Death is upon us (almost)

Dan

After last weeks poor ultra (well for me) I was a little worried that my training wasn’t up to par. The biggest issue was the fatigue I was feeling from the get go, the familiar surge of adrenaline that usually accompanies the start of a race did little to get me going. By 25 km I was hurting and more than anything else I had lost the mental battle, only the combination of Heather’s “unique” form of motivation and my desire to wear the race sweatshirt with pride got me across the finish line.

I decided on a risky strategy after the race, no training for a week, I would take 6 days off and hopefully recharge my batteries and shake the fatigue that had been accumulating over the previous couple of weeks. This close to the race I hoped it wouldn’t have any negative repercussions. Heather didn’t seem inclined to join me in my brief hiatus which was fine, though something to do with her nose and face changed her mind, can’t say I know exactly what that was.

So it was important that this past weekends runs went well. Saturdays run started fine but it was Heather’s turn to have a tough run, and after I got us lost for the second or third time I could tell she had tuned out, we had hit 20 or so km and decided to cut the run short. Unfortunately we were a long way from home, so we did something I have never done before, we took transit back, this wasn’t the most disturbing first of the day however. The real low came when I realized that I was that smelly funny looking bloke on the subway.

And so did our run.

Sunday however delivered redemption in spades. We hit the trails at the Dundas conservation area, I have really come to learn that trail running is my thing. We killed 30 km in no time, got to see a couple of deer and as I was wolfing down my post run ice cream I had a lot left in the tank.

The deer was the only being on the trails not to ask about Heather's face.

He actually couldn't have cared less that we were there.

Heather also had a great run, though by the end her nose was throbbing a bit. I have to admit she is one tough if clumsy wife, not sure if I would be putting in a 50+km weekend a week after breaking my nose.

My wife the "Trooper"

Most importantly the break seemed to do the trick bring on the Deathrace!

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What it’s like on the other side.

Heather

Last Thursday was the Toronto Rat Race, a 5km through downtown to raise money for The United Way.  We did not participate running wise, but since the run went straight passed our building we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go and cheer.

Waiting to get our cheer on.

Dan packed himself a bottle of “water” to take to the curb and we headed downstairs.  The police were in position ready for the first runners.  Dan and I stood there anxiously waiting with our hand clappers and finally flashing lights and then the lead pack.

Dan having a sneaky sip of his "water" right in front of a policeman.

We stood on the curb cheering for 27 minutes we were the only ones.  A guy who was walking to the finish to meet a friend stopped and had us help him cheer on his friend Brian as he went by, but most other passersby gave us dirty looks for encouraging the traffic congestion.

The first people to go by and Dan's hand clapper.

We were really impressed with the efforts some people went to, we saw quite a few rat’s, lot’s of shirt and tied runners, a speedy gonzales, a rink rat (hopefully not regretting the Canuck jersey he wore) and cheese heads.  Our security/doorman Tim came out to find out why we were making so much noise.  It was FUN!!  We’ve decided that we are going to volunteer at the Scotia Waterfront Marathon in October, it’s a good feeling to give back.  Plus we have truly begun to realise the importance of volunteers at races and cheerleaders,  I was amazed at the runners who pushed a little more when they heard/saw us or smiled.

So next time you’re held up by a race or you hear about one on the radio and have nothing else to do, I would encourage you to get out there and give cheer, you have no idea how much you may help some runner, but you definitely will!

P.S. Five weeks today we will be in Grande Cache, AB!!!!!!

My face day 2/3 and a 50km race report.

Heather

So let’s just get this out of the way, this is what my face looked like yesterday.

My first black eyes ever!

And today.

Day 3. It looks worse than it feels, honest.

I awoke to black eyes, but the ability to breathe through my nose.  I headed off to work where they were slightly alarmed/concerned but I can’t really say surprised.  This is my x-ray.

That tiny black line is the frontal fracture.

The septum is perfectly straight, the white up and down line in the middle of the picture.

My nose is broken, but not displaced which is good.  My septum is nice and straight (which I don’t know that it even was before) so I do not need to have any work done, as long as I don’t knock my nose again anytime soon.  I’m going to have to take a few days off from running (obviously) but hopefully I will be able to get back to exercise by the end of the week.  Oh and work, as I was sent home yesterday because some patients found my face “disturbing”.

So about this race we ran on Saturday, the Niagara 50km Ultra,  it starts in Niagara-on-the-Lake and follows the waterfront recreation trail all the way to the falls where you turn around and run back to where you left you car.  I really enjoyed the course and the race, it was beautiful ever step of the way and very well supported with amazing volunteers at the aid stations.

Where our power comes from. (or someone's power)

There also weren’t too many runners which I’m really beginning to enjoy in races.  Everyone chats with one another, you see the same people as you run past them on their walk breaks, than them by you on yours.  I also loved this course because it was relatively flat, there is one good climb around 12km and then some rolling hills but nothing too taxing.

So pretty.

I was looking forward to feeling the spray!

We passed the floral clock, which is memorable for Dan and I because when he first visited Canada (before we were dating) I took him to Niagara and insisted we go and see the floral clock because I loved it as a kid.  However it wasn’t quite as grand as I remembered, plus I insisted that we wait for the hour to change because it chimed.  Turns out it doesn’t and we spent a ridiculously long time staring at a floral clock.  Dan still managed to fall in love with me despite my poor memory of clocks.

Memories of the floral clock.

As we came around the corner to a stunning view of both falls’ we stopped for another picture, a very generous runner already on their way back stopped and offered to take it so we could both be in it.

And we wonder why we're so slow, stopping to take pictures may have something to do with it.

I loved watching people’s reactions as we got closer to the falls.  Some people cheered us on even though they had no idea what was going on, many just stared, some let their kids try to trip us (I found that strange), one lady even commented “maybe they are some sort of runners”, you got it lady!!

The American Falls

The Horseshoe Falls

After checking in at the turn around, refilling our water and grabbing some pretzels, we headed back to the start or now the finish.  I was blithering on about how much fun this run was and where we should run the next day when Dan revealed to me that he was not enjoying the run at all.  He was trying but truthfully he was having an “off” day and it was all he could do to keep moving.  We dialed back our pace (we had been on a great pace, he certainly can fake feeling good for 25km).  He didn’t want to quit because he really liked the hoodies we got for entering the race and we firmly believe you should not wear race gear if you did not compete or finish the race.  Plus we were going to get medals, they would be our first Ultra medals.  Then he tried to pee and he didn’t feel like he peed much and it was kind of dark and he started to freak out because of what happened recently.  It suddenly hit me that I may have to finish the race on my own, and well I didn’t like the idea of that.  So we started to analyze what Dan had taken on fuel wise and came to the conclusion that he was probably dehydrated.  He had only been taking on water at the aid stations, where I always take Gatorade (Dan can’t stand the stuff) and it was a hot day from the start of the race so we were sweating profusely (although every so often there was a gorgeous breeze off the river).  So Dan started chugging water and I forced as many eDiscs (electrolyte replacement discs, look like tums) on him.  By the 38km marker he peed again and felt it was clearer, Dan decided that he wanted to finish but we would just take it easy, it was truly a mental game for him.  Unfortunately for me the stopping and starting was taking a toll on my legs, I found it increasingly more difficult to get comfortable running or walking and when we did run I wanted to go much faster than Dan wanted.  The last 10km were a bit rocky for us but Dan committed to running the last 1km with me and I tried to run at a pace he could manage.  We crossed the finish line hand in hand, happy to make our safe return in 6:21:15.  Not bad all things considered.

Enjoying my beer and pizza. (That was my second helping!)

And the post race party was so worth finishing for!  There was tons of amazing pizza, pasta salad, bagels with stuff to actually put on them and all you could drink beer (I had two!) We stayed until the end to cheer on the last of the runners. On our way home we stopped a cute little nursery to pick up some plants for our balcony , what a sight we must have been.  First of all, we had left our change of clothes neatly packed at the front door on our way out at 4:45am, so we stunk, we both still had our medals on, and we couldn’t seem to drive our cart straight.  It also seemed to be taking an awfully long time to find some nice looking plants, I finally realised that we both still had our sunglasses on, which explained why everything looked a little brown!  When we returned home we found this on our door:

We have the best neighbours!

Special thanks to our neighbour cheerleaders Matt and Andrea.  We hope we don’t wake you up as we stumble out the door at ridiculous hours of the morning! (Actually Andrea is training for her first ultra the 100km Oxfam trail run, Go Andrea!)

The much sought after Ultra medal.

The hoodie Dan ran 50km for!

The dangers of cross training.

Heather

Yesterday we ran the Niagara 50km Ultra (more on that later) so today Dan didn’t want to run, I decided we should go for a bike ride!  We got up had a nice breakfast, applied sunscreen and headed to the parking garage to grab our bikes.  But lo and behold our tires were lacking in air since we hadn’t been on the bikes since last fall.  No big deal we’ll pump them up, except I only have a crappy little hand pump, plus I have weird tires that don’t seem to like to take air from my crappy little hand pump.  So after much pumping and a few curse words we thought we were ready to go.  I took my bike on a little spin of the parking garage, when suddenly…well I don’t really know what happened.  I was too busy looking at my tires trying to decided if they were pumped up enough and WHAM! I’m on the ground and it hurts and there’s blood.  I yelled something like “I’m bleeding” Dan rushed over, I think he thought it was funny until he saw my face.  So it turns out I was distracted and bumped into the wall that jumped out in front of me and I used my face to break my fall.  (And before you ask, no I did not have my helmet on yet, bad me.)

Needless to say I didn’t go on my bike ride.  Dan got me up stairs and somewhat cleaned up before he had to go back to the parking garage to clean my blood up.  It did occur to him as he was doing this just how bad it might look should stumble upon him.  Thankfully no cars were damaged, and it looks like I only broke the rear light on my bike (???), not too sure about my nose though.  Good thing I work in an x-ray clinic.  I promise to fill you in on the race yesterday, once my brain has stopped rattling!

Yes it hurts as bad as it looks.

Shopping counts right?

Heather

So here is a quick rundown of the past weekend, sorry it’s so lame but somehow life has been busy this week!

Saturday;

  • Bumped my head getting water out of the fridge, not really a big deal but Dan actually heard it. There may have been tears.  Ouch.  Good start.
  • We were delayed leaving my parents place because some smart-ass kids stuck an egg in the car exhaust.
  • Delayed again after receiving call that I forgot my purse.
  • Delayed again trying to find trailhead finally gave up and went to Albion Hills.
  • There was a weird bike race on, thought I was going to experience what getting hit by a bike was like.
  • Hiking poles=lightning.
  • Returned home only to shop for 3 hours.  Total time on feet 7.5hrs.

Sunday;

  • We slept in, so we left late.
  • Everyone was grumpy on the trails.
  • Running on tired legs hasn’t been getting easier, so we stopped (actually we were still walking) for a freezie.

    Enjoying a much deserved break.

  • Room to go’s were visited.
  • Tried smoked salmon jerky, tasty, high in salt but disappointingly low in calories.
  • We lost of track time and kept saying good morning to passersby, it was 2pm.
  • Saw some inspirational graffiti.

    Very fitting at 24km of a 30km run the day after a 30km trail run.

  • And finally even though we were exhausted we managed to clean our condo!! (It was getting bad, embarrassingly bad.)

    We finished our run before we reached the condo so we stopped for some hydration.

Now I Know Why it’s Called the Death Race.

Dan

On Saturday’s run Heather accused me of losing the face cloth we had packed to clean off mud. To set the record straight I would like to say that I didn’t lose the face cloth during Saturday’s failed trail run I just left it in an inconvenient spot. Namely on the ground, in the car park, at the trailhead. Where I am pleased to report it still was when we hit the trails again Sunday, admittedly it was a little bit dirtier than when we last saw it, so mental note the trunk of the car serves as better storage than the ground. As I type this it is happily twirling around in the washing machine, hopefully also washing away Heather’s memory.

Anyway that was just a little aside. Now it may seem odd that I have made no entries after our first ultra, that is because running and I had something of a falling out.

The race itself went well, being knee-deep in mud and grinding out the 50km was great fun. Obviously there was fatigue both physical and mental, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I did seem to be having hydration issues, I was drinking plenty but couldn’t pee, even though it felt like I needed to, best I could manage was a brown dribble. Worried that I could be seriously dehydrated I plowed through more water, so much that my belly was sloshing with water and resembling a camels hump but I still couldn’t manage more than a light sprinkle. Knowing that serious kidney damage can be a side effect of poor hydration for ultra runners (get me I’m an ultra runner). Not longer after the race though peeing returned to normal.

On the Monday following the race we headed out for a quick 16 km in the beautiful sunshine mixing it up between trails and some of Toronto’s cool neighborhoods. As we were running we passed a lot of inviting patios, the call of the sun downer was too great, so we decided head straight back out after our showers and grab a pint or two (yes we still drink).

This plan came to a crashing halt. Took a quick pee and it was a disturbing shade of well errrm blood. I am sure much to Heather’s delight, I called her into the bathroom in a slightly shrill panicked voice to check out my piss. To her credit she was incredibly calm, sending me to shower while she got on the phone to TeleHealth Ontario. As I got out of the shower she was just getting through to speak to someone, obviously they wanted to talk to me but honestly I had to force myself, I was freaked out and didn’t want to find out there was something seriously wrong especially if it had been self-inflicted. Frank was a registered nurse and did a fantastic job of calming me down and getting the information he needed, the only time he faltered was when he heard I had run a 50km run two days earlier and had just got back from a 16km run, I think at this point he was thinking I may need psychiatric help. After 10 minutes or so of chatting to Frank he said that I could wait until the next to get to the doctors as importantly I was in no pain at all and had no fever. Needless to say the patio was off the agenda that night.

The following morning after a fitful nights sleep I went to visit the doctor. Oddly he looked at me funny when I told him about my running exploits, any one would think it was abnormal to spend your whole weekend running. After some poking and prodding and giving a few samples he didn’t seem too concerned, the no pain or fever thing seemed to be a big positive. He told me to lay off exercise until I went back to see him to get the results on Friday. Even with his reassurances I couldn’t help spend the next couple of days in a worried funk, which I am sure was fun for Heather and my coworkers. I was also bitter that Heather was able to run and go to the gym.

Friday morning and after an agonizingly long wait to get into to see the doctor, he called up my results, my urine was apparently better than normal in fact it was not just good it was perfect (wonder if I can get a certificate for that). So what the bloody hell was wrong with me, pardon the pun? As far as the doctor was concerned it could have been a number of harmless things, but most likely a tiny kidney stone, which apparently can be passed painlessly.

As you can probably guess from the aside at the beginning of this story I was given the all clear to run!!!!