Friday, August 3, 2018

Tally in the Valley 12hr Night Trail Race - Saturday, July 28th, 2018

I had no idea whether or not it was a reasonable idea to even start this one, as I'm still injured, haven't run more than 7k at a time since Niagara (6 weeks prior), was just coming off a week of motorcycle touring, and had bugger-all for sleep on Thursday before the race due to hitting a freakin' amazing show that was 100% worth it.

There was only one way to find out..

Thanks - I'll need all that I can get!

After getting up Saturday morning and getting everything I absolutely needed to get done this weekend (market, groceries, errands) done with NO COFFEE, I grabbed a nap between 2:30pm and 4:30pm in an attempt to offset my chronic sleep deprivation. It was a little weird eating oatmeal in running kit in my kitchen at 5:30pm on a race day, but (despite a Tim Hortons' best efforts to detain us) we arrived at the race site around 7pm.

Gong alley in the evening sun.

Words to live by.

Pre-race stuff went more or less smoothly, though I did spend far more time on my feet than I probably should have - chatting with people and slowly running through the various tasks I needed to get done before the starting horn, and running down some stuff I'd like Tanker to do for me when I'd come in between laps (fill my bottle, get me to empty my pockets of trash, etc.). 

Also: pose for some cheesy pre-race pics with me.
Thanks for the photo, Rich!

After lubing up everything, throwing on my lights, flailing my limbs around in an effort to get them used to the idea of moving, and worrying a fair bit about my unpreparedness for what lay ahead, I slapped on a couple of glow bracelets and watched the Gong Show runners (whom I was told should be referred to as "gongsters") come in from their 12th lap and prepare to head out at 9pm. I munched a chunk of banana as I felt a bit hungry (my oatmeal having been 3.5hrs earlier, and brunch just a memory back around 11am), and tried to steel myself for what lay ahead.

When this thing was struck, and I'd head into the breach.

Did I mention I haven't run trail after dark for at least 8 months, and have never actually run with the waist belt light I was using for the race? Oh, and my ankle was hurting before I even started..

Perfect - let's give'er!

With one last smooch to Tanker and just a precious few minutes after the sun had set, it was up the grassy hill and through the slanty doubletrack into the woods.

I managed without lights for a few minutes, but it quickly darkened as we entered the trees and I flicked on my waist light. A couple of minutes later I caught up to long-time blog reader Coffee, who was one of the gongsters; turns out all I need to keep up with him is to make him run 84km before I show up on course! We actually ran together - more or less, as he'd ditch me on some of the steep downhills I'm too clumsy to let loose on - for most of my first lap, and it was nice to get a bit of recon on the course as I'd been totally unable to make any of the training runs to check it out. I found that with Coffee's headlamp I could run along quite well with just my waist belt light, once I got it snugged down - I tried running with it on my hips, but it wouldn't stay put until I cinched it in significantly to sit around the narrowest (ha!) part of my waist. After that, though, no issues; I actually quite liked it, as it did exactly what I'd hoped it would by providing a different light angle that allowed me to see contours of the trail and not trip over things. Headlamps are notoriously bad as hiding shadows, as the angle of light is the same as your vision - the lower, flatter angle showed those uneven spots, roots and rocks that might otherwise blend in. Perfect for my clumsy arse! It was also nice to have light that wouldn't be affected by my breath fogging it; the night was incredibly humid and the dewpoint was very high, so we could see our breath almost all night long.

I came in just behind Coffee from that first lap at around 50mins (50:07 per the timing company) and got my bottle filled as I was completely out of water - I'd need to start filling on course if I was going to survive the rest of the race. After a quick pass through the start/finish (I didn't really need much yet, though I had started taking in nutrition at the 30min mark and would do so every half-hour for the remainder of the race) I was back out on the course, in total darkness and completely alone. I needed some extra light now, so flicked on my headlamp and set off into the woods.

I'll take you on a tour of the course as I saw it for most of the race - Paradise by the Waist Belt Light.

The moon riding high over some cloud that started to build in toward morning.

You start by running through some doubletrack mowed into tall grass that is side sloped sharply to the left - absolute murder on my sore right ankle. It rolls a bit until you reach the woods, where more sharp little climbs and descents await. I hiked all the hills, and had to be careful on some of the downhills as well - they were so steep that any attempt to let loose on them would surely result in me tumbling arse over teakettle into the woods.

Including the downhill to this wooden footbridge, though it does flatten out to a lovely, soft, runnable surface near the bottom.

The most runnable section of the whole course stretches from about 1.5km to 2.75km - it gently undulates, but you can keep some good momentum over the small rises if you're still reasonably strong and just roll along. There's a really interesting tunnel of trees that doesn't look anywhere near as fascinating in daylight, though does provide lovely shade.

Nice and runnable.

I nicknamed this part of the course "Bullfrog Alley", as you could hear them croaking away all night and there was a distinct sound of running water later on. I ran with Steven Parke for a bit on my third (?) lap and asked if you could actually see anything, and he said there was a visible stream there, so I had that to look forward to.

I'd come in without any goals, as suited my injured status, but hoped to keep moving long enough to see the sun come up.

You really couldn't ask for better course marking - between the pink wire flags and kilometer markers, plus the pink trail tape hanging reflective markers from branches along the course, you'd probably have to make an effort to get lost.

Even for a lemming like me!

The easygoing, rolling nature of the course takes an abrupt turn just before the 3k mark - you quite literally turn right onto a very steep climb up a gravelly hill with some flinty bits and washout down the right side.

That red light up there? That's someone with a red rear-facing light nearing the top.

Once you grind your way up that hill to the 3km sign, there's a short flat spot (maybe 50 feet) before another much smaller climb up to the right turn onto the rail trail.

The HCA website calls the rail trail "flat". I suppose it's flat from side to side, but from the point of entry on the Tally in the Valley course until your departure from it at the trail centre, the profile is in fact most assuredly "up".

Moon over the start of the rail trail.

Sign partway up.

It's only a 2-3% grade - easily runnable, really - but it goes on for just shy of 2 freakin' kilometers. Running with Coffee on the first lap, he was taking a 1min walking break at the 4km mark but running the rest. I followed suit with him on my first lap, then decided to go for broke and ran the whole damn thing on my second lap...mostly because if it was ever going to happen, it would have to happen while I was still relatively fresh.


The rest of the laps - with a few exceptions - I'd just run along for awhile, until I reached a landmark like a bench or course marking, walk until another landmark, then run again (maybe..) until I finally made it to the top at the trail centre.

A former railway station, the trail centre is an interesting feature of Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Apart from washrooms and a snack bar, they have some incredible displays inside detailing the geology and wildlife of the area - it's a fascinating place to visit when it's open. In the dark of night, though, what interested me most was the water faucet at the junction of the rail trail and the trail down into the conservation area's main loop, almost exactly at 5k. This would be my salvation from dehydration all night long.

Unfortunately, the 90 degree turn valve went from nothing to UNCONTROLLABLE GEYSER unless you were able to split the atom.

Two other wonderful things about the trail centre: the kind race directors had placed a portajohn there to answer the call of nature without having to leave the course (the portajohns at the start/finish were about 20 feet away from the timing mats), and starting with my second lap I would see deer here periodically through the night.

Lousy nighttime cellphone photo of 2 deer at the trail centre, fleeing in terror from the smelly person.

Around the driveway and down towards the front gate on a downhill slope from the faucet, then a small rise and a left turn back into the woods.

Grassy, rolling doubletrack.

Some more side-sloped sections through here, almost exclusively to the left. My ankle was not a fan of this course: between the sharp uphills that highlighted my poor range of dorsiflexion motion and the side slopes that made controlling pronation in my right foot nigh impossible, it almost seemed custom-crafted to attack my weak points. Ah well - I knew I was in for a long night.

For now - courage.

Another sizeable, fairly steep climb brings you to the 6k mark of the course.

The sign is right at the top of the hill.

I've heard a lot of people say that by GPS, the final kilometer was long by at least a couple of hundred metres. I didn't concern myself with that, focusing more on the fact that the 6km sign meant you still had 6 sharp hills to climb before reaching the road to the finish.

It wasn't all bad, though - there was actually a lovely section of pine forest with a flat-to-downhill portion that was delightfully soft underfoot and generally runnable all night long.


Back into more grassy doubletrack, you reach a hill with a small drainage pipe at the bottom that shone in the dark. This meant you were beginning the last 3 hills before the road.

This one.

Then this soft, pine forest-y one.

Then this rooty, dirt one.

Another too-steep-to-really-run-properly descent, then a right turn onto the only section of pavement on the whole course - it's only about 100 feet.

But of course it, too, is a friggin' uphill.

Able to see the time clock's red light through the trees, you're so close you can taste it as you turn left off the road and onto a gravel driveway.

Which, again, climbs UP.

20 feet of flat ground at the top before the timing mats, then do the damn thing all over again.

After some food, water, and possible examination of your choices in life.

My second lap - during which I think I actually pushed the hardest - came in at just shy of 52mins (51:59 / 1:42:05 total). I was eating and drinking plenty - grabbing a chunk of banana as I passed through - had started taking in some S!caps, and was still doing more or less ok.

It wouldn't last a whole lot longer, though. As undertrained as I was, I knew the descent to sufferfest would be rapid and definitive. I hoped to stave it off as long as possible, but my third lap showed significant pace decay at 57:27 (2:39:31 total), and things were already starting to go awry. As I climbed the steep hill to the rail trail, my left adductors and knee started to hurt and weaken, and I wondered if I'd even be able to make it up again. My hamstrings screamed at me from hiking up all the hills - I simply didn't have the steep hiking time in that comes from multi-hour training runs at places like Hydrocut or Dundas Valley itself.

A fourth lap in 1:01:36 (3:41:07 total), then I did myself what I thought would be a favour - I grabbed a turkey wrap at the start/finish, and reaching the start of the rail trail just at the 4h mark, proceeded to walk the entire thing while eating my wrap.

It was somewhat blissful, just walking along at a decent clip and munching away. Despite some real food on every hour (a berry coconut Bounce ball at 1h, a piece of shoulder bacon at 2h and a salted maple crisp rice square at 3h, with a shot of EFS Liquid Shot on every half-hour up to 3h30m), I had got quite hungry. The wrap was just what I needed, but by the time I'd finished my ~2k walk, I had gotten chilly as the temperature dropped in the humid night. I pulled my tubular bandana - the one I'd got the day I climbed a mountain on my birthday a couple of weeks prior - off my wrist and put it around my neck to trap some heat. It worked, but now my wrist was cold. The stupid stuff that bothers you while you run, right?

Later I'd throw on another shirt, which was an excellent idea.

I honestly believe that part of the difficulty I had in this race - apart from going in injured and undertrained - was that the nighttime trail did not provide the same beautiful distractions as running in the same place would have during the day. I love being able to look around at the play of light between the leaves of trees, as the undergrowth bustling with small creatures going about their fuzzy day, and the changes in dominant species from one part of a forest to another. I had none of these in the narrow field of vision offered by my two lights, so I had more psychological runtime available to feel sorry for myself as various parts of my body complained of increasing pain and fatigue. In some moments there was even complete silence - not even the faintest chirp of an insect or rustle of leaf, just a hole where sound used to be. It was almost like being in a sensory deprivation tank and being given a series of mild electric shocks, each one ever so slightly more crippling than the last. With nothing to distract you from the discomfort, it becomes increasingly difficult to tolerate.

The elevation profile looks like an unhealthy EKG anyway.

That's not to say there were no distractions at all. Other racers would appear and disappear, passing or being passed and trading a friendly word. I saw a bat on my first lap, and what I believe was a small owl swooping across the trail at head height on my second. On my 5th lap - the halfway point of what I had once foolishly hoped to achieve - I saw two more deer at the trail centre. Later on during the night, I heard what I thought at the time must be (and have later confirmed to my satisfaction) a red fox yelping beside the climb to the rail trail. Much later on, I saw one of the tiniest bunnies ever running along the trail in front of me, petrified and scampering in all different directions to get away until it finally hopped off the trail and out of my sight.

Still, though - I was weakening fast, and the darkness offered no comfort or reprieve from my suffering. I kept up my nutrition, taking in an Endurance Tap gel at 4h30, and having S!caps at every :25 to combat my sausage fingers. I was certainly hydrated - I had to pee twice during lap 5, and about once per lap after that! The fifth lap took me 1:07:57 (4:49:03 total): I picked up another tubular bandana for my cold wrist afterward, and asked Tanker to ready my left trekking pole for when I returned as I was nearly at the point of having to side-step up the steepest, longest hills. Back out, I ate another crisp rice square at 5h and had a campfire s'mores Gu gel at 5h30m. My sixth lap was even slower at 1:10:16, giving me 42km in just shy of 6 hours (5:59:19), but things actually got marginally better after I massaged my left glutes (correctly identifying fatigue and weakness in them as the cause of my left knee and adductors hurting, as my left knee was collapsing inward as I climbed). Refusing the pole that Tanker offered me, I munched another slice of shoulder bacon and got on with it, cognizant of the fact I'd done 6 laps in the first half of the race and my "shoot the moon" goal was 10 laps. In 6 hours I could probably manage 4 more..

I certainly wasn't the only one having a bad day, either. Several people left long before the end of their timed races for various reasons - in the 24hr race poor Grant's feet had turned themselves into hamburger from the movement in his shoes on the steep up and downhills, Steven Parke had some nasty chafing issues that brought an early end to his day, and I heard from many other people about horrible blisters, chafing, and blown out quads from the relentless hills. I did have a couple of nasty hotspots on my left foot, but I had no chafing to speak of (which really speaks to how stable the waist light stayed once I got it properly cinched down) and couldn't even complain of GI issues. I was probably over-hydrating given the cool night and how slow I was now moving (evidenced by having to pee on my 3rd lap, twice on my 5th lap, and about once per lap thereafter), but really the only problems I had were the ones I brought with me.

In my 7th lap I seriously considered calling it. I was hurting, it was dark, and despite taking 1:11:46 I still had almost 5hrs left to go (7:11:04 total). I'd had another Endurance Tap gel at 6h30 and a crisp rice square at 7hrs, but I couldn't run uphill without a lot of pain in my ankle, and overall I was running less and less. As I stumbled up the rail trail, though, a ridiculous video I'd seen earlier in the day came to my rescue - with a tinkly little piano tune stuck in my head, I became the little engine that could, chugging away up the hills to make it through the course. I knew Tanker would have my pole ready for me, but I decided on another strategy - thinking that sunrise was only an hour or so away, I decided I'd do a tourist lap in the dark with my phone to get some photos of the course at night, then still be out as the sun rose.

I thought that would be a wonderful sight, and was willing to work for it.

Putting on my new Happy Trails Racing rainbow baseball shirt overtop of the merino tshirt I'd been wearing all night, I collected my phone and some more nutrition and headed back out on course. I'd asked about sunrise while at the start/finish, and was disappointed to learn it wasn't until 6:07am - more like 2hrs away than the hour I'd thought. Still, I took my time on the 8th lap, stopping to take pics along the way with the extra shirt keeping me nice and warm. That's how you got the night tour of the course, see?

My 8th lap was dramatically slower, what with having to stop dead in order to get even the fairly lousy photos you see above. I kept up the S!caps on every :25, then decided it was late enough in the game that I could safely deploy the secret weapon - CAFFEINE. I slurped a chocolate coconut Gu Roctane gel at 7h30m, then munched another turkey wrap at 8h (again while strolling up the rail trail) to stave off hunger. I didn't feel sleepy at all - my default state at night is "awake" - but I was getting awfully tired from a full workday's worth of exertion on a tough course. 

Made all the more confusing by the fact you could sometimes see headlamps going what appeared to be the wrong way..
Full garmin data here.

Coming in at 1:24:10 (8:35:14 total) from the 8th lap just as the sky was starting to lighten, I figured I could grind out 2 more in the 3.5hrs I had left. I got my pole at last from Tanker, plus a flask full of sea salt chocolate Gu Roctane mixed with water of which I quickly took a slurp. 

Setting off again in real pain and leaning heavily on my pole, I thought about how far it was just to the top of the rail trail and the faucet...then realised I hadn't got my bottle filled at the start/finish. Yelling for Tanker, I started stumbling back along the grassy doubletrack, somehow ending up on the wrong side of a fork in the trail. Dear Grace asked what I needed (probably to shut up my yelling, as some people were trying to sleep!), and after I stumbled through some long grass to reach her she kindly offered to fill my bottle for me just as Tank came running with a bottle of water in hand.

Grace got the top off hers first, and poured it into my half-full bottle, topping it to the brim. I thanked her very much and, I'm ashamed to say, gave Tanker shit because "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO LET ME LEAVE WITHOUT FILLING MY BOTTLE". That poor man, who had been working the aid station at the start/finish all night long helping everyone on course, did not deserve that sort of crap.

I'm sorry for the things I said when I was too stupid from running, honey.

In any case, in growing light I headed back out again, pole in hand. It's a damn good thing the light WAS growing, too, since my headlamp had dimmed significantly during my 8th lap - I thought it was just my perception for a bit, but I confirmed it at the trail crossing near the end of the loop when I couldn't clearly see the pink flags on the other side of the junction anymore.

Thankfully, I wouldn't need lights at all for much longer.

I had to flick my waist belt light to high in the first kilometer of the course to be able to see the trail properly, but within the first 10mins I had removed my headlamp entirely and stowed it in the back pocket of the waist light belt, and by the time I reached 1 mile I wouldn't need lights again.

..and could finally see where all the bullfrogs had been hanging out!

As the birds began to awaken and fill the woods with their song, I munched another crisp rice square at 9h, then minced my way through a section of the course that was really playing havoc with my feet - despite the rock plate in the soles of my shoes, this very angular gravel almost felt like walking on lego.


It was wonderful to finally be able to get a look at the course, though - a lift to my spirit that was just what I needed at that point. I discovered the wide open spaces that my lights simply couldn't reveal, seeing the whole loop with brand new wonder.

The stream I could hear beside the trail.
Happy Trails indeed!

The only thing that really did NOT improve with the coming of the dawn was being able to see the big hills in their entirety.

Oh, but that's not really the whole thing.

Here's the second half.

I think I almost preferred only being able to see the bite-size pieces of these punishing climbs that my lights were able to reveal. Seen as a whole in my sore, fatigued state, they seemed entirely more difficult.

Even just that little one past the flat spot, curving up to the rail trail.

With the coming of the light, the day was starting to warm up, and the tubular bandana around my neck became stifling. I tried just pulling it off and putting it around my wrist, but the other one on my wrist had to come off first - I ended up just hanging the second one I'd picked up off my waist light belt, as I wasn't letting go of my mountain climber one! Surprisingly enough, despite the pain in my ankle when running uphill and the generally battered condition of my body - even the side of my boobs hurt from all the jostling - I actually managed to run a bit of the rail trail hill. Not much, but a bit.

We're talking 100 steps or so at a time

With a long walking break in between each bout

As I neared the top, the day really began to break, with the sun highlighting the tops of the trees.

Ooh, pretty!

After a few minutes of admiring this, it occurred to me that that must mean the sun was rising behind me, so I turned around to take a look.

..and will be forever grateful that I did.

With that stunning view to lift my heart, I made my way up to the trail centre, which seemed to take forever - I actually found my brain starting to sing to me as I tried to run a few steps and then walked a lot more:

"This is the hill that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends.
Some people started climbing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue climbing it forever just because
This is the hill that never ends.."
(repeat ad nauseam)

Be very grateful you don't live inside my skull.
It's a really weird place.

Eventually, after ENTIRELY too much of that, the trail centre hove into view. Trying to wash variants on silly camp songs from my consciousness, I had the last S!cap in my possession at 9h25m, and another swig of caffeinated Gu slurry from my flask at 9h30m just before reaching the faucet.

Finally able to see the train sitting on the old tracks!

Such a neat building.

Rounding the driveway before diving into the woods again, I had one last look at the dark trees against the growing light in the sky.

Some neat clouds, too.

Another half hour of duking it out with the rolling hills brought me to the finish for a lap 9 time of 1:26:15 (10:01:28 total), including taking most of the daylight photos you see here. 

Totally worth carrying my phone for another lap.

2 hours remaining (more or less) gave me a pretty comfortable cushion for one last cruise around the course, but meant I was in no danger of having to go out for an 11th - I didn't think that would have been wise anyway, as things were starting to deteriorate very quickly at this point. The arches of both my feet were sore, my hamstrings were not speaking to me except to holler occasionally about inhumane treatment, and even my lower back was getting sore. Straight talk here, people - you might be able to bluff your way through a 3-hour or even a marathon without proper training, but it's bloody difficult to fake it for 12 friggin' hours.


I had messed with myself even further by picking up the pole: for the first 8 laps my left leg (with its slightly more functional ankle) had been my "power leg" for hiking the hills, but since I use the pole in my left hand (so I can keep my water bottle in my right - don't ask me how I managed to juggle it and my phone to take the photo above) my right leg had suddenly had to step up...literally. It was less than keen on the idea, and a whole new assortment of aches and pains were part of its protest. My hip flexors hurt from the act of pulling my legs forward to take each step, and even the muscle on the front of my shins was sore from pulling my toes up to climb the hills.

Because they just kept on coming.

So, coming through the start/finish, I ditched every single thing that I could. I ditched my phone, my lights (which I hadn't needed for over an hour anyway), the extra tubular bandana, all my rubbish and even the extra shirt - it was warm enough that I figured I would be fine without it, even at the snail's pace I could still manage. I completely and utterly failed to pick up any more S!caps because I am a drooling moron at aid stations, but both Tanker and Grace were very adamant about making sure I got my bottle filled.  Scarfing back one last slice of bacon, I headed out with the bare minimum of calories in my pockets to limp my way through one last lap.

This bench at the top of the climb to the 6k mark had never looked so inviting.

The woods in the morning sun were very pretty.

Despite the delightfully light feeling of being rid of a bunch of gear, my damaged state dictated that I could only run the gentlest of downhills - I think I managed maybe 100m total of running in the final 7km lap. My right ankle was hurting in a different way now; a nasty grinding deep in the joint itself that worsened with any impact, as in every running step. Afraid to do any more harm to it after it had so graciously cooperated all night, I resigned myself to walking it in.

Which did give me plenty of time to look around and take in the beauty of Dundas Valley

I did get a bit of a treat as I hiked up the rail trail one last time - a beautiful doe crossed the trail from left to right around the 4k marker. I marveled at finally seeing a deer in the light, then had a surprise as I watched an extremely cheeky coyote cross the trail from right to left not long before the trail centre. Mostly, though, I just suffered along, willing my feet and legs to keep moving as I tried to propel myself along with my wimp stick.

The rolling nature of the course didn't make it easy.

I had one last shot of caffeinated Gu slurry at 10h30m and my final salted maple crisp rice treat at 11h, then limped along with completely empty pockets toward the finish line. My legs actually tried to seize completely on me as I climbed the penultimate hill - I got halfway up and they just stopped. I had to talk myself through continuing again, speaking aloud as if to a frightened child... "Come on, you can do it.."

It's gorgeous, but I don't particularly want to stay out here any longer.

Fortunately things started to cooperate, and I made it down the steep descent to the road before slogging up one last climb to the finish.

Because there just had to be one more hill.

It may have been utterly pointless to do so, but I did actually manage to stir myself into something resembling a run for the last 25 feet or so to the timing mats (after it flattens out).

Dear Tanker waiting for me at the finish line.
(Just ignore the fact this was from lap 9 not lap 10, m'kay?)

Whimpering a bit and entirely ready to be done, I limped across the line for a 10th lap time of 1:26:48 - a full 36m41s slower than my first lap.

Official distance: 70.0km in 11:28:15
3/9 women - 6/17 O/A

I have no idea what's going on here, after Jeff gave me my medal...but it really looks like I'm being given a stern talking to.

The best part of finishing? Finally getting to sit down!

This chair is EVERYTHING.

Then two amazing things happened: first, I found out that I'd actually come in 3rd woman overall in the 12hr night race...and second, I DIDN'T HAVE TO LEAVE MY CHAIR TO GET MY AWARD!

I'm not sure which I was more excited about!

Awesome plaque with beer opener hand-made by Race Organizer Jeff!

While my own condition in the final hours may have been questionable, I have nothing but good things to say about the race itself. The organization, course marking, swag (awesome, soft Tally in the Valley t-shirt and Happy Trails Racing tubular bandana in the race kit, plus a coupon for a free beer at nearby sponsor Shawn & Ed Brewing, not to mention a great looking medal at the finish), and vibe were second to none - the aid station worked efficiently all through the night, and while the course was challenging it certainly wasn't boring.

I may have ended up with less distance than I did at my first 12 hour (I managed 72km at Dirty Girls in 2016, with almost 3 times as much elevation), but considering the injuries and lack of training I've dealt with this year, I'm just grateful that my body managed to carry me through - not only for the full 12hrs (more or less), but also to a goal I thought was foolish to even consider. I'm also incredibly grateful that I don't seem to have done any further damage to myself in the process: I'm still a bit sore and very, very tired, but I've been walking a fair bit all week and don't feel that my injury is any worse for my overnight wander in the woods. I may not be running for a bit yet, but I'm willing to be a bit patient with recovery from this as I know the trails will be waiting for me and I have some time until my next event.

Good thing, too, since we have some adventurous plans for next week - be kind to each other and have fun out there, folks, and I'll see you when I get back!

FUN FACT: I'd later find out I was actually 6 weeks pregnant when I ran this, so maybe it wasn't just lack of fitness that led to slow plodding and extreme soreness during the race. And I wondered why I felt more and more tired going in, despite getting lots of sleep and barely training at all..


  1. Great recap and well done on the race. Funny reading your description of the trail from sound and feel alone. I knew exactly what you meant by "bullfrog alley", though I don't think I heard them during the day. Must have been a wonderful reward to actually see the course the last few laps.

    1. Thanks Will - it certainly was lovely to finally see all that beautiful forest, stream and pond as the sun rose! Congratulations on your own amazing accomplishment out there!

  2. Good job K. Way to "fake it" for 70k. I know people that won't run that in their whole life. I definitely want to he a gongster next year. Unfortunately this year it was the same day as Sri Chimnoy. Some usually reliable runners (including me) were suffering there as well. I think it was all the hot weather leading up to that weekend. When you took your sunrise picture, I was sitting in a lawn chair trying to get a hamstring to unclench. It didn't.
    btw, the song in my head was the Jayhawks: Stumbling through the dark;

    1. Thanks Neil! Sorry to hear you had a tough time at Sri Chimnoy - hope you're recovering well. That Jayhawks track seems perfect for running those loops; I'd probably be a much better person if I got stuff like that stuck in my head rather than gangster rap covers of children's show themes!
      Would love to see you out for the gong show next year - I'm sure you'd do great!


Go on, have at me!