Baker Trail Ultra 50 Mile Race Report

This weekends training run was actually a tune up race.  Of course to find a race long enough it required me to travel to Pennsylvania.  Dan wasn’t able to get the time off work so I recruited my parents into being my crew and accompany to the middle of the state aka middle of nowhere.
We stayed the night in a little place called Brookville, it took us an hour on tiny twisting roads (complete with Amish carts and horses) to get to “the farm” which was race headquarters and the finish.  When we arrived at the designated time it turns out that was also when the truck with the race kits arrived, and they weren’t assembled.  But as ultra runners we don’t expect too much, so everyone waiting for their kits pitched in and unloaded the trucks, while that was happening, the only other Canuck, Jesse (who I ran a bit with at Creemore) enlisted Mommy and me into sorting out the race timing tags, and soon enough I had my kit and was headed back to Brookville for some dinner.

What the heck is a “Gun Bash”?

Brookville is tiny and has a very cute downtown but it was closed off for some event, so after heading through the drive thru beer store (I’m not kidding) we decided to play it safe and went to Pizza Hut.  It was the oddest experience we’d ever had at a big chain restaurant.  The staff was very sweet, but slow, and seemingly overwhelmed by the fact that there were already 4 tables seated when we showed up (and many more that needed cleaning up), we were told they were very busy but they’d do their best.  From what we could tell, no one actually got the meal they ordered (including us) and I ended up eating very little.  (I only order spaghetti and meat sauce but ended up with marinara sauce, shouldn’t have been a big deal but the sauce was so so so SWEET, it was disgusting).

The drive-thru beer store. You should have seen the guys face when we asked about wine!

Anyhow, in typical me fashion, I didn’t sleep much the night before, and had a bout of diarrhea (thank you Pizza Hut)  I popped some Imodium and hoped for the best.  We set off for Summerville which was the start of this year’s race.  (The Baker Trail is about 150 miles, so each year a section is run and a different medal is given out each year, until you have all three which create one big medal.)

The start line.

The start was delayed about 20 minutes, but it was worth the wait to have the excellent lesson in understanding how to navigate the trail (only marked with blazes or painted arrows).  The race director shouted go and we were off.  I ran with Stacy, this was her second attempt at 50 miles, the year before she hadn’t made the cut off, so she was looking for redemption.  Our race plans looked similar through the first half, so we stayed together to help with navigation (Stacy got lost the year before, hence missing the cut off).  I wasn’t too worried, I’m hyper vigilant and live in fear of getting lost, so I did a pretty good job of staying on track and calling back some people who missed a turn.

Here we go!

The Baker Trail is made up of forest single track and road.  The roads ranged from somewhat major (in that area at least)to dusty, with barely room for two cars to pass.  The race director told us that the route would be 2/3 road, so I made sure to enjoy myself when I was on the trail.
The race was well supported with 11 aid stations, the longest leg was the first at 13km.  I came through there faster than expected, and due to not great instructions Mommy and Dad had arrived just before I did, this also being their first time crewing, I think they weren’t sure what to do, I asked for a new gel flask.  Mom told me the cooler was in the  truck, that was parked down the road, in the wrong direction of the race.  I handed her my empty flask and smiled, she got the hint and ran back to the truck got my new flask, so it took little longer through transition but it was still early, I felt good and I knew they’d figure it out.

Coming into to aid station 1

Next leg was 6km all on a nice quiet road, so quiet that the local bovines seemed unimpressed with our presence and kept snorting and mock charging (there were electric fences) but it was still very unsettling. Last little bit to the aid station was on a major road, complete with speeding dump trucks and no shoulder, Fun!  This time Mommy was ready and had Dad carrying my bag of gear over his shoulder, I told him that wasn’t necessary just get the truck close to the aid station or at least park so I would run by it on my way.
Off we went, still on the road, past lots of farms and beautiful homes, next thing I know a very familiar vehicle is coming at us.   Window comes down and Mommy waves, “we’re lost, these instructions aren’t very helpful when there are no street signs, but don’t worry we’ll figure it out”.  With much of the race being on roads, you wouldn’t think it’d be difficult to find the next aid station, but the race director didn’t want loads of cars on the roads we were running on due to the lack of shoulders and the dust, I thought that was very kind of him, although a few crew vehicles blatantly ignored this request and would choke us all out once a leg.  Ended up seeing Dad at aid station 3, which they had been planning on skipping over, but had to stop to get directions!
We plodded on through aid station 4, noting that all the aid station seemed to be at the top of hills.  The next leg was only 6km, but it was through a field, I can’t stand field running.  The tall grass brushing your legs, the bumpy unevenness of the ground, I think we went by some mining reservoirs because they stunk, and it was starting to get hot, I almost found myself wishing for road, which of course we got.  At aid station 5 (35km) I made the decision to switch into my road shoes, my trail shoes were still comfy but the tongues were sliding to outside of my foot, which was annoying and kept causing my shoelace to rub the top of my foot.  I was also told that the longest hill of the race was awaiting on the next leg, and of course, we jumped into some muddy single track almost immediately, great shoe change.

New shoes and some food.

It was going up the big hill that I said goodbye to Stacy and started to do my own thing.  I like uphills, and with Mogollon on my mind knew I needed to push myself on the climbs, because that’s what I’m good at.  I came through aid station 6 in 5hrs 15min (half-way).

New shirt, new women.

Quick shirt change and loaded up my pack and off I went onto, one of the best sections of this race.  I felt amazing, I started picking people off, people we’re confused at how well I was moving (so was I), I couldn’t resist I just felt too good to not take advantage.  This section had new cut trail, which was really sort of bush whacking and leaping over cut down trees, so much fun (although really regretting my shoe change).  When I finally emerged onto a church lawn I felt unstoppable.  Mommy was asking what I wanted from the aid station table, which was sitting in the sun, and for some reason that’s all I could focus on.  Why was all this food in the hot sun?  I got some (warm) mountain dew, picked up a potato and asked Mommy to grab some watermelon.  I needed to sit down and get some junk out of my shoe.  Dad helped me out with this while I drank some dew, my stomach flipped a little but I thought it was because it was warm, then I asked for some ice in my pack while I ate my potato, which I gagged on, uh oh.  I stupidly forced the potato down, threw my pack on and headed out carrying my two pieces of water melon.  I was on a major road again so I tried to eat and run, but my stomach was just churning, I somehow finished the watermelon, and at the last minute noticed that the trail crossed the road into a field.  (Dad had actually spun the truck around to make sure I hadn’t missed the turn off). A field in the blazing hot sun, with a watering mouth.  How could I have gone from so good, to wanting to lie down and curl up into a ball?
I took a little walk/sulk break and reminded myself that I needed to pull myself together this could (and most likely will) happen at the Mogollon.  So instead of dwelling on how the “wheels had come off”  I tried to figure why they did and get them back on again.  First things first, I think I ate too much at the last stop, and not just that, but food that was really unappealing, I figured that I did at least have enough calories in me to get to the next stop so I told my body that I would not be trying to put anything in it for a bit.  Then I tried to cool myself down, I was out of the field now and on a really decent dirt path beside a river, however the river was brown and stagnant, I decided that sticking my head in that wouldn’t be wise.  However I shortly came upon a brook that went into the river and it looked cleanish and was at least flowing so I stopped soaked my visor and splashed my face and neck, that did me a world of good.  I finally started running again, mainly because it was a really runnable portion of trail and I knew I should be taking advantage.  This section seemed to go on for ages and eventually lead me to a big hill, I started to run it but quickly stopped when I barfed up some watermelon, but boy, did I feel better!  So I hiked my butt up that hill, near the top there was a local man telling me I should run, I told him he should carry me, we agreed to disagree and I finally made it to the next aid station.
Things got better here, my crew had managed to get fresh ice and came up with the brilliant idea of putting ice down the back of my shirt and dumping icy cold water on my head.  It was also decided that they would keep my gels on ice, because I wasn’t getting the hot ones down (the beauty of close aid stations). Just as I was heading back out another runners crew showed up and looked really confused.  He wanted to know if he’d missed his runner since I was already there, and I was supposed to be behind his runner.  Huh?  My crew jumped up and pointed out that I had picking up my speed for the last 20km and I must have passed their runner (proud parental crew!)  Was I speeding up?  Dad thought I was, I had lost my pace card so I had no idea what I was supposed to be running, I was just running and faster apparently, I didn’t feel that way.
The next leg was another long one, but I just kept feeling better, so I kept on passing people.  Such a nice feeling.  We were getting into Amish territory now, I would love to know what they thought of us scantily clad runners trotting by their farms.   If they were offended they didn’t show it, they just smiled and returned the wave I would always give.

Yield to the horses.

At the next aid station Mommy said “I know this sounds weird, but you only have 12 miles left, and you still look good!”  And thankfully I was feeling good.  Lost a little time here looking for the bathroom (had run right by it) but Dad didn’t let me get too far before showing me the way.
Next section had me passing many death marchers, I know it was hot, but I hoped I wouldn’t have to death march until much closer to the finish.  At the next aid station I ditched my pack for a handheld as my pack seemed to be bruising my rib cage, I don’t know if I had it too tight (or maybe too loose) but I’ve never had an issue with it before, that does worry me a little (I don’t have time to break in a new one!).  I took advantage of being able to take it off though, ate some ice and carried on with only 8 miles to go, all on road, I was feeling pretty good (silly me).  The next 4 miles to the last aid station were hilly, I passed more death marchers, discovered that I could still run uphill, but the downs hurt my knees (at least the really steep one did) I also learned that as a pedestrian it’s your job to get out of the way of horse and carriages because they really don’t handle all that well.
I was so happy to arrive at the last aid station, I still had 4 miles to go, Mommy was all excited to get the volunteer to turn the garden hose on me (heaven!)  As I was leaving, I got a fist bump from a guy who loved my shirt (I had no idea he was talking to me and then I thought he was trying to punch me, running for that long really can make one stupid).  Of course it was rolling hills on dirt roads, on one uphill I actually passed a horse and carriage, that caused quite a lot of laughter from the occupants of the cart, commenting that they had the suspicion that their horse was lazy, but that I had just confirmed it!
Just as I was thinking I could take no more and that I must have gone off course somewhere I hit a major road, oh please let this be the road that the farm is on, it was!  A car load of people wearing medals went by honking and waving.  There was one last hill (through a field) up to the big art sign on top of the hill, it was than that a bell started ringing, I smiled hoping it was for me (it was!) then down the hill where I nearly fell jumping over the ditch to the drive way (bad spot to put a ditch), passed a lady with a sign say “You did it” and on to the finish to be scanned in one last time.

Can you see me?

I was elated to be finished, but I felt like I could have carried on (which is good), I finished in a time of 10:39:17, 25th place and 7th female overall!

Done!

I stretched a bit and changed into some dry clothes, Dad gave me a beer and I tried to eat while chatting with some other runners.  As we were leaving I realised that I had a mostly full beer and a mostly full bowl of chili, hmm, oh well, I guess I wasn’t ready to eat yet.  As we made our way our way back on the twisty roads to the hotel, Dad had to pull over and for the first time ever post race I projectile vomited everything that I had eaten.  I apologised (because I sound like I”m being exorcised when I’m sick) and pointed out that that doesn’t usually happen.  Needless to say the crew went for dinner without me.  I managed to sip on an Ensure in their absence, they brought me back a cup of soup and some sort of pancake dessert thing from Denny’s.  I ate half the soup, but knew I was on the mend when I devoured the pancake things.  I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible leg cramps, but managed to stretch them out without waking the crew, they wouldn’t have heard anything since they were trying to out do each other with their snoring.  I was worried about how I was going to feel in the morning remembering how bad I was after Bear Mountain.
But morning broke and I literally bounded out of bed, and had no issues moving around, I managed to eat a good breakfast and keep it down.  Overall the experience was great, it’s given me a new confidence going into my first 100 miler.
Planned Mileage: 94km
Actual Mileage:
Days Run: 3
Excuses: Nailed it!

My awesome crew.

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I say Tough, you say Mudder

Dan has always wanted to run an obstacle challenge, so of course he chooses the longest and arguably the toughest.  He also wanted to compete as a team, so he convinced me (I think there was wine involved), then my cousin Alex (may have been beer involved) and finally cousin-in-law, Brandon (definitely beer involved).  Alex is one of those lucky people who is a naturally gifted athlete without trying.  Brandon’s motivation was to get healthier.
Last weekend was the big event, the Tough Mudder.  The team camped out the night before, which was lucky we did as parking and check-in for the event was a complete mess, we were glad we left early and showed up together.

Our most important team member bailed at the last minute.

The event took place at a ski hill, and once we finally arrived on site things went quite smoothly.  We got our bibs and then for some reason the write your number on your forehead, I wasn’t too happy as it was permanent marker.

Looking tough ready for the start.

The challenge starts with having to climb a 6′ wall to get into the start corral.  The guys felt everyone should be able to do this themselves, I told Dan to wait until I got over before he went, because sure enough I needed help (apparently I have to work on my fence jumping skills).  Once safely ensconced in the corral, a fantastic announcer whipped us into a furry, had us chanting and hoohaing away.  Then a whistle blows and we were off, running, up a skill hill.  Brandon immediately wished he’d done some hill training, and Dan’s legs had decided that they were still recovering from last weeks done (don’t blame them really)  so we were reduced to walking (although I believe this helped us in the long run).

That’s the first wall you have to go over to get to the start line. I knew I was in trouble then.

Below is a list of the obstacles in the order that we did them, below each description is each of our feelings on said obstacle.  When we weren’t completing an obstacle we were either running up or down a skill hill!

Getting riled up in the start corral.

Kiss of Mud:  Eat dirt as you crawl commando-style under barbed wire set 8 inches from the ground.
Brandon: Rocky muddy hell.
Dan: Wiped the floor with me.
Heather: Cut my leg, but ultimately my smaller stature allowed me to half crawl, although I seemed to pick a lane with more rock than mud.
Alex: Dirty, muddy, rocky.  Good opener, got so covered in mud, was nicknamed “naked man”. (Editor note: Alex was sporting some compression shorts, to scarily enough it did look like he may have been naked under all that mud!)
We all agreed that it was possibly the  most physical demanding obstacle.
Arctic Enema:  First you must bravely jump into Big Mudder’s floating iceberg abyss. Once submerged, find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic.
Brandon: Not that bad, almost refreshing.
Dan: Not that bad.
Heather: C c c cold, Dan thought he could hear me surface.  I was the vocal team member (yelping, screaming, swearing, etc.)
A:  Cold, but good refresher after kiss of mud.  Front flipped into the pool and was told “Don’t be a fuck head”, (apparently there was a no diving/jumping rule). Slight panic as I  unsure of distance to get under wooden plank.
Berlin Walls 1 (9′):  This obstacle relies on teamwork. Scale two 9′ wooden walls with the help of your teammates, strategically placed for when you are at your weakest during the event.
Brandon: Easy.
Dan: False sense of security.
Heather: Glad I was running with (tall and strong) boys.
A: A breeze, felt we were jipped one wall.
(Editors note: The original course description had 3 walls)

Alex and Dan making walls look like nothing.

Underwater Tunnels:  Bob underneath rows of floating barrels as you battle the frigid water temperatures.
Brandon: Nice and refreshing, walking through silt was shit, but what can you do?
Dan: Easy peasy.
Heather: Easy, it wasn’t cold and you could walk  however I didn’t like the amount of silt that ended up in my shoes, ran shoeless until next obstacle trying to shake out all that crap.
Alex:   Good swim, refreshing.
Cliff Hanger:  Cliff Hanger is an obstacle all about teamwork and camaraderie: a 40+ foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45-degrees.
Brandon: Disappointingly easy.
Dan: Piece of piss.
Heather: My hands got dirty and the shoes got filled with gunk again, but no trouble really.
A: Disappointing. Not challenging at all.
Hangin Tough:  Swing Tarzan-style across a series of hanging rings suspended over a pool of ice-cold water. Rings are placed 4 to 6 feet apart.
Brandon: I hate Alex.
Dan: I never had a chance.
Heather: I made it to the 3rd ring before my lousy upper body strength let me down.
Alex: Loved it, I owned that shit.
Spider’s Web: Crawl like a spider up and over a cargo net suspended between two trees – keep a good grip or you will fall into a tangled web (er, cargo net) below! The net is fastened with tension at the top only, leaving the bottom of the net loose and unsteady. Teamwork has proven to be very helpful for successfully completing this obstacle. Mudders will pull the bottom of the net towards the ground to create tension so their teammates can climb with balance and control.
Brandon: Had its challenges would have been better if we could have worked as a team.
Dan: Not that hard but not as described.
Heather: Due to construction issues much scarier than it needed to be.
Alex: Difficult, organisers confused and more anal than they needed to be, we would have snapped a tree before that cable came down.
(Editors note: There seemed to be some sort of malfunction with the cargo net sliding down the tree, so we were not allowed to pull down on the net to creat tension.  In retrospect much more unsafe swaying from an unsupported, falling cargo net!)
Mud Mile:  Slosh through up to a mile of waist-deep sludge as you try not to lose your shoes in the mud.
(Editors note:  Nothing like that at all 200 meters of wide tranches that required you to jump over the mud or jump down and scramble up.)
Brandon: Lamer than expected.
Dan: A lot harder than expected.
Heather: Tiring, I had to go up and down each one, my hands got dirty again. Thankfully it was maybe only 200 meters.
Alex: Challenging, short but fun.
Trench Warfare:  This military-style obstacle requires Mudders to crawl through narrow, dark, muddy trenches.
Brandon: Afraid of getting stuck, skipped it.
Dan: Hell to the no, not going in there, skipped it.
Heather: This was huge for me, very claustrophobic  but I made it!!  Hands got dirty though.
Alex:  It was psychologically challenging, but got easier once I saw light, scratched the shit out of my back.
Walk The Plank:  Test your fear of heights and cold all in one with our 15+ feet high jump into freezing water.
Brandon: Awesome, pushed Dan.
Dan: Needed a helping hand.
Heather: Screamed like a girl, but enjoyed it.
Alex: That was fun, I like jumping off shit, felt bad for Dan.
Boa Constrictor:  If you don’t like small spaces, this obstacle will be a challenge for you. Crawl through a series of pipes that force you on a downhill into some freezing mud, then a slippery uphill to the other side.
Brandon: Kind of cool.
Dan: Really cool.
Heather: Easy, could crawl out, hands got dirty.
Alex:  Not as much water as I thought, but trying to get out was more challenging than expected.
Log Jammin:  Jump over and crawl under large logs strewn across the course. This may not sound very difficult, but with fatigued muscles and logs placed at varying heights, the Log Bog Jog has proven to be a challenge for Mudders.
Brandon: That was easy.
Dan: Easy.
Heather: Not too bad is it was not muddy yet, gentlemen less helpful on this challenge, they all took off, my hands got dirty.
Alex: Loved it, sprinted through.
Greased Lightning:  Have some fun sliding down this massive slippery slope into a frigid, muddy pool of water at the bottom.  Real Mudders go head first.
Brandon:  That was awesome, concerned 3/4 of the way through, thought I was going to land in mud but turned out to be water.
Dan: First slip n slide ever! Loved it.
Heather: Wish I went feet first, first (and only) puncture wound of the day.  And lot’s of water and mud up my nose.
Alex: Wicked fun, but hurt so bad, arm still swollen,  nice plunge at the bottom.
Funky Monkey:  Sure monkey bars were easy when you were 5 years old, but you’ll need to hold on extra tight to these. Some have been greased with our finest mixture of mud and butter and if you slip you’ll fall into an icy pond below. Bars are spaced 1.5 feet apart and you will be on an incline upward for the first half of the Monkey and then descending downward for the second portion.
Brandon: That was fun.  Fell at half way point.
Dan: Why bother? Saved my energy, jumped straight into the water.
Heather:  I made it!
Alex: Wicked, again that’s my shit, “paper clip” strikes again, managed double rungs near the end.
(Editors note: Alex was nicknamed “paper clip” by a bitter man who claimed that anyone could do all the challenges if there were built like a paper clip.)
Electric Eel:  Mudders frequently forget about this obstacle since they’re so focused on Electroshock Therapy– but they shouldn’t. Slide on your belly through frigid water or, even worse, a layer of ice and beware of the shocks overhead. Should you try to crawl on your knees, you’ll be smacked with live wires and your body will compulsively contort. Be sure to protect your head, otherwise you might experience what Big Mudder calls a brain reboot.
Brandon: Wasn’t so bad, trying to stay low I whacked my face off the ground.
Dan: Fried my nipple.
Heather: Skipped it, electricity scares me.
A:  Wet, got tagged twice so dropped in the mud twice just trying to get out.
Berlin Walls 2 (12′):  This obstacle relies on teamwork. Scale two 12′ wooden walls with the help of your teammates, strategically placed for when you are at your weakest during the event.
Brandon: Threw people over but was too exhausted to get myself over.
Dan:  Nice to have shoulders to stand on, what was wrong 9′.
Heather: Needed a very big boost, and help to find the ground on the other side
Alex:  More complicated, perfect step stool for Dan, Heather’s a lightweight, and with a little help onto the little ledge, I can do it myself.

Dan going over the wall, he used Alex’s face as a step stool.

Hold Your Wood:  Make like a lumberjack and carry a heavy log through a section of the Tough Mudder course.
Brandon: Not much help at this point.
Dan: Didn’t find it that bad, just needed better steering instructions on the way down.
Heather: Didn’t do much but call out the ground  changes.
Alex:   It burned, a lot of fun, need to work on my steering commands, a lot of fun.  And need to work on our log dismount.

I actually look like I might be helping in this picture, but realistically Alex and Dan carried it.

Everest:  Snowboarders and skate boarders have the half-pipe. Mudders have a real obstacle: Everest. A quarter-pipe that you’ll have to sprint up and enlist the help of other Mudders to hurl you over this beastly summit. Everest is coated in mud and grease, a combination which will likely send you right back from where you came.
Brandon: Took two tries, make sure you keep your hands out of the mud.
Dan: Didn’t think I was going make it,  and made it on the first try!
Heather:  Ran hard, and grabbed on to helping hands with a death grip, however you need to lean forward and let the people pull you up, otherwise you’re just pulling on them.
A:  Wicked, almost punched three people in face I ended up so high on the board.  Good team building.  You have to sprint.  Timing is everything.  Trust in your fellow mudder is key.

Note the girl in the background leaning back when she should be leaning forward.

Electroshock Therapy:  Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face-plant into some electrifying mud. Some Mudders try to stealthily wind their way through the wires without getting shocked, while others barrel forward to get through as quickly as possible. Either way, you are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is typically the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line.
Brandon: Sucked balls, don’t get hit in the head.
Dan: Not bad, but apparently not meant to leave a man behind (or wife) missed my nipple.
Heather: Did not want to do it but there were a lot of people watching.  I went down, hard, multiple times, including a hit to the face, saw Brandon hit the ground too, kind of like a movie, he told me to keep moving.  Under the mud was rocks, I have swollen knees.  I ate mud,  and couldn’t see, the announcer told me I “could get up now” I’d made it through, to find my boys had all left me behind.  Coughed up mud, as I struggled across the finish line, given my head band, then had to sit and rinse out my eyes with a bottle of water.  My hands got dirty.
Alex:  I got lucky!
At the end we were handed a beer, and told to go through the rinser, quite literally.  It was a satisfying day.

The Rinser

It was cold!! Wished I’d stayed muddy.

In the aftermath, it turns out I’d rather have the pain of a 50 miler than the pain of all the scratches and bruises I obtained.  Dan and I are both really proud of our team mates for running the furthest they’ve ever done.  And I’ve already declared that I’m not doing the Tough Mudder again, please someone remind of this, especially if I’ve had wine.

Instead of dealing with cleaning our shoes we donated. Apparently we weren’t the only ones overwhelmed at the idea of scrubbing shoes!

No medals at this event…HEADBANDS!!!!!

Obstacles

Heather

Planned Mileage: 47-63km

Actual Mileage:

Days Run: 4

Excuses:  This weeks training went alright, my planned mileage was a minimum of 47km due to the fact that I took part in an obstacle race/challenge (race report to follow), so I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to do my Sunday long run (I didn’t).  Here’s what my legs looked like after the race (and I was wearing tights).

A little scraped up.

 

What it’s like on the other side

Heather

Dan had chosen the Dirty Girls 24hr Trail Race as his goal race this year, my job would be to crew all day and pace him after 8pm (if needed).
We were lucky that training buddy, Geoff knew someone with a place to stay a mere 20 mins from the start line and we were graciously invited to spend the night before there, instead of camping at the start/finish. This is key because there ended up being a horrific thunderstorm that night and more torrential rain (that had been occurring on and off all day), and I’m afraid of thunderstorms. So as I curled up in bed, wide awake, I was pleased to see that Dan slept soundly, I figured I’d be able to catnap during the day, but Dan needed his sleep. I hoped that all the runners and supporters already on course were fairing ok (there was a 48 hour race option which started at 8am Friday morning!).

Good sign pre race.

The morning brought a rainbow, I was silently praying for little rain and NO more thunder and ligthening. We had no trouble getting Dan and Geoff registered and Geoff’s buddy Mark, came along to help me set up “race headquarters” (which was a good thing because it’s next to impossible to do on your own).

Race HQ

The race started promptly at 8am, Geoff missed it because he was in the bathroom, but I assured him that 24 hours was plenty of time to catch up. Both the guys had given me printed copies of their race plans, so I knew I had about an hour to kill, so I spent that time getting HQ set up/organised and cheered on the 32km runners that started at 8:30.

Dan ready for the start.

Geoff missed the official start, but was “relieved”.

Dan was back from his first loop (8km) in 55 minutes, he didn’t really stop except to swap his mostly empty Vitargos bottle for a full one. I let him know his (faster than expected) time and he just shrugged and trotted off for loop 2. I waited for Geoff to come through and then headed off to pick up some ice. Mark stayed with me until the boys completed lap 3, and then I was bored.

Heading out on lap 2.

I tried to read but I got distracted cheering runners as they went by and then Dan or Geoff would show up, I’d get them what they needed and send them on the their way. Boring. Apparently I wasn’t the only bored HQ wife and eventually I ended up hanging out with Katie and Marta, both supporting 24 hour runners (they would even help me move my HQ closer to theirs after some 6 hour runners left so I wouldn’t have to go running back to my tent when the boys arrived). That certainly helped with the time. A big shout out to all of you who texted and emailed to help keep me busy and pass along good wishes to Dan.

Heading out on lap 3.

Heading out on lap 3.

As evening set in Mark returned with more ice and some pizza for Geoff. Dan hadn’t really eaten a ton of solid food, but seemed to be doing alright. As Dan finished lap #9 I offered to head out onto the course with him as it would be dark by the time he finished, but he said he was saving me for the “double digit laps” and to be ready when he returned. I pointed out that 10 was a double digit, but he went off on his own.

Getting rested for lap 5.

Geoff just needed a clean shirt for lap 5.

I could tell he was tired but he was still going pretty strong, he hadn’t had a lap take him more than 1:30 (except for when he spent a little longer in HQ having a burrito). So when I finally got to start running with him on lap 11, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at the amount actual running there was! Dan was having some calf cramping so he was trying to take it easy, so we just chatted and worked our way through the undulating, twisting course. When we came back through HQ Dan decided to throw on a jacket and take his poles out on the next lap.

New shirt, new lap. Lucky number 7.

What a difference this made, we absolutely sped around the loop even though Dan barely ran a step. He was feeling so great that he didn’t even stop at HQ and went straight into lap 13. Maybe not the smartest thing to do. Just after the a climb about 2km in Dan stopped for some water, when I turned to look at him I was shocked to see a pale face and a shaking hand. Hmm, I tried to think of the last time he ate something substantial, I had made sure I had a gel at the last aid station, but what did Dan have??

Half way. Dan needed a new shirt too.

What was I thinking? How could I not make sure my runner was eating? At the same time I didn’t want to alarm Dan so I just watched him closely as we carried on (he preferred to lead) sure enough I noticed him starting weave along the path. We had really slowed down but I didn’t want to push because I didn’t want anything to happen to him. So as we approached the next aid station, I started asking him how he felt and when he’d eaten last. He said he felt fine and that he had a potato at the last station. One potato!! That wasn’t enough. I told him we had to stop at the next aid station and that we weren’t moving until he had some coke and some sugar.
Dan was shockingly obedient taking down whatever I handed him, and we set off. We made it through lap 13 unscathed but he needed a quick calf rub and I made him eat half a burrito in that time, of course sitting he got chilled and started to shake so we quickly got him changed into a dry long sleeve shirt and we were off.
Laps 14 was uneventful and 15 actually had him picking up speed. It’s amazing the “pick me up” of being able to say that’s the last time I’ll go up that hill or go through that aid station, plus it was getting light which really helped. We held hands as we marched into the start/finish area, I was surprised at how emotional I felt, I could only imagine what going through Dan’s head. We crested the last hill and Dan took off, really took off, I was standing there holding his poles wondering where that energy had come from!

The Finish…again, Dan had already passed under it 14 times!

Dan was given his beautiful belt buckle and we both got a delicious vegan smoothie. Then it was a hobble back to HQ to change/eat and await Geoff’s arrival.

After being awake for over 24 hours, Dan thinks his buckle is made of gold!?!

It was an excellent learning experience for me. I’ve since cycled through being petrified about my race to feeling like I’m ready. Only time will tell.

The boys, their buckles and beer.

Doing Dirty Girls

Dan

It’s hard to start a blog on a witty note when your race director has already trumped you with a race name like Dirty Girls.
This 24 hour race was my goal race for the year. The format is a “run as far as you can” in a 24 hour period on an 8km loop, meaning that technically it was impossible to DNF. Based on my last two races this isn’t a bad thing. However after dropping out of Limberlost because I was sick of looping past the start finish area the prospect of 15 laps at Dirty Girls had been weighing heavy on my mind.
The race was held at the Mansfield Outdoor center.  The trail was not too technical and had some excellent downs to run. Also it was sandy, which was lucky as after a summer of sunshine it had decided to piss it down in the days leading up to the race and without the sand it would have been a mud bath.  There were two aid stations one at the start/finish and one at the midway point, the guys running these were incredible, so much fun and so helpful, and also very willing to point out when it was time to get my ass in gear and run some more.
I started the race faster than planned but felt great and pretty much abandoned the race plan that Geoff and I had meticulously crafted when I am pretty sure we should both have been doing our day jobs.  I decided that I would just run by feel and let the cards land where they may, after all my very expensive GPS watch was measuring the course short every lap so it was close to useless especially as I had based my race plan on using average pace!!!  Geoff and I had decided to run separately,  I think our performances in the last races had us worried that we would have a negative impact on the others race. It did however make me smile when on my second lap Heather told me Geoff was also running well ahead of pace, wow what a lot of time we had pissed away on race plans.

little half time sit down!

The day time laps were pretty uneventful, met loads of great people to chat to, and honestly time was just flying by, ultra runners are awesome fun, and the more I talk to some the saner I seem in comparison. Also the laps were not having a negative impact at all, quite the opposite, at the 6 km mark I found myself getting excited to see Heather and find out all the happenings in “HQ”, seems that as long as I am getting plenty of attention I can do loops!!  Plus we had a great race camp set up, even though I think it traumatized Heather how much Geoff and I could stink up mesh tent. I did have a rough daytime lap where I questioned my ability to get the race done, and ridiculously  it was lap 3. I was feeling heavy and very slow, took some analyzing before I realized I had attempted to take on far too many calories, bit of ginger ale to settle my stomach and a couple of food free laps and I was a happy camper once more.
Heather jumped in as my pacer for the night time loops. However not before I ran a dark lap on my own, something very very odd happened on this lap, I hallucinated. I have read about this happening in ultras but typically people seem to have to run for longer than I had been at this point, my brain didn’t seem to care for this fact.  So what did I see?  Well suddenly in the middle of the forest there was Alex (Heather’s cousin) slacklining (you tube it).  It was a strange sensation as I knew that it couldn’t possibly be right, a good shake of my head and I realized the slackline was in fact caution tape to keep me on course, however it took a couple more good shakes before Alex disappeared into the shadows, on each subsequent lap I made sure to say hi to Alex at this point on the course.
Having Heather with me was fantastic, keeping me in a happy place, pointing out when I could be moving faster and gently nudging me into eating when I decided it wasn’t really necessary. I loved sharing this with her and can’t wait to return the favor in Arizona.  Also she kept the hallucinations at bay!!!
Oh yeah so the outcome of all this, I ran 120k in 22 hours 44 minutes and got me a kick ass belt buckle (which I am wearing as I type this). Geoff also got himself a shiny buckle, all in all I think we are two pretty happy chaps.

My precious

Sweet victory!!! and a 7am beer

End of race report, for the few that enjoy my over disclosure on the physical impacts of the race read on.
Baboon butt, yep got me some more of that, this time complimented with some rather fetching chaffing of my gentleman parts (meat and potatoes).
Not quite as traumatizing but no less painful I got me some arm and armpit chaffing. Which I have been treating with diaper rash cream, so that baby’s bottom smell in the office is me, all be it a clean bottom.

a little painful

Bum Cream

Pooped twice, just saying.
Pair of little toe blisters, which were actually really unimpressive when I finally took my socks off, glad I didn’t complain about those too much.
And puked once, on the last lap, a colourful mix of peanut M&M’S and coke.

If you look closely you can see puke splatter

Mogollon Monster Training Week 17

Heather

Planned Mileage: 86km

Actual Mileage:

 

Days Run: 3

Excuses:  On Tuesday a bottle of wine with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages beat out my 15km run, the other missing 11km I don’t feel bad about because I learnt SO SO SO much this weekend crewing/pacing at the Dirty Girls Trail Race (24hrs).  More on that later.

Mogollon Monster Week 16 (Yikes!)

Heather 

This week wasn’t too bad.  Didn’t manage to get any weights in but I did do some quality stretching and got my runs in.  Actually my only run I cut short was my long one and I don’t think I was in the wrong.

Always a good view while eating my breakfast at the cottage.

I was supposed to do 38km, and it turned out to be one of the hottest days of summer yet, thank you humidex!  I was at the cottage so I decided to run to the Batawa Ski hill, where we ran the Fat-Ass Trail race last year.

What the ski hill would look like in winter, I guess.

I thought it would be a good “race simulation” run (without actual mountains this is a little tricky for me).  My run to the ski hill was boring as I stuck to the road, unfortunately for me there had been a bear sighting at the cottage the weekend before and my Dad didn’t want me on the trails by myself, of course as I was running around the completely unpopulated ski area it occurred to me that this would be an ideal place for a bear attack and got myself jumping at every little noise in the woods (thanks Dad).

I took a little break once reaching the hills, at the exploration trail and/or the dino dig.

Not a bear print, so I figured I was safe.

This is Walter, you can dig him up. I chose to use the bathroom instead.

Dan met me 3 hours into my run with some much needed ice water and some motivation because quite frankly I was ready to jump in the car and go home.  So I grinded out 33km on hilly technical terrain.  Blah, thankfully I got to have a nice swim when we did finally get back to the cottage.

This picture doesn’t do justice to this hill, that I would run up 5 times!!!

View from the top. I wish this picture could somehow show how hot it was.

Planned Mileage: 82km
Actual Mileage:
Days Run:  4 (two of which included some serious hill work)
Excuses:  It was hot and couldn’t bare the idea of being roasted out in the field portion of my long run again (it was a looping course), but I’m not sorry about it at all.