Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Run for the Toad 50k - Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Done and dusted, even after giving myself multiple excuses to fail.

I was really nervous about this one, though I managed to keep myself from freaking out until the last 48 hours prior to the start. While I'd run so much more this year than ever before, had put in some strong performances and have run a few 6-hour races on much less training, the 50k distance (where "ultrarunning" really begins) was psyching me out a bit. Sporting a longest run this year of 30k (back at Midsummer Night's Run in mid-August) plus one more 29k run a mere two weeks out, I was still carrying some fatigue from backpacking that wasn't helped by running just over 70km ending a week before the race. Oops. Still bad at tapering.

For real.

To further confound any chance of success, I experienced a shoe crisis. I seriously did not have anything in my quiver I thought would do, so actually went out and bought a brand new pair of shoes on Friday night then gave them a 50k baptism of fire. Seriously - I only walked around the store for about 45 seconds in them before I put them on for the race.

Averting my eyes the entire time.
So bloody ugly.

As if that wasn't enough of a departure from the "nothing new on race day" rule, I took a wander around the race expo after picking up my kit and saying hello to a couple of people, and found the exact bit of gear after which I'd been lusting - the AK race vest from Ultimate Direction. I tried it on in both sizes, settled on the S/M (which I wouldn't have got if I'd ordered it, since it claims the upper limit of its size range is smaller than my chest measurement), and was so pleased with the fit and feel that I decided to run in it rather than the UltrAspire Alpha about which I'd had trepidations. Basically, the only things that were tried-and-tested were my actual clothing and my usual pre-race foods (turkey fried rice for dinner the night before; 2 meal replacement shakes + Tim Hortons Cafe Mocha the morning of).

Pinning on my bib.
Whose idea was it to give me sharp objects?

Obligatory pre-race archway photo in new shoes & vest.

With about 30mins until gun time, I pulled all my new gear on after a cursory swipe of BodyGlide on both feet, then headed to the portajohn line to sort out the pre-race business. I also ran into Ron Gehl and got my straw for the race - I couldn't fail now! After emptying myself of all I could in the loo, I proceeded to slather up with the most ridiculous quantity of lubrication the world has ever seen. Seriously, I was more BodyGlide than woman between waist and mid-thigh, and I'm pretty sure I gained a cup size from the sheer volume of lube I used on the area covered by my sports bra and my shoulders. I did some ankle circles, warmed up my calves a bit with some toe points, then leaned on a picnic table while I opened things up with some leg swings and hip circles. I did run about 15 feet down to the edge of the beach for a photo, but the first few kilometers would be the real warm-up run. Oh, and I re-tied my shoes a couple of times trying to figure out the best lace tension for them, what with never having run in them before.

Ready as I'll ever be.

With just a few minutes left to go, I got a kiss from Tanker and headed to the start line to await the 9:30 gun to start the 50k (the 25k starts later). We were fortunate with the weather - it was warm enough that we didn't have to shiver waiting around, but the rain had stopped and it wasn't predicted to get too warm. Cloudy and a high of 18c/64f was about as perfect as you could ask for! After the lengthy opening ceremonies (most of which I'd missed while getting ready, though I did enjoy the pipe band from afar) and a resounding boom from the little cannon brought in by the Royal Highland Fusiliers, off we trotted to begin the long day ahead.

Bloody hell!
Image from Ryder Photography

1st Loop: Feeling it out

Not a whole lot to say about the first 12.5km loop - I ran along at a comfortable (but probably slightly too-fast pace), realised I remembered almost nothing about the course from racing the 25k in 2011, was rather paranoid about the new shoes, and certainly wasn't feeling terribly energetic. There were the usual jokes within the first couple of minutes - "Ok, I'm tired - we done yet?" and "This is a 5k, right?" I ran up some small rises, and wondered if I'd be able to run them later, or if I should be walking them now. I played airborne caterpillar with a young fellow in orange, wearing a MEC hydration pack; he commented that it seemed like we'd be passing each other a lot (he'd run up hills that I'd walk, then I'd pass him on the flats and downhills), to which I replied "Yeah, until an hour from now when you ditch me and I never see you again" and got a laugh. I took my first couple of swigs of EFS Liquid Shot from one of the two gel flasks in the front pockets of the vest at 30 and 60mins, finally remembering to set my interval timer to beep every half-hour to remind me to take in nutrition - I get dumb after 3 hours or so, and this would help a lot. I got my hand bottle refilled with water at a couple of aid stations along the way, drinking steadily whenever I remembered to do so.

And apparently smiling a lot.
No, really.

Unfortunately, I developed a small hot spot where my left big toe meets my foot around the 6k mark, did nothing about it (thinking it was just the new shoes and I was screwed), then had to stop around the 8k mark to pull up my sock; I'd figured out that it had bunched up a bit and was causing the friction. The safety pin that was holding my gaiter hook at the toe blew off as I worked, so I had to pick it up, bend it back into shape, then put it back on the shoe and hook up my gaiter again. I lost a couple of minutes, but I couldn't run another 3 loops with that sock chewing its way into my foot. As it was, I'd already left it longer than I should have; you really need to nip these things in the bud if you want to survive in ultrarunning.

One quarter down - so far so good.

Still all chipper!

I came through the finish in about 1 hour 25mins, which was slower than I would have liked - if I was going to make 6 hours, I probably needed to be through that first lap in 1h23m or less due to pace decay. When giving me my straw before the race, Ron Gehl advised I'd probably struggle to make 6 hours based on my course 25k PR of 2:47:31, and it looked like he was right. Oh well - the real goal was just to keep moving forward and finish without injuring myself.

Lap 1: 1:25:29 chip time (1:26:02 gun time)

Off I go again..

The good: I felt ok, I managed to get my sock sorted out, and I had a couple of friends running the 25k who made me smile by saying hello as they came past. Also had a bonus cheering section, as another friend had come out to spectate!

The bad: I should have sorted out that sock business right when I noticed the hot spot beginning, and I should have used more BodyGlide on my feet.

Lap 2: Finding my stride

I had another swig off my gel flask as I passed Aid Station #1 (just past the start/finish area by the beach) and settled in for the next loop. You know you've been running a lot lately when it takes almost 2 hours for you to really start hitting your groove! Unfortunately, some rumblings told me that wasn't the only thing I'd need to be hitting - something I'd eaten was knocking at the exit door, and I'd have to let it out or suffer the consequences. I knew better than to think I could hold it for the rest of the race! Fortunately, I also remembered that the course went right past an honest-to-gawd comfort station with flush toilets and all the amenities - I couldn't recall exactly where it was, but the marked trail literally passed 5 feet away from the door. I found it right around 4.5km in - just as I was approaching the 2 hour mark - and took care of what needed to be done. I tried to be efficient, but I didn't rush; taking an extra second or two to ensure I cleaned myself up properly would pay dividends later vs. the chafing and unpleasantness that would ensue if I was too hasty. While I was in there anyway, I also topped up my near-empty hand bottle completely at the faucet - might as well save myself an aid station stop! I got a shot of gel in just as I set off and washed it down with a good sip of fresh water.

I was feeling pretty good once I left the comfort station, despite knowing I'd lost some time. I wondered why I'd needed to take a washroom break at all and hoped it wouldn't be the first of many; GI problems can ruin your day so easily, and I really thought I'd done all I could to prevent them (no solid food past 12 hours before gun time; sticking with easily digested meals in the couple of days up to the race; nothing I hadn't eaten before). My gut felt good, though; it just wouldn't let me get away without that one poop break! I continued taking EFS Liquid Shot on a 30-minute schedule, though I did notice I still wasn't getting a full ounce at a time as there was still about 1.5oz left in my 1st flask after my 5th swig (around 2 hours 30mins) - that should have left it empty. Darnit.

Still grinning away.

Thumbs up for rock'n'roll!

Approaching the end of the loop, I took a mouthful of water and backwashed it into the flask, then sealed it and shook it up to water down the gel inside. I chugged it back as best I could, bound and determined to finish it off before I saw Tanker again - I had a cunning plan!

Finished loop 2.
No, really. I'm having fun.
I was actually running quite happily at this point, despite looking like I want to die in the photos. I was surprised, really - I'd felt like absolute rubbish after running the 25k here in 2011, but I was still feeling good and enjoying myself so far. In fact, I was on my way over to see Tanker to grab our awesome new camera from him, because I was going to use the 3rd loop as my "tourist lap" to take some photos! As a bonus, one of the friends who'd done the 25k (and had blasted past me on my first lap) had hung around to cheer me on, so I had an extra little boost from another friendly face in the crowd (thanks Brad)! At some point near the beginning of the loop - possibly while distracted by thinking about a washroom - I stepped a bit wrong on a root or something and rolled my left ankle a little, but I was able to just run on afterwards and it seemed to be holding up ok.

Lap 2: 1:29:20
Halfway total: 2:54:49 (2:55:22 gun time)

The good: Hit my stride and felt strong through the first half, handled washroom stop efficiently, stayed on top of nutrition, even more bonus cheering section at the halfway mark! Lucked out not hurting myself when I rolled my ankle.

The bad: Still not taking a full ounce of EFS Liquid Shot at a time, don't know why I needed the washroom stop at all. Left foot still feeling some ill effects from the sock bite, and I'm sure I was too aggressive on some of the downhills.

Loop 3: Shutterbuggery

Having ditched the empty gel flask with Tanker and picked up the camera, I proceeded to take a lot of very bad photos of the course. While it was truly an effect of shooting with my left (non-dominant) hand and the low lighting conditions caused by grey skies and the shade of trees, let's just claim that all the blurriness is due to my incredible foot speed, mmmkay? Except when I stopped to get my bottle filled at Aid Station #1 - the kindly volunteer (whom I think I recognised as a former Horror Hill participant), rather than pouring cups of water into the open bottle, took it off my hand and started slowly pouring cups into it on the table. Another volunteer (and freakin' amazing ultrarunner) suggested that I didn't want to take the bottle off, but now that I had, maybe filling directly from the big cooler jug would be faster. After what felt like an eternity of stopped time, I was on my way again.

In the woods between a couple of infuriatingly long paved stretches through the first two kilometers.

Emerging onto a low pathway between the lake and a pond.

Fall colours around Pinehurst Lake

The pond on the other side.

With one of the large front pockets in the AK vest now free of a gel flask, I was able to stash the camera in there while I wasn't shooting yet easily access it when I wanted. That's not to say I got all the pics I wanted; some came out far too blurry (what you'll see here are cherry-picked as the best, and you'll notice that many of them are pretty lousy), and some I just flat-out missed because I was either too busy trying to stay upright, simply didn't have the camera out when the lone opportunity came up for the shot, or I was too busy trying to get the top off my bottle to get it filled to get shots of any of the aid stations. I was still "racing", so I wasn't going to stop or head back just to get a photo which would end up out of focus anyway. Going 1:29:xx for my second lap meant the last vestige of hope I had of going sub-6 hours had evaporated, but I could still try for 6:05:xx or 6:10:xx. Since I was now past the 3-hour mark, I treated myself to a chocolate chip cookie from the right-hand "electrolyte or valuables" pocket of my vest - I was pleased to be able to squeeze a small zipper baggie with 3 cookies into the stretch mesh pocket, because getting to eat cookies on course is one of the best reasons to run for over 3 hours.  

Climbing back into the woods.

Looking back to tent city.

There's a store up there that sells ice cream cones.
It's probably a good thing I don't carry cash when racing.

Pinehurst Lake

Fall colours

More pavement.
As the miles were racking up, I was more and more appreciative of the cushioning of the new shoes, which actually felt pretty good aside from that one blistery spot where my sock scrunched up. The 2nd toe of my right foot was hurting a bit, but I remembered that I'd failed to apply any BodyGlide in between it and my big toe, which was really dumb - it's a known blister spot for me. Can't blame the shoes for the wearer being an idiot! I also realised I'd forgotten one other pre-race ritual; I was still wearing my wedding and engagement rings, which wasn't the smartest thing in the world. Apart from the possibility of causing major issues if I did something dumb like break my wrist on course, there was the simple fact that my hands tend to swell a lot when I run for hours on end. I get the sausage fingers really badly! I was trying to work the fingers of my left hand (my right isn't as bad, as it carries the hand bottle) to keep the swelling down, but to no avail. At least I couldn't feel any pressure from the rings, and circulation still looked ok. Roll with it! I was having to change up how I carry my left hand, too; the previously-broken wrist has a tendency to get sore from all the jostling whenever I run over 2 hours, and this was no exception. I'd flip my hand palm-up for awhile, or extend my arm down a bit, just to change things up - I'm sure it looked even dumber than my usual Tyrannosaurus Rex limp-wristed arm carriage.

Another hill.

Still smiling...more or less.

Constant forward motion.

Alone in the woods.

The trails aren't really technical at all - just occasional roots.

My quads want to seize up whenever they see those little flags.

Oh look, I found some people...and another hill!

My legs were starting to talk to me now as I passed the 30k - and thus my longest run of the year - mark, and my right hip joint was making some noise as well. While the trails aren't at all technical (it's mostly wide quad trail/double track), there are several portions that slant quite sharply downward from right to left. This means your feet land a little slanted, which then throws everything from your ankles to your hips a little out of alignment - despite all the work I've done in the past couple of years to strengthen my adductors and the muscles that support the pelvis, the sheer volume of work for them was starting to cause some pain. My left gluteus medius was part of that equation as well, but not a huge issue; I've done even more work on strengthening my glutes in the past 3 years or so. I had, however, been a bit reckless about running down some of the hills, and my quads were getting increasingly vocal over their displeasure at my lack of care. Overall, though, I still felt a lot better than I expected at this point!

This little fellow sat near the bottom of a hill.

Through the woods again.

Still having fun!

Yes, that's a set of stairs. On a race course.

The view from the top is worth the climb!

Back down again, just to wreck your quads.

On the way to kilometer 8.

This guy was awesome, ringing his cowbells for us the whole time I was out there!

I swigged away from my second gel flask on my half-hour signals until I hit 4hrs (1:30pm), when I pulled out a little treat from the top left vest pocket - a precious peanut butter Gu packet! I love the stuff, but save it for special occasions as it's comparatively expensive and I really prefer the nutrition of EFS Liquid Shot. It did make a nice change, though, if a bit tricky to eat from a single-serve packet with the hand bottle. I got it in me, though, and stuffed the empty wrapper back in the pocket. I was really pleased with how the vest was working out, and hadn't noticed any chafing or discomfort at all - score! Even bigger lift: I actually managed to catch up to and pass ultrarunning legend Ron "Straw Man" Gehl!

Lovely cooling breeze through the open fields.

Do the hills ever end?

Grasshopper Meadows

Around 8.5km

Still going - Gu packet in my pocket now empty

From the last aid station (shortly before 9k) onward is almost all runnable terrain, with just a couple of hills that require walking (including one rather notable one). I was heading there now, and everything was starting to hurt. My legs had been barking for awhile, my left (previously broken) wrist was complaining about being made to shoot photographs on top of being bounced around for hours on end, my shoulders were starting to get sick and tired of all this arm-swinging business, and I think I even felt a bit of a bite from the new vest. I was getting lazy, too, and almost tripped over a root because I wasn't lifting my feet enough - the pain of banging my toes made me realise I needed to sharpen up, and quick! By this point I was actually begging for a hill so I could take a walk break, but from just past 10k there's a fairly flat, forested section where you just can't justify dropping from a run. Then, just as you're starting to taste the end of the loop around 11.5km, you turn a corner and find yourself staring down the barrel of Skeleton Hill.

It doesn't look so bad..



Made it!

This view is totally not worth it.

Of course I completely failed to get a photo of the actual plastic skeleton (in running shoes) that reclines comfortably in a chair at the top, with a sign that says "NO WHINING". 

Ryder Photography did, though.

I didn't actually power-walk the giant hill, or any others for that matter - I used a more normal stride to try to conserve energy, as hiking hard on uphills takes almost as much energy as running, and I didn't want to wear myself out since the whole rest of the course (1km to the end of the loop) is runnable. Down a grassy hill, into the woods again, chase your own tail a bit and then under the banner to do it all again. I spent a good part of the 3rd loop telling myself that the next time I saw any nasty bits would be the last time. Because of some rain the night before, the ground was soft and had got rather churned up in some places from the passage of over 1,200 runners - the good news is that most of them were already done, so it wouldn't get much worse!

Every time you turn a corner you go up another hill.

Oh look, it's the lake again!

Slight uphill to finish the loop, just for giggles.

I gave the camera back to Tanker, as I didn't want a single extra ounce on me for my 4th loop. Up until this point I was pretty much still having fun, but now past 37.5km and right at the four-and-a-half hour mark, I was totally ready to be done with this business. No rest for the wicked, though - off I buggered once more, taking another mouthful of EFS Liquid Shot and getting my bottle filled (more efficiently this time) at Aid Station #1.

Lap 3: 1:35:03
Three-quarter total: 4:29:52 (4:30:25 gun time)

The good: Still feeling strong through the end of the 3rd loop, having fun taking photos, passing Ron Gehl, and Brad was still there telling me I only had an hour and a half to go!

The bad: Legs really starting to break down, missing a few great photo opportunities, not wanting to do a 4th lap at all, relay runners blowing by me like I'm standing still. At least I hope they were relay runners..

Lap 4: I get by with a little help from my friends

I was just coming up to that first hill after running between the lake and the pond when I spotted the young fellow in orange wearing the MEC hydration pack, walking along with a lady in a North Shore shirt. I couldn't help but exclaim "I'm surprised to see you again!", at which point the lady said "Well, there's your pace bunny!". Wait, what? Noone should be pacing off me! I'm starting to fall apart! But, the young man fell in beside me, and we ended up working together for quite awhile. It was really nice to have some company through that final lap, as everything was starting to either lock up or shut down. The horrible spot on my left foot flared again, and I could feel a squishy blister there as I ran along some of that awful, slanted trail - it quieted down again later, likely because the blister burst and removed the pressure. My legs and hips made walking just as painful as running, and by this time even my chest and lungs had started to hurt with the effort of breathing deeply. My right shoulder was sick of carrying my bottle, too - I actually let it just hang for a couple of minutes while I walked, and it was delightful to stretch it out a bit. Mild rises that had seemed runnable even on the last loop became impossible to contemplate tackling at anything more than a hobble. I could see that my companion (whose name turned out to be Mic) was capable of moving much faster than I was, so I encouraged him to go on ahead as he still had a chance to break 6 hours, whereas I did not - he stayed with me, though, laughing and saying that he probably wouldn't run at all if he was on his own! It turns out he was doing his first 50k as well, being mostly an adventure racer, which begs the question; does 1 adventure racer + 1 tri dork = 2 ultrarunners? It looks like we'd find out.

I seriously don't remember being this happy, but there you have it.
It's true: I really do love racing.

We trotted together through the relentless pavement in the first 2 kilometers, finally making it into the woods...but not feeling nearly as much of a reprieve from the pounding as we'd hoped even on the soft, pine needle-strewn forest floor. Passing the 5-hour mark it was time for a little pick-me-up, so I pulled out my other zipper baggie and offered Mic a chocolate fudge sandwich creme cookie, which he gratefully accepted. It's amazing what a lift a simple cookie and a bit of conversation can give you when you're running on sheer bloody-mindedness! After each slow, painful climb we'd evaluate the trail ahead and find ourselves completely unable to justify not running. It would hurt, but at least it would be over sooner! There was still a lot of walking, though, and it got just a little harder every time to convince the legs to stir themselves into a run. Mic would actually stop and wait for me at aid stations as I got my bottle refilled, then we'd run on together - we actually spoke less and less throughout the loop, but one or the other of us would start running again at the start of a downhill or flat section and that would prompt the other to follow suit. Well, not that I was really running on downhills anymore; it was more of a high-speed mince or hobble, since every step was like a dagger in my thighs. Somehow, though, it was still letting me catch up to Mic - he was a little quicker on the uphills but I had no reason to hold anything back anymore, so could actually get up a turn of speed on mild declines and flats. Mic mentioned that he had a few medals and things from other races that really didn't mean much to him, but he was bound and determined to get his finisher medal today. He actually said he might even charge at Skeleton Hill; he had walked it on every loop so far, but thought he'd try running it just to see if he could. I told him he was welcome to try!


Having determined that 6 hours was not achievable, I still held out hope for sub-6:10 as we ran, trotted, stumbled, hobbled and limped according to the terrain. Up and over the second-last hill just past the 10km mark, we ran on for a couple of minutes until we saw a girl sitting on the side of the trail. Calling out to see if she was ok, she replied tearfully that she'd rolled her ankle and was just pissed off because all she wanted was to finish the race. We stopped to see if there was anything we could do to help, but she told us to go on and finish; she said she just needed to "wallow a bit" and then she'd get herself up and limp her way in, despite a scraped and bloodied knee as well as the hurt ankle. She thanked us for stopping but was adamant that we should keep moving and finish - I asked again if she was sure, then wished her all the best as we carried on. I felt really awful for her, and knew that it could have just as easily been me sitting there, especially after my little incident in loop 2. Fortunately, my own ankle hadn't bothered me again since.

A couple of minutes later Mic asked me how far we were from the finish. I told him it was only about two kilometers. He thought this over carefully, repeating "Two kilometers...two kilometers..", then suddenly stopped. I turned to see what the problem was, and in a moment I'm not sure I'll ever forget, he simply said "I'm going back".

That guy there? He deserves your respect.
Me? Not so much.

That, my friends, is an act of heroism. When you're absolutely buggered yourself and still make the decision to go back for someone else who is worse off, you're a gawddamn hero in my books.

I wished Mic all respect and the best of luck, then stirred myself into the fastest run I'd managed in hours - I recalled there was a medic station on the other side of Skeleton Hill, so I figured the least I could do is let the EMTs know that there was an injury on course (there was noone left on the hill itself). One of the two medics was actually coming down the trail toward me as I approached, so I told him there was a girl who'd rolled her ankle just this side of the 10k mark. He took off to find her, and asked me to let the other medic at the station know when I got there, which I duly did. I really hoped the girl would be ok, as I know what it's like to DNF a race due to injury - there's nothing more disheartening. I also hoped Mic would get his finisher's medal after all.

The final stretch.

 As I came in view of the lake one last time, I actually saw the girl with the rolled ankle hobbling her way out of the woods toward the finish area/tent city - I'd forgotten that the course does loops around the conservation area, so there was probably a shorter way. I asked if my compatriot had found her, and she said he had...which meant Mic was probably still out on course somewhere behind me. I looked back, but didn't see anyone - all I could do is keep running and hope that he'd make it ok. I had been feeling like a jerk, thinking that maybe if one of us had got under either of the girl's arms we could have helped her limp in to a finish, but she told me she had only been on her 3rd loop. Well, that answers that - I don't think I could have managed another.

Flashing Tanker the Ill Advised Racing gang sign.

At long last, I finally shambled my way across the timing mats at the finish, seeing 6:08:xx on the clock as I crossed the line. It was over. I'd run fifty damn kilometers.

And I was still smiling.

Lap 4: 1:38:01
Official 50k time: 6:07:51 @ 7:21/km  pace (6:08:24 gun time)
22/27 finishers (33 starters) in W0-39 
32/44 Female finishers (52 starters)
112/147 finishers O/A (169 starters)

The good: I stayed on top of my nutrition the whole way and my gut felt good throughout, never experienced any low spots (usually brought on by low blood sugar), and actually managed to enjoy almost the whole race. My minor ankle roll had absolutely no lasting effects; was able to run on it immediately without pain, and no soreness in the days afterwards - I actually came through without anything I consider to be an injury, which was the overarching goal from the very start. The brand new gear proved not to be half as stupid a decision as it could have been - both pieces performed great! I was able to finish fairly strong, passing people right up until the last few kilometers, and I pushed myself as hard as I think I reasonably could for a first 50k attempt. Also, the weather was absolutely perfect throughout - humid, but no rain and the clouds and delicious breeze kept it nice and cool. I couldn't have asked for a better day, though the mud got a bit challenging in the later loops. Having someone to work with through the last lap was awesome - the camaraderie made a painful experience so much more tolerable! It was great having friendly faces cheering for me each loop, too, and of course my husband Tanker was his usual amazing self, giving me a real lift as he sent me out for each lap, taking incredible care of me after the race was done, and generally making me feel like a rock star. You're awesome sweetheart!

The bad: I felt like a bit of an ass when Mic went back to help out and I didn't. I shouldn't make a habit of using un-tested gear in long races (not the first time this year), and I need to ensure that I get all necessary bits properly covered in BodyGlide before the race. Also need to remember to take my rings off! I might have been able to make up some time if I'd been a bit more careful with my pacing and downhill running early in the race, and I'd like to figure out why I needed that bathroom break at the 2 hour mark.

Overall verdict: While my pace did slow by about twelve and a half minutes from the first lap to the last lap, it seems from looking at the overall results like I was pretty much in line with other athletes' rate of pace decay - the 4th and 5th overall men actually slowed by over 20mins between loop 1 and loop 4, which is a much greater percentage of their lap time. I'm fairly happy with the way I executed the race, and I really did enjoy myself out there on the course - the 6-hour goal can wait for another day!

Post-race: Go jump in a lake!

After waiting a few more minutes, Mic came running across the line to finish just after 6:11. As I shook his hand to congratulate him on finishing, he told me that he'd actually run all the way up Skeleton Hill, but there wasn't a single soul around to see it! I'm telling you, the guy is some kind of superhero in disguise. I literally took my hat off to him.

I also stumbled over to a picnic table to try to take stock of myself and the damage I'd sustained. The new shoes had actually been a good selection, given the lack of cushioning my other two possible choices offered and the fact I only ended up with a couple of blisters. I'm sure I could have prevented at least one of them if I'd remembered to apply BodyGlide between my toes, too - that was dumb. The burst one on my left foot wouldn't have happened if my sock hadn't bunched up, either, so that basically leaves one that might be the fault of the shoes. Might.

That one on the side of my big toe? That's the only one I'm not sure I could prevent. 

Pretty pleased with the Leadville 1210s.
(Left gaiter undone so my timing chip could be removed)

Oh, sweet relief!

I was also really happy with the way the AK vest performed - it turned out later that it had given me a bit of a hickey on one side of my neck, but it didn't even hurt. I found it in the mirror the next day, not by screaming when something touched it! I'm pretty sure some additional BodyGlide would ensure this doesn't happen again, too. Compared with the discomfort I felt wearing the UltrAspire Alpha on just a 40min run - and the way my gel flasks bounced in it - I really believe I made the right decision for carrying my race-day needs. I doubt I'd have had any skin left on my shoulders! The Alpha is a nice pack (Tanker is taking it, and is excited to have his own hydration vest), but it simply doesn't work for me - the AK vest, on the other hand, is almost exactly what I'd hoped for - a lightweight, barely-there set of pockets to hold the few bits of kit I need while racing long distance, saving me from using drop bags or relying on Tanker to pass me nutrition.

Ooh, it must like me!

My legs were a bit of a wreck, but I knew they would be and also had an idea or two that would help them feel better. After removing my shoes, throwing on a hoodie and pulling off my wet shirt and bra (to keep me from freezing to death), I slowly hobbled down the beach and toward relief..

Nature's ice bath!
I also got a bit of a massage afterward, just as the rain started to fall.

This race was a huge challenge for me - I'd been quite fearful of making my first 50k attempt at this particular event, especially since this year they were hosting the ACU Canadian Championships. I was sharing the course with some of the best ultrarunners in the country, and it was a pretty stacked field! It felt great to achieve my primary goals of finishing and coming through without injury, and to remain fairly strong and cheerful throughout the race. That sub-6 goal seems like it may be reachable with a bit more ultra experience - just 2 minutes per loop! For now, though, I'm just happy to have done it at all, and like Mic said I think this will be a medal I'll really treasure.

Exhausted but happy.

Lots of memories wrapped up in that little chunk of metal.


  1. You rocked this!! So glad your friend posted it. I've been feeling confident (famous last words) for my upcoming 50K in Wisconsin, now I know I can just do it, right foot left foot right foot left foot snark snark snark! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Beth! You've got this - hope you have a wonderful race!


Go on, have at me!