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All posts for the month July, 2011

On every race I learn something. Usually a bunch of things.Some time ago, I learned that at 80 km plus distance if I don’t swear up and down at least once during the race that if I finish this thing I will never run another again – that I’ll give up running for good, then I haven’t pushed hard enough.
On every hard race, you will get lows. To run an ultra you must go into a deficit for water, fuel and salt. This means depleting glycogen reserves and burning fat and protein. The byproducts of fat and  protein breakdown float around in your blood and create a situation similar to starvation. It’s like fasting or being on some kind of strange vision quest. You have to manage the rollercoaster of lows  and highs. You have to learn to deal with strange mental issues. Clarity of thought is radically altered.
On the upside, each time you run ultra- distance, you get better at it. You learn what it all feels like and how to work it. You recognize that you are being stupid and figure out tricks to stupid proof yourself. You learn the fine line between maximum and just beyond that.This years Scorched Sole course was diverted to a completely new route due to high mountain snow pack. It’s listed as an 80 km course with about 4.2 kms of vertical gain.

With a bit more experience under my belt, this was my first race I went into without thinking that my only goal was to finish. This was my first race where I felt like I knew enough to say “ok I know I can finish, I’m going to push a bit.”

I followed the two leaders out from the 6 am start. 2 km of road running, then turning up the mountain and climbing. The leaders were moving very fast. Something in the back if my mind said too fast. I held within 15 yards for the first 5 kms or so and then I let them slide ahead. I cruised along the side of Okanagan mountain into trail conditions that steadily degraded. The brush got thicker. I kept moving fast determined not to lose the leaders.

The first major aid station is only accessible by boat. Its a beach aid station called Comando bay which I thought had some reference to the clothing selection, or lack of it. Apparently it has something to do with WWII. To get to the aid station, you have to give up all your gained altitude and downhill steep technical, rocky single track to the beach. Then you get to climb right back up the same trail you just went down. On the turnaround I was about 500 meters behind the leaders.

Once I was back up, the climbing really started. The trail got really thick. It turned into a straight out bushwhack like an episode of Mantracker gone bad. The brush was well over my head and I was fighting to make my way through it not being able to see more than a yard or two ahead. Luckily there were several creeks to dunk the head  and cool down in the growing heat.

I had enough water for an hour and a half to cover the 16.5 kms to the next station. With the conditions, I ran out in under 10. I filled my bottle from a slime filled creek-like flow of water and continued.

I hit the aid station eventually and started towards the top of the mountain. It’s listed as 4 km to the top. It is steep, technical single track trail and nontrail. Ok – there is the top. Must be, my gps watch says 39.5 km. Determined to catch the leaders, I moved like hell over the rise but the trail kept going. I looked at the next rise and said the same thing. I got to the next rise and the trail kept going. Finally I hit the top. Surprise! I got to run another 2 kms along the top to the turnaround point, at which my watch said 44.5 kms. Nice twist. Ok, turn around and head down.

Wait a sec, where are the leaders?

I thought maybe somehow I missed them so I really picked the pace up  on the way back down to the aid station meeting uphilling runners,  jumping deadfall and trying to keep my quads from collapsing but still having a nice second wind. Things started to seem really slow in my mind  (like slow motion) even though I was moving very fast. A very strange sensation that is hard to explain. For a short while I was conviced I was having a stroke but I told myself runners don’t have strokes on course so ignore it.

I came into the aid station and asked how far behind I was. “Oh, those two dropped to the 50 km course on the way up. Your first.” OK then.

I headed out, did some uphilling and on the transition to downhill, I severly cramped on the inside of both quads. I took my last three salt pills all at once and it cleared up. I was wondering what I was going to when cramps hit again without salt. My only answer was to cross that bridge when I got to it.

A couple hours later I headed down to the lake again at Commando bay  I rolled some orange slices in table salt.  Oh well better than nothing.

Back up the hill. I kept moving as fast as I could. I’m mentally blocking this part of the race due to serious muscle cramping, thirst, pain, sunburn, cuts and bruises but eventually I hit the pavement and ran into the finish.

As soon as I lied down, I downed a bunch of liquid and started cramping severely in the quads and feet. A nice lady offered some electrolytes. I guzzled that and some water and proceeded to vomit everything up in the bushes. Then I started to feel human again.

Wow – what a great run. I can’t wait until the next one!

The plan: a nice 80 km course, maybe 7-8 hours, hoping for a top 10 finish

Actual: 89 km (by my Garmin) bushwhack. I managed first place in 11:23:42.
Second place was 13:00:30 by fellow pg runner Reid Roberts.
First place female was Jude Ultra in 13:19:00

I am very proud of Reid’s second place at his first go on 80 km.