Niagara Ultra 50km Race Report

Heather

 

Saturday was my second attempt at the Niagara Ultra 50km. Last year’s race didn’t go very well and then I managed to break my nose, so I was expecting a lot coming into this year’s race. I can proudly say that I don’t have a broken anything!

 

Instead of getting up at 3am we treated ourselves to a stay at a B&B for the weekend. Of course I still didn’t sleep well because of the normal pre race jitters but at least I didn’t have to drive my tired butt anywhere.

 

Thankfully the humidity that had been hanging around week had broken and Saturday was sunny and warm, but not “soupy”.

 

I didn’t even hear the “go” but everyone ahead of me took off so I followed. This was my first ultra running without Dan; I was excited and nervous, but mostly happy to be running this beautiful course on a gorgeous day. My goal was to come in around 5 hours. I wasn’t confident since I have some “niggles” recently but I was going to give it a try.

 

The first 10km were uneventful, usual jostling for position and settling into a comfortable pace. The course is an out and back, this section is also really well shaded so I just enjoyed the coolness, knowing that it most likely would be very hot on my return.

 

Around 11km there is a climb up the escarpment. It’s not a lot of elevation (250ft) but it’s a steady climb for 2km. This is where I tend to pass people because I like running uphill and many people don’t. So there I am minding my own business trotting up the hill, as pass one man I hear “you might not want run up this love, there’s still along way to go”. It was all I could do not to turn around and kick him in the shin, really hard (I really wanted to punch him in the face by having never punched anyone I fear I would injure myself more than my target, I’ve kicked people before). But I gave him a little wave instead; I don’t know why people can’t just let people run their own races. Truthfully I figured he’d go by again once the course flattened out and I figured he’d be sure to let me know as he went by, but his comment bugged me. So it didn’t really help my mood as I go by the next guy he mutters “are you kidding me?” and starts running after me. Really buddy? You’re bothered that I’m passing you on a hill 12km into a 50km race? Apparently he was because as he passed when the course flattened out he said “there we go” as he went by! 

 

Heading to the horse shoe, with runners on their way back.

Funnily enough two of the other men I passed up the hill also caught up to me but instead they wanted to talk. They were both marathoners and this was their first ultra, they wanted to know what time I was trying to finish in. I then listened to them try to one up each other in marathon times, destinations, etc. All they really wanted from me was to call out the km splits and pace them to a 5 hour finish!  Finally White Singlet Guy declared we were going too slow to make it in under 5 hours and he started to pull away (thankfully) however Orange Singlet Guy felt we were running too fast and we should slow down a little. Where did “we” come from?  I tried to talk to him but after establishing that I’d never qualified for Boston he didn’t seem interested.  By now we had been passed by the lead marathoners and 100km runners were on their way back from the turn around (they started out an hour before us and would do the out and back twice) so I was happily cheering people on around me. This seemed to annoy orange singlet guy but not enough for him to go away.

 

Can’t wait to get to the mist!

Orange Singlet Guy got pretty excited as we approached the turn around that he took off ahead of me and was stuffing his face with pretzels when I checked in. He immediately started berating me about our time, we had just covered 25km in 2:26, which I was pleased with.  I started to wonder whether I was wearing pace bunny ears! I quickly dumped some water over my head in an attempt to cool down and get out of the aid station but I heard a familiar voice yelling “hey girlie are we leaving already?” I started to run. Orange Singlet Guy was back with me in moments. I knew I shouldn’t let this bug me but he was creepy and I wanted to run my own race not be responsible for anyone else (that was the whole point of me running without Dan!). There was another guy who looked familiar that was also following us out and it finally clicked that it was Chuck, another runner staying at the same B&B as us. Chuck and I chatted, again I seemed to be the only one capable of asking questions, but I listened away. Orange Singlet Guy interrupted us to ask what time Chuck was going for he told us 4:50. Hmmm, I know my math sucks but he needed to pick up the pace if he was going to make it, this was all happening as we were ascending a small hill (and I “heart” hills), Chuck decided to walk it and said he’d catch up, I wished him a good run and decided to push it a little up the hill.  Orange Singlet Guy decided he liked his chances of finishing sub 5 by sticking with the walking guy who was already off his pace. As I crested the hill it hit me that once again I had passed about 5 men and quite frankly they looked like crap, so I decided (quite pettily too) that I would become the “back half assassin” and enjoy picking off runners.  And that’s just what I did. I probably shouldn’t admit this but with each person I went by I felt better and better. I was almost gleeful as I passed a man who always beats me.  I felt rejuvenated as I passed the man who had been bragging about the amount of marathons he’d completed and asked “how hard could a 50km be?” while in line for the bathrooms in the morning.

 

And then I saw her, a lovely vision in purple t-shirt with a blonde ponytail. She had passed me around the 20 km mark and I remember wondering where she’d come from. She looked so good. And now I was gaining on her I knew I had to catch and I did just past 40km. It might sound like I have a little crush and that’s because I do.  Allison ran so effortlessly and was nice to boot (meaning two-way conversations that didn’t revolve around marathon times!).  We caught up to White Singlet Guy, who had declared I was too slow earlier, he was walking but as we went by he started running and passed us.  Only to start walking again about 10 seconds later.  So we went by again, and once again he ran passed and started walking.  This was going to make for an interesting finish, but finally the White Singlet Guy gave up after a volunteer on a bike told him we looked way too good and there was no way he was going to beat us or stay with us.  Thanks bike rider!!  Allison had lots left in the tank as she had been running conservatively since this was her first 50 km attempt; she wanted to respect the distance and was glad she had. As we navigated our last road crossing I pointed out where the finish line was and told her to go for it, she said I better not be setting her up to sprint past at the finish.  Bless. I explained that I don’t know how to sprint (unless it’s uphill) and that I’d see her at the finish.  I tried to stay with her but man, she’s so good. 

Best company I had all day!

 

I finished feeling strong and like I could keep running (which is good since I will be running a lot further in September).  Dan was cheering me in from the sidelines as I happily bounced across the finish line in 4:53:55!  Good enough for 11th female overall and 2nd in my age group.  We stayed around for the food and beer afterwards and to cheer in the first 100km runner who finished in less than 9 hours and was a woman!  She looked amazing, still so strong.

 

Back at the B&B we discovered that Chuck had already been back and was licking his wounds, having to admit to the eccentric owners that I kicked his butt!  As for White Singlet Guy, he finished but closer to 5:30 and I never saw Orange Singlet Guy finish,  I hope he did (sort of).  Let this be a lesson to all you middle age men who think they know everything, you don’t.  AND never ever tell someone (especially a women) what to do.

Another race, another medal.

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Double Digits

Heather

Well, we are into to double digits, that’s right less than 100 days to the Mogollon Monster, 95 to be exact.
This week saw the overhaul of my training plan.  I don’t really know what I was thinking when I selected a 110km/per week average weekly plan.  I’ve re-read certain sections of the book I took my training plan from and clearly I do not fit the profile of the runner for the high mileage plan!
Thankfully I realised before I really injured myself that I was in over my head, so I’ve decided to follow the 80km/week average weekly plan.  That way I can get away with running 4 days a week (instead of 5) and I’m doing 2 days a week of weight classes and one day of cycling.  Hopefully my body will appreciate the lower mileage.
My Mommy also made a comment on my last posting that really struck me:
I don’t really get it but I’m always amazed at how Mommy’s know just the right thing to say exactly when you need to hear it.
It got me thinking that I’ve become a little obsessed with my “numbers” as of late and was sort of forgetting about the “fun” part.  I had to remind myself that running was not my full-time job.  It’s my past-time, my hobby, my “me” time, something that makes me feel good, and yet here I was putting pressure on myself (and my body) to meet some numbers that were pulled from a book (which has a disclaimer stating that this is only a guideline)!  So thanks Mommy (and also to my body) for reminding me that this is supposed to be fun!!
Planned Mileage: 80km
Actual Mileage:
Days Run: 3
Excuses:  Cut my run short on Thursday due to the 30+ temperature, really wasn’t having fun.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But what if it’s broke?

Heather

Planned Mileage:  88km

Actual Mileage:

Days Run: 4 (sort of)

Excuses: So, I seem to have noticed a pattern emerging here.  I have an “ok” week of training followed by a “great” week of training, followed by a “terrible” week of training.  I’d like to see a little more consistency, even if it means multiple weeks of “ok” training.

This week started out promising with 16km Tuesday and Wednesday I did 15km including 11 hill repeats, but when I was running home my hip started to burn (on the outside/IT band area).  I didn’t worry too much about it, had a good stretch when I got home and used the foam roller on the area.  Thursday I went out with Dan and didn’t make it 1km, my hip was on fire, I went home and stretched and rolled some more.  Saturday I was scheduled to run 32km, but I knew that would be stupid considering my hip, so I didn’t run at all.  Today (Sunday) I should’ve run 19km, I managed 8km on the trails and felt ok, I actually felt good by the end of it, but then stiffened up in the car and it’s sore again.

Hopefully I can get myself going again, but I am a little concerned with the way I seem to be breaking down.  I looked back in my training log from this time last year, and I’ve noticed one glaring difference.  I’m not doing any weight training.  Last year at this time I was going to a weight class twice a week.  So it’s obvious that I need to get back to my weight classes.

I’m also going to adjust my weekly mileage slightly.  When I set up my training plan I chose the higher end of the mileage scale, I’m thinking that I may not be able to carry the high mileage, which is fine.  I only really ran 4 days a week prior to this so I think I should go back to that and add in some cross-training.  My main goal is to arrive at the start line confident and NOT injured, because I know I can’t run 100 miles with a broken body.

Unexpectedly Pleasant

Heather

In my attempt to be true to myself here’s how week 8 of my Mogollon Monster 100 training panned out.

Planned Mileage: 85 Km

Actual Mileage:

Days Run: 5

Excuses:  I had a massage on Monday which left me feeling very wobbly, so Tuesday I only managed 3.5km on a treadmill (boo!).  However Wednesday was better and I managed to run twice, before and after work, but I never managed to catch up my mileage.  C’est la vie.

I got some goodies in the mail on Thursday.

What’s this?

Box 1

Box 2

Free stuff!!!  Well sort of.  Dan and I entered an online competition that required us to upload runs and if you hit a certain distance (100+miles in 30 days) you got free GU stuff.  It was back in March and we both forgot about it so it was a pleasant surprise.

On my Saturday run I had the opportunity to cheer on a couple thousand amazing people who participated to The Ride to Conquer Cancer, it was awesome until I realised I couldn’t get across the street to carry on my run.  Thankfully the crowd thinned and I was able to channel my inner “frogger” and get myself safely across the road (and not cause I major bike pile up).

Week 7

Week 5/6

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

RUNning Errands

Heather

Not too much to report this week, except that I’m back!  I managed to run all week, pain free, even got some hill repeats and a tempo run in.  So I’m feeling pretty good, although it was a low mileage week, hopefully my ‘feeling good’ will carry on.

We used our long run Saturday to run (haha) some errands.  We stopped to pick up some nutrition supplies.

Socking up on fuel.

Then it was off to the running shoe store to pick up new shoes for me.  To be honest I don’t really need any new road shoes right now but these are limited edition and very patriotic.

They just happen to be my style!

Guess what I’ll be wearing July 1?

 I couldn’t resist.
Planned Mileage: 62km
Actual Mileage:
Days run: 5, plus one day of strength and conditioning.
Excuses:  None!  I met my goals this week, we’ll have to see what the next brings.

Dan got a few strange looks for running with a shoe box, thankfully he only had to cart it around for 3km.

Friday we had some wicked weather, the trails were a little messy Saturday morning, a lot of branches and even a few trees down.

Our bathroom break was met with many temptations, if only my camera could send you the aroma. I was ready to sit down and have some pastries!

Training Progress: