved and with a long commute, I am either tired or distracted. I do plan to work through this and my idea is to try and do a weekly blog post.
These posts may end up being quite short, but perhaps over time they will increase in size and breadth. Hopefully these posts will hold your interest and not be too boring. On the subject of new things; myself, Randi and a buddy are attempting to get off the ground our first ultra race here on the coast and that is demanding some of my time to. Perhaps I should learn to clone myself and then I can try to get everything done.
In regards to setting up a race there is way more to it than you think, and it is not an easy process and then trying to encourage people to register is hard work. Apologize to everyone and anyone I know through social media or real life, as I have been encouraging everyone to come run the race, but I really want the race to be a success.
The good thing about trying to set up the race is the fact, we are getting to know new people on the coast through trying to set up the race. When you are new to an area, it is not always easy to meet new people so having a way of meeting new people and broadening my horizons at the same time seems like a win win to me.
So in respect to the race, it appears others have tried and failed to get an ultra race on the coast up and running, so this just encourages me, my buddy Rich and Randi to try and make this race work and be a success. We are trying our best to reach out and get the community involved so it’s not just our race but a community event and an event that puts the Sunshine Coast trails on the map.
A lot of people tend to consider the coast for mountain biking, but people do not appreciate those same trails are just as good as anything in Squamish or the North Shore. We had hoped there would have been more take up for the race by now, but we are hoping that in due course the race will start to fill up more.
We have a 50km, 25km and a 1km kids race; we have set up a Facebook page, an Instagram account and to come shortly a website, which I really need to pull my finger out and help Randi with.
That’s it for now, but I will aim to get my weekly blog post in next week so watch this space.
I normally try to be clam with respect to upcoming races and just think, I have fitted in what training I could and I will be ok and I can push on through. But the issue I have right now is that moving house and getting sick derailed my training and not being the smartest guy around, I went against common practice and tried to start back running at the same level.
Well trying to go back to running at full pelt and with too much speed work, bad form from snow and ice and I think possibly new shoes, means I am now having to rest up for a couple of weeks due to injury. It is my own stupid fault but I was concerned I did not have enough mileage for my 100 mile race in March. So now I will have even less through my own stupidity as I now have shin splints.
Runners that run a lot tend to use running as an outlet to relive frustration and to get away from it all. So when you cannot run, you of course see your friends running or virtually via social media which can lead to you being a grumpy runner. I am currently that injured grumpy runner.
So hopefully if these couple of week’s rest cure my injury issues, I then have 6 weeks to train for 100 miles. It’s a hard task for sure and I keep saying to myself, I have the athletic base and the mental grit and I can do this. But then the other part of my brain has the klaxons and flashing lights going and is in full on panic mode, as me and Randi have flights booked, the race is paid for, we are meeting friends down at the race. I need to pull myself together I know, but I have never not started or not finished a race, and I do not want my first hundred to be a failure.
I have had time on my hands resting, so I have been googling doing a 100 miler on low volume training, 6 week training plans etc. I did have a training plan but that went out the window in October and now I am wondering if I can wing it like all my other races. I guess only time will tell.
Friends and other runners have suggested not to sweat and not to panic, but it is hard not to. But now I have written this blog post and put it out there, I’m going to try and focus and be positive. Any time goals I think can be forgotten and the main focus will be to get my first hundred finished.
Some have said better to turn up undertrained but injury free and that makes sense. I wouldn’t want to do 100 miles with shin pain. So I’m going to try and turn up uninjured and when the lack of training makes me falter, I will bring in my mental game and push through the pain and doubt.
I guess I am not the only one to get injured and have self doubt about an upcoming race. But when you have planned for an event for so long, it’s easy to lose focus when you hit setbacks.
In the comments please leave your stories of injury and doubt and how you got through it.
I am not sure if it’s the photos from my adventures, the grin I normally have from ear to ear when coming back from the trails or the involvement that Randi and my sister Lou had at the Squamish 50. Whatever it was, I am happy to say that Randi and my sister Lou are now joining me on the trails and it is awesome.
I am not knocking road running as most of my years leading up to my move to Canada were road miles, the odd fell running whilst living in Scotland, some track and field. I think for a while it was a means to end; I liked competing and you had to log the miles, so I guess I was logging miles out of necessity to hang out with friends and to race.
Trail running I feel is so different. I admit I log miles to train for races but the miles I log are fun as I find new trails; I slip or fall; I get covered in mud, snow, smelly creek water; I meet new trail buddies; I feel closer to nature; I get to mountain peaks. It just really feels like a different world to road running. I still road run to get some training runs in, but really my heart belongs to the trails.
So with all of the above being said, how amazing would it be that your significant other would embrace the trails, and even though Randi has been fighting CFS for 4 years, she is pushing herself beyond her limits to hit the trails with me and do her first race next April. This fills me with pride as to what she is accomplishing and makes me so happy that I can include her in my passion.
So on top of Randi joining me on the trail, my sister Lou has decided to enter a race next year and has been hitting the trails too. I will admit that me and my sister are like chalk and cheese, which is fine as everyone should be happy to be who they are and do what they want to do. So I was surprised following Squamish that my sister suggested she would race the 23km race at Squamish in 2017. I have to be honest and thought this was quite brave as it’s a hard 23km as your first 23km and she may not follow through.
I was then surprised when Lou wanted me to go trail shoe shopping with her. She started asking my advice and after one trail run, I have now lost count on how many she has done. Possibly up to double figures now. I was quite happy when I managed to do a trail run recently with both Lou and Randi, being able to share my passion and both them beginning to share the same passion.
I cannot wait to share more trail fun with Randi and Lou as we round out 2016 and head into 2017.
You know how some things just really seem like a great idea at the time; well my 100 miler in March was a great idea at the time. But the thing is you need to be smart and work out the planning and logistics of it all and to be honest, I got carried away in the moment and thought solely of the race and not how I would get my training to peak for that time.
To be honest I should have realized that having a big year of running, racing and adventures may call for some sort of break, but I just jumped right into training for my 100 miler. The thing is life gets in the way and rest and recovery are also are part of training. So I jumped in with both feet, and first issue to hit was moving to our new home and my training hit the skids for a couple of weeks. Me being me, I tried to jump right back in even though the move and stress involved had worn me down. I plowed on, got sick and of course tried to train through the sickness and eventually ended up with a chest infection and was forced to rest.
As if the move coupled with the illness had not knocked my training sideways, when several weeks of snow and ice hit the coast sure did. The weather impacted my running and so distance wasn’t being racked, so I tried to do some double ups and the change of camber due to snow and ice and increase in distance meant taking a week off for some shin issues.
I was hoping to be doing some 50-60 mile weeks with only a couple of months till my first 100 miler, but it seems various things have hit my training and it’s unlikely I will attain this sort of mileage. I’m not one to give up and I have committed to my 100 miler and I will go ahead with it even if I’m undertrained rather than over trained and injured.
I'd imagine I am not the only person who is overly critical of myself and full of self doubt. My running buddies seem to think, I have a good running base and I should not worry. But who knows; doubt creeps in with such a big goal as my first 100 miler.
I have done some research and there are people that have done 100 milers on marathon training mileage numbers that is 25-30 miles a week. I think if I can at least get back up to some 50 mile weeks and build on my strength training and on my mental preparation then all is not lost.
I think for sure in 2018 I will plan some short spring races to start my training and winter 2017 I will just keep up my base fitness and just have fun and not worry about what mileage I put in. After all I run because I enjoy it and I do not need the pressure that this has a hold on me right now.
So 2018 will be all about summer and fall races, unless something makes me change my mind lol.